“Pain demands to be felt.”
– John Green (from the passage written for the movie “The Fault in our Stars”)
Perhaps the most common thing people have said to me since my dad’s passing has been, “Be strong.” It’s a strange thing to say, I think. I know they mean well, and they mostly want to prevent me from going down a path of self destruction, but it doesn’t help. I’m already strong.
I was raised by an independent, thoughtful and kind father who wanted nothing but the best for his family. He raised me to never give up and to keep swinging, even if I was lying on my back, my opponent standing over me. He taught me to hold my head high and never take no for an answer. He taught me to fight for what I believed in, even if no one else was on my side. My whole life I’ve been strong. Vulnerability has never appealed to me, and showing my full emotions to people is still something I struggle with. But these days I find myself weak and lost – using only my father’s words to find my strength.
When I was a little girl, my father would come to my room every morning and scream “Goood morning Nestle Cerevitaaaaa!” (I was obsessed with that advert, and I loved cerevita more than VP Mnangagwa loves saying “Pasi nemhandu!”) It was the first thing I heard every morning and he was the first person to make me smile. On the way to school he would tell me jokes, explain things I didn’t understand in the paper, and would smile at me periodically through the rear-view mirror. His voice was always so soothing. Unfortunately, he did the Cerevita thing until I was in Form one. It annoyed the crap out of me and I told him to stop doing that. He did, for about a day, and then he went back to doing it for at least another year. Ha! He was my sunshine.
Around the time of my first period pains, love interests and obsession with basketball, our relationship grew even stronger. We had heated debates about ZANU and its corruption, its disregard for human suffering, and mostly its culture of violence. He knew and loved a ZANU that had fought for the equality of all and the liberation from whiteness as the normative standard of what is good, correct and desirable. He understood ZANU as a party that cared deeply for the welfare of all people, and whose members were ready to die, that Zimbabwe might live. Unfortunately, greed and excessive privilege tainted many of his colleagues, and the party wasn’t what he had known it to be. Alas, he loved his job, he loved people, and he loved what the core values of the party were. So I supported him. I would go to rallies once in a while and marvel at the amount of people who were there just to hear him speak. For a few hours I forgot my skepticism and I went along with the slogans. His words inspired people, and that made me happy. He was their sunshine too.
One day when we were arguing (again), I asked him why he continued to pursue such a precarious career path in politics. He said, “Vimbai mwanangu, we must try. We must try and fix the things that have gone wrong in this country. Even if we fail here and there, we must keep trying. Our existence depends on it.” That just about sums him up. He was a man that kept going, until the very end. He was determined to see Zimbabwe be better, do better for its people.
Pain demands to be felt.
During his funeral, I told the members of ZANU that they should be ashamed of what they did to him. That their words, like his, carried power and weight. Their words hurt him deeply, and for that I will never forgive them. I am certain that my anger will not subside any time soon, and that Karma will come knocking on their doors one day. I am also certain that there are people who are hurting with my family. People who miss him and who remembered his amazing personality. To those people – hugs all around.
My father was a man who cared deeply about those around him, and whose legacy can never be erased. He lives in me and through me. I am weak now, but I know that one day I’ll find my strentgh. I’ll find my laughter again, and I’ll find the courage to finish the work he started. I’ll never stop loving him.While this pain demands to be felt, I demand to feel love and happiness again as well. i will find my sunshine again, and I’ll rest in the strength of my father’s memory. RIP Comrade. Save me a seat next to Palestinian Jesus.