Archive for the ‘The Diary of Zinzi Zwane’ Category

New Year’s Resolution

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It’s that time of the year, again!

Many different opinions about new year resolutions and their helpfulness exist. Other people say they are futile. Others say they are important for starting the year with a set of goals to work towards. My opinion is derived from both these. This is what I mean: New Year resolutions are futile, especially if you only draw them up for the sake of being cool. New Year resolutions are as useful as you make them to be. One sure way of making them useful is to keep checking throughout the year how far you’ve fared with your resolutions.

In the past, I have set many goals and resolutions that I didn’t accomplish. That’s not abnormal and one needn’t be ashamed of it. Not every goal set will be achieved – understandably so. The truth is that sometimes we know when we set ourselves futile goals and people should desist from practising this tendency. If you know that you’re not planning to stop being a drunkard in 2017 then don’t set it as your New Year resolution. Why are you confusing yourself unnecessarily like that?

In 2015, I didn’t really write any New Year resolutions, which, I suspect, is why I found myself most of the time feeling like I was not in control of my destiny, that I was just going with the flow and improvising as I go. But, one thing that occupied my mind last year this time was getting accepted to study at UFS, which I did and passed. As far as any written resolution is concerned, this is the only one I had for this year…

Which brings me to this year. 2016 you bastard of a year! Only a few and the brave claim you as their own – you were no one’s year and quite frankly most of us wouldn’t protest if it were said we strike you of the roll of our collective memory. You brought us Trump and literal prophets of doom. You brought us Penny Sparrow and her ilk and their racist bigotry. You were the year of drought and racism. You took with you our friends and families. 2016 do not pride yourself in your disgraceful achievements… you took students fighting for education to prison… you 2016 are a beast of no nation… we watched in horror as Syria trended on social media… all I can say about you is that we will not forget you, but don’t count on us missing you. You have terrorised us and left us wondering what 2017 brings…

Which bring me to my New Year resolutions. We can only hope that you come bearing goodwill and prosperity and happiness and love and warmth and new adventures and new friends and all the other things that will be on our list of resolutions. We can only hope that you’re not even a distant relative of 2016, but even here we hope without hoping because we know the impossibility of what we ask of you…

You are merely a year, with 365 days and 52 weeks and whatever happens within you is not in your hands. You don’t control it. You are merely an empty page in which humans will chart their history and because humans are fallible beings we can only hope that goodness visits their hearts and their actions will be steeped towards making the world a better place for its present and future inhabitants.

… but for me you come at a time of uncertainty, not to say that you intimidate. I like an adventure and I love surprises. So, surprise me all you like, throw curve balls at me and see me dodging them. I’m looking forward to you, whatever beast you are. I’m looking forward to walking into you and walking of you still standing on my two feet. Whatever happens, I will make sure that I live, and to live to the fullest. I will suck the marrow out life.

Which bring me to why I’m writing this entry instead of the 31st… when the New Year is ushered in. I have decided to stay on this side and not crossover to the coming year.

This then marks my very, very last post in this diary. I don’t want to get sentimental and cry (I have done enough of that this past few days), but all I want to say is that four years is a long, long time and for the past for years you have read my ramblings and entertained my madness. ‘Thank you’ does not begin to do justice to how I feel. ‘Bye’ will make me cry.

I love all of you who read my diary. I have not met any of you but you have touched my life in so many ways and for that I will never forget you, and unlike 2016, I will always miss you!

Phew! The last paragraph is the hardest.

ZZ xx

Christmas Memories

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One way of measuring growing up and the years as they go has always been my attitude towards Christmas. Like every child, when I was still a child, I always looked forward to the December holidays – first, because they were the only holidays one spent a lot of time at home (no I didn’t hate school) and, secondly, because of the festivities that came with Christmas and New Year. I cannot recall my first encounter with Christmas, but what I do have is the memory of what happened at every Christmas at home.

I remember the tree and the wrapped-presents under it. Of course, I remember the first time, my mom brought me a book. That was the year I was doing grade 2 and I had asked her to accompany me to the library to make a library card. I remember, too, the new clothes we wore on Christmas and the food that I always helped my mom cook every Christmas morning.

In the afternoon, my father’s younger brother, before he passed on, would visit and we would sit around the table and eat and then open our present. My father and his brother would sit until late at night drinking their whisky and tapping their feet to the sound of jazz. They never fought or raised their voices. Christmas seemed to be a time of plenty. There was food, money, time, companionship and everything that was not there during the long year.

Why was Christmas not every day? Why, why, why… why don’t good thing last forever?

“Christmas only comes once my child,” that’s what my mother used to tell me whenever I wanted more than she could give. It was a good analogy that didn’t need one to be a smart ass to understand what she meant, but I can’t really say I understood.

And the Christmas of 2008 came. I was 14. I remember this Christmas for three reasons. Firstly, this is the Christmas a boy, Aphiwe, said the magic words to me. I don’t know if it’s the alcohol we had drank on the sly, under our parents’ noses, that had given him the courage to tell me that he loves me and kiss me and then turn around and run away, leaving me dizzied by the realisation that what I had felt for him was love. Or what could it have been? This strange sensation that I felt whenever he was in close proximity; these butterflies camping in my stomach… is that what they meant? Could the sensation be summed up in three little words? He had summed it up for me and left when the summer holidays came to an end.

Secondly, it’s the last Christmas we spent with my father’s brother. He and my father had spent the day like they usually spent other Christmases – whisky and jazz. But that night, for reason unbeknown to me, they had raised their voices and quarrelled and he stood up and staggered towards his car drove away leaving a cloud of dust behind him. I don’t think he saw me raise my hand to wave goodbye. He was drunk and got into an accident.

I remember looking forward to Christmas and not looking forward to it at the same time… because Aphiwe had promised he’ll come back again during the summer holidays… because my father’s brother was not going to be there.

Why don’t things stay the same forever? Why, why, why… why does the wind of change touch everywhere without asking us if we want the change or nor?

It was only later that I realised that change meant growing up. I think that realisation came to me last year, when my mother and I spent the Christmas together and my father was not there. This year I’m alone. Noxy and new boyfriend, Marko, have gone to Pretoria to spend the day with his parents. I can’t say I’m not tempted to call my mom, but time alone has given me time to think about my life and the course it has taken and I can only agree that ‘change is the only constant.’ Things don’t stay the same forever, but memories do…

ZZ xx

Running Away

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Secrets have a funny way of always coming out when you least expect them. And when they do, they turn your world around until you don’t know what’s what and you cannot tell the difference between enemy and family. It’s the betrayal that stays with you like a permanent scar. No amount of apologies can rub it off.

It is even worse when that betrayal comes from a parent.

My father – he who sold our family home so that he and his mistress can live comfortably – is sick! (I don’t know if you remember but he spent some time in hospital last year – due to cancer.) Now, he’s lost weight and is – excuse the cliché – a shadow of his former self. But, that’s not the worst. The worst is that, now that he’s broke and can’t work because of his health issues, his mistress has discarded him. And now he’s moved in with us.

I don’t know how mom does it, this thing of having a heart that forgive so easily… because I can’t. I can’t pretend that he never left and that everything has always been cool. I can’t sit on the table, across him and pretend to be having a decent conversation with my dad whereas I know that he’s been missing in my life for four years. So, I have spent the past four days in my room and I have refused to speak to him. Mom – his new lawyer – was here, she says I should forgive him, but I can’t.

The moment she left the room I started packing my clothes back into their suitcases. I’m leaving this place. What she doesn’t know is that I, too, have been keeping a secret from her. Just like her, I wanted to talk to her face to face, but we haven’t really had the time to sit down and catch up. My home is now like a war zone, tense and not much laughter going on. This is why I’m leaving. The packing is done hurriedly, I don’t even bother to pack the clothes nicely and I only stop when I have to wipe the tears running down my face with the back of my hand.

“What do you think you are doing, Zinzi,” it’s my mom, standing by the door. I didn’t hear her coming down the passage.

“I’m packing. I’m leaving,” I say without looking at her.

“You can’t do that, Zinzi,” she says.

“I can, mama.” I say, “And, as you can see, I’m doing it,”

She looks at me, her eyes spell disbelief. “You can’t just up and leave. We are family…”

“Family, right?” I cut her off, “Don’t you think he should’ve thought of that too? Before he left?” It’s not a question and she knows it. She just looks at me. Her eyes are begging me not to leave. Tears fall from her eyes. A part of me wants to stand up and walk towards her and hold her…but I don’t. Instead, when I do stand up, I go to the wardrobe to check if there’s anything I have left behind.

“So, where are you going?” she says, snivelling and wiping her tears

“I don’t know yet. Maybe crash with Noxy for a few days and think about my next move, but…” I stop to think about it, how to phrase it right. This is my moment. My secret. “I got accepted to study Media Law in Germany, so that’s where I think life is leading to, eventually.”

“What?” The anguish in her voice breaks my heart. “You can’t do that, Zinzi.”

“Why not?”

“Because… because…” She’s looking for the right words to say. “Because you can’t,” she says finally.

“Stop saying that! I’m not sixteen anymore. This is my life – I will live it how I want to,”

“What will running away solve?”

“I’m not running away. I’m tired of the lies.” I say, zipping the suitcase. This proves to be quite a task. My whole life packed in a suitcase. “Would you, please, help with zipping this?”

At first, she looks at me then she reluctantly moves towards me. I sit on top of the suitcase and she zips it. Unlike suitcases and clothes, secrets can’t be zipped away forever, eventually they come out to haunt you.

ZZ xx

Prodigal Father

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My father’s girlfriend left him. That’s what’s been up. That’s what the phone calls were about. That’s what my mother tells me as we are driving home from the airport.

Honestly, I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel about all this. Him moving in with mom. Him leaving us when we needed him most. Him rekindling the ashes for his old flame just a few months after he left us.

And, what am I to make of my mom’s role in all of this? Her being the woman who he left. She being the one who cried all night because the bed was suddenly too big and too cold. My mom. She who found both companionship and comfort in drinking after he had left her.

Why didn’t she let me in in this earlier…? Why did she have to wait for me to get back here so they can pull a surprise on me?

“Because I knew it would upset you and I didn’t want that,” she says without looking at me. “Not when you were so far.” Her eyes are still focused on navigating through Cape Town’s traffic and getting us home, where my father and Sim are waiting for us.

I’m angry. I feel cheated. I feel like I felt that day when they sat us down and told us that they were divorcing. I feel like that child again. Nothing is new about the way I feel. I remember it very well. My heart beating fast…fast…fa…as if it’s going to stop anytime. I feel like a fish that has just been taken out of the sea, desperately gasping for air. My nose is pressed against the window. I’m starring with blurry eyes at things that pass. All sounds are muffed as my mind is taken back to that day he told us that they were leaving each other.

We are sitting at the table. He clears his throat and just like that he breaks the news. It was not an easy decision, he says. We’ve thought it through, but it’s best this way, for you and for us. I look at my mom, her face is a blank sheet, no emotions can be read from it. I look at Sim, he looks confused. His eyes ask: What’s going on here?

“Don’t be angry at him, Zinzi. He needs you,” my mom’s voice brings me back to the present. It’s the way she says it that bothers me. It’s as if he pities him, as if he’s a golden egg that should be properly cared for lest it falls and breaks. It’s only then that I realise something is going on. That it’s not just the heart break of losing a lover that’s wrong with him.

Something else is up.

ZZ xx


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Dad called again! This time I was there to answer his call.

Me: Hello

Him: (Silent)

Me: Tata thetha kaloku.

Him: (Silent)

Me: Bye tata. Uzophinde ufone xa ufuna uthetha. (hanging up)

That was yesterday. He hasn’t called. And I’m here wondering to hell and back what it is that he wants to say to me. Mom says he’s going to call.

“Just give him time. When he’s ready, he’ll talk,” she says.

“What time, mama?” my voice lets me down again. Now, I’m speaking exactly in the way my parents told me not to speak, raising my voice. But what really irks me is the soft, calculated way in which my mother speaks.

“Mama, what’s going on?” This time I remember to be my mother’s obedient daughter.

“When are you coming home, Zinzi?”

“Ngomso,” I say, “But you’re not just going to change the topic like that. What’s going on, mama?”

“Look, Zinzi I’ve got to go. Just come home, nana!”

“I’m coming mama!” I scream the words, but she has dropped the phone already. My parents are cowards!!! Something’s up and no one has the guts to say it to me! I know it.

ZZ xx