ON THE HUNT

Beira
I sit on top of a hill overlooking farms and take out the two squashed Berkley cigarettes from my bra to  light one with a match against the cut off flint I got from the match box next to my parent’s fireplace.  I don’t want to smoke but it feels like the most real thing to do at this time.  I fear I have landed in the dullest place on earth – green farms – hedges and no life.

After being arrested in London – Searching for my Beloved in Zambia – and then being arrested in Harare.  I’ve been persuaded away from Victoria Falls by my mother to their home in the UK in pursuit of Olanzapine – the supposed cure for my open heart.

The Shaftesbury doctor has established that I have menopause – through a blood test.  On hearing the result – I feel even more feminine and free to embrace my femininity while men – pause.  I may be wild and strut my stuff – without hiding.  Well I’m learning to.

Besides my eyes are searching high and low for my lover. And I’m on the hunt.  I’m on a mission.  He has stolen my heart – And he is my King.  And when I find Him – I am sure to fall at His feet and drop my tears upon them.  He is the most romantic man alive and there is none that can compare.  I know not One.

I have been arrested in Bournemouth (Psst article), London – Harare (Arrest Jesus article) and now in Cardiff.

In an attempt to rescue the lady I was working for whose chair lift got stuck halfway up the stairs – I dial 999 just before midnight to be told the paramedics would be sent out and not to touch anything.  Four firemen arrive instead and I tell them not to touch anything.  We wait – after making a few more confusing 999/111 calls – I tell them to bring the whole squad.  I sit shivering on the pavement barefoot waiting for them to never arrive and smoke five cigarettes one after the other.

The police arrive to try and persuade me into their vehicles giving me the option of two which I refuse.

I sit barefoot on the driveway and cry for my dummy – proclaiming that we all need to be walking around with one.  They bring me my Converse as well as the unused box of Olanzapine – they have unwarranted-ly searched for.  I am taken to the police van – ready for another adventure but taken to hospital instead.  After my introduction to all the doctors and staff I sing the most beautiful song which sails down the corridor – even I’m impressed then sedated and sent to bed.

It is reported that I had cannabis showing in my blood results.   It is quite common for marijuana to be grown secretly amongst the vegetables by staff so perhaps they do that amongst Zimbabwe’s tobacco as well.

Needless to say I am free to roam again.

I have ravished your heart and I’m reckless for you.

Psst…

I was diagnosed in the final stage of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the beginning of 2015. It felt like the world was getting ready for a party that I wasn’t invited to.  I didn’t want to have chemotherapy although my family and doctors protested.

The disease progressed while I ate raw food for a year.  In February 2016 a doctor put me on steroids to stop the tumour on my spine growing (misdiagnosis) and my mother flew with me from Zimbabwe to the UK for treatment.  I was too weak to fight.  The haematologist said I was too thin to start chemotherapy and put me on nutritional shakes.   I cried hysterically telling her the steroids made me feel out of control, like I was in a dream and I had to remind myself where I was and why I was here – home was a distant memory.  Ten minutes passed seemed like a day ago.  She started to wean me off.   I became stronger and determined again not to have chemotherapy.

Two weeks later on the bus I was attacked with fear.  I panicked and got off at Bournemouth hospital.  It felt like I was being hunted.  I wanted to hide in A and E.  I phoned my GP who told me to stay in a hotel.  I caught a taxi with a driver who didn’t look human. If I was in danger I could throw myself out.  Adrenalin took over and I became brave.  My cousin phoned me to tell me my mother was looking for me and had phoned the police.  I hung the do not disturb sign outside my door and someone slid it back under – I didn’t care and fell asleep.

I woke up on a mission.  My life since a child suddenly made sense – it was part of a bigger story that was so alive and happening all around me.   I felt exposed leaving my room with this awareness but had to get conditioner from the hair salon next door to the hotel.   I became aware that I was not alone and discerned there were journalists incognito on this mission with me.

Four days later I sent my mother a message to bring my makeup bag with a K on it.  Bring my stretcher and duvet. Pack my clothes in a rucksack.  Bring my Voice in the Wind book, bible, passport, and rabbit – and leave it at reception.  I don’t tell her I’m going home to Zimbabwe.

The next day two policemen barge into my room.  I was in the bathroom wrapped in a towel.  They told me the hotel was full and I needed to leave.  I didn’t believe them and push passed.  I opened the curtains and sat on the windowsill – so the journalists could see me.  They asked me if I was taking any pills and went through the contents of my bag. They looked in the bathroom – my jeans and T-shirt were there.   I told them I was writing a story – although I had no pen or paper.   We waited for hours.  I said little as the steroids had made me stutter.   Ambulance men arrived with a stretcher.  I was injected then handcuffed.  They were so tight – I screamed.  In the ambulance I fought to stay conscious in case my towel fell off.

In hospital a psychiatrist came to see me in A and E.  I was heavily sedated and told him about my past week.  I went to a Benny Hinn conference in London and got healed.   I had a Sozo session that revealed a childhood trauma involving witchcraft.  My daughter is in boarding school in Zimbabwe and my mother has arranged for her to live with her father in South Africa.  She thinks I’m dying.  It didn’t help and I was sectioned for three weeks.  I didn’t tell him about the journalists.

I was given a copy of the section but I wasn’t sure why I needed it.  I was transferred to the cancer ward until a bed becomes available at St Anne’s psychiatric hospital.  A man named Leo sat at my door glaring at me.  He was sent from an agency to make sure I didn’t escape.  He didn’t like me and thought I was penga (mad in Shona).  He told me he was a terrorist during the bush war (in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe) and that he knew where Thornhill, Gweru was.  I was born there and wondered how he knew – for a moment I panicked and thought he might be a CIO agent and that I was in trouble with the Zimbabwean government.

It was Easter Friday and I asked Leo which church he went to and I heard Satan’s.  Mid-morning he came into my room and danced like a snake – he told me he was going to have fun this afternoon.  I’m not sure what Satanists do for Easter but my imagination told me he was planning to smuggle me out and sacrifice me.  I had to leave.  I was heavily sedated but had to fight.  None of the nurses would tell me why I was there.   Leo was constantly behind me.  I went behind the reception desk to get away from him and pushed the emergency button.  Four security guards came to my rescue.  Instead they dragged me to my room screaming. They unravelled me on my bed and injected me.  The last face I saw was Leo’s.

I had survived Easter Friday.  Joseph, another Zimbabwean, did the night shift.  He didn’t like me either and forced me to take medication to sedate me.  I tried to hide it under my tongue but I was made to stick my tongue out and he sees it.  It was Easter Sunday and I was anxious that Joseph was part of the plot.   I messaged my friend in South Africa to tell her husband, Pete to pray what he used to pray on the battlefield.  She didn’t understand but maybe Pete would although the motor neuron disease has progressed and he can’t speak.   He was a watchman in the British Army and being the last two to leave the battlefield, would pray Psalm 91 over the soldiers.  I slept with my bible on my chest open at Psalm 91.  I snuck my rabbit into my bed.

The nurses became my friends.  I told them Leo intimidates me and Joseph forces me to take the medication I don’t want.   Leo is moved away from my door and soon after doesn’t return and I calmed down.   The nurses will come to me at night when I call as Joseph is gruff with me when my sheets are wet from night sweats.  He soon left.  The doctors did their rounds and told me I needed to start chemotherapy.

After three weeks James, the psychiatrist lifted the section.  The discharge form stated – steroid induced psychosis.  Helen; my haematologist thought it was my heart break too.

I have just finished chemotherapy and I’m going home – I will be with my daughter for Easter.

Psst….I am a journalist.

ARREST JESUS

ARREST JESUS

I was misdiagnosed with a tumour on my spine and overdosed with steroids in February 2016 by Kevin Martin, a doctor in Marondera, Zimbabwe.   I had stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the time.  The result was steroid induced psychosis.  Since then I have been sectioned twice in the UK and once in Zimbabwe whereby according to the mental health act in the UK and possibly Zimbabwe, if you are deemed a danger to yourself, the state has a right to detain you for up to twenty one days.

I have published the story of the first time on kimonamission.wordpress.com under Psst.  The second was in October 2017 – when I was arrested reading Luke 9:24 in London.  Granted I was marching down the middle line of a street but you don’t do pavements when you are on a mission with Jesus and besides the cars could go around me.  I landed up in hell – Lakeside Mental Hospital, Twickenham being sectioned for twenty one days but transferred to St Annes Hosptial in Poole ten days later and released just after.

The third time was in December 2017 in the auditorium at the Celebration church in Harare, Zimbabwe, where I dived onto a pile of mielie meal bags they were giving away to the poor.  It was the most freeing feeling – in front of crowds and yet with total abandonment.  I highly recommend it.  It was as fun as a two year old would experience it.  I landed up in hell again – Pariyenyatwa Hospital in Harare.

I’m in Victoria Falls now – supposed to be on an assignment for a travel magazine.  My mother is here from the UK since my time in the Harare hospital.  My teenage daughter and son have come for Christmas.  Somehow they came to the conclusion that I’m not taking my medication prescribed by the Harare doctors.  I’ve been too energetic for someone who is supposed to be drugged.   They won’t let me out the room until I do – my daughter blocks the door.  It’s confusing since I was all prepared to go into town and write my story for a travel magazine on my train trip I took a few days prior from Victoria Falls to Bulawayo.

I don’t want to take the medication because I will get the side effects – I always do.  And I don’t want to be a zombie – I want to be FREE and creative.  So we sit for hours in the room I’m renting.  With attempts of forcing my jaw open and stuffing the tablets down.  Eventually I manage to get to the gate – I’m not sure how – maybe I became invisible for a split second – where I was restrained for another hour by which time my back was aching with my backpack and my son hung over me with his arms gripped around me.  And I feel like the only sane one out of all four of us.  Naturally, I am anxious by this point although I’m quiet.  But I’m still determined to get out into the open where I will be free.

The doctor in Harare had referred a doctor in Victoria Falls should I need one.  Wisdom is his name – whom I meet for the first time.  He doesn’t look like a doctor.  He returns with his brother to inject me.   In an attempt to postpone the sedation – I threaten them all to back off while I have a cigar which I have in my rucksack that I bought after my release from the Harare hospital – I’m using my fiercest tone and every foul word I can come up with.  Ironically, this is an acceptable request and it works – to smoke.  I’m hoping that they think I no longer need sedation because the nicotine has worked but it doesn’t so I use the butt and light another.  Then I request a Zambezi beer hoping they will conclude that nicotine and alcohol are enough to sedate me.  There is no beer and I’m not allowed to finish my last cigar and am held down and injected with 5ml of murky white liquid called CPZ (according to Wisdom when I enquired about the name of the drug the next day).  I’ve tried to google it.  Perhaps Wikipedia hasn’t discovered it yet.  It smells like dog dip and as I’m lying there I ask if they got it from a vet.  I ask them how long it will take – to die.

I’m carried into the room to lie on my couch which is my bed – got that idea from seeing Cecil John Rhodes’ in a museum in Nyanga.  On waking I stand up to make tea and a second later I am lying on the floor hitting my head on my drinks cabinet. Like I’d been tripped by an expert.  I thought I had died – it wasn’t fainting – I have no words for it.

The next day we all sit bored in the room – waiting for me to take my tablets although there is no mention of them.  On finishing my coffee I see pink at the bottom and know that they have put one of them in my coffee.  I spend the day drowsed.

The third day in a desperate attempt to leave the room, I boldly announce that I will take the tablets and demonstrate it openly.  Reading Mark 16:18 before I pop them.  I am allowed out – on my own.  I march off to the Victoria Falls Hotel where I have breakfast.  My family join me miserably as they had thought I was at the Rest Camp.  We agree to spend the day apart and meet up later.  I then book a facial and massage for 4pm and go for a swim.  Lying at the pool the tablets take effect and I am no longer free spirited and spontaneous – I’m desperate and feel I need to be hospitalised.  I’m not sure how to be on my own and feel I can’t function independently.

I’m supposed to be meeting Wisdom, the doctor at 1pm but to stall it – struggling to focus, I manage to message him and ask if there is Olanzapine in Victoria Falls which is a medication my initial psychiatrist at Bournemouth Hospital, England prescribed when I was first admitted for the reaction to steroids.  I coped on it but the doctor in Harare said it won’t work.  Wisdom doesn’t reply so I feel justified not to honour my appointment either.  But I still can’t cope.  I force myself to the spa and ask them desperately to shift my massage to right now.  At least I can lie for half an hour without making a fool of myself.

Afterwards I go next door to the Kingdom Hotel where I sit in the heat on a deckchair drinking a coke, on the verge of panic.  Just before my 4pm appointment I change into my costume and have a quick swim.   I have the facial – I’m so desperate now and have little control.  I walk through the grand lounge of the Victoria Falls Hotel onto the I Presume terrace, down the stairs, along the stone pathway toward the view of the bridge, I drop my bag and keep walking – my slops flick off and I keep walking – hitting the grassy slope I collapse under a cactus which hides me from any audience on the terrace.  Some warthog chase each other next to me.  My family are there and march down to demand we leave.  I can’t – I have lost control of my body – my mind.  I am shaking as my body is in shock.  From two tablets.  To stall – once again – I demand cigarettes.  Miraculously that works again.  I’m not a smoker.  I’m bought a packet of Berkley cigarettes and given a squashed box of Lion matches from a waiter’s pocket.  I chain smoke.  Thinking of plan B.   The sun sets and it is a pure beauty.  A staff member arrives to entice me somewhere – telling me there are snakes.  I refuse.  The moon is full – I gaze at the stars in full display – I love the sky during the day with clouds and sunsets but stars remind me that I am part of a much bigger story and I cry.  I do not deny that I would rather be in heaven.  I want to be with Jesus and I seriously joke if He doesn’t come soon to rapture me – I’m gathering Holy angels to arrest Him.  The ambulance team arrive and inject me twice to transport me back to the room.

 I spend three days in the room sitting on the floor during the day – my couch is always occupied by a captor, mostly my mother.  I cannot be bored – it’s impossible.  Even if my mind is being controlled by substances and my body weak and panicked – I am constantly finding ways to stimulate myself.  I drink at least six litres of water to detox and also due to a constant thirst which can’t be quenched.

I have survived missing the Victoria Falls carnival and any other New Year celebrations and my son leaves early on New Year’s Day 2018.  I wake up to the smell of vomit.  I get up feeling frisky but with an edge of denial that it is temporary and that I will soon be hostage again.  It lasts through spring cleaning the room around my mother and teenage daughter.  I leave it as late as possible to request a possible departure.  It is approved.  Except that I still don’t feel I can cope on my own and have to invite my mother – my daughter is sleeping in as she was out with friends for New Years Eve and thinks her drink was spiked.

I go back to the Victoria Falls Hotel to face my humiliation head on.  It’s not that bad.  I am reminded though by empathetic comments from various staff members as I do my walk of shame through the lounge – over the terrace towards the cactus.  I inspect the damage to the lawn as I was pulling tufts of grass out while puffing my smoke and think it might look as bad as practising golf on a driving range – but it is a tiny patch.  I continue onto the swimming pool.  My mum sits in the Roman themed area and I’m in and out of the pool.  I can’t swim well – my arm is still very swollen from a reaction to the first injection from Wisdom.

My mum wants to take my daughter to the hospital to be seen by a doctor.  She is given a glucose injection and has blood tests which are clear.  I jump in to ask him if I could get a prescription for Olanzapine as my mum wants to take me back to Harare or England to get them but he obliges.

The next day I take the prescription to the pharmacy and Zimbabwe doesn’t stock Olanzapine and I refuse to take any generics because of my history with medication in general.  Fortunately, there is no facility in Victoria Falls to section me.  They could put me in jail which would be more civil than one of those hospitals.

If I was drunk and behaved the way I had – I would be arrested and held overnight until I’m sober or sent home for a cold shower and pampered with cups of black coffee.  If I did those things because I was high on drugs I would receive counselling and maybe offered a rehabilitation programme.  Not put through hell.  I can understand if I were suicidal or violent but I’m not – I just have invincible episodes which last a day and would prefer a bodyguard for these moments, if my safety is what the state is worrying about – it might be cheaper.

With the experience of two psychiatric hospitals and knowing how pathetic the environment is for someone having a manic episode, I would recommend instead a professional care team that in the event that one does have an unconquerable moment which appears they could put themselves in harm – a peaceful approach needs to be given – it only lasts a day or so.  Perhaps calmly approached and taken to a quiet hospital with a kind doctor. Staying in a quiet room.

Not punishment – that’s for criminals.

 

FOUR THINGS I’LL SHARE ABOUT TRAVELLING WITH MY GUY

JESUS IS COMPETITIVE
This isn’t fairyland.  The enemy continually spoils my plans but Jesus is a brilliant chess player and has twenty moves ahead.  Mostly behind the scenes but I always seem to escape the flames.  John Eldredge from Ransomed Hearts, Colorado says ‘we get it all back’.

I played golf on my own the other day and whispered to Jesus that I’m playing against Him and He said – ‘Bring it on!’

He is the Ruler of rulers and armies can’t defeat Him.

JESUS IS BRILLIANT – He is the smartest man who ever lived

I needed to buy my daughter a suitcase on one of my travels.  I found the one I liked but almost didn’t buy it not wanting to carry two cases on the bus – train and then airport.  Jesus told me that they will fit into each other – so I bought it in faith and they did!

JESUS IS COMPLETELY WILD AND PLAYFUL – He makes me brave

I walked across the border to Zambia in search of Him recently all because I made up a story a few years back set in Zambia – being rescued by a strong – kind man.  I was sure Jesus said it was Him!  I searched the internet to find out if anyone had seen Him in real since He ascended to heaven.  PLUS I had written in a journal before that – a vision I had standing on a dusty road in the bush with Jesus and heard Him say ‘I will meet you there’.  Oh well we all do crazy things when we’re love sick….

JESUS IS ROMANTIC

He says things like ‘I kept the sunset for you’ – who else could do such a thing? And ‘Let me love you’.  And uses words like ravished.  And I just love Him.

 

 

Who’s afraid of the big bad wovit

treepaper

I’m lying face down on the bed at the surgery in Nyanga.  Earlier this morning I was bucked off my horse and have torn my elbow open and cracked a rib.  Dr Chirumba is cleaning my wound without any anaesthetic.  He uses firm wipes with cotton wool soaked in stingy Betatine solution to prepare it for stitches.  I don’t want to cry so I distract myself with conversation.

‘Do you know there are mad war vets in Troutbeck?’ I ask, with my face turned away so he can’t see my scrunched eyes.

‘No I don’t,’ he replies in gentle disbelief.

I don’t care and continue ‘Well there are – you can tell who they are when you pass them on the road.’

Dr Chirumba reaffirms his lack of such knowledge.

My interest in war vets has been stirred by last week’s phone call from Patrick* one evening.  He was the caretaker of a cottage I do holiday bookings for.  His boss, Mr Baldwin*, who is in his early eighties together with his wife and labour lawyer, had driven up that morning from Harare to dismiss him for repeated misconduct and he had turned fierce.

‘How are you madam?’ Patrick asks me loudly with nervous excitement.

‘Fine,’ I say, suspecting some unpleasant words to follow.

Fine? Well you better watch your back because I’m sending war vets with guns to shoot you!’ Patrick shouts viciously.

‘That’s fine,’ I say and cut the call.

I’ve been told three times this year by my haematologist that I’m going to die soon and have learnt to become quite numb when threatened with such a possibility.

‘Patrick is sending war vets to shoot me,’ I tell my family and sit back on the couch.

Susie, my cousin who is visiting from Cape Town has just been reading the book, End of the Spear to our daughters, my mum and me.  After hearing my announcement, she closes the book just as the Inca tribe are about to spear the missionary father on the beach.  This is the last time we hear the story.

Later that night I hear Susie in her bedroom urgently teaching Psalm 91 to her daughter.  I already know it off by heart.

Patrick has also threatened to send Zanu-PF members (the ruling party) to burn Mr Baldwin’s cottage down.  We will go to the police station the next morning to report him.

We arrive mid morning at the police station on the outskirts of Nyanga town.  The empty parking area is covered in white sand but Mr Baldwin chooses to park on the grass under a fir tree.  We walk up the steps into a small dark room with cement floors and beige walls.  There is an old wooden counter dividing the room with a slatted bench for visitors on the one side and a desk for the charge officer on the other.  The walls are covered in reminders of the services and duties of the ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic Police).

The charge officer standing behind the desk looks the age of a school boy and barely greets us.   Mr Baldwin hands him Patrick’s termination agreement, explaining yesterday’s saga.  The charge officer is not responding, then without saying a word, sits down at the desk and starts drawing columns in an exercise book.  We are left standing at the counter watching him.  I am trying to deduce whether this has anything to do with our case.  Then my hope fades and I realise this may be a waste of time – why would they care about war vets killing me? I’m just a tiny speck in Zimbabwe, part of 1% of the population, practically extinct – hence the joke ‘Save the whito’.

Three new charge officers enter the room, one lady and two men.  Perhaps they have all come in from having their teatime.   Mr Baldwin approaches them with the termination agreement and again explains the details of yesterday.    They gather together and study the document, the one in the middle reads it slowly and out loud.  Mr Baldwin is getting restless as we have been waiting for half an hour to find an officer to accompany us to Patrick’s village and bring him in for questioning.

The officer goes off and comes back with the Sergeant on duty.  For the third time the document is being read as Mr Baldwin is explaining yesterday’s events once again in great detail, when I desperately interrupt.

‘ Patrick is sending war vets to shoot me!’

After all, this isn’t about how much Patrick got paid out or that Mr Baldwin’s cottage might be set alight – this is about my life being threatened.  The paper on the wall says a Grade A call is when there is danger to life, violence is being used or threatened, or a crime is likely to be committed.

They all look up, look at each other; some leave the office – some stay.  Something is happening but I’m not sure what.  Mr Baldwin and I are told to sit on the bench.  I can tell Mr Baldwin’s patience is running out so I temporarily distract him.

‘How did you meet your wife?’ I ask quickly.

Mr Baldwin sits back and begins his story with ease, ‘My Annie came out from Cornwall to visit her cousin in Salisbury. I had a young girlfriend at the time whose father wouldn’t allow out to a dance which was going to be held at the clubhouse, so a friend of mine said he knew just the girl for me to take.’

I’m looking at Mr Baldwin, trying to imagine him back in those days.  He is a tall, lanky man with pale blue eyes, tackie wet lips, grey hair and sun spots on his face.

He has become approachable and tells me about the farm he grew up on in Karoi which was passed onto him by his father.  Then after Independence, in the early eighties when farms were cheap as people were leaving the new Zimbabwe, he bought the farm next door.  His four sons and their families farmed with him until both farms were taken by the government during the farm invasions which started in 2000. War vets (actually youth who have never been in war) were used to intimidate the white farmers to leave their farms without being compensated for their land, homes, furniture or farming equipment.  They left the whole lot.

Mr Baldwin returns to reality and realises we are still waiting for the constable to arrive.  He stands up and hangs over the counter to address the charge officer.

He takes off his glasses, ‘You see this eye – I have just had an operation,’ he says, pointing to it.  He puts his glasses back on. ‘I can’t drive at night; I need to get back to Harare before dark.’

‘I understand but we are waiting for him to arrive, he has gone to another job and will be here soon,’ replies the officer.

After two hours of waiting, the constable arrives by foot. Transport amongst the police force is scarce.   He is a slim man dressed in casual clothes, with a quiet authority and seems unmoved by Mr Baldwin’s frantic hurry to get on the road.  A uniformed police officer accompanies us together with the constable and we briefly discuss the highlights of the case as we walk to the car.

They sit in the back seat reading the termination agreement while Mr Baldwin tears up the mountain in his Pajero, calculating the time he will eventually leave for Harare.  Just to make sure the officers have influence if I ever need them, I ask ‘Are war vets above the law?’

‘If you commit a crime, it doesn’t matter who you are – you will be arrested,’ the constable assures me.

For a moment my confidence is briefly restored in the police force as that wasn’t true during the farm invasions.  In most cases the police weren’t prepared to protect the farmers as they said it was political.

I am dropped off at home, as it is suggested that I don’t accompany them to the village.  One of the workers from the property we stay on is standing at the kitchen door talking to my mother.  He has come to inform her that Patrick has been spreading rumours about me at the market place where the locals sell their goods and the drunkards hang out. Patrick has told the people that I have told him to take his Zanu-PF T-shirt off because I am MDC (the opposition party).  He was trying to stir a crowd to come and toyi-toyi (a dance used with chanting to intimidate) outside my home but apparently the war vets regret their past atrocities during the farm invasions and 2008 elections and some have turned mad because of it.

Mr Baldwin phones me the next morning.  They stayed over at the cottage as it was too late to drive back to Harare. Patrick was not at home yesterday so the constable left a message for him to report to the police station.  Mr Baldwin asks if I knew where the termination agreement was.  I told him I put it between the seats in his car once the constable had read it.

‘Well it isn’t there.  I’ve turned the car upside down,’ he insists.

His wife grabs the phone ‘Are you sure it wasn’t left at the police station? John is so forgetful, I told him not to lose it, we don’t have a copy and the lawyer said we must guard it with our lives.  Perhaps the police took it?’

My heart sinks, ‘Why would the police take it?’‘You just can’t trust any of them,’ Mrs Baldwin tells me.

*Names changed

KOAM

003

Written by Taymen Graye – my son,  when he was 15.

From Zim to Maf there is a woman travelling on a mission
With no clear destination, just driven by love and endless ambition

She’s here for a purpose, even if at the moment it is still a mystery
One thing’s for sure, she will always be my missionary

She connects my soul to the depth of my heart and brings my soul into my life
Through all the struggle, she makes the joy eclipse the strife

When my life lost direction she gave it some alignment
She’s so precious, hard working with many sacrifices, like an African blood diamond

Talking to her is like aromatherapy in its finest finesse
Clearing my pores of all the tyrant stress

Always there for me, making me happy, for a better mother I could not pray
Always willing to be my goalie on a hot Rooigrond day

Tranquil, calming moments with her
Just like the old Friday afternoon at Spur

Sitting on the patio at Leopard Park, reflecting back
Giving me the inspiration to keep my life on track

Even on the worst days, when I talk to her my day flips
I’m like a zipper and she is that helpful hand to put back the rail when it slips

Like the soothing cream on a painful rash
She is my airbag whenever I crash

She straightened my life out whenever it bent
Even making an adventure out of staying in the tent

Even without money, she made sure that Christmas presents were bought
Always sending me angels for support

She brought a little girl into my life and made me a brother
A little girl with so much life, a pure reflection of her mother

I’m sure she must have two hearts because one heart could not possibly
be big enough to contain the love she has for her family

She has a heart warmer than the sun’s ray
If I had to describe as a colour it would be StormGraye*

She has a heart with no barrier
She’s made for big things like a cargo carrier

Bound to no limit, potential to the highest supreme
Great expectations I have for this African Queen

The road to her crusade has just begun
Yes, I’m certainly proud to be this woman’s son

Get out the Tent

dakota_tent

The summer thunder showers have made it unbearable for my five year old daughter, Dakota and me to live in this tent near a dam on the outskirts of Mafikeng.  There is no one else here.  My relationship has ended and I am a single mum who can’t afford rent.  I need to get work and find a proper home for us to stay in.  I am getting ready to meet a potential client who will hopefully agree to do business with me.

I want to be organised but it is hard when it is muddy outside and the tent floor is wet from our feet.  We would have been dressed on time if it were dry outside.  Dakota knows how important this meeting is and I have her co-operation during our mad rush.    I step carefully through the mud wearing slops and carrying Dakota plus my shoes to the car.  Slowing down at the robot in town, the driver alongside me indicates that my muddy slop is stuck in the car door, which annoys me as I don’t want to look like my life is falling apart.

We arrive at the Wimpy to meet with Lincoln for the first time to discuss me designing his website.  He is a black man with a beaming face, softly spoken and slightly shy.  I immediately like him and relax.  Dakota understands that she can only have a small milkshake.  I must buy Lincoln and myself a coffee too.  I am broke and desperate for Lincoln to choose my quote.  I know he has at least two other companies that want the job.  After our meeting, Lincoln tells me about his church.  I had seen the lead pastor of Christ Embassy in Nigeria, Chris Oyakhilome on television before but was not aware they had a satellite church in Mafikeng.  Lincoln invites me, I don’t want to go but I need his business.

‘I’d love to come,’ I say.

It is Sunday and I am parked outside the church.  I want to stay in my car but I have to go inside.  I stand at the door of the small prefab building and stare at the packed room.  Lively black people dancing and singing – I immediately feel spare for coming and that I won’t be welcome.  Where is Lincoln?  He sees me.  Dakota is enticed to the room next door where children go.  She is as apprehensive as me.  I miss her.

The pastor walks into the church; his presence stirs the room as if a king had entered and we are all in awe.   He is wearing a smart suit, his one hand holds onto the front of his jacket and the other arm swings by his side.  His walk is slow and slightly awkward – it might be his shoes that are too long and pointy.  I think they are made of crocodile skin.  He doesn’t look at any of us – only straight down the aisle towards the pulpit.  Two serious tall men, perhaps bodyguards walk behind him.  The music stops and he starts to preach in his Nigerian accent.  His message starts off slow, and then builds up to enthusiastic.  He marches up and down the aisle.  I am on an aisle seat.  I quickly learn to say ‘Amen’ when he says ‘Hallelujah’.  He notices me.  In town, black and white people go to the same churches but white people don’t go to churches in the black communities. I am aware of this.  I remain humble to show I appreciate this fact.  Besides, this is temporary.

At my second meeting with Lincoln I mention to him where I am staying and he immediately arranges for me to meet with the pastor.

I’m sitting alone with the pastor in his lounge and he has barely spoken to me.  He is quiet and seems perplexed.  He keeps leaving the room.  I think he doesn’t know what to do about my situation.  This is awkward.  I’m confident he is going to save us though – his message on Sunday made me believe he has supernatural powers since the Holy Spirit dwells within in him or anyone who believes in Jesus and equips a person to face all circumstances. Wealthy people go to this church – doctors and business owners.  He has arranged for us to temporarily stay at a guest lodge owned by a member of his congregation.  Dakota and I are in heaven.

I volunteer as an usher.  My wardrobe is jeans and t-shirts – always has been.  I have to wear smart black trousers with a blouse and high heels.  I have made a friend, Portia.  She likes smart clothes; she is large and cheeky with dreadlocks, I like her.  She arranges clothes for me from some of the ladies in the congregation.  Ushers stand throughout the service which can go on for hours – in high heels.  I am being trained as a soldier.  Disciplined.  Committed.  I can never miss a meeting or service – being sick is no excuse.  Each Friday at the end of the month is all night prayer, from 6pm until 6am.  I have to stand – in high heels – for 12 hours.  Dakota has a bed made under the table at the back of the church where I stand.  One Saturday morning we had to go to a funeral in an African village, straight after the prayer night.  I wasn’t told that it was unacceptable for a woman to wear trousers in a village and was mocked by the residents.  I learnt to sing songs in Tswana and Zulu even though I had no idea what they meant. I had to catch men and woman on my own – in high heels – that were slain in the spirit (falling down under the anointing of the Holy Spirit) as the pastor prayed for them.

One Sunday, Pastor Ken was coming to visit and flowers were ordered for the church.  The florist whom I knew, arrived during the lively African worship – you can’t help but dance!  She looked stunned.

This was my secret.

 

Bio

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I was a mum without a husband, who had a daughter with a nanny.  I was friends with a game ranger who rode a motorbike.  My neighbour’s house joined onto mine so that we could pop in and out.  I smoked all the time; I had short sticks stacked in each room, available whenever I needed to puff.  I had a bar in my bathroom.  My house was designed around Machona’s hut which was my walk-in wardrobe.  I drove a Landrover.

We played this as often as we could at the compound where my granny’s cook and his wife lived.  We drew each room in the white sand which had been routinely swept by Violet, using her broom made from gathered twigs.

Even though I was aware of terrorists peering at me through the tall grass when I waited outside the army base for the school bus or checked for them under my bed before I went to sleep at night or that my father was mostly away fighting, I mostly didn’t care about the bush war in Rhodesia.  My life was absorbed with my cousins and the visits to my grandparent’s farm.

We had to move to South Africa when I was a teenager and my life was never to be the same.  I yearned for the farm.  We visited home once a year.

In real life I did get married – I got told you had to if you were having children.

After becoming a single mum, I returned to Zimbabwe with my daughter.

To those closest to me, the grown up part of my life story appears full of blunders, and there is little hope for me of a life once dreamed.  Yet I have feathers in my cap too.  I’ve set off the alarm in the Louvre; dated a prince in Holland; stayed with Margaret Thatcher’s former foreign secretary; accommodated Nelson Mandela’s fellow prison comrade; received Nelson’s autograph; lived for two months with my daughter in a tent; flown in the president of Bophuthatswana’s jet; been an usher for a year in an all black church; worked in an orphanage in Mozambique for three months and this year, been my haematologist’s first patient to turn down chemo.  My feathers are perhaps just from a rare bird that no-one recognizes.

The life I really desire is one of freedom.  I long for my days to be soaked in creativity and adventure, full of bubbling hope, waiting in expectation.  Yet I remain trapped in my thoughts that my desire for life to the limit, is not for this life at all.  I think I’ve been tricked.

I admire people who weren’t willing to give up on their desires.  With courage they were able to step out, and with determination, change things.  They conquered their fears of tomorrow.  How does this happen?  How did Erin Brokovich do it?  How does anyone do it?  This has been my search for years.  I think that the switch is inside all of us, it just needs to be released, but for that to happen – you have to trust it first and then let go.

I still yearn for those feelings I had as a child.  I get them sometimes when I drive passed African villages.  I imagine they are content the way I was playing around Machona’s hut.  But then they aren’t part of a game either, they too live in the real world.