Dear Africana Woman,
Hey sweetheart. How are you? Something really strange happened to me this week. On Monday morning around 4am I woke up in a cold sweat thinking about an old friend. His name is Ben. When we met, I was starting university in a whole new country and the adjustment was really brutal. I had just been torn apart from my best friends not knowing whether I would ever see them again. I had to deal with the fact that I may not travel back to my home country for a very long time because I simply did not have the funds. From making new friends to understanding the educational environment, it was not great. Mind you those were the times when Facebook and Whatsapp did not exist. Instead we used calling cards that lasted 5 minutes for what $20. And I couldn’t fathom having to start from scratch. I mean, I would go in class as a freshman and the teacher assumed we all knew how to use certain technology so would not bother teaching. In my mind, I was thinking, "how is it that you (my fellow freshman) already know these things? Did we not all arrive the same day." I felt way out of my league. I was miserable.
Then there was Ben. He happened to be in the room room next to mine. I had been assigned to a double room on the second floor at the end of a corridor, with a spritely Asian American. Next door were three boys. Ben, and two other guys. So we had a little freshman corner going on. Like me, Ben was a creative so we found ourselves in the same classes. He’s the one who taught me how to use certain programs. He’s the one with whom I co-created the first ever fashion club and fashion show. Like it was legit professional. If anyone has footage of that please send it to me. He pushed me to dream BIG. His calibre of work was far more sophisticated than mine, but it taught me where I was going. I remember his laugh and his smile as vividly as if he was standing in front of me. Whilst I cried many times, in between, Ben made it bearable. What ended up happening was that he transferred out of our school at the end of our sophomore year because the school was not a good fit for him. I did not think it was a great fit for me either but what do you do when you are a student on scholarship with no other options. You stay. When Ben left I was devastated, my heart was shattered.
So when I woke up at 4am on Monday morning, the thought that was on my mind was that, “He abandoned me. They always abandon me.” As I lay on my side I could feel a tear trickle down the bridge of nose and fall on the pillow. I closed my eyes and forced myself to sleep again. A couple hours later I eventually got up and went to work. But I could not shake the feeling and the thought that I have to find Him. I literally could not concentrate. There really was no point pretending to be productive. So I stopped trying. First, I couldn't remember his last name. I had to dig through an old email box that I don\t use to find his last name. Then I searched on Facebook and Instagram and nothing sensible came up. My last resort was LinkedIn and voila there he was with a big smile that is his trademark. I decided to write him a message.
Guys, It has been 12 years since I saw him or spoke to him, but for whatever reason I felt compelled to reach out. I started writing him a message. As I did, I was weeping. The tears would not stop flowing. My heart hurt so much, like we were back in 2009 when he left. Thank goodness for the mask that I have to wear at work otherwise people would have thought I was crazy. I probably got half-way typing then ran to the toilet to let everything rush out like a dam opening its gates. I cannot even explain to you why I was crying. I must have been in there for ten minutes. Finally I reemerged to face the unfinished text. I managed to get to the end behind a glaze of tears. I imagine that's what it looks like to stand behind a waterfall and look out.
Essentially, what I said to him was thank you. I don’t think he knew at the time what his friendship meant to me and how I only got through because of his kindness. That he could believe in me before I could believe in myself. That he rose to the position of teacher when I most needed one. That those two years were the best two years at Uni. All I could say was thank you.
As soon as I completed the letter, the burden of my sorrow was lifted. I stopped crying and I got on with the day.
I don’t know if I will ever know why I was instructed to reach out to him after 12 years on a random day in May. Sometimes, your obedience is all that is necessary. Just like he was sent to me in the time I needed him most, maybe, I needed to return the favour when he most needed it. I think when someone pops into your mind, do not hesitate to call them, send them a message, go visit, reach out in some way or another. God uses human hands to perform miracles, if you would only but be obedient.
When you experience a trauma in life, in as much as we can do the healing work, triggers will still come up down the line, even 12 years later. Going to university was a traumatic experience for me. I was made to feel everything I felt then like I was living in the moment now. It was so painful. I know you also think that some experiences you have pushed down to the recesses of your mind and are long forgotten. Thing is you just never know what will trigger it and as quickly as a snap of a finger it is brought right to the surface and you are experiencing it as if you were transported back in time. Thing is you may not be able to move past the pain. That’s why it is so necessary to get professional help because they give you tools to push past a trigger. Sometimes, surviving a trigger is the difference between life and death.
The power of love transcends everything. It moves through space and time. There is no logic to it. It is, simply put, the strongest force on earth. Recently I have been watching K-drama’s and the last two I’ve watched (and Im done for real lol) have been mythical. Where an immortal deity falls in love with a human. He has to watch her grow, die and be reborn and yet his eternal love is for only her. Think about it, he is (I AM) what she needs him to be at the different stages of her life, as a baby, as a toddler, as a teen, and as an adult. His love is a bond that cannot be seen by the naked eye. His love is deeper than the physicality of sex. Which is what a not so holy wood would have the masses believe. I say this to say, Love can be your saving grace. It can reach out across twelve years, over oceans, and miles of land just to snap this writer awake at 4am to remind me, remember that young man who showed you love, tell him that you loved him too.
Okay. I am done. Like I said, it was the strangest thing. Gosh, I was looking through my archives and I cannot find one picture of me with Ben, I did find some pictures that he took of me. He is an AMAZING photographer.
By the way, I probably should say Ben does not swing for the ladies. I know some of your minds were going in another direction. LOL. Nonetheless, I love you dearly. Thank you for coming through to read. I hope this blesses you. You can always catch me on socials @Chulu_byDesign. If you are in Lusaka, you are invited to our Be Your Own Bae in person event that is in partnership with Paint & Sip. Register here. Do check out the Africana Woman podcast, there will be some phenomenal conversations on motherhood coming up. Do subscribe so as you don’t miss out. Then we are having a Live panel discussion on Zoom called The Birth of A Mother with Temi Aregbesola-Okere, Roise Carter Suso and Lubunga Lucindi Chawelwa. This is going to be lit. You do not want to miss this. Click here for more details. Otherwise, darling please do love yourself flaws n all and attract the life you truly desire.