Of Love In The Time Of Chocolate Cake

Guest Post

Love in the time of chocolate

Chocolate Cake

The rich chocolatey smell of the cake overwhelms my nostrils, coating the fine hairs with thoughts of warm crushed cocoa beans. I savour the heft of the slice in my hand, marvelling at the glossy, delicate swirls of chocolate butter cream. My mouth is heavy with saliva. I close my eyes and lean in for that first eager bite.
A bright shaft of light pierces my eyelids and a voice drills into my head: vasikana havasweri vakarara. Confused I open my eyes. Where is my cake? Where is the chocolatey goodness that was meant to transport me to confectionery seventh heaven? As my mother continues to bustle around the room, the clouds lift. It was all a dream. A beautiful tantalising dream cruelly snatched away by another person’s intervention. I was too young at the time to know that it would be a recurring theme, though sadly too often it was my dreams being snatched away in real life, with no warm bed to snuggle back into.
As a black girl growing up in Harare, I learnt early on that I did not have the luxury of sleeping in during the school holidays. By 6am my mother would have woken me up to get about my industrious day. Because my training to be the perfect wife could not be left to chance and circumstance and sleeping in after 6am.

Zimbabwean society places a very high value on a woman being married. As a young girl, your waking moments are devoted to furthering the cause of your future marriage. A family does not just raise a daughter, their combined efforts are preparing a wife. A woman who will not only be an excellent cook and homekeeper, but one whose focus is on keeping her husband happy. And if she can issue forth from her loins strong strapping sons to carry on his family life, she has fulfilled her God-given purpose. She has earned her title of A Real Woman. But A Real Woman training takes time and sacrifice. When you are younger, the unfairness of watching your brothers play outside, with their ball made from the brightly-coloured sacks the potatoes you spent hours peeling came in, becomes something of a permanent friend. You don’t yet possess the sophisticated lexis to describe the unfairness, but you feel it deeply. You feel it when you are the one to pluck that live chicken. Smell it when you need to clean and squeeze out its intestines. Bleed it as you cut deftly through the bones to make sure there is enough chicken to go around at dinner time, in the hope that no unexpected visitors drop by as dinner is to be served. Season that tomato and onion chicken stew with a large dollop of unfairness and as you suckle the marrow of those bones and lick the juices dripping down your arms, unfairness cuts off your contented burps because the mountain of dishes still awaits you. To be a good young black girl is to know service and unfairness intimately.

  • Zimbabwean society raises us to be perfect wives for imperfect men

A girl born into a relatively traditional Zimbabwean family is a potential return on investment in the bride price that can be charged for her. For those lucky enough to be blessed with natural good looks and child-bearing hips, their value increases exponentially. As early as when you are a chubby-cheeked toddler, aunts are already exclaiming what a pretty wife you will make one day. Before you even have full command of your own bowels, plans are already underfoot to offload you for a few beasts and healthy wad of cash. Because your beauty is not your own, your beauty belongs to the family to financially maximise on, at hopefully not too distant a point in the future.

So now it’s 6.01am. You have lifted your head off the pillow. And you groan inwardly at the thought of pillows because today is a laundry day and all the sheets need to be washed. Six pairs of sheets and pillowcases that need to be washed by hand, hung out to dry, ironed and then beds remade. All before 3pm because the evening meal needs to be prepared and ready by 6pm. You don’t want to miss the start of wrestling on tv by not getting your timings right. You trudge to the bathroom and complete a cursory ablution. You will bath once the laundry’s done and the house swept and floors polished and breakfast and lunch dishes put away and the meat simmering on the stove. 12 years old and you already have the house running like clockwork.

As you proceed to scrub the kitchen floor on hands and knees, your older brother trudges in from outside, trailing muddy footprints to the fridge. Sadly, you don’t yet know any expletives to tell him what a fucking cunt he is for dirtying your floor. But the anger is real and hot and burns in your throat. For all he knows about clean floors, there is a Floor Elf that whizzes in every afternoon and abracadabraes all the dirt away. You don’t hate your brother exactly, but you swallow the unfairness each time he walks into the house dragging in smells of sunshine and rolling around in the grass and the happy dampness of hosing each other down in water fights.

You go back to clean up his muddy footprints and look on the floor with a kind of grim satisfaction. You are confident you have done enough to ensure not being made to re-do it as your mother’s opprobrium rains down on you, warning you that uchatinyadzisa wadzoswa. What could be more humiliating than your future husband returning you to your family because you could not scrub a floor properly. How would you ever live down the shame of being a slatternly wife who could not maintain hearth and home? There wouldn’t be enough earth to swallow you whole!

To be an average Zimbabwean woman is to know the fear of never getting married. To be one of those women looked down upon with a certain degree of contempt and pity, with a side of What If She Steals Our Men fear for good measure. So you learn early on to comport yourself in a manner that makes people remark kuti mwana ane tsika iyeye. You sit with your legs tightly closed, and in lax moments where your legs betray you and fall open, one eagle eyed glare from your mother is enough to jam your legs back together, straining your muscles in abject fear of dropping your guard again.

Requests to bring more tea for the guests are a blessing in disguise as you can discreetly wipe away the sweat that has been pouring down your legs in superglued legs exertion. You are young, but the need to be nice in company has been drilled into you. Cautions of not running around like a wild animal chasing each other in your head. The burn marks from the carpet as you greeted each adult on your knees still stinging slightly. You answer questions politely, just enough information so they don’t think you are a bit slow, but not so much that they leave thinking that chimwana chiye chinoganhira. You serve guests with scalding cups of tea and chocolate cake, harnessing both your culinary skills and generosity. You clear cups and saucers quickly and quietly, making sure not to disrupt the adults. You know what it is to be a good girl. How then can you fail to be a good wife?

Through all this, the mud-trailing brother has come in and said a perfunctory hello and gone back to his outdoor games. You are told later on that boys don’t mature as quickly as girls do. You believe it because Mud Trailer can barely wash the skidmarks out of his own underwear, or make himself a decent toasted sandwich. Don’t even think about getting him to get that neat crease in his white long-sleeved school shirt. Somewhere else in Zimbabwe, your co-labourer is perfecting her skills so she can do all those things for him. She knows as well as you do, that a man doesn’t need to be able to not burn a hole in his shirt every time he picks up an iron. All these lessons in cooking and cleaning you have been learning have been for his benefit and for that of his family. Without a husband to validate those skills, really what is the point of having darkened your knees on so many floors and strained your neck hanging up those thick wet winter blankets?

CHOCOLATE CAKE

Ingredients

2/3 cup margarine

2 eggs

1 T vanilla

4 T cocoa

2 ½ cups sifted flour

1 ½ cups sugar

1 ¼ t soda

½ t salt

1 ¾ cup ice water

Method

  1. Cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla till fluffy for about 5 minutes (electric beater or by hand).
  2. Blend in chocolate (sifted if lumpy).
  3. Sift flour with soda and salt and add to creamed mixture alternately with iced water..
  4. Bake in a round tin in a moderately hot oven until done (approximately 30 mins)

 

Guest Post by Eleanor Madziva

Bio

Eleanor is an itinerant Zimbabwean with a passion for picking lint out of her navel, while trying to find the best ways of not turning into a charred mess in the desert heat. Less a writer, more a person who writes.

Eleanor Madziva

Twitter @Madziva_Eleanor

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Of Heart Petals In The Wind

rose petals drifting

Once upon a time,
I stood by the window,
I watched as the breeze,
Blew away with harsh ease,
Petals from the flowers in my china mug vase,
I watched as they floated away from me,
Just like so many of my dreams,
petals from the deep folds of my heart,
one by one all but forgotten,
I watched still,
as the last petal blew past the window sill,
Freely given

rose petal in the wind
I held out my hand out the window,
and reached into the breeze,
I closed my hand around it,
and felt it flutter in the palm of my clasped hand,
like a tiny beating heart,
fluttering like a butterfly,
The happiness it brought was enchanting,
I feared clutching it to tightly would crush it,
yet I feared that opening my palm,
would free it to be gone forever,
freely given,
I unclapsed my hand,
to reveal the gift the breeze held.
If you too would float away,
My petal in the wind……

heart petal in hand

~B

5th part of a 6th part duet, I write something and Mable rights it

She last wrote: hearts

 

Of The Broken Mugged Man

 

broken Mug

Broken china cup pieces,
Litter the kitchen floor,
I am awake picking up the shards,
A fragment of a red red heart,
Broken,
Just like mine,
Losing words and heat,
Just like me,
………………..shattered

broken heart mug
I never wanted much,
Now I expect even less.
Yesterday this was my favourite mug,
Today it’s a mess,
Yesterday I was loved,
Today I pick pieces from the floor,
A shattered mug bleeding out its core
Just like mine
……………….Unlovable,
Where do broken mugs go?
Time ticks everything away,
Picking up pieces from the floor,
I don’t weep I know how this story ends,
You told me yourself,
The unlovable wind up in one place
Just like me
………………..Discarded.

Discarded

 

~B

This is the first part of a six part duet, I write something then Mable rights it…..

 

Of The February Blog Challenge

Hello February

February script

I rather like February, there’s something about it…. No it’s not about how the month is themed red, punctuated with hearts and strewn with flowers.

hEARTS AND ROSES

It’s not about how it’s been styled as the month of love, fodder for the creative mind, the poet who feeds equally on the broken hearted and the love struck; promises kept and promises broken.

Blind folded heart

It’s not because January is finally over. January seems to have way more days than any other month, it’s the Monday of months. Goodbye January, I won’t miss you.

I love February because I am a February baby, it’s written in the stars, poets are born in February. This when my New Year begins.

This year I decided to celebrate my month in style a little gift to my blog from me to me from my blog; feel free to reread that again from the top. You are welcome.

The FEBlog Challenge

This month I will be doing a blog every day challenge, start the year with a bang; hit the ground running; this is it, this is my year…..

I have a bunch of friends who will also be participating in the said challenge, if you ever tried a writing challenge, you will find that it is easier to do when, you know someone else out there is doing it with you…. If you feel moved to try it here are the suggested topics:

Feblog

The topics are all optional and not arranged in any order, if you could see a title that grabs your fancy, go ahead and join in… and guess what if there is ever a month that’s the easiest to complete a blog challenge that would be February; it has the least number of days… You are welcome

I do hope you will be part of this journey with me, and hopefully you learn a thing or two about me, my life and my world.

#MyAfricaMyWords FEBlog Day 1

~B

PS If you need a PDF copy of the listed topics please just get in touch.

Of Pure Love

A Guest Post
My name is Rachel and am a Nigerian. Am a wife  and a mother of three. I have tried to participate in this challenge but failed. This may be my only contribution to this challenge (sorry B I tried). I don’t have a blog so am sending this by e-mail. I don’t consider myself a writer, but I love to read, well it’s worth mentioning that Big B, as i like to call him has put in two of something I wrote on his blog as a guest: (Coffee With A Musing Stranger and Blessed woman)
I love acting especially in Church; smiles :). I have written a few gospel stage plays and I acted in one film. Two of my poems were published in my department news paper during my university days. But I love to  read, even though I need to revive my  reading culture ( being a mother is not easy) that brings me to the main story,  sorry for the long intro…. .
AWKWARD CONVERSATION AND PARENTING.
How are you mummy?” l always answered “am fine“.
I remember an incident with my elder son “Jojo”. We had traveled home to my grandparents place, he was about four years old. At night we all went to bed and he was all so sleepy, but insisted on the ” how are you mummy” question he always poses at me. He loves saying that a lot and I do my best to answer him each time “fine dear“, I answered, but  this time he kept repeating it and each time I answered  “am fine”, then he said, “Mummy say how are me” meaning I should also ask him how he is,   “how are you dear“, I said, immediately after he answered fine and was already asleep soon after.
It is my younger son ” Isy” that made me realize what it all really meant, it means “I love you mummy”. So whenever they tell me Mummy how are you, my answer will always be. “I LOVE YOU TOO“.
i-am-blessed
THE JOY OF BEING A MUM. “You get paid with pure love” 💓
Day 24 blog everyday challenge.. A special guest post by Rachel
~B

 

PS Thank you Rachel ♥♥

Of My Selfish Love

being loved by a writer;

Dear Muse;

Heart.jpg

When I say I’m in love with you,
I mean I am selfishly in love with you
I love myself through you.
I love seeing myself through your eyes,
I love seeing myself through my eyes,
imagining how I look through your eyes
I love watching you read the words I wrote
and secretly knowing that they are for your eyes only,
although the whole world can read them too,
When I say I am in love with you;
I mean I love to see you listening to all the stories I have to share,
I love having you to express to;
my opinions,
my profound theories and beliefs,
Especially the silliest things,
along with the important things in my life.
I love hearing myself say these things as I imagine how they sound to you,
and how enthralled I imagine you are with me as I am;
With me.

When I say I’m in love with you,
I mean I love having;
Someone beautiful to wear,
like a favourite outfit.
I love the way you feel on me.
I love the way I feel about me when you are with me.
When I say I am love with you I mean I love how familiar you feel,
like I have known you forever,
in a place without time or in another life,
somewhere between my past life and my next life.
When I say I’m in love with you, I mean I love not being alone.
I love not being that tree falling in the forest that no one heard;
That book that has never been read.
I love having you as my full-time personal audience.
When I say I’m in love with you,
I mean I want you to give me all of your most precious gift;
Your Undivided Attention.
I want to be the reason your world lights up,
as you watch the fire that is me,
Burn.
I mean would burn down to the ground for you;
so you could watch me from its ashes rise like a phoenix.
When I say I’m in love with you, I mean I’m in love with being your sun,
monopolizing your orbit, being your gravity,
keeping you drawn back to me no matter how hard you try to jump or fly,
keeping you down.
Keeping you mine.
Lighting up your world
When I say I’m in love with you what I mean is I love staring at myself in the mirror only to see you standing behind me smiling
When I say I’m in love with you I mean I love
being your mystery,
your riddle,
being what keeps you up at night,
your addiction,
your obsession.
I love being your altar,
your sacrament,
your icon,
your miracle.
I love being your answer.
I love being the object of your sacrifice.
I love being your pain.
When I say I’m in love with you, I mean that if I had to write down what gives me joy in one word it would be your name,
I love your voice,
When you say my mine,
Your lips,
When you smile at me.
Your eyes,
When you looking at me,
And when you do all three at the same time;
For an instant; time stops.
When I say I’m in love with you, I mean I’m in love with breathing your air, eating your dreams.
I’m in love with being your drug,
your drug dealer
your dagger
your lil secret
Your Joy
When I say I’m in love with you, I mean I love the story I can tell to my next love,
about my ex-love,
About how they will never compare to you or understand me like you do
about how beautiful things were,
How crazy,
How intense,
How storybook,
What a couple we were,
and how you gradually, inexplicably,
Bit by bit,
Disappeared.
How I still wait for you like the man who can not be moved;
When I say I’m in love with you,
What I really mean is that
only you make me Me,
and all the stories I have yet to write;
You Are My Muse.

~B

Of FITTING

guest

Fitting by Josie Mills

You and Me
walking down the beach
just after dawn

The old people
walk up the beach into old age
you say
while we walk the other way
eternally young
eternally holding the hour
of walking down the beach
just after dawn

A woman
wrinkled dark and beautiful from the sun
picks up trash
you bend pick up some plastic
put it in her bag
and rinse your hands in the sea

You smile and greet each passerby
while I keep within our world together
and the evolution of beach animals
marks on the sand

You dart and chatter
while I walk quiet and straight
content just to have your hand
so fitting in mine

♥♥♥♥♥

Bio:
I’m Josie Mills, and I’ve been writing poetry since I was around 10 years old. I have a degree in creative writing with a focus on poetry writing. I teach writing now at a community college. I’ve had poems published in the journals Snakeskin and Mantis among others.I live in Denver, Colorado, with my husband, two sons, and our cat Moe :-). I write the blog Open Mind Fashion (OMF) for fun: http://www.openmindfashion.com or http://www.facebook.com/openmindfashion

OMF.jpg

 

~B

..and it happens to be her birthday today, Happy BIRTHDAY ♥♥♥ she wrote this piece awhile ago and I felt it had that je ne sais quois  for a birthday month and also February month of love ♥♥♥♥♥ 

also find her on Twitter for an interesting look at fashion tips for people without a closet full of money…

PS forever young ☻☺ 

Of My Father’s Watch

My Father’s Watch

seiko.jpg

My father had a watch, a Seiko Kinetic automatic watch, stainless steel with 17 jewels. You know the kind you don’t wind up, and as long as you wear it regularly, somehow it self-winds, and ticks on and on and on…. It came in a black velvet box with a warranty card that declared a lifetime guarantee, I have always wondered how long a life time guarantee lasts, whose lifetime do they mean when they say lifetime guarantee…….

My father had a watch a Seiko Kinetic; he wore it every day from the day he got it, a Christmas present from some duty-free shop at some airport somewhere. I do not know how much it cost but I am sure it wasn’t a price one sneezed at… He wore it so much that the skin beneath it was lighter toned than the rest of his arm. When I try to remember him, I remember him wearing that watch. He never did but  I can imagine him saying to me “Son, a gentleman must always know what time it is, you do what needs to be done, on time, when it needs to be done, in time, and then after,  you can do what you want with all the time you have left , but first you do what needs to be done…”

The only time he was without that watch, was when my little hands were throwing dust to dust and everyone was crying.

My father had a watch a Seiko Kinetic, he made me a promise that when I could tell the time like a grown-up he would get me one for my birthday. But death, the untimely visitor came knocking, knocking down even the best laid plans, just like that….. If he could have given me a last present he would have given me that watch for my birthday; I dont remember if he was the sort of man to give grand speeches, maybe I was simply too young to have really known him or had proper father to son talk but if he could he would have said

“My son, we have only life, love and time in this world, The Creator gave you life, you can find love all by yourself and as for time I didn’t start the clock, no one can turn it back, I cannot give it you, only this clock to watch it tick away……..”

sei.jpg

I have a watch, a Seiko Kinetic, it used to be father’s now I have it and I watch it ticking. The hands of every watch, are clippers, trimming us away tick tock tick tock. The hands of time an illusion lulling us into believing we can tame time, control it even, but every second used is discarded,

discarded.jpg

Discarded

rushing off

slipping from my palms,

through the gaps

in my fingers like a leaky jar…..

TIME

never stopping in this moment

 

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What happens

to all the seconds

tipped into the bin of the past?

Discarded

then gathered up into a tapestry of memories and history……  

2015-03-01 09.26.jpg

I have this watch, a Seiko Kinetic, I don’t know if they still make them like this because today marks the day I have watched it tick for 21 years, before that it was my father’s watch. I look at it and I ask myself how much time do we have, not how many hours or seconds in a day but how much time, do we have….

2015-03-15 19.00.jpg

……The watch keeps on ticking and it doesn’t care how much time we think we have because in the end, it is never enough, it always runs out….. That’s what gives life meaning to know that time runs out…….

time.jpg

My father had this watch, this Seiko Kinetic, I have it now, I watch it tick and I make every moment count………….watch.jpg

~B

Of The Silent Treatment

Love.jpg

Love

She was Stubborn,

He was Patient,

Or maybe he was Obstinate,

And she was Persistent;

Yet back to back they sat,

And neither said a word,

Only silence,

An invisible wall

Too flimsy to see

until with time it was an unbreakable barrier,

and the price of silence;

regret……©

~B

PS inspired by the image**

**The image is of a sculpture titled Love by Alexander Milov from Odessa, Ukraine exhibited at the Burning Man Festival.

“The outer and inner expression of human nature….. Their inner selves are executed in the form of transparent children, who are holding out their hands through the grating. As it’s getting dark (night falls) the children start to shine. This shining is a symbol of purity and sincerity that brings people together and gives a chance of making up when the dark time arrives.”

~Alexander Milov

Photo: credit Dust to ashes©

Of coffee and Sleeping Pools

coffee and hearts

If you are having coffee with me, I would say “Happy Heart day” to you and serve you a tray of heart-shaped biscuits to have with your coffee or tea. “How are you doing this month of love?” I would ask you. “Have you written any love themed stuff, do point it out to me. Would love to read it.  Me? Oh? Nothing special, I do not need one day out of the year as an excuse to be loving I do that all the time.

If you having coffee with me I would tell you I just came from a trip to the Chinhoyi Caves (Zimbabwe) It’s really an awe inspiring and mysterious place to visit. Do not be fooled by the nice friendly sign that greets you and points the way:

Entrance to the sleeping pool cave

To get to the Sleeping Pool you have to descent a long flight of steps carved from stone.

Sleeping pool

Blue sleeping pool cabe

 

The first thing that strikes you is the brilliant cobalt blue colour of the water below, which you can see before you even start your descent into what feels like the bowls of the very Earth. I won’t lie and say it is not a touch spooky. It’s eerily quiet and all you hear are your footprints echoing on the walls, and oh yes the bats, lots and lots of bats. One of the caves is even called Bat Cave.As you walk deep into the caves, your pulse will definitely kick up a notch, and when you speak you will notice, how everyone speaks in just above a whisper, as if by some unspoken agreement, no one wants to disturb the serenity of the Sleeping Pool or wake the sleepers. The pool is called the Sleeping Pool or Chirorodziva which means The Pool Of The Fallen because it is believed that at the bottom of the pool, lies bodies of people, who were flung there, to sleep for all eternity. Did you just get goosebumps I most certainly did.

Chirorodziva Sleeping pool blue

The Sleeping Pool is blue not because it reflects the sky, it is always blue; it’s blue on a cloudy day, it’s blue in the shade and in the sun, it’s blue because… it is just blue, I guess, in the same way the sky is blue.

beaton facinf the sleeping pool

Legend has it you cannot throw a stone across the width of the pool, without suffering the wrath of the ancestors, as they will throw the stone back at you, and so curse you. Anyway a sign prohibits you from throwing any form of projectiles into the pool and I always follow the rules except when I break them.

IMG_20160112_160136.jpg

 

The actual depth is unknown but an old sign claims 315 feet (96m) although divers have successfully gotten to 136m (446feet) and one was never seen again.

IMG_20160112_161423.jpg20160112_161050.jpg

If you were having coffee with me I would tell you how I went to the Dark Cave.

dark cave.jpg

There is nothing to see there, just dark caves, its pretty unnerving.

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Good thing for electricity the place is lit up like its Christmas but you can tell that if someone switched off the lights it would be darker than the darkest moonless night… I am sure Batman would totally love that labyrinth of underground passages. Oral tradition has it that during the liberation war, our guerrilla fighters would hide in these caves for days on end.

By the time you climb all the granite stairs back to the top you will be breathing faster from not only exhilaration but exercise. It is quite a workout session climbing those steep stairs and if you are in bad shape it would be pure torture; fortunately I am not, I jogged all the way up because I really really wanted to get back to sunshine and life. No worries if you need to stop and rest, there are little alcoves carved into the granite where you can sit and rest.

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I practically blew a kiss to the sun and wanted to hug the wide blue sky when I finally got back out from under the ground.

If you were having coffee with me I would say yes that was an exhilarating experience and I wish to do it again, I have pictures but they just don’t capture the experience.

Becoming The muse beaton

Thank you for visiting with me and have a happy heart day

~B