“My son. Don’t compare yourself with other boys. You are different.”
I would like you to know that
Everything you wanted to say but couldn’t;
Every tear you cried behind closed doors;
Every call you never picked up because you couldn’t;
Every thought that you had of me but never conveyed;
Every heartfelt emotion that you were afraid to show,
I have already converted to beauty which has become
I love you in ways that words have not even learnt to fathom,
Let alone translate into verbs.
Every morning I clean my steamy mirror I see you peeping through
My secret soul.
And it’s beautiful.
You are beautiful.
– for my beloved dad, Malachi Allen Malaba-Ncube
(10 April 1956 – 25 June 1998)
I am not strong all the time. Sometimes I am so weak that I cannot see myself in the mirror. Sometimes there’s black, ubiquitous smoke in my soul and I can’t see me. I’m learning to see through all the emotional noise and the tall, thick incessant, tar-thick raindrops. I’m learning to tread in unison with my heartbeat. It takes courage to listen to your own heartbeat when it carries such little currency in a society so hell bent on discrediting the worth of those who love in ways that are not celebrated by hetero-normative spirits. Spirits that celebrate youth and superficial beauty as though it bears the elixir to immortality. Where do I go now? Where do I find faces that know what it means to count every inhalation as though it were your last in a falsely free world? How can I be free knowing there is a soul on the other side of the mountain afraid of the sunrise because it means possible death in the hands of a homophobe? I am not free. I can’t be free. Not until my voice is heard. I matter. Every cell. Every hair follicle and misty breath. The world just doesn’t see it yet. It’s taking way much longer that it should. But I’m here. Say my name. Learn it. Look me in the eye and pronounce it. I might be chopped in pieces in a township bin, but I belong somewhere, with someone who will never wholly live because I never lived out my intrinsic worth. Look in the mirror. There I am.
Frank Malaba (c) 2017
Frank Malaba is an enigma to Zimbabwe, the country of his birth. Such a distinction is not defined by his talent as a poet, artist, writer, but by his advocacy, as a gay African male. He STANDS, though persecuted, he STANDS, to love, and he speaks his truth. Malaba loves his country, but fights for his “very being.” He invites all gay Africans to stand with him, to fight for the right be treated as vital participants in African culture that deserve to be respected. His blog, Frank Malaba’s Prosetry, invites all kindred spirits to speak, love, and heal.