When I first met Phyllis, she belonged to my elder brother. I had seen Nimrod…
I consider myself lucky though, you know? Imagine if things were different. Like it I was a girl, or if I was from a highly religious family, or both. Like Zahra. Imagine if I was a Zahra and got pregnant. Imagine if I was a boy, but had feelings for another boy and we were caught pants down (in every meaning of that phrase). This story would have been completely different, and most likely, more tragic.
It is a text from HELB all right, but it says nothing about me getting my government student loan. All it says is that I am supposed to follow a certain link to get Barclays Scholarship. Now what the hell is this? Kwanza me these things for scholarship scholarship things, uh-uh. I did not want them. Because you know me I was a mwana wa thagana, and at the time my ushamba was telling me scholarship meant that you were being taken abroad. And we had all heard these stories of people being cheated ati wanapelekwa ulaya kusoma, kumbe they are being taken to work as servants. Halafu that was also the time when there were trending news of how Africans are being enslaved and killed in those countries of cold.
First of all, you need to leave your house thinking that the next time you’ll be passing through that door, it will be with a baby. You had done the last bit of shopping, and told the help to wash them. Hope is very important, because that is what finishes you in the end when the doctor tells you that what you created is what is killing your slowly.
I am told my late grandmother held me up to the sky and spat on my forehead at birth; she said my death would never come from the hand of man, and that I was too blessed to be cursed. In the hierarchy of birth, considering all my father’s children, I was tenth in the pecking order. So I started this race of life at 10th place.
When she had come to grips, I remember Mama Steph finding Achamin and I standing on the hallway. I remember her telling Achamin, “When we were in the car, I told you that my boy was leaving, and you refused to believe me. Do you believe me now?” Achamin could not find the tongue to respond. I remember thinking how unfair that question was – but then again, what part of losing a 4-year-old son is fair? Life always seems unfair to those who have never met death.
The day he arrived at the centre, there were no saxophones to play. Observing his crestfallen face, the music teacher quickly suggested that Mandla try his hand at the trumpet he had in his car. Mandla remembers thinking – a trumpet? What am I going to do with a trumpet? It only has three buttons! But these buttons were his only options, because if he didn’t take up the trumpet, he would have to wait for another six months for a saxophone to be available. Above all, the love was for music, regardless of where it was coming from. And so, he took the trumpet from the boot, wiped it down, and begun his musical journey.