Gathering the pieces of my heart

Today holds a special space in the hearts of many a Zimbabwean. Many of us spend hours slaving over lunch dishes, opening presents, laughing with siblings, rolling our eyes at drunk uncles and throwing shade at the one relative who thinks they’re better than everyone because of their stint in the US. I wish you all the best Christmas you can have in an economy like ours, and the kind of peace that calms your storms. May whichever deity you pray to or large white-bearded man you believe in, grant you your most precious Christmas wishes.

This Christmas, my mother is away. Her fierce smile and love for life fills most of my heart, and so her absence is felt. My dad is also away, but his is a more permanent absence. It’s one that has left a void in my soul, and has granted me countless sleepless nights and lost me a few pounds. The stress of dealing with his estate has taken a toll on all of us. Grief isn’t something I have experienced to this extent, and I have tried dealing with it as best I can, but I’m mostly floundering. I’ve received some flack for writing about Amos the politician and his former party. So I’ll change course, and write about Amos the father – the guardian of the biggest piece of my heart.

There’s a Christmas I’ll never forget. It was 2008. I hated dad for his involvement in politics . This was the year of waves of political violence from both Zanu and MDC, but mostly Zanu. It disgusted me, and I couldn’t understand why he was part of a party that condoned this kind of behaviour. But it was Christmas now, and by now I had mastered the art of ignoring him when he talked about the party and politics. As usual, we were at the farm, and I had spent the past two days writing and reading. After a big lunch and presents, my dad and I took a walk. He took long strides in those obscenely big farm/miners shoes that come with every commercial farmer starter pack. His Zanu hat was far too big for his head, as ill-fitting as his involvement in the party, I thought. He had got a hair cut a few days before, so his ears stuck out, pointing up to Palestinian Jesus. At some point he stopped in front of the cattle pen.

“I am sorry,” he said. “For what?” I asked. “For being part of things you don’t understand. I know you’re angry with me, and I know why. But this is who I am, Vimbai. But you are always first. Mese ana Tinashe, naMama. You are always first.”

He kept walking, and we didn’t speak for the rest of the walk. My dad never told me he loved me. At least not directly. It’s just not a thing in my house. But god, did he show it! There was never a Christmas he didn’t remind me that I was his priority. There was never a day he didn’t look genuinely happy to see me. There wasn’t a day he wasn’t willing to take my criticisms of his profession. There wasn’t a day I questioned his love for me. He holds the biggest piece of my heart, and so my writing is a way for me to frantically get it back, so I can live in peace again.

I’m going to his grave today. I haven’t been able to go since I cam home. I tried the other day, but I broke down in tears before I got there. So I’ll try again today. The biggest piece of my heart is there with him, and I’d like it back. I’d like to feel real peace again. I’d like to think and write about him without shedding a tear. I’d like to stop feeling the pain I feel when people mention his name. I’d like the biggest piece of my heart back. This is my Christmas wish.

Happy holidays readers 🙂

Pasi neMhandu.