Grahamstown (L)

In my final days in Grahamstown, while I was sorting out everything before leaving, I went to the bank. I was seating there waiting and hoping that I would not deal with any of my queries with a lady which was constantly rude to me. Unfortunately, I had no choice…She greeted me and looked at my Redbull and said: “You know I used to be addicted to it…until one day I went to the doctor and they said I have holes in my heart.” I smiled and I nodded thanking her for her concern. I did not care about what she thought about my infamous addiction but I realized she was right about one thing…I definitely had holes in my heart. However, an energy drink had nothing to do with it.

When I was applying for a scholarship to study in South Africa, I had no self- confidence because I was raised in a damaged land where opportunities are given to opportunists. When I got the acceptance letter, I told my parents how it would be a great opportunity for a Media student since South Africans effectively exercise their freedom of speech. But the truth is, I was tired of being collateral damage of Angolans’ moral blindness and I desired to run away. I could name a thousand of things that I hate about Angola and my fellow Angolans but I don’t want to be bitter anymore.

I decided to finally follow the advices of the thousands of motivational quotes saved on my phone. “Don’t be afraid, take a chance…” and blah blah. So I did it… I didn’t let anything stop me even though I did not know a single soul in Grahamstown or even heard of the town. Also, I promised myself I would be smarter this time and I would not be attached to people or let anyone in…I was guarded because my country brainwashed me into believing that you cannot trust anyone.

As I settle and unpack my stuff, I started unpacking my anger, hurt and resentment. Slowly, I started letting people in and perhaps even trusting them. Their energy, charisma and the so-called ‘small town pureness’ was winning me. Maybe we all had something in common, we all were running away from something…and we all wanted to create an understanding diaspora in Grahamstown.

Secretly, I wanted to make friends, I wanted to have someone be there for me in this utopia land…I just couldn’t trust people like I did before. I finally realized wherever I go the source of my suffering always comes from my trauma. It goes back to hurtful memories…Whenever someone new starts collecting my pieces, it comes hunting me and destroys every remaining hope I still have.

I remember once I was dishing up for a friend and I was getting ready to warm his food. He told me he wanted to have it cold. When I asked him why, he said that he didn’t like cold food but growing up he was forced to get used to it. It reminded him of home and I thought about how he chooses to relive those memories even thought they were not pleasant. It made me see pain in a different light. Pain made him humble and kinder…on the contrary, the side effects of my pain was making me resentful.

Grahamstown was a leap of faith…people were caring, giving and warm. And I wanted to be part of this welcoming and forgiving community. You know I couldn’t understand how people glorified small towns and how Nicholas spark made it always look like a special place in his novels. I realized that it allows you to try again…No matter how screwed up you are, a small town is a chance for renewal and new beginnings…it is a place for redemption, an escape from your family dilemmas, troubled past and so on.

I started opening my heart and the more I opened the more I wanted to stay. They were so kind to me, always eager to help, to learn, to love and be there for others. You live your whole life without knowing that people and places like that exist. I needed it…a place where I could be isolated from the world and do some soul-searching. I never thought a geographical place would be the catalyst for restoring my faith.

This sort of fiction hippie land has given me freedom, resilience, friendship and love. No words can express my gratitude for this town…Being there, experiencing such a hopeful, vibrant, powerful, and mountainous land was life-changing. After all, this peaceful town has become a beautiful memory in my mind and has awakened my strength to fill the holes in my heart.

See you soon Grahamstown.

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  1. This is beautiful. I wish one day too I would appreciate Grahamstown as you did. I guess it's because we don't have the same background. I feel lost still. I just pray I get to that point.

    1. I think you will get the point when you leave grahamstown for will miss this town...thanks for reading babe