We got inspired reading about the South African branch of the Human Library – An international nonprofit organisation, where readers “borrow” not a paperback or hardcover book, but a walking, talking one. The point is for people to learn “about the other person, and also challenge their own prejudices”.
We invited our readers to share their stories, and now we share them with you . . .
The Mind Can Fight Whatever is Eating up the Body
I, Lily Martin, went for an eye test with eye specialist Dr S in Harare as I was having blurred vision and a film over my left eye.
Dr S did tests and I looked into the eye machine scanner where he saw a mass behind my eye. He immediately referred me to neurosurgeon Mr M who sent me for an MRI.
The MRI found a lesion R/O Meningioma/Pituitary Adenoma of 2.1cm x 2.1cm with compression of the optic chiasm. There was a small vessel, which appeared to be nodular on the right, which may represent very tiny aneurysms from the right superior artery.
I was then told to raise $18,400 which I did not have. I then went to see Mr M who examined. To get this operation I had to go through the government system of Parirenyatwa.
After months of tests I finally got in to be operated on in February 2016 of which Mr M assisted by Prof. K and Mr Z operated successfully taking out 95% of the tumor. The other 5% they left because it was connected to my motor skills and speech. I lost sense of smell forever. My skull was broken to operate on top and my head cut from left to right. I healed up pretty fast despite having a few scares in ICU. Mr M and Prof. K did this pro bono. God bless them.
In 2018/19 I started having blackouts / seizures. My left eye stayed red and oozing. The headaches have since intensified, as if my head is on fire. In addition, I have blocked arteries in my heart.
The conclusion based on my last MRI scan is that my tumor has turned into a non-aggressive cancer but it is now 1.54cms and if not operated on will kill me. I was advised only gamma knife radiation treatment and a round of chemotherapy could save me, as my current symptoms are getting worse. This can only be done in India. Depression has also hit me hard as one of the effects of my tumor.
God help me raise $20 000 USD as I will be in India for a while as I need a stent to my heart also. This is my story. I am where I am today because of pure guts and determination to live and sheer willpower. The mind can fight whatever is eating up the body. But lately I have been giving into depression. Which is not good.
The saddest part of all this and scariest part is that I will slowly lose my mind, be incapacitated and crazy and crippled at any given time. I don’t want to live like that. I got so much good I can do. My family needs me.
Just a story of a lady with sheer guts and determination. Power of the mind can beat any sickness in your body. I had a setback last week and am now at UBH. Whether or not I raise enough to go to India, I’m at peace within myself. This is not a fundraising story it’s my story from the heart.
– Lily Lorena Martin
The Traumas of Being a Graduate Without Work
Having followed society’s so called path to success which is education, I worked extra hard only dedicating a quarter of the night to sleep, the rest to reading. The best grades I attained made my family proud prompting me to finish strong attaining “the second upper division (2:1)” degree class in Agricultural Economics.
After graduating, looking for a job proved fruitless, family thought I was not serious enough, the community had names for me, relatives started shunning me, no one wanted me, I was no longer welcome at their houses.
Seeking solace at church was even worse; the church regards you as a sinner – why would your prayer for a job not be answered? The church expects more from me, I have to pay my tithes, I have to contribute to the church’s financial commitments and the uniforms too. Oh, they also whisper behind your back that you are now too old to be youth, you should be married by now.
In my own world where even friends deserted me (can’t even buy social media bundles) I am highly stressed, don’t even know if it’s depression because I can’t visit a doctor as it would be an expense which none would be willing to fund.
When I am sick, I have to use home remedies as it is the only solution available to me.
In solitude, I would read and read. When I read, the suicidal thoughts and the hopelessness goes. Finally, it occurred to me that on the graduation day the hall was filled with graduates not all had found a job, most were like me.
I made a decision that if I write just a small piece of motivation or inspirational message and post them on my WhatsApp status update and small pieces of paper I would save and give hope to others to keep on living
I wrote this in the hope that there is a graduate out there who now has hope and knows that there is something they can do no matter how small. If I was to be given an opportunity to be a human book I would share my story as I have elaborated.
– Amen Mache
How to defy your Zimbabwean parents: Volume 1
An African child dressed in Sunday best dragging on the heels of a very frustrated mother whilst her father is in the background shouting profanities. That is the perfect cover for this book because everyone knows that every book is judged by its cover. The title of the book will be “How to defy your Zimbabwean parents – Volume 1”. The acknowledgement page will be dominated by Duke, my dog, whom I blame for broken dishware in the house (not that he is allowed indoors). A tribute will also be paid to children in sitcoms who are on a first name basis with their parents as I aspire to be them in another life.
Since childhood, I have been defying my parents and I am very proud of my life’s work. Zimbabwean parents take offence at very mundane behaviour like refusing to go to church, keeping your eyes open during prayer or refusing to go to the rural area where they were born and learnt how to walk, talk and never complain when there was no electricity. As Zimbabwean children, I don’t think we are living up to our potential to disobey our parents. The economy has played a role in our prosaic behaviour but once it stops suffocating our parents, we should try to keep them on their toes so that they do not age quickly.
Take last Christmas for example when I was protesting going to the rural areas, I climbed up our mango tree.
“I will deny you food for the whole week if you don’t get down from that tree!” Mother screamed at me as I continued to eat a mango and drop one of the seeds aiming for father’s bald head.
When father saw that a missile had been thrown at him, he quickly moved out of range and started grunting in a dangerously low voice just like Bomba, the bull responsible for impregnating the whole village herd, back in the rural areas. Whilst hitting the palm of his left hand a switch he said, “I’m going to beat you until you are black and blue. After this, you won’t be able to sit for months.”
In my head I was laughing because my brown skin is closer to black that you would not even see the blue marks so it was not necessarily an effective threat. I kept on grazing on the mango without a care in the world and when I had finished the fruit on the right branches, I swung lazily to the left side. Mother, whose eyes glistened with tears, screamed at me from below,
“So help me God if you fall down and break your neck and die, I will kill you! Get down from that tree and I will give you some sweets.”
It was an interesting prequel to my inevitable visit to the rural areas. That anecdote is just a scratch of the surface of the human book that is me.
– M. H. Mabulala
My story in the foreign land
I wake up everyday, I call home, and I prepare for the day to go to work. I spend the day busy working. Chat with family along the way and attend to issues at home that require my attention. End of day you go back home and realise there is not much difference, it all looks like you are at work 24/7. I miss the relief that comes when you go back to your family, helping the kids do their homework, attending to your extended family issues. Music (especially jazz) soothes the soul and mind. Video calls with family brings you close to family, so near yet so far. You can feel them but can’t be there. We have become a crippled generation, we have been separated from our loved ones.
It’s all because of a selfish, greedy and careless generation. They have come in war veteran skins in the pretext of being saviors, yet they have become their own people’s enemies. They have crippled the same system they claim to have rescued. We are a people bedridden, afflicted, torn and bound. We patiently await for the day they shall let go, the day we shall walk in our streets, the day of freedom. We thrive for that day in earnest expectation that we shall be a free generation again.
We are victims of corruption, hunger, murder, political violence. We have nowhere to turn to, the whole system has become a factional camp supporting the cause of those who have inflicted pain on us. What shall become of our generation, who shall rebuild for our future generations, who shall take responsibility for our status quo? They say it begins with me, unfortunately the people who are meant to accept that the system has failed, have never accepted that we have a situation.
This is just an outpouring of my heart, least this peace be confused for a political statement. Thanks to Dr Oliver Mutukudzi, MHSRIP, for the master piece, ‘Tumirai Shoko.’
I love you Zimbabwe, I hope for you Zimbabwe.