By Vanessa T Amidu
When I met Tererai I was just a 25year old and still a boy. I’m saying that because that girl made me a man. She was 20 by then, or 22 because she always sounded more mature for her age. At the time I worked at SEMA and we both took the same taxis to get to Mount Pleasant suburb, where both companies we worked for were located. Talking about it now makes it seem like it was just yesterday and I cannot believe we have been together ever since. Today is my birthday and I have turned 65. Dawn is breaking through the skin of darkness outside as I watch this woman sleep. She is so beautiful like the time wrinkles were not a part of her face but it’s funny how these wrinkles have formed a beautiful pattern, skilfully making her stand out prettier after all these years. This morning before she wakes up to sing ‘happy birthday’, I want to take the little time left to reminisce through our journey together and why “a coconut brained person” like me will call it a journey of true love. Of all the people I have met, it had to be her.
Tererai and I came from completely different backgrounds. Her family was well built compared to mine that was poor and all depended on me as a beacon of hope. There has got to be something she saw in me through all that, which has kept her in my arms for about 40 years. I was very ambitious back then and of all the promises I made to her, I have worked hard to give her three quarters of them. Have you ever loved someone so much that they seemed so perfect in their imperfection? It feels so good to have someone who can kiss your scars and nurse your wounds, believing in you in times when you did not even believe in yourself. Now I look at this woman sleeping, her snoring still sounds so annoying like hiccups even though my eyes smile as I reposition her arm so she can sleep comfortably.
“Danny”, she says in a sleepy voice, “You poor thing, you couldn’t wait for me to wake up first, is that so?” There it is, she is still humorous at this age and won’t let me rest. Whenever she nags me and wants me to do simple things like tying a bolt, a screw or putting up a light bulb for her, I know she still loves me. For there were days she couldn’t smile at me or at least it seemed like she did not care anymore. I cannot really tell you why I did what I did but I’m at peace because I found my way back to Tererai. I should have listened and adhered to our wedding vows but when I left for the diaspora to hunt in foreign lands to keep our family together, I ended up hunting for way more. To be specific, two more children and Zethu, a Zulu woman from South Africa.
My moment of oblivion made me lose a part of Tererai which took me years to regain. True love to me has meant being forgiven of the most terrible mistakes. It has carved its definition around the idea that someone still saw a better version of me, in a moment I had lost that which I thought made me respected. My integrity. Sweet spirits, these women. They love even when we do not deserve. Today I’m 65 and I think I have tasted love in its truest form.
Daniel Muchenga. The man I decided to spend the rest of my life with. I look at him now at the breaking of dawn and good God he is 65 today. He looks different though, from how I used to see him. You see someone differently when you know you are the only one in their world. It must have always been like that but I never wanted to admit the blunt truth about our union. I have always been the strong woman, adapting pretty well. Call me water, yes, water. Having the power to cleanse and drown; taking shape and adapting to whatever life brings along with it. That includes all the pain you have caused me Danny. How did I think this was going to end? I have been the water and he has been the sand. No matter how strong I am, he has always had the power to take all my energy and consume all of me, clamping me to stay. But you must know that Daniel, that over the years I gave you my all. I gave you my life.
Now I look at the man I vowed to and said, “…until death do us part”, it is his birthday and that means it has been years. Time however is not the perfect painkiller for the wounds. What then is pain if you have to be the bigger person? Forgive and forget, they say. Is that my story of what true love is?