I rub my hands across my eyes.



Twenty times.


Photo by Heather Zabriskie on Unsplash

I wash my face and stare off into the distance. I sigh. The air escapes my chest as a bubble that is as weary as I am. I look at my phone. 7 chats, all unread. I shrug. There were more chats yesterday. All asking for my attention, my love, my care, for me. I trade my soul for the wounds of other people, who forget that I too get tired. But you see, no amount of physical sleep can cure a tired soul. I have poured so much into other people that I am now an empty vessel.





Photo by Ahmed Rizkhaan on Unsplash



So I sleep the emotions away. I crawl into bed at 8 pm and I am out like a light. Sometimes the monsters visit me at 1 am, but these days they respect that I am too tired to even give them attention.


So I sleep. Like the world will stop momentarily. And let my heart and my soul catch up with my body.

I rub my hands across my eyes.




Twenty times.

This time a streak of tears glistens on my palm.


The Female Body


I stand in front of the mirror and regard my naked body; disparagingly. They say that each body is a work of art, so why may I not treat to it to critique. I sigh as I shrug. In the general sense of arms and legs, it looks fine. Well, save for flabby biceps and wide thighs. But the areas of my skin that my clothes do not hide are rife with flaws. Imperfections. Blemishes. Stretch marks trace paths over my ass, pointing towards…well. Scars are littered over my shins and calves, the memories of imaginary battles I fought as a free-spirited child. Acne scars scatter themselves across the bridge of my nose, connecting the dots of my incomplete adolescence.


I look at this body I own. In its awkward lumpiness and half formed curves. I sometimes despise this body. I wish it was straighter, like a stick. Glossy magazine cover acceptable, you know? But sometimes I wish…I wish it was like Beyoncé. A curve so blessed, it became bootyful. But at the end of the day, it’s the only body I have. I may dislike it on some days, but on all days, I respect it.


Soliloquy to My Lover


I heard, once upon a time, that life has a funny way of sneaking up upon you. When you least expect it, it happens all at once, and might just leave you a little bit dizzy from all the change. My mind wonders as I watch the buildings whizz past me, as I travel towards a place I call home.

“I would not call myself an obsessive girl. And neither would I say my thoughts stray towards you. Rather my thoughts stray away from you, towards other thoughts, seemingly pale in comparison to yourself.

I don’t want to give you a saviour complex, because I was not in need of completion.

But you came into my life, a tall dark stranger and smiled at me. A beautiful smile. Your smile. And somehow, my world turned upside down.

This is not supposed to be sappy or gross, this is a truth about the condition of my heart. Or perhaps former condition, somewhat old and torn, but still beating, still believing in love.

This serves as a soliloquy and a shout out.

To the man with the biggest heart that matches his delightful smile.

To the one, who makes me happy, makes my heart burst

It’s a thank you. For being here, with me, even if it seems like the distance is planets away.

This is for you being perfect. Perfect for me.”

It feels like no time has passed at all, before I reach my destination. My heart races as I walk, this feeling isn’t unfamiliar. It leaps, and bounds and makes perfectly timed pirouettes. Then I see you. And a smile spreads across my face, just like the millions of times before. I try (and fail) to hide it.  And then I am wrapped in your arms, in your warmth. Time melts away, and the world stands still.


It’s just you and me.



Tossed aside.
A casualty
Of the affections
Of a heart that was
Racing so fast,
It forgot to check
It’s rear mirrors
And inevitably

Discarded and disused,
Gone and forgotten.
A whisper in the memories
Of many nights long passed,
When stars would shine

For two unlucky lovers
Who thought they held time.

Downcast and disconsolate.
A girl who’s name you used to know,
A boy who’s heart you used to hold.

Lips that would part yours in kiss,
Are clamped together in a thin line.
Underscoring their disapproval of you.

Shuffling forward,
Away from the toxicity.

Your departure is as silent as a petal
Falling to the ground.


Battles of The Inner Mind


Photo by Tachina Lee on Unsplash

It’s a little bit funny,
How my heart will go out,
Smoke gun and barrel,
Waging a war,
But at the first sign of trouble,
Screams out retreat.
Dont get me wrong,
This is not defeat…
I’m not giving up,
But I’m not giving in.
I am protecting
My interests,
With dagger and knife,
Holding my sanity
Close to me,

I am outside my mind,
Convincing myself
That my heart is right,
When Lord knows I’ve never been more wrong

I’ve got the broken pieces
Of a trust betrayed
And you harbor none of the pain.
I have the tear stains on my face,
You have the gain
Of a story you were allowed to leave behind,
As I lay in the ashes,
Circling in our names
In the dust of the past.

I have a steely grin
Transfixed onto
A downcast face,
A heart of ice
That thaws to raw
And unforgiving muscle.

I breathe in pain,
In every sinew
Every pocket of air.

And then I exhale.
And let it go.

I swim in the thought
That my opinion is not absolute,
And while my feelings
Are valid,
They are misplaced,

And I understand.
That I am wrong.
And all I seek is forgiveness

Lockdown : the Aftermath (cont)


Photo by Sara Silva on Unsplash

I was mistaken in thinking that panic would ensue Milimo’s words.

Nope. I was greeted with overwhelming silence. Once again, we were a few misguided kids, trying to find our place in the world.

I sank into a chair and buries my head in my hands. I pressed my fingers to my eyelids, savouring the coolness of my fingertips on my overheated face. I exhaled, trying to wrap my head around the problem we had been presented with. Who could possibly have hacked us?

“Do we have any further information?” I asked croakily.

“The system the hacker is using is far beyond anything I’ve ever seen,” Milimo whispered, stuck between being scared and awestruck. “Their hacking methods are ridiculous. They set up several firewalls. I can’t even get their location.”

“But we can guess.” Silas said gravely, crossing the room. He stood in the middle of the room, flexing his muscles menacingly. “The only unusual activity we’ve seen was in the north of Lusaka. It’s pretty obvious that’s where they are.”

“We should go after them,” Stephanie piped up.

“We should do nothing of the sort,” I said, standing up. I walked right up to Silas and stared up at him, refusing to be intimidated by his huge stature.

“I already killed the whole country. I won’t let you guys die too.” I breathed out

“Oh, for fucks’ sake, we aren’t even living!” Stephanie yelled at me, her hair whipping around her face. “Those that hang out with the dead are dead! Do you really think hiding from shadows is being alive Chabota?”

“Steph, you were on my side.” I growled lowly.

“There are no sides!” She screamed angrily. “There’s life and death and us. But there are no sides”


I returned to my seat, feeling defeated. I needed the team to see reason, but the truth was I didn’t know what I was reasoning with them to do. As it stood, we were all sitting chickens, waiting on the sky to fall.



15.3879oS, 28.3297oE, Engineering Annex. STATUS: CONDEMNED

In the aftermath, I got used to the draft in the annex. Not because the windows were poorly boarded up with flimsy sheets of cardboard but because I never felt Stephanie next to me anymore when I woke up. We were miles apart. I often woke up groggy and wistful. Sometimes, Bupe would cross my mind, but I would shake those thoughts vehemently out my head. The past was behind us. This particular morning was colder than usual for a day in the middle of summer. I pulled myself from behind the boxes and woke up to what looked like a meeting.

“we’re glad you’re finally awake.” Stephanie said scathingly. I flipped my finger at her and pulled a chair into their jumbled circle.

“we’ve decided to investigate the activity in Lusaka North.”



15.4140° S, 28.2853° E, STATUS: INHABITABLE

Even before we shut down The Network, this old shopping mall gave me the creeps. It had been refurbished into office space for government spies, that masqueraded as people equally sinister. Interestingly enough, the black market flourished right next to the supposed law makers.

“I remember buying my first gun here,’ Silas said reminiscently. He chuckled as he added, “I also bought my first gun license.”

Milimo scoffed as he pulled out a tablet from his back pack. “They’ve completely secured the network. I can’t even monitor their activity.”

“did you try to look at the national electricity grid?” I asked non-commitally.

“of course, I did,” he scoffed.

“no need to be rude, brother.” I mumbled, throwing the peace sign at him.

“brother?” he asked incredulously. “Chabota, you’ve barely spoken to anyone since we shut this shit down!”

“you guys are acting like its all my fault. We were in it together!” I growled at him, taking a step closer to him. I flexed my knuckles, unconvincingly, feeling braver than I really was.

Milimo flung his arms apart and screamed, “look at you shifting the blame! I’ve been hacking into fucking infinity while you mope around the streets, picking up junk that reminds you of your dead girlfriend. I see you storing that stuff, in your locker dude.”

“it’s not like that.” I said, turning away angrily.

He laughed mirthlessly, “oh yeah, tell that to Stephanie.” Milimo turned away from me disgustedly. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Stephanie wipe her face as she stepped past us. I exhaled and fumbled blindly for a blunt.

Silas grabbed the blunt from my fingers and tossed it away. “I need you to be alert in this, we’re going in with guns. Also keep your goddamn emotions in check, you sound ridiculous.”

He stepped forward and motioned for us all to huddle.

“I can’t tell you guys I know much about what’s going on there, but I do know that its gonna be dangerous.” He said gravely. “Y’all got your weapons?”

Everyone nodded their assent. I was reminded that I needed to collect my own gun from the trunk of the car we had ‘acquired’ to get here. It was a very run-down Toyota Corolla. As I pulled the boot open and selected the smallest pistol I could find, I was reminded that freedom comes at a price.

Dear You


Dear you.
Guess what?
The box you crafted
Out of the projection
Of your inadequacy
Does not fit my proportions.

I am too tall
For your puny mind
To fathom.
I am a sky scraper and you
You are an anthill,
Crushed to dust,
By people’s feet as they
Sweep over your insignificance,
You rebuild on shame and insecurity
And yet you expect me to shrink?

How funny.
Because you see, I am a mountain,
I rise high and above.
I am an unascendable fortress
Firm in the roots of the earth,
Three dimensional
The reflection of a Creator
Who took extra care on me.
But you. You are a grass plain.
Flat and uninspiring,
The trampled upon,
Suffering the underfoot of giants
As the walk past,
You are my door mat.

I am volcano,
Fierce and proud,
When I wake,
The whole earth tremors at my presence.
But you are just a kettle of boiling water,
The fire lit stove,
Easily put out.

You think that you can fit me
Inside your pocket,
But I am far above and beyond
Who you believe I am.
I do not fit in your palm,
I do not fit in your life,
And I most certainly do no
Fit in your mind.

The Distance, The Tears and The Lack Of Resolve


Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

When we fight
It feels like there is a weight
Sitting on my chest,
Restricting my movements
Making me go slower
And slower
And slower.

When we fight
It feels like someone is gripping
My heart,
And squeezing it tight,
Making it beat fainter
And fainter
And fainter

It feels like someone stole my breath
And is constricting my air way, and it’s
So painful
Oh so very painful.

It feels like someone took our spark and snuffed it under his shoe.

It feels like you are your own person.
And I don’t belong to you.

Lockdown : The Aftermath

Status report : All previous sectors have been dissolved and reaffirmed into Lusaka city. National Archives (lat. long. Undefined.) Yielded poor results as to names of suburbs and residential areas. Missing records, either burnt or discarded.
Livestock have been rounded up and stray and cats have been impounded Diseased or wound animals were killed.
Remains of the people have been permanently locked in cold storage. Accessible only by computer short code.

Unusual activity in Lusaka North. Investigations under way.

Status report May 17; 20:49: Transformer power has been shut down in all areas. Computer network is compromised. Currently running on solar energy.

Status report; May 31, 21:03: Lights flared up in Lusaka North. Investigations underway.

Status report, June 2: Influx of strays in the streets. Ethernet network crashed.

15.3879° S, 28.3297° E: Former Engineering Annex.

The past month had made me get used to silence. The streets were dead quiet, save for the wind rustling through avenues of trees.
We also sat in silence. We tried but the atmosphere was quiet heavy around us yet for all that, we stayed together, appreciating that there is strength in numbers. Besides, it got lonely sometimes, walking through the neo-apocalyptic streets. Despite there being no immediate danger, we always found ourselves at the base by nine pm latest. I’d often find Milimo hunched a laptop, coding aimlessly, or if not playing mindless games. Silas found some old dumbbells and took to working out often. His spare moments were spent pumping weights. Stephanie and I drifted apart. She spent most of her time writing in a journal or crying. She had lost her sparkle. And I felt like awraith. Walking through the empty streets, hiding from people who aren’t there. I took an inventory of basically everything I came across. The buildings, the plants, the street furniture. I felt it kept me sane.
As per the usual I was back at the base before nine. The atmosphere in the base was heavy. Stephanie was crying again and Silas was pacing the room frantically. Milimo of course was typing furiously at his laptop, barely looking up as his fingers flew over the key board. Before I could speak, Stephanie flung herself into my arms, wailing.
“What’s going on?” I asked, fearing the worst.
“Chabota…” Milimo said from across the room. We’ve been hacked.”



The Dream Collector: A Dance With Ghosts


flickr canoe

My head was as heavy as the bag I toted on my back, as I rowed upstream into the dazzling golden sunset.
The past hour still seemed surreal to me. It was almost unreal, when the shaman and the Oracle passed a blessing over my head and handed me a very small bag, that could fit in the palm my hand. They gave me the instructions clearly; go to every hut, pick up the dream catchers and say the simple blessings “may the good come true and the evil turn to dust.”
No dream catcher should be left untouched
Emptying the dream catchers was nothing short of frightening. Dreams manifested in front of my eyes, monsters baring their teeth, ready to rip me apart. I also witnessed broken hearts,Dreams dashed on hopeless conditions or parents’ careless words. I saw the good and bad of our lives, as reflected through the thoughts of the my people. We were all yearning for something, we just don’t know what. We all needed something more and didn’t realise the cry of our hearts. How do you begin to say you want more, when you don’t know what more is.
I wasn’t disappointed to find hot tears streaming down my face, as I rowed into the amber light of the sunset.

Rowing upstream wasn’t easy. My arms grew weary against the strong current of the river, as I pushed myself forward, weighed down by the hopes of so many people. I watched the sun make its steady descent into the horizon, casting first an amber glow, then a ruby red and finally the settling in of indigo, as shadows spread across the land. I had been instructed to row, until the moon was high in the sky, providing a different type of light. Despite the pain in my arms and the growing discomfort in my chest, I continued to push, allowing the black night to envelope me.

Before long, the moon rose, casting a silver touch to the night. I looked ahead of me, and all I saw was the clear water. Despite the pain in my arms and the growing discomfort in my chest, I continued to push, allowing the black night to envelope me.

Before long, the moon rose. Casting a silver touch to the night. I looked ahead of me, and all I saw was the water, looking like black glass, shattered only by the periodic splash of my oars.
The air around me was silent and heavy. There was no sound of any animals and yet I felt like I was being watched. The more I rowed, the more tires I became. My arms were heavy, and my breathing came in short gasps.
I knew this feeling very well; my illness had come back to haunt me.
With all the effort I could muster, I steered the canoe to the closest bank, struggling against the current. Maybe it was luck on my side or I was stronger than I knew but after a long time, I felt the crunch of river rocks on the bottom of the boat.
I was covered in a sheen of sweat and I had begun to cough feebly. I dragged myself out the boat and settled in the mud.
This was the end. No heroic ending. No lesson to be learnt. Just an ill fated vessel for the plans of the Oracle. I pulled the bag of dreams close to me. I mayn’t have died a hero, but at least I could be a dream. Floating in the air and settling in people’s heads as a distant memory; someone that they used to know.

Enfin – the Mercury Tapes


photo via Pinterest.

Please don’t make me say I’m in love
Don’t pin me down
And make me look
Into your eyes
Because in them
I find a vast and lush

I can stop,
Let the atmosphere surround me
Fill me up
From the inside out
And purge myself of
Guilt and hurt.

I can reclaim my innocence
And offer it to you

I can take off my shoes
And allow you to see me,
I can hide behind a glass
And be a nobody.

I need this sanctuary,
Watered and cultivated
By the fibre of our beings

I find myself

Stripping off my clothes,
And laying bare and free
I put on freedom instead,
And let it encompass my body

I turn away from the rage
Of this broken world

And step into the tranquility
Of our personal shell.
Just you and I
Our bodies
Our auras
Intertwined and intermingling,
Creating a storm
In the middle of my being
And erupting in
Rosy pleasure.

Painting this once blank canvas
Floral hues
patterns of rainbows
And motifs of flowers.

My world has reduced
To this place
And we’ll explore
Every inch of it
Touch corners of our souls
That we didn’t know could exist
Breath air into lungs
That were before now
Caress and awaken
A carnal desire,
A deeper knowledge
A fuller taste
A better understanding of ourselves.
Of you and me
And us,
Dancing together
On these clay floors
Being separate
And yet being one

I allow myself to rest,
Deep in your garden.
My sanctuary

The Dream Collector: Beyond The Night


For the first time in my life, I woke up without feeling any pain. To my surprise, I could even stand up. And I walked into the outer room of the hut. The sunlight streamed through the windows, flooding the small house with warmth. Unsurprisingly, The Oracle was already at home. My mother sat coldly on the other side of the room, and interestingly enough, my father was around. He looked at me, with eyes filled with a plethora of emotion. Half pride, half a deep sadness.
“My son,” he said, coming forward. He held in his arms, and for a moment I was the little boy that used to play on the banks of the river, before everything changed.
The moment passed briefly, and I was back to being the perpetually sick young man. I sighed audibly. The Oracle stood up and signaled for me to follow me. I grasped my father’s hands and looked him solemnly in the eye.
He opened his mouth to say something, but stopped halfway, leaving the moment thick with suspense and unsaid words.
I followed the Oracle, who walked really fast for someone of his age. He swooped through the village, striking the ground with his staff to shoo young children out the way. Most of the older kids would scurry away fearfully, trying to avoid the wrath of the oldest man in the village. Before long, we had reached the end of the village. There were two large huts and one incredibly tiny one. The Shaman stood in front of the small hut, his long robes billowing gently in the wind.
“Welcome son,” he said brightly. The Oracle scoffed and disappeared into one of the larger huts.
“There’s a cleansing ritual you need to go through.” The Shaman explained, gesturing towards the small hut. “The Last Day of The Year falls in two days, so it’s imperative that this is done.”
“What happens if I don’t?” I asked curiously.
“The weight of your own dreams will be too heavy for you to bear, how will you carry the hopes and fears of others?”
I thought back to all the nightmares I had before, fearing that each of the monsters in my head would manifest physically.

Out of nowhere, the Oracle loomed behind me and pushed me violently into the tiny dark hut. I tumbled headlong into the confined space and took a few minutes to sort out my bearings.
When I’d finally distinguished up from down, I sat. The first thing I thought of was home. It made me sad to realize that the only thing I knew about home was my bed by the little window, watching the villagers go past, living lives in which they were fully independent. The next thing I thought of was my father. I was somewhat amazed to find that we were the same height. My legs didn’t work the way they should have, but they reached the length they were supposed to. Perhaps they would become even longer. I couldn’t tell. I remembered the calloused grip of my father’s hands. Hands that never taught me anything, but to cover my mouth when I cough and to clap my gratitude for small kindnesses. My father nurtured my mind though. He helped me stretch my imagination far beyond my legs that didn’t work and out of the small window. My imagination stretched further than the river and far beyond the mountains. I often dreamt of a country, where of course I was fully well, that I roamed and called my own. I wasn’t a fisher man however, I was a farmer. Or maybe even a scribe or a student of law. I could anything.

As time drew on, I became accustomed to the dark. The time seemed to stretch forever, and I was beginning to wonder of the Last Day of The Year had come at all.

After a very long time, a sliver of light shine through a small gap in the darkness. I squinted at it, as I watched it grow larger before it was momentarily blocked by a small figure. I felt a wizened hand grab mine in the half dark and I realized it was the Oracle.

“Do you want me to follow you?” I asked the Oracle. The Oracle scoffed softly and I realized with embarrassment that he couldn’t talk. “I.. I’m sorry, I..I didn’t think.” I stammered hurriedly.
“As a matter of fact,” the Oracle said, ” I do want you to follow me. Just not right now.”

“wait,” I was awestruck. “You can talk?”
This time the Oracle laughed. It was a deep laugh.
“Of course I can, I just choose not to.” His voice was gravelly and his breath laboured. He spoke slowly as if each word was precious, and he had to weigh them all out.
“You’ve done well, my son.” He said. Even in the half dark, I could hear the earnestness in his voice
“All I did was sit the dark,” I chuckled.
“For two days, alone with all your thoughts. Many wouldn’t have lasted.”
“It’s the Last Day of the Year?” I felt my heart fall. A very small part of me had hoped it was all a joke but a stronger part of me knew it was as real as life itself.
“We must go now.” The Oracle said. The hut was plunged momentarily into darkness once more and then flooded with glorious sunshine.

I crawled out the hut and stepped out into the light. Judging by the weak rays of the sun, it was still early morning. The town was already decorated with bright streamers on the huts. The women set out all their lanterns and were polishing and shining them one last time, before they put their festive candles in. The young girls were all in the midst of cooking one thing or another, the air was thick with the aroma of baking cakes and frying chickens. The young men did not go fishing on this day, they instead mended their nets and roasted the fish they had caught the day before. But all these were just a backdrop. For me, the dream catchers stood out starkly. Fluttering unassumingly on the porches of homes, heavy and weighed down by the dreams and hopes of all the town.

The Shaman strode out to meet me. He wore a huge smile on his face, and clapped my back heartily. “Get ready, the festival will begin soon,” he smiled at me, before steering me in the direction of their bathroom. Two days in a hot hut can make you smell quite funky.

After cleaning myself up, the Shaman and Oracle led me to where the festivities were being held. before everyone cleared off into their houses to close off the year, the whole village came together in the village square. food was passed around, the young ladies danced and for the afternoon, the village was happy. Eyes passed over me unassumingly. It was the first festival I had attended in years. Most people did not even recognize me. Presently, the Shaman stood up. Silence settled unevenly over the crowd. Finally as the last baby was cooed gently to quietude, the Shaman begun to tell stories. He weaved worlds with his words, constructed dreams and restructured nightmares. He spoke into existence our history and it almost seemed as if the characters in his accounts were alive and walking amongst us. Then he went silent. A chilly wind rippled through the crowd, and a sombre silence, as dense and heavy as death.

“We must go now.” the Shaman said shakily. He cleared his throat and said in a stronger voice. ” Hang out your dream catchers, for we can not move forward with the weight of the past holding us back. We remember, but we do not dwell.”

Perhaps my eyes were playing tricks on me, but suddenly the sky seemed a bit darker. Mothers scooped their infants up and scolded the ones that lagged behind. Fathers held onto their daughters hands and guided the steps of their wives. In no time, the village square was empty once more. The winds picked up speed and the temperatures dropped.

The Oracle turned towards me and put his wizened hands on my shoulder. “Your hour has come.”