My name is Lina, and this is my journey.
There are so many places where I could begin my story. I could start in the town where I grew up, in Lusaka, near the University Teaching Hospital (UTH), in the back of the a taxi, en route to the hospital. I could begin when I was eleven years old, on the day my mother died, or when I was fourteen, on the day my dad and my brother were involved in a terrible road traffic accident. My brother died within the first few hours after impact and three days later my father died as well. These were tragic days that have left permanent scars on my heart. But I think I should begin my story here, at the Copperbelt University, so far away from my home in Lusaka. This is where I lost my innocence. This is where my future got shattered.
It is a January day without clouds, and large black birds soar in a sky that is bluer than I have ever seen. We have closed for a two weeks break. I decide to stay back in school because I want to catch up with my studies. I am so behind that my test results testify for the lagging. I am only a freshman but I am already a failure at school and depression is becoming a lifelong friend. I am scared because I am starting to embrace it. Today dawned like any other normal day. The cloudless clear blue sky and the still cool morning breeze had graced the beginning of the day. I do not expect anything special these days. It is just the same old story, and life taking a downward spiral has become like a sibling to my depression.
However, today is different. I walk out of my room, C151 at the far end of a long, hollow and partially darkened corridor. It is darkened because there are rooms on both sides and the only fluorescent tube installed here needed to be changed a long time ago. Our hostels at C block, short for Chambishi Block, were male hostels in the years before 2015 so the masculinity nature and aftermath effects can still be felt. Our ablution block doors are still stained with a lot of “I was here, no climbing, you are live on ZNBC, john Cena’s you can’t see me, monk data, repent! Jesus is coming,” and many more. Some of the corridors still have potholes and the walls still remain covered in a lot of campaign posters, business adverts and other church messages. Our rooms are prone to cases of theft as we, by nature of us being female, are usually defenceless and have to depend on the guys’ response to save us from thieves. For this reason, there is a security wing right at the centre of C block but of late, we are starting to suspect the security guards as the culprits because they always ask the same irrelevant questions if you report any case of theft. They just write down your details in an old hardcover book and life goes on. You just lost whatever was stolen.
As I walk towards the other end of the corridor, leading to where the sun’s light is, I deeply inhale and hold my breath for what seems like an eternity. My chest heaves up like a balloon filled with hot air. I slowly exhale and my chest slowly heaves down as rushed air is released through my nostrils. I am ready to face the day. I step into the light. The brightness makes my eyes twitch as I look up to the sky. The rising sun looks so beautiful and glorious in its Hydrogen-fusing-to-Helium burning state. I had learnt from school that the sun survives by burning Hydrogen atoms into Helium atoms in its core and that infact, it burns 600million tons of Hydrogen each second. In a nutshell, the result of the fusion is the heat we feel and the beautiful light we see. Daily, the sun depicts all kinds of optimism and hope but that is not something I can relate to. Maybe the case of dark grey and gloomy clouds would make me feel at home because my depression supersedes my hope of happiness. The road I am walking through was once a tarred road but is now potholed with patches of mud and water from the recent heavy downpours of rain. I am careful not to step in mud. From where I am, there are two ways I could follow, each leading to an exit; the right hand side extends past the clinic leaving L and K block towards the exit besides P block. The other path is midway between C and Z block, stretching a path past the New Female Hostels that eventually branches to what we call, the FOUNTAIN road. This is the route I take.
I see a couple, clad arm in arm walking ahead of me. I can not clearly hear what they are saying but from their constant laughter, hugging and movements, I see that they are in love and happy. At times I wish I knew how it feels to be in love but I know that’s not my calling. The two love birds are soaring in my space as they embrace and lightly kiss. “Just How does it feel?” I wonder. I walk past them, now in the fountain road but headed towards the basketball court. This is so unlike me, aimlessly taking a walk to God knows where.
I am almost passing the basketball court when a rather sweaty guy stops me. I can tell from his masculinity that he’s a sportsman who works out. His face is smooth with piercing dark eyes. That darkness that makes you feel evil but still want it. His lips are brown and he has beards. Naturally, I do not like beards because I think they itch but surprisingly I’m still looking at him. He’s smiling, and his chest is heaved up. I am fighting temptations. This is wrong.
He clears his throat. I am still analyzing him. He’s wearing a blue vest-like shirt written COMETS with a blue short and snickers. He’s obviously a regular basketball player. He’s taller than me and somehow, I find myself loving his height. What is happening to me?
“Hi.” I am rather disappointed by the voice. It doesn’t sound as manly as he looks.
“Hi” I reply.
“Are you Natasha?”
“No.” I am looking forward to talking to him but again I am not so I respond with just one word. He persists.
I resist the urge to smile.
“Oh wait! You’re Angela, right Lina? I mean Tapiwa Margaret?”
I can’t hold it. His plan worked. I smile and actually chuckle. Does he even know that he’s actually mentioned my name as well as my roomy’s (roommates) name in his guess work? I wonder. I reply,
“No. And I don’t have time for your games. I’m in a hurry”
Having said that, I walk away feeling proud and beautiful. I know he’s followed me so I walk on without turning. I take a quick glance behind, I am disappointed. He didn’t actually follow. He’s gone back to his game. I get furious but I can’t go back. But if I don’t, then where am I going? Gosh! I pick up a fake phone call as I turn. “I am not going back” I tell myself as my legs disobey my mind. What happens next is what leads to the shattering of my dreams.
This is me.
My name is Lina, and this is my journey.