There are times in life when we are traumatised to the extent of failing to express our pain. When we are supposed to cry we find ourselves laughing. Our minds fail to register and acknowledge the painful reality before us. We sometimes wish someone would come and rescue us from the mess.
When you are poor, you are bound to be used and taken advantage of. You are considered useless and unwise. Seated among others your contribution is disregarded. Those who are in better positions would make decisions for you even if they are not good for you.
A couple of years ago, I found myself in a situation that made me really hate poverty with a passion. I was young, in pain and confused. I had just lost my dad and I couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. The tunnel didn’t look like it had an end. I had big dreams but reality was just hard on me and dreams stayed dreams.
I had just completed my O’levels and passed with flying colours but there was no sign of me pursuing my dream.
At my dad’s funeral I did not shed a tear until days after the burial. I was in shock because I couldn’t comprehend the fact that my dad was gone. The fact that I was not going to see him ever again made me numb. I hoped for the people who had gone to get his body at the mortuary to come back and tell me that it was a mistake. I hoped that a miracle would happen and he would wake up from the dead. The corpse came and those who were brave enough viewed the body for the last time. He was my father whom I knew as a strong man, jovial and lively. I couldn’t view him in that horrible state. Pale and lifeless with his eyes and mouth wide open I imagined.
I knew the consequences of viewing his body. I had a bad experience when a neighbour Mr Ruwizhi passed away some years prior to my dad’s death. I didn’t see his dead body but just the photos of his dead body lying lifeless in a casket. I got the photos from his children because they were my friends. Those pictures haunted me for years. Whenever I went to sleep, the moment I closed my eyes the first thing I would see was Mr Ruwizhi lying in his coffin. I ended up dreading to sleep. I cannot begin to describe the torture I went through whenever I heard the songs that were sung on the funeral. Until this day as an adult, whenever I hear the songs I relive the funeral of our neighbour. I can imagine what I would have gone through had I viewed his body in person.
Therefore, even though I loved my dad so much I refused to view his body. My aunts and uncles tried to convince me to see him for the last time but I stood my ground because I knew I would suffer on my own after. They tried to convince me telling me things that would make me cry but I didn’t.
I remember my other aunt sarcastically telling me that I had to eat bread at the funeral because that was likely the last time I would eat bread. She knew my dad was the bread winner and she smelt poverty attacking us like a Tsunami.
Reality didn’t even hit me when we went to bury him. I was still in denial. I still hoped that the hospital would send a messenger to say they took a wrong corpse. I anticipated for him to resurrect like Jesus. My hopes were shattered when days went by but my dad was not showing up.
I was devastated and I believe that experience changed me. People came and wept after the funeral but no one offered to help. All they said was “sorry”. Well, sorry doesn’t help much. I am yet to see someone who got somewhere with a sorry. My dad collapsed at work due to something like a migraine and died unexpectedly within a week. No one saw his death coming since we expected him to get better. I guess he also didn’t see it coming because there was nothing saved for us as kids.
Unfortunately, he was a man who ran from poverty yet it always had a way of catching up with him. There was no money and no plans for our future. My dad was a chef and a part time barman at a hotel in Harare. The hotel was owned by Indians who didn’t have a pension fund for the employees. There was no avenue for us to get money. My mother on the other hand was a fulltime housewife. She had a bit of dressmaking experience which my dad didn’t support much because he wanted my mother to be just a housewife. Getting married was the easiest and fastest option for me or marrying off my mother to another man.