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 and my son had left school, 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.