Chapter One Tue, Feb 3 2018
Happy Eighteenth birthday from me, well, from you, exactly twenty years into your future!
It’s the year 20 Eighteen and today on the third of February, my birthday present was waking up to the sight of the first snow of the season!
Don’t worry! It’s not snowing in Zimbabwe in 2018 but it is snowing in Denmark, where I am working for the season.
Now I know 100% what you are thinking about my being in a foreign country…
“Great! I must be a pilot, probably the captain of a Boeing 747-400 ER flying around the world in command of a whopping 412 700 KGs of flying aluminium!” I know this because boy, do you love planes! (I still do!)
Your ambition since you were literally old enough to talk Ryan, has been to become a pilot. The weirdest thing is, twenty years later, you’re not a pilot (yet) and I’ll explain why later. Something is going to come into your life so unexpectedly and change everything when you’re about twenty and you are going to love it!
My birthday is also on a Tuesday like it was in 1998. I am turning thirty eight today and boy do I have some hugely insane things to tell you! So many things I wish someone had told me when I was a teenager, and so many truths you live by that couldn’t be further away from the truth! I will share some of my life-defining moments and life lessons but enough about me, let’s get back to you…
The one thing I remember about you waking up today, on your eighteenth birthday, is this slightly disappointing sensation when you realize that you look and feel exactly the same as you did yesterday! Somehow, all the fuss that people make about turning the big ‘one eight’ and ‘coming of age’, subconsciously puts the idea in your head that you make this radical change into someone new over night!
Which brings me to my next important point…
I love you man! I mean, seriously! You really need to know that! Right now, you are so incredibly hard on yourself and your self-esteem is shot to pieces! So much so, that you were nearly passing out on a cold bathroom floor in a lodge in Kariba or Vic Falls just recently (it’s hard to remember which one now) but you were flown up to play a wedding in your classical string quartet and you had no money, as always, since pocket money is a privilege you and your siblings do not get to enjoy like others may do. It’s a good thing you play a paid quartet gig once in a blue moon, which is also ironic, considering you’re going to be given a hard time about your music after high school, but that’s a story for another day.
Back to the quartet… so you couldn’t afford to eat and you practically fainted from hunger, but here’s the thing… your quartet colleagues even offered you some money to get food and you declined, like you always do! It’s not healthy dude, and we need to talk about it! You feel so guilty about asking for help, or about troubling others with your mere existence. You even pee on the side of the toilet bowl to make as little noise as possible and usually try and go undetected when you’re around people!
You are allowed to fill the space that you stand in Ryan! You are so sensitive to other people’s energies and you have no idea how powerful you already are in so many ways! That sensitivity is actually a super power as opposed to a weakness, which is what society would have you believe.
Here’s the mad part!…
You are certainly also a very confidant and outgoing person. Your friends and peers till today in 2018, largely have no idea, or struggle to even entertain the thought of you having been that insecure. After all, you are the Ryan who’s been on stage doing theatre since you were eight years old.
Academically, you were in the top three from grade one and in the A stream in high school. You are the same Ryan who picked up the violin at the age of thirteen in form one, kicked royal ass, and was awarded music half-colours by the first term of form two. You are the same Ryan who just won the National Best Actor Award of Zimbabwe at seventeen, who has been playing violin in the Harare City Orchestra and in the Sinfonietta. You are also now a centenary prefect and were a member of the Zimbabwe Air Corp! Let’s not forget your full scholarship at the Zimbabwe College of Music to study both violin and cello. The list goes on and on!
So here’s some of what you don’t fully realise yet…
You are the first generation of a brand new country that has a very complex history, entangled in colonial upheaval, racial oppression, political greed and a history that is riddled with secrets. There is so much that people are just not talking about that really needs to be discussed and boy, are some of those things going to hit you square in the face and floor you! It’s going to hurt like hell!
Here are some of the topics I am going to broach with you and so much of it makes more sense looking back from the age of thirty eight.
You studied computer science for O’Levels working on 286 desktop computers using floppy and stiffy drives that would have probably stored up to 1.44MB of data per disk! A friend of mine recently showed me his cell phone that holds 256GB of data! That means over 190 200 stiffy drives of data can fit into his pocket! …Whaaaat?!
By the time you leave school, you’re going to see the first cell phones released and you will buy your own cell very soon called a Mango C10 by Siemens. (Thanks again to the music). The technology advancements from then to 2018 are going to blow your cranial CPU!!
The photos of you from the nineties look a hundred years old compared to the ones I’m taking on my cell phone in 2018, not to mention that I’m making a documentary, also using my high definition phone camera!
Mental Health and Spirituality:
You’ve had some tough times just trying to be yourself in the society you’ve grown up in Ryan. You come from a very strong and resilient family and you’ve even run away from home.
Remember that time? You must have been about ten years old. It’s a good thing that at that age you only knew to run away (well, walk…) all the way to gran’s house that was a whole 9.2 KMs away in Southerton! I have some insights to share with you about all those unspoken energies and the guilt you were so strongly aware of and the emotional trauma that came with it.
Race and Culture:
Unlike the Rhodesia that our parents and their parents grew up in, you and most of your peers don’t really see the difference in skin colour. Even though, I know you still suffer from quite the identity crisis at eighteen. You’re ‘coloured’ but people always give you a hard time and they deny you a significant part of your cultural blueprint just because you are darker skinned than the traditional mixed race cliché. They seem to ignore the fact that Indian or Asian people mix too, not just Caucasians. Mom being called Sultana, Vinay being your middle name and your strange duo-chrome eye colour are more clues to your diversity. Never mind the fact that your surname Koriya is literally from India and other surnames in the family are names like Omar and Mohamed. So don’t let any strangers tell you who you are buddy!
I know you still remember how tough it was on that first day you had to put your hand up during a grade one ethnic diversity monitoring session at the age of six. I imagine it was to illustrate how the schools were finally mixing after Independence. Your classmates and teachers only cooled it after you took your birth certificate to school to prove your ethnicity!
Well that day is still something you sometimes talk to foreign people about, to help paint a picture of the racial pressures that come with the Southern African region and its complex history, never mind globally.
Relationships and Sexuality:
You are a student at an all-boys school but thanks to all your music and acting, you’ve made so many female friends and appear quite the stud and yet you are so frustratingly inept at this ‘birds and the bees’ thing, like many of your peers. Zimbabweans are a very sheltered and conservative people compared to other parts of the world.
You’re going to have your first kiss later this year and it’s going to be fairly awkward and quite traumatic (involving a dead cat!) You’re going to have your first ‘sort of’ girlfriend for three months next year and your first serious girlfriend when you’re twenty one. There will be racial tensions and I’m so proud of how you will go on to deal with them. You often struggle with the courtship process though, and you’re only going to really start to figure it out in your mid thirties! I’ll get more into that later.
But for now, Happy Birthday Ryan and enjoy your last year of high school! You’ve done amazingly and remember, as I said… don’t be so hard on yourself! You’re doing so, so well!
I’ll write again soon.
You (twenty years in the future)Share the love 🙂