A Gratitude Tale without Pictures
Welcome to the 4th Day of the Gratitude Challenge. I hope you had a great day and that you’re feeling motivated to start or stay on your journey of thankfulness. By writing these diaries daily, I am challenging myself to keep on track, be accountable and hopefully motivate someone along the way.
Today’s entry won’t contain images at all. I hope my words will be enough to help you form a picture in your mind and that from there, find meaningful inspiration.
I first heard this true story when I was probably 10-years old, and it stayed with me to this day. I only shared it with about five or six people in a group setting, but I am excited to share it with you today. Don’t worry; we’re still on gratitude!
The story unfolds
Many people know a country called Zimbabwe and have heard all sorts of stories thanks to international media coverage. However, there are lovely everyday storytellers, the kind of people who can narrate an event in such a way that you'll get the complete picture, even if you weren't there. This is a story that has never been written anywhere, and although my mother passed it on through oral tradition, it has found a special place as we proceed with the 30-Day Gratitude Challenge.
It was at the height of the war just before Zimbabwe's independence when the story unfolded. Once upon a time, a woman with two young children went on a journey from her village back to where she now lived with her husband's family. She didn't have money to catch the bus; besides, the political situation was highly volatile. Travelling by road wasn't the safest option. The young mother decided to set off early one morning and walk to her destination. She hoped to get there before curfew. The curfew was a law put in place to prohibit people from going anywhere after a specific time. Remember, it was at the height of a war, so the ruling powers sought to control movement to curb rising uprisings from the locals who used to mobilise forces at night time.
Mountains to climb
There were several other complications at play. The woman's brother was on the 'wanted' list. At the time, any young or non-disabled man deemed a threat by armed forces would be arrested if caught 'loitering without intent.' However, the woman had a heavy load to carry back to her husband's homestead. It mainly consisted of clothes and essentials needed to provide for her children, and the woman's brother had bought some groceries with money from his pocket. Life was tough. Her husband had gone away to the city searching for work. Any job and money were hard to come by. Still, it never stopped the man from trying. He was the sort of man who would sacrifice his comfort to provide for his family, even if it meant sleeping under the bridge.
The woman's brother walked with her for as far as he could before turning back. Setting foot in a neighbouring village was a no-no too. The woman continued her journey with a baby wrapped around her back, a heavy load on top of her head and a toddler in tow. They would walk, rest, walk again, and rest, but the longer they took some rest, the faster the clock ticked. Curfew! As you can imagine, the walking child became very tired and cried all the way. However, stopping to take a break was not a luxury they could afford. The long walk was through deep dark forests; there were no other walkers in sight. The more the toddler cried, the more the mother shed tears in silence. She felt helpless and tired. She, too, was breastfeeding a baby and even grew impatient with the young toddler. Despite feeling sorry for her child, she understood what lay ahead.
A distant call
After walking for hours, the woman heard an echoing voice. A voice called out, “Imi mai imi, miraiiiiiiiiipo!” In translation, "Pleeeeese stop walking and wait for us." It didn't sound like a request; it was an order. You can imagine the fear that gripped the woman. It was wartime, and there was an impending curfew to contend with. And now, a stranger was ordering her to stop! As she scanned the environment toward where the voice was coming from, she saw a woman with two teenage girls and a young man. Stopped, she did until the family of four caught up with her. "Where are you going on your own? Why are you on your own?" The concerned stranger fired a barrage of questions.
The now tearful woman responded by telling her where she was heading. The other woman looked concerned and said, "We're going to a different village and worried about the curfew. We're also worried that you're walking on your own with such small children." The stranger spoke with authority. "Here's what we are going do: we'll walk with you. Give the baby to my daughter for her to carry; my other daughter will carry the toddler. My son will carry your luggage. Together, we are going to walk towards your village."
Relieved, the woman did as she'd just been instructed. They walked for miles in silence, for they had to cover some ground before sunset. They were too aware of the possible dangers of being out and about after curfew. After covering endless miles by foot, the team arrived at an isolated homestead. It was close to where the young mother was going. The stranger and her children bid them goodbye, but before they left, they asked the woman at home if she could help the poor mum and her young children.
Together, we are going to walk towards your village.
The other woman understood the precariousness of the situation and invited the tired mum to stay for the night. However, the young mum decided to complete the journey since she was almost there. Nevertheless, the family of four bid everyone farewell headed towards their village. The two families exchanged no numbers or contact details. From then on, the woman at the homestead took over and carried the toddler and some luggage for the remainder of the journey.
Going the distance
The woman and her young children arrived at her husband's family homestead, and not only that. She beat the curfew! The other woman was also able to get back to her place safely. As soon as they got home, the toddler immediately asked for something to eat. The young child was famished after such a long journey. Getting 'home' was a huge relief, and so she gladly served sadza (thick porridge made of mealie meal, a staple in Africa) and okra (slimy vegetable which only needs boiling to cook).
The toddler ate the meal like a feast as the woman's heart mellowed. What a trooper the young child had been despite the ordeal. That toddler grew up to tell the story. The young toddler was me. I asked my mum to retell the story sometime last year, and she did so with such vividness. It made me so emotional, mainly because I remembered it clearly from the first time I heard it. My brother is now a grown man, and my parents would be blessed with three other children.
Just being grateful...
Today, I am grateful for every step and every sacrifice made by strangers to help my mum and me. I am also thankful for all the people who have come into my life, some of them briefly, and helped me along so I could go places. We have all come across people like that in our lives. Some are perfect strangers; some of them make decisions on our behalf and facilitate our movements to higher levels. Maybe some of them are just doing their job. Without them, getting to where you want to be could be a considerable challenge.
I may never know who the strangers in the story were, and my uncle is no longer with us, but I will never forget the many things he did for me as a child. Was spoilt by all my uncles: forever grateful. Many others have done so much for me growing up, from kind relatives, neighbours and friends. My prayer is that the Lord will bless them for their kind acts, which left lasting impressions. I certainly do not remember the walk or the war, but I can tell you that I'm not a big fan of sadza (who could blame me). I love my walks, though! Those who think I'm posh will undoubtedly love this story, and I'm ready for jokes and banter from specific individuals when they read this story. On a serious note, I'm also grateful for my mum and dad, who have continued to uphold me, albeit from a distance. Through it all, they have continued to support me with love, patience, and above all, prayer.
I am grateful that when the going gets tough, I can call my brothers and sisters, and they will do their best to carry me in faith through prayer and encouragement. Although I once was a mere stranger in a foreign land, I've found a home here in the UK. I also love my home country despite the problems the country has had. I am thankful for my roots, for they nourished and supported me so that I could withstand the gales of life and reach for the stars. Most people won't even think much of what they've done for my children and me, but this heart remembers. My grateful heart appreciates every deed, every act of kindness, and every encouraging word. I never thought I'd write this story from a gratitude perspective, but I'm so glad I could.
On the 4th Day of the 30-Day Gratitude Challenge, I am counting my blessings and will never underestimate how far I've travelled to get to where I am.
As you embark on your own gratitude journey, may you be encouraged to take a moment to thank all the people who have supported you without expectations. Remember, everyone is going through a challenge of some sort; it takes a special someone to help another. Most of us are standing tall, not because of where we came from or what we know. We stand tall because, at some point, someone carried us through.
May we also be the kind of people who can support others, even as we journey towards our destinies. As previously mentioned, I do not remember being carried by strangers nor the ordeal of having to cover miles in the blistering heat on two tiny feet. However, I am grateful that this story teaches me important life lessons as an adult with places to go.
Sometimes, strangers can help you get further in life.
I am truly grateful.
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