I miss the innocent heart that once beat in my chest I miss a heart that gave compliments and meant every word I miss a heart that gave love without doubt A heart that loved without fear of heartbreak
I miss a heart unscathed A heart unscarred A heart lacking fear Only filled with bravery of warriors of the old A heart that struck fear into the heart of the boogeyman A warrior’s heart
Boy I yearn for it A heart that only feared the dark Yet sometimes marched into it with valour A heart that was filled with joy Day and night A heart unburdened with pain and hurt
I miss a heart that desired not the touch of a woman But mother’s and father’s only Girls were just girls Nothing more Just fellow humans
Eyes were just for seeing Not windows to a chest of lies and truth Smiles were just an insignia of joy Not a trigger for yearning a kiss Nakedness was funny Not lusted
I miss my heart A heart that loved with passion and compassion A heart that smiled Not to hide my wrath and rage A heart that held no grudges Just desire to love and be loved
I look at me I was happy Happy as a fool Unaware of a boy’s demise His demise No instant ramifications Oblivious to the birth of a man Happy as a child I was
A child unaware Unaware of how harder the future has become My little heart’s desires still unwavering Oh poor child I wish you knew better
You smiled from the heart Oblivious to deceit All easily believing of words told A heart still pumping with love Unaware of the cuts Bleeding out Never clotting Till nothing but a desert of emotion left
Love was all you knew Echoes of laughter was all you heard Now taunted and haunted Memories and promises never kept Left to your devices of self pity and loathing Dreaming of a better yesterday
Tomorrow seems bleak Days ever so dreadful Reach into the past Matching into the future No other choice left Little joys clung onto As they become fewer by the moment Yearning for a long lost time Gone with the winds and sands of time Longing for the AGE OF INNOCENCE.
Often times I hear my fellow young men, yet to be fathers say they will never go in the labour ward to be by the side of their wife/lady as she gives birth to their child.
The reasons behind this vary from traditionally a man having no place at such an event to jokes like the one made by a legendary Canadian stand up comedian Russell Peters to borderline fear of witnessing an Event that for generations has been reserved traditionally for Traditional Midwives such as grandmothers and community midwives then transitioning to science based Medical experts like Nurses, Then Trained specialist Midwives and now Gynecologists who come in for very specific pregnancies with Complications in most cases only a highly trained and specialised physician can attend to.
I will cite two reasons commonly given as I would like to avoid igniting a conversation about African Culture and TRADITIONS.
Russell Peters joked that, “Watching your wife give birth is like watching your favourite sports car get wrecked”. Many other comedians have said a similar thing about witnessing child birth. Its funny in a dark humour context.
FEAR of the Unknown
Some men say, “Its SCARY”. What if something goes wrong? I don’t think I can handle that.
I will address the second reason of fear as we can all relate to fear. I am avoiding addressing the first reason because I do not have a child yet. God willing I will have one or two perhaps four in the near future. For this reason I’m in no position to speak about something I have never witnessed as the men who said this have witnessed childbirth and their jokes have some truth I can not relate to because like I said I have never witnessed the event.
Like most men I too have had my fair share of fears regarding witnessing childbirth. I still have them, don’t get me wrong. My way of handling them is what has changed.
Last year I was working as a Research Assistant. The people I was working for stationed me at a Level One Hospital in Lusaka. I worked from this hospital for 3 days. During this period I worked for a section of the hospital near a ward. Ordinarily I assumed the ward was for people getting treatment for their illnesses.
During these 3days I heard screams that to my naive ears sounded like people mourning a loved one who had just past. I would feel sad every time I had the mournful screams.
Little did I know what I was hearing were ladies screaming in pain as they brought their little bundles of joy into the world. This is because it turns out the building right next to the building where I was stationed was actually a Labour Ward. I only got to learn this on my third and final day after stating to my supervisor and the nurse I was working with that, “it’s quite sad listening to people mourn their loves ones like that”.
My supervisor who is married with kids laughed. The nurse with a look that said to me, “You poor innocent child”, looked at me with a grin on her face and said, that’s not people crying for their loved ones who have passed on. That instead it was women screaming and crying because of labour pains. She went on to point out that the building next to my work station was not an ordinary ward but a Labour Ward.
In that moment it hit hard. For 3days straight I heard women cry and scream one after the other from a labour ward. The cries and screams where not that Loud. It was the pain in them that made my spine and skin crawl. I wasn’t even in the room.
However, the screams made me realise how selfish men are when it comes to parenting. Here is a woman you say you love to the Moon and back. She goes through hellish pain to birth your child and there you are unwilling or not wanting to be by her side as she goes through this horrific pain, all because you are SCARED?
If Childbirth is that scary for you a bystander. Imagine how scary it must be for the person going through it.
And if you are that scared, don’t you think it would be comforting to have someone who knows you, knows your strengths and weaknesses be by your side as you go through something so scary?
I think the least you can do is hold her hand as she brings that child into the world. Its Your Child for goodness sake. Your flesh and blood for Crying out Loud.
I was told sad men have the best humour Being young and naïve I found these words laughable How can a broken soul find the words to make another laugh…?
Now here I am Hiding behind the tears of a clown Every joke I make is Morse Code for save me I need a hug to take this pain away Yet no one sees through this shield of humour
Every death joke I make is a reflection of my suicidal thoughts These tears of a clown are a reflection of pain The sad face I make is a reflection of fear Fear of this darkness that clouds my heart
Yet all everyone sees is a man with a happy soul With you there is never a dull moment, they say How do they not see through this fake smile…? How do they not see this anguish in my eyes…?
These bear hugs I give are filled with warmth from my burning soul I am a man on fire I need a cold touch of love to quench this fire My tears are not enough to extinguish this inferno I am alive but not living I merely exist
The pain in my heart and soul grows stronger by the day Yet this humour grows even stronger Disguising my sadness even more I try to let this pain out But humour takes its place
I was once told that no one is more helpless than a sad clown I found that even more laughable How can a man always surrounded by people be helpless…? Now here I am In a crowd yet all alone With no one to hold my hand when I need it the most I guess it’s truly true, SAD MEN HAVE THE BEST HUMOUR
A man in his mid 50s clad is in a police uniform is frantically flipping through newspapers in his office. His is visible angry. From his uniform, you can tell his is a high ranking officer of the police force unlike the two gentlemen standing before him in their cheap suits. The two cheap suit clad men and Inspector Dube and Inspector Goma.
The infuriated heavily ranked man takes his seat like a King seats on his throne in distress. This man is Inspect General Vizwende.
Vizwende: Its been 3 DAYS and You two idiots have NOTHING. Not a single headline regarding her disappearance. Not even a missing person’s report has been filed for either her or her husband. Its like what you did to her husband didn’t even happen.
Dube:(Nervous), Bu bu bu but sir I don’t think she survived. I think we shot her.
Vizwende: You THINK? What a moron.
Vizwende sarcastically smiles. He shakes his head. Looking at Goma, Vizwende asks,
Vizwende: What about you Goma. You also think you shot her?
Goma: No sir.
Goma: Yes sir.
Vizwende: Fair enough. How’s the husband?
Goma: He is fine but he needs a hospital. He will die if he doesn’t get medical help.
Hearing these words seems to infuriate Vizwende even more. He looks at the two officers standing before him with a death wish in his eye. A death with for the two officers standing before him. Noticing his deathly stare, the two officers quietly walk out of the office. They leave Vizwende to drown in his rage.
A man in his mid 50s is patiently skimming through a newspaper. He has several other newspapers on the table before. Newspapers that he clearly has already skimmed through. The young lady is seating on the other end of the table impatiently looking at calmly newspaper skimming Temba.
Young lady: Anything uncle Temba?
Temba: Patience Zanji. Patience.
The young lady whose name we now know is Zanji, tells.
Zanji: PATIENCE? THEY HAVE MY HUSBAND. THEY TOOK HIM FROM ME ON OUR WEDDING NIGHT. HE IS PROBABLY DEAD BY NOW.
Temba being an ever level headed calm man that he is, he slowly closes the newspaper as he has finished skimming it. He sets the newspaper down on the table, on toned the pile of the other newspapers he skimmed.
Temba: I believe I told you many times to tread carefully when reporting on politicians who are power hungry. I clearly warned you. Being a good Journalist isn’t always about exposing corrupt politicians. Its also about highlighting many other injustice that don’t involve directly attacking politicians.
Zanji: Says the many who built a career exposing corrupt men with power.
Temba: I had tact which you clearly lack.
This remark does not please Zanji. Her gets enraged but doesn’t say a word to Temba. Temba looks her dead in the eye.
Temba: You are angry. That’s good. You gonna need it to finish this. However before you do that, we need to file a missing person’s report with the police.
Zanji: ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?
Temba: I lost my mind a long time ago. Couldn’t afford to be out of it. To answer your question, yes it’s a bad idea to file a missing person’s report with the very people who are looking to end you. However, it buts us time. The long they have no news, the more they will suspect you have help from someone powerful.
Zanji: Aren’t I getting help from powerful people? Your friends are not gonna help me?
Temba blankets his face with his palms and caresses it in disappointment.
Temba: We don’t want them knowing you have help now, do we?
Zanji: Oh. Yes. What about my husband?
Temba: Sometimes you are not very smart. Yiur husband will be fine for as long as they think we think you two are missing together.
Zanji: I can’t seat here and count on people who are looking to kill me to keep my husband alive.
Zanji breaks down and cries.
Zanji: This crazy uncle Temba. I can’t do this. I can’t. They will hurt Shanzi and he didn’t sign up for this.
Temba: Actually he did. He married you knowing what you do for a living. He hard a full comprehension of the risks. Probably better than you understood the risks of your job. He married you because he wanted to protect you when a day like this came. And if you ask me. He is doing just that.
Zanji finds these remarks to be cold and uncaring. She gets up and take keys from a bowl and storms out of the house, leaving Temba talking to himself.
Temba: (to himself), I guess I will be filing the missing person’s report alone.
Chola is tending to his chickens. Then suddenly. He hears a voice he thought he would never hear again.
Zanji: (Disappointed), You promised not to call the police.
The young lady is seating on the couch. Spike seats on his hind limbs looking at her, tongue out, tail wagging. She pets him a little. Chola then walks in with a glass of water. His hand slightly shaking as he struggles to calm his nerves. He hands the glass of water to the young lady. She takes it, equally struggling to calm her nerves. Chola then takes a seat adjacent to her, squeezing in stares at the young lady as she gulps down the water like a thirsty blooded mouthed Lion after a fresh Zebra meal.
She sighs after emptying the glass.
Chola: You need more water?
Barely catching her breath; shaking, she responds…
Young Lady: Yes please.
Chola takes the glass from her, he leaves to get more water. He comes back a moment later with a full glass and an equally full jar. He hands the young lady the glass but instead she reaches for the jar. Chola is a little shocked to see the young lady pry open the jar and begin to gulp the water from the jar.
She empties the jar and burps loudly after as she puts the jar on the coffee table. Even spike is shocked to hear the loud burp. He gets up and seats next to Chola, eyes popped, tongue back in mouth and mouth very shut. She notices the horror in Spikes eyes and the discomfort on Chola’s face. She forces a smile.
Young lady: Sorry. I was so thirsty. I haven’t had a drink of water all day.
Young lady: Its a long story.
Chola: Okay. What happened to you?
Nervously, she responds
Young lady: Its not my blood and no I didn’t kill the owner of the blood. He is alive. Someone hurt him. But he is alive.
Hesitantly Chola asks another question.
Chola: Is there anyone I can call… since you said no police.
Young lady: This is Zambia. The police wouldn’t even show up. They would ask you to take me to them.
Chola: Okay… how about I call your parents instead.
She attempts to respond but she halts her thoughts as Chola sets the still full glass on the table. She looks at the glass. Chola notices.
Chola: You can drink that water too if you are still thirsty. And I can get you more water.
Young lady: No no. I’m okay now. I was just a little startled that’s all.
Chola: Okay. Anyway who do I call and who do I say needs them?
Young lady: Just take me to a taxi rank. I will find my way somewhere.
Chola: Somewhere…? Why not home?
Young lady: I can’t go home. They are probably waiting for me there?
Chola is now unsure of what to do. He leans back on the couch back rest. He looks at her with mixed emotions.
Chola: can I offer you something to eat?
Young lady: I really appreciate everything you have done for me. But I don’t wanna get you mixed up in all this. If you and your dog can walk me to a taxi rank, I will really appreciate.
Chola: No taxi driver is going to take a young lady in a bloody wedding dress anywhere at this hour. Plus they will think am responsible for that blood. On top of that the nearest taxi rank is about an hour from here and there are not buses here. Its private transport or you walk an hour to the rank. Lastly it’s not safe here.
Young lady: Okay. I guess I will just go by myself. Just point me in the right direction.
Chola: I can’t.
Young lady: why not? I have inconvenienced you enough. Let me get out of your hair.
Chola: Look, we are in an awkward situation here. My instincts say it’s not right to send you out there. For all I know the people you are running from are just nearby looking for you. Heck you could get attacked on your way to the rank. But my gut also tells me, letting a stranger in a bloody dress spend the night may be unsafe for me.
Young lady: I know. That’s why I would rather take my chances out there than make you feel unsafe.
Chola exhales. He ponders what to do. The young lady is starting to get more nervous. Spike gets tense. He whimpers a little.
Chola: Look. Let me get you a blanket and some clean clothes. In the meantime go in the bathroom and clean up a bit. Don’t wash the dress. You might need it later for evidence should you change your mind about the police.
Young lady: How do I know that you won’t call the police when I fall asleep.
Chola: I highly doubt you will sleep with whatever you have been through. It seems you have been to hell and back.
Young lady: Look sir, you have done more than enough. Let me be on my way.
Chola: Sorry. I would rather risk my life than risk having you hurt even more. Besides my dog likes you. I guess I have to trust you won’t do me any harm since dogs are good judges of character.
The young lady barely holding tears back, thanks Chola. Chola unsure of what to do, he gets up and goes to his bedroom. In his bedroom, he grabs his sweat suit, and a spare blanket. He also grabs some pills and heards back to the living room where he finds the young lady still crying.
When she notices he is back she wipes her tears off and sniffs. She then apologizes.
Young lady: I’m sorry. Thank you for everything.
Chola puts the blanket on the couch. He hands her the sweat suit. She takes it, hands shaking a little.
Chola: the bathroom is the first door on the left down that passage. She nods and gets up and heards to the bathroom. Chola seats. Moments later she comes out with her wedding dress in hand, dressed in a sweat suit.
Young lady: I washed up a bit. Hope you don’t mind.
Chola: Not at all.
She takes a seat, dress in hand. She is still nervous, facing down mostly but taking glances at Chola who is equally taking glances at her.
Chola: You can put the dress on the other seat there.
She puts the dress on the floor instead.
Young lady: I’ll put it on the floor. I don’t wanna stain your furniture.
Chola: Okay. Umm…. here are some painkillers. For your feet. They are swollen.
She hesitates. Chola, hand still stretched, handing her painkillers, reassures her its just painkillers.
Chola: You need them if your feet are to feel better in the morning.
She nods and takes them. She notices one of the pills looks different. She scrutinises it for a bit. Chola notices.
Chola: it will help with the swelling.
She nods and takes all the pills without drinking water. Chola makes a slight discomfort face. She sees the look on his face.
Young lady: I don’t take meds with liquids. I tend to gag once I taste the meds in my mouth.
Chola: Okay. Sorry for making a face.
Chola then hands her the blanket. She takes it.
Chola: You still haven’t told me your name.
Young lady: Its not important.
To avoid, making things anymore awkward than they already are, Chola does not insist.
Chola: I’m Chola. You can use the couch pillows. I don’t have a spare pillow.
Young lady: Thanks Chola
Chola excuse himself. He says good night. She reciprocates. Chola leaves the living room living Spike who keeps a close eye on the young lady. She preps the couch and lays down. Spike then lays down as well. The light is left on.
Morning comes. The young lady wakes up to the sight of two police officers towering over her; one with cuffs, the other with her dress in a plastic bag.
Chola is comfortably slouched on the couch, watching an action movie; guns are blazing. Cars crushing, people screaming, buildings are falling to the impact of explosions. He so immersed in the movie. Suddenly Chola notices that the rain outside has dwindled to a drizzle. He can now hear other sounds aside from the rain drops on the roof. His dog begins to growl.
At first he ignores it. But the growling grows stronger accompanied by a few subtle barks here and there. Knowing his dog, he looks outside to see what’s agitating his beloved do, Spike. He looks around but sees nothing. He dismisses Spike’s growling and refocus on the movie.
As sooner as he refocuses on the movie, Spike starts barking very loudly. He quickly looks outside buts still, Chola sees nothing. He seems a little frustrated and irritated.
Chola: Spike Hush, boy. It’s just rain.
Spike stops barking on Chola’s command, but he continues growling. Chola goes back to watching his movie. A short moment after, Chola suddenly hears barely disguised footsteps outside. Spike barks loud again. Chola gets up and grabs a claw bar by the door. The moment he opens the door, the lights go out.
Chola: Damn it Zesco. Loadshedding at this time.
Chola grabs his phone. He checks the time, its 22:48.
Chola: Really Zesco. Loadshedding at this hour.
Chola then swiches on the torch on his phone. He quietly steps outside. A phone in his left hand and a claw bar in the right. As soon as he steps out side, Spike his dog trots to him and stands by his side, still growling.
Chola (Whispering): Come on Spike. Show me.
Spike leaps forward and heads toward the incomplete house in the corner of his fenced yard. Seeing Spike head there, Chola is frightened. He stops and points the torch to the gate. He notices the gate door is not locked. His heart starts racing. He had not locked the gate door.
Slowly Chola paces towards the incomplete building. Next thing he notices, Spike is nowhere in sight. He can’t even hear Spike make a sound. Chola is now terrified. Thinking, Spike has been killed.
Chola reaches the door, though terrified, he bravely walks in the living room of the incomplete building and finds nothing. He shines light into the corners of the room, nothing in sight. Then he hears footsteps in the next room. Chola points the torch in the next room, only to see a white cloth dash through a door leading out the next room into another room. Chola starts trembling. Strangely however, Spike quietly goes into the same room the white cloth disappeared into.
Chola is now shocked. His fear goes away. Thinking to himself, Spike only follows people he likes. If this cloth is dangerous Spike should be mauling it down. Chola still cautiously walks to the door where Spike and the Cloth entered but does not enter the room. He stands by the door. He points the torch into the room.
Chola: Whoever you are, step into the light before I order my dog to attack you. He may seem friendly right now but once I give the order, he will attack.
Chola’s chest is now moving in and out rhythmically from the heavy breathing. His command is met with deafening silence. Fear starts to creep in again. Then suddenly a voice of a terrified young lady, responds.
Young lady: Promise me you won’t call the police.
Chola: Step into the light or my dog bites you.
Instead of a young lady, Spike is the one who steps into the light. Chola starts breathing erratically. He chest beating faster than a hummer mill and his heart racing faster than a race car, hyperventilating so bad his shirt is drenched in sweat, trembling rapidly, thinking his dog, Spike just spoke to him.
Then slowly a blood spurted white dress steps into the light. Lo and behold, it’s a young bride in a bloody white wedding dress.