The dirt of life: To realise that the dirt of life is vital is to be an initiate. I know now better way to gauge somebody’s success or failure with the enterprise than whether their nose is in the dirt. I don’t want to give the impression that this is all I do; that I immerse myself in it. That isn’t necessary for life. But there was a time when I was sick, I mean not too well at all. My way of trying to solve it, which was to apply more will and discipline, left me bereft. I also got into the name it and claim it version of Christianity, which did me no good. I was extremely disciplined in trying to pull myself together. But I kept getting sick. My immune system didn’t work properly. I felt empty and estranged. My father became ever more hostile toward me with his aggressive masculinity, but truth be known I felt even angrier at myself.
I hated life. That’s what adhering to a strong right wing code of ethics will do to you. I couldn’t figure out why I was allergic all the time. I was a people pleaser, at least in terms of my whole intent, but I couldn’t please myself. I had lost all content. Much of this was from being uprooted at exactly the wrong time. When you are fifteen, you’ve just set down roots and then you move and start again as if this were quite normal.
I revolted against each moment of it. You wouldn’t say I was a mess, because I held it mostly together. If I’d had emotions during the first five years, even I would not have known about it. I was pure. Like refined wheat.
But this says more about my father’s fear of dirt than it says anything about myself. I’d made no decisions — they had been made for me. Especially what my character would be like and what emotions I would be able to express. No negativity. One’s parents cannot handle complex emotions. Those send one’s father into a tail spin. You don’t want to have to feel his vengeance when he gets upset.
This is how my sense of reality was messed up very horribly and inwardly too. I was in a bad way because my father’s rage had pretty much emptied me of much inner life. Then there was the migration experience.
Life tells us that we are part of the dirt — that too much cleanliness can overactivate immunity and lead to the onset of allergies, that having bacteria in one’s gut is good, that having parasites in one’s intenstines might not be disastrous for those physiologies have adapted via the generations. To have to combat those expected parasites can actually restore the body’s immunological balance, so that it isn’t overactive, whereas those who move from parts of Africa to parts of Europe may succumb suddenly to their own body’s immunological overreach.
I missed the loam, but Australian society was super clean. I mean, there weren’t any unregulated elements of being.
Dambudzo — whose name means hard times — took me back to my African roots with dirt aplenty. That way I could be reborn again.
I don’t really expect anyone to understand this because I don’t really get it myself, but somehow horribleness and unpleasantness were necessary for my equilibrium to recover. I drew minerals from the African organic quality of life this writer brought to the fore. The negativities of my life started to make sense for the first time and I could include them in the picture of what it means to be me.