Josiane

Josiane is the name of the african girl l met at the train station the yesterday.

We had arrived in the same train it seems and had both got off to change to our next connection. The only difference being l knew my route, was on familiar territory and going about my usual business. she on the other hand was living another episode of her journey to Europe as a refugee.

I am still ashamed of the attitude l displayed in the first 10 minutes of our encounter. See i had not reckoned with the fact she might be a refugee in transit. To me she was just another young african lady going about her business. She had a decent hairstyle, decent dress and a heavy winter jacket, nothing out of the ordinary at a first glimpse.

I caught her eye as l was getting off the train and i gave her my don’t look at me, don’t talk to me, let me be- face, which l usually wear on my way back home from work.

A few seconds later l felt some eyes on me, you know like how your body automatically alerts you if somebody is staring at you. Looking up, i caught her stare and this time even more annoyed i gave her my just because am black doesn’t mean i know you or have to converse with you face. Sad l know, i wasn’t like this when i first moved to Germany. But somehow those ridiculously annoying encounters with my “so called” african brothers who always used that as an excuse to talk to me left their mark.

Anyway, my look did nothing to defer Josiane. To her at that moment l represented hope. She saw in me a similarity, our skin color and for her it was enough to seek my help out. And so even as i muttered underneath my breath, please don’t approach me- she walked hastily over.
Her first words, “French?” only added salt to the injury. I was through the ceiling with anger, “of course, just because am black means l can speak French” l thought.

With a blank stare l said “No, only Ndebele, Shona, English and German.” I thought this was enough for her to leave me to myself and me time. My train rides are reserved for this with priority level one. So yea i was almost exploding.
Just as l was backing away from her, she shoved a bunch of papers into my hands. With such irritation i looked at them, the first two where a connection to some Kamen village, which i had never even heard of before yesterday. She still had two changes ahead of her. I calmed down and explained to her, showed her the platforms and advised her to use time as her guide for her changes. Her last stop, an applied university brought back the friendly me to life. And l warmed up thinking she is here to study. Seconds later the thought made no sense because i asked myself but how will she study here if she speaks no German or English. And so i asked her where she was going. She responded but of course l understood nothing.

So l took out my phone, went to google translate and phrased my question. At this point i would like to give Google a bow, though your app sometimes translates out of the context things, yesterday it saved a life. Josiane and l communicated for the next 2 hours via this app, and am grateful to the mastermind behind.

A few translations later and a shuffle through the pile of papers on my hands. I established that Josiane is from Gabon. She flew to Turkey and from there proceeded to France with a boat and was transferred to Germany from there. She just completed one of these journeys l have been seeing on TV.

One of the papers she had said she has applied for Asylum in Germany and must report at the given address before 20 September. The police had printed this connection for her, bought her a train ticket and put her in the train. Quite a difficult challenge if you ask me, when in her position. No phone, no watch, no language, just some papers in a language you don’t understand and a trip with 3 changes plus a walk to your final address. I couldn’t believe it.

My mind raced to my time as an aupair, where l myself struggled for months. I was going to take here there. It meant another 4 hours for me before i get home but how else was i supposed to let somebody go off just like that. Long story short we made it and l left her there and it was but just another reminder for me that my Life is good. I have nothing to complain about.

Later as l lay in bed, l despised myself for my anti social behaviors, i could have really messed up today.

I pray for the strength to stay humble and be a little more kind, you can never tell a book by its cover and by that l mean i must not judge people at first sight because just like Josiane they maybe in need.

She sent me a french text today and l caught myself rolling my eyes…
I do wish to be kind but so help me God.

Looks like l still have a long way to go.

Ctrl alt del

Just the other day i shocked myself. Yet again. At times i fail to recognise this girl in the mirror. Her aggresive strength and demenour scares me. At times i look in the mirror and ask, “wh…

Source: Ctrl alt del

Ctrl alt del

Just the other day i shocked myself. Yet again.
At times i fail to recognise this girl in the mirror. Her aggresive strength and demenour scares me. At times i look in the mirror and ask, “who the hell are you?”

Anyway, on that evening l lay in bed, watching my current series Vikings. Earlier on i had sat at my desk for hours catching up on work. The house was still messy with my unpacked luggage. Calmly l enjoyed my me time. I am one of those people who enjoy their own company. So yea, there l lay indulging while scribbling tomorrows schedule. And then i got up to go to the bathroom, and on my way i caught a glimpse of a happy me in the mirror, and l was like wait a minute.

So l retraced my steps and stood infront of the mirror studying myself. I had just come back from a physically, mentally  and emotionally  draining situation. Not to mention the life changing decision that had just went down.

So yeah, there l stood in disbelief.
How was it possible, that my face had no trace of pain, emotion, exhaustion or even empathy. Again i asked myself, who the hell are you? Was i not supposed to be on my friends laps, sharing the gossip, crying my eyes sore, reaching for chocolate, making much ado about nothing. Oh well i guess thats what normal people do, not me. At that moment, it dawned on me, i finally realized what made this girl infront of me so scary.

I was living the first few days of the “ctrl alt del” mode aftermath. My life was on a fresh page- yet again.

See, i have this ability to shut down ,wipe off any unpleasantatries entirely from my life. Just like people who undergo traumatic events and shut that episode out of their lives. Its sad really  because the truth of the matter is i do not forget, l simply convince myself i have. Once a friend and l were reminiscing our hey days episodes, and to this day am struck by how deep i have mastered the art of delete mode. Like i literally sat there listening to her like someone being told a story for the first time, only occasionally thinking, but why does that sound so familiar.

Anyway, this Ctrl alt del button in my brain scares me, really bad.
See my brain may think its clever, but my heart has never been formatted. All this baggage is there somewhere inside, and if it ever explodes…so help me God.

I know how dangerous a bomb this is, because on that day , as i stood infront of the mirror, i tried to reach down for the emotion, pleading with my heart to let go. Telling it its ok to be human, you dont have to be perfect. Streching my hand like one saving another from falling off a cliff. Pleading with my heart to take my hand and let go.

For a second there was hope. I felt my cheecks burn from the fire within. My heart went still and l trembled at da momentum of the Emotion that was about to erupt. Just at that moment she took over- the girl in the mirror. I met her stare, a fierce non shaken warrior like look, queitly challenging me. At that moment i knew l had lost this war again, i would have to try another time to salvage my can of worms from the dungeons of my heart.

Well,
Starting afresh is ok sometimes. Like with that math exam i flunked in first semester. Like with that cake recipe i saw on youtube. But yet again, “ctrl alt del” is just a temporary coping technique for my driven self. I have a dream, and l refuse to be a coward,

one day, l will fish out my can of worms from the very depths of my heart and pen them out with the title, ” the Girl from Bulawayo”. And boy oh boy what an emotional rollercoster it will be.

Life as a 3 rd decade friend.

Paying bills is not the only struggle that comes with your mid twenties. One of the culprits that relentlessly haunt you is friendships. Currently i am facing what i like to call, “life as a 3 rd decade friend dilemma”. Have l lost you? Let me explain.

You see in our first decade of existence we make our childhood friends, mostly with kids from the block, from the pre school and from primary school.

In our second decade, these are quickly replaced or moved to lower ranks by the high school friends. Many at times, when teenage hood kicks in, we find ourselves too cool, and even wonder how we were friends with those 1st decade friends. I was one of the lucky ones who managed to retain the high school bestie and the bestie from primary but only because one was the weekend friend and the other the school week friend.

The coin flipped very quickly though during my A levels and both were replaced by my squad from the elite school. This squad still exists, though we are in 3 different continents, technology has allowed us to keep in touch. Funny enough the topic of the day is always on how we are all struggling in our new friendships, and never quite able to cement the perfect balance we have. Nevertheless back to the topic at hand.

The twenties offer a turning point in life. You approach adulthood either from the direction of a career, marriage or university one. All of which come with their own disctint friendship hurdles. The techicalities even increase, if  like me you find yourself migrating to a foreign land.

Funny enough the hard reality never crossed my mind as i sat in that Aupair prep class. See i found myself seated on da wild side table, with the party lovers. I did fit it in though, seeing i am born and raised in a slaughter-house. Not for cows ofcourse. See i grew up staying with my brother. While our mother slaved her back in Southafrica to support us, we turned her habitual abode to a paridise for young couples, escaping the strict scrutiny of their parents. Am bubbling again.

Fast forward to Germany.
The first year was not as harsh regarding my friendships. See one of the girls from my prep was in the same city as me, and l was still in touch with most of the girls from the prep group. These still remain among the solid few friends l can count on, even if we go for months without talking.

The next year though, my first year at Uni was to begin unraveling the friendship can of worms. Equipped with my backpack and high dreams in one hand, l was determined to avoid friendship drama, l would have one and one friend only. Turned out to be the best recipe for doom as 2 semesters later i found myself roaming campus as the lone wolf, not even able to squeeze myself among the other classmates, seeing my ex bestie was now one of the pack, and i could not stand her. Childish really, but those were some of the most anguishing years of my life. The situation was just draining.

At that moment 3rd decade friendships was about to give me another hot slap. I threw in the towel on the Uni thing and resorted to spend the rest of my days as the friendly lone wolf. I graduated last month pretty much with the same title.

When the perfect Uni plan broke down, my next option was to focus on my social circle outside of Uni. I had met many strong beautiful intelligent interesting  young ladies, and somehow l found myself drawn more to my current circle of friends. How? Fate i guess. But it was in this circle that l would learn the true meaning of starting to make friends anew in your third decade of existence.

See when in a foreign land, any prior common factors make up for a great chemistry between friends. Having been unplucked from our comfort zone, anything, anything at all offering even a straw of familiarity is highly welcome.

If you went to the same school, lived in the same neighborhood, have a common relative etc, it is a great recipe to make friends abroad. Even if back home you never spoke to each other, reminiscing about the old loud lady from your hood creates magic when in a foreign land. I had none of the above. Just what I needed in dealing with my 3 rd decade friendship dynamics.

Being the last to join the squad didn’t help my cause either. See you find yourself in the same boat with people who have known each other for years. The torture of the hidden jokes known to them only, particular words which send them to spasms of laughter , the code words, you name it. My one friend whom i had shared these bonds with, had chose to go back to Africa, wrong choice again, so here i was starting to search to belong , to support and be supported back, to love and be loved back and to share all over again.

See there is an order of importance of friends in each and every one of us. Sometimes the order just exists in our subconsious and we are not even aware of it. Every one has their personal person, and moreso in groups,though you are part of the circle, you have to know your place in the hierarchy.

The hierarchy is very easy to figure out, see for example if something is being planned for someone, the first personal person is always ablaze with passion, putting in 100% in all arrangements. It’s very easy to observe how they simply fade to the background when it’s someone else’s name on the Agenda. There are numerous examples am sure you can think of some yourself.

So basically, life as a 3 rd decade friend, means you are mostly left out in most of the jokes.
Means you will run around more before someone decides to look out for you.
Means you must always know your place, you are only that good untill the personal person appears.
Means your 200% effort will hardly be noticed, but the personal persons 5% will be showered with praise for days.
Means you can never assign the title best friend so easily as you once did in primary school. It might even mean you cancel this word out of your vocabulary.

That is the harsh reality of life and friendships in our 3 rd decade of existence.

The train rides

Just the other day, as l stepped onto the train. I thought about how familiar the scene was. Everything seemed to be on repeat mode. To a point where I felt like am reliving the same day just in another outfit and hairstyle.

My train rides.

They all seem to have the same pattern. I dash out from the bus only to reach the platform breathless. Just in time to hear the announcer say the train is pulling in, careful on the platform. I always skillfully insert myself to the right hand side of the door, to be the first to enter. It always seems to work. Now that I think of it, I usually occupy this position 80% of the time.

Inside, I always head for the two-seater on the left hand side, immediately behind the door or immediately behind the drivers cabin. Always. When those seats are taken, a solemn melancholy feels my heart and I feel like my day has been kicked out of rhythm.

The train rides.

The thoughts, the smells, the  sights, the people, the stops and the speed, all are usually the same. No wonder they have become a ritual for me. The air of familiarity gives me inner peace and comfort. Living in a constant state of flux has made me come to appreciate that one hour train ride to Uni. Many at times l long for my train ride if for some reason or another I have not embarked on it.

My train rides.

In that one hour, my mind is ablaze. I encounter fear, remorse, pride, anger, ambition, love and above all determination. It’s all like a ritual now. It begins by taking out my notebook, ticking off the previous day tasks, then checking todays to do list. Making adjustments and amendments. For some reason or another, I always bite on much than I can chew. That done the assessment games begin. In those few minutes my whole life is like that train journey, and always l ask myself, am l still on the right track? Many at times this question brings me to the current obstacle or problem am facing. Be it friends, family, finances, my grades etc. All topics for another day.

My detox ride.

Remarkably enough, I always shed a tear. Having evaluated and come up with the amended plan. I always cry. Be it out of fear, anger, sadness, pride, happiness, accomplishment etc. I cry it out, say a silent prayer and brace myself for the day ahead. And always when my train pulls up to my station, which is by the way the last one. I always feel recouped. I always put on my purple lipstick, walk out with a smile on my face and with my head held high, ready to take on the world.

So next time you see me on the train, if you have nothing but gossip to offer, kindly leave me to my train ride.