By Victoria Ntuli


I sat up on the bed my back against the wall before me was the blank laptop screen, the screen had gone blank without me noticing. Minutes have gone by, my eyes still clued to the blank screen. I stared blankly at the laptop screen as if the words I was looking for were written there. I was in my own world, a sphere only known by me. It is astounding how times flies. Years back finding my words was effortless but now it’s as if someone has taken words out of my brain. I pressed enter on the laptop keyboard, a white blank page appeared. I deeply sighed hoping my suspire will help me get words down on the blank white page that stared back at me. Unexpectedly a tear rolled down my left cheek.

Was it a writer’s block? What is writer’s block?  I leaned forward pressing the tear down with my middle finger. One would swear I had make-up on that I didn’t want to ruin. 

Funny how dreams can fade away. Did my dream fade away? I placed my left hand on my mouth in disbelief. Seconds passed, many questions were still flooding but there were no answers. The laptop screen had gone blank again. 

“I give up,” I said out loud roughly shutting the laptop. I stood up determined to give up the life I was trying to return to. 

What do I know? What have I learned in the past about writing? Am I good enough? The thoughts were still there. The other half of me wanted to give up and the other half of me wanted to give it a try just one last time. 

I rolled my eyes in the thought that I have wasted so much time in attempt to find my words. Words that have gone with the wind. Words I’m not sure if I will ever find again in this life time. I grabbed my phone heading outside. I needed fresh air. 

There I was sitting on a black tire at the park. I don’t know how I got there. I must have been consumed by my thoughts that I didn’t realise how swiftly I was walking. Seeing the atmosphere of the park gave me hope that I can forget my thoughts. For once I can enjoy the summer breeze, socialize with beings and forget about the writer’s block. Everyone at the park was relaxed. Far on my left was a young couple slightly younger than me. They sat on a blue towel facing each other. In front of them was a handwoven picnic basket filled with chocolate, strawberries, juice, muffins, wine and other items that I could not see clearly. The tall white muscular guy kept fixing the natural hair of the lady in a red plain dress. The couple fed each other strawberries that they had on their hands. 

On my far right was a group of male friends, two leaned against a red Polo GTI while the other two sat on the brown camp chairs facing their friends. Their faces were covered with smiles and laugher though their conversation was tense or it seemed so. They were arguing loudly, what confused me was that they were able to laugh about it. Were they making jokes maybe?

“Okusalayo idliwe I chiefs,” one friend sneer. The rest of the gents murmured. Thereafter there was silence. Boys! If they are not arguing about girls then it is definitely soccer. The previous day was a big match between chiefs and Pirates.

Ahead was a guy sitting on top of a tire as well, slightly older than me. He was dark in complexion and short. He looked up and quickly bowed his head to look at his wrist watch. He was shaking his left leg exposing his white sneakers. 

Was he waiting for someone, a girlfriend maybe? I had the whole day to find out.

He looked up again this time with a smile as if he knew what was to follow. His date was there. He stood up and embraced her tightly. The girl was wearing a yellow scotch dress with black sandals. They faced a different direction holding hands leaving me with unsettled questions. Questions about my writing career. 

Was it a career? A hobby maybe? 

My thoughts were soon distracted but a former high school classmate

“Uzifihle kuphi?” “Where are you hiding?” She waved delightedly from a distance. 
I waved back with a grin 

“I’m around!” I didn’t want to say much. I gazed her pass the park with her friend.

The black tire was really becoming intolerable. I sat down on the green grass. Everything in me was fighting the thoughts I had. I knew while I was sitting at the park that there is no running away from this. Part of me knew that the sooner I thoroughly think about it, the sooner I will see the light. 

Should I use this opportunity to dive deeper to this bewilderment? Should I dive deeper and do self-introspection?  What if I don’t like the outcomes? What if I don’t like the decisions that will come after? What is important? Is it the money or is it doing what I love? What is it that I love? Do I really love writing? These questions were racing in my mind.

My mind speedily sprinted to grade 7. Good memories! This is where it all started. I was in grade 7 and the year was 2009. This is the year and grade I wrote my first story. To tell the truth I don’t remember what the story was about. I could distictly see my friends applauding me of the astonishing piece I wrote.

“Are you sure you wrote this?” one of my friends asked. “Yes,” I replied excitedly. 

“You are good at this,” Another said. If you were in my shoes were you going to stop? I thought as much. I did exactly that, I did not stop. I wrote, wrote and wrote .Every chance I got I would pour my heart to the paper. The deep affection of writing slowly developed. I remember like it was yesterday telling one of my friends that one day I would become the best-selling author. She laughed. 

Was it because she believed in me? Or was it because she did not believe that I could be an author? Years passed and I never stopped writing until this faithful day I came across Fundza Literacy Trust on Mxit. Yes Mxit, I know I’m old. The Fundza platform exposed me to a lot of stories. I read various stories each day until I discovered that I myself can publish my stories. That’s where the journey became limpid. 

“Thinking about someone special?” A tall dark hunk stood before me. “Can I join?” he continued. I looked up nodding with a timid smile on my face. I didn’t have to utter any words the hunk had already sat down facing me. There was quietness for a moment. He cleared his throat

“I’m rude, my name is Sanele,” he extended his hand. I reached out and shook his hand, “And you are?” Before I could open my mouth he had already uttered another sentence

“Why is a beautiful lady like you sitting alone? He asked with a smile. I didn’t answer, my mind has yet travelled to the world known only by me. He reminded me of Khulekani, a main character in my short story the Shocking Event.

“You don’t like talking?” he asked with a straight face. There and then I knew I needed to exit the wonderland and face the reality. Reality of having a conversation with this hunk in front of me. But I didn’t want to talk and yes I don’t like talking. I love making conversations in my mind. I love talking with my characters and I love writing my conversations down. Maybe just maybe had he texted me I would have been interested.

“Vee,” another former classmate shouted passing by the park. This is it, it was a perfect time to escape the small talks with this stranger I just met. It was a perfect time to run away from Sanele.

 “Long time no see! ” I shouted and I immediately stood up rushing to embrace my former classmate. There was hesitation from her side. It must have been awe, yes she was shocked that I hugged her considering our relationship. We went to the same school and same class but we were not that close definitely not friends. She did not see my gesture coming. I have always been a reserved girl who loved nothing but to read and write.

“You have gained weight,” the former classmate finally said after the awkward interaction. She has not changed, still short, skinny and dark but to be honest I don’t remember her name.

“I have gained weight?” I asked examining myself. “Where are you going? Let me accompany you,” I suggested. I needed to escape from this gentleman in no time. 

“Of course, I could use some company,” She took the lead and I followed in relief. Sanele was still seating where I left him aghast. Yes I did it, I left him without saying goodbye. 

On my way back from the park, the sun has already set exposing the bright orange sky. Glancing to the dazzling orange and red sky made me realize that it was late. I walked faster panting, the last thing I wanted was to worry my mother. My street was busy as usual, kids playing barefoot. It did not bother them that the night was slowly creeping in chaperon with the cold summer breeze- they continued playing. Far ahead at home was my mom outside removing the laundry from the washing line. She went inside the house with the first load and got out of the house empty handed this time. She then went straight to the washing line again for more clothes.

When I left at home during the day she was not around. What time did she knock off? I wondered as I approached the brown steel gate. Mom was a domestic worker at the nearby suburb, she mostly worked for nurses, teachers and police officers who were segregated from our township. The main long road separated the two areas – The Township and the Suburb. The suburbs were 15 minutes away from our township, and many residents worked in the nearby suburb. Mom worked part time -some days she would go a week without going to work and some days she would work twice a week. She often would wait for her bosses to call her in. Mom did not have normal stable working hours. Some days she would knock off early and some days she would knock off very late. As I drew closer to the washing line I could smell the succulent chicken stew she cooked, she was a good cook. 

“Take this and put inside,” she gave me laundry she just removed from the washing line. I took the laundry and went straight to the house. I passed the sitting room and turned left to the passage then right to enter my room. I carelessly threw the laundry on my bed. 

“Oh mama it’s burning,” I screamed, sniffing my nose. 

‘’Your stew is burning,” I shouted rushing to the kitchen. Now the smell has changed, all I could smell was smoke the sweet chicken smell was gone. I coughed, quickly opening the kitchen door trying to get the smoke out. I held the pot in attempt to shift it to the next stove plate that was off. 

Bang! The pot fell down. I screamed in pain shaking my hands as if I was extinguishing the burn on my fingers. I stuffed my two right middle fingers on my mouth to try stop the hot burning pain I felt. The pain was unbearable, I sat down on the messy floor next to the unrecognisable stew that was all over the floor. 

“Yini, uthi kwenzenjan? ” Mom came rushing to investigate what has just happened. “What is wrong?”

The question pierced my heart. I waited the whole day for someone to ask me what is wrong. I burst into tears, I could no longer hold it anymore. Muddled, my mom stood in the kitchen examining everything that had happened. What confused her the most was my bewail. She did not have to say it. It was written in her face. At a slow pace she kneeled before me.

“Talk to me, what is it?” She asked. I gazed at her once and I cried my eyes out.

“I feel like I’m a lost soul,” She looked me straight into my eyes waiting for me to continue. It was as if I had said nothing.

I continued, “Yes I’m a lost soul Mama. I don’t know what I want. No, actually I know what I want. Do I?” I raised my head looking straight in her eyes. She kept quiet.

“I tried writing this morning and I couldn’t. I have not touched a pen and a paper to write in the past 7 years. Mama I have forgotten how to write, I don’t know where to start,” I wiped my tears still looking at her. She attempted to utter a word but I unintentionally blocked her.

“The page on my PC was blank,” I poured my heart out. Mom embraced and pulled me closer to her chest. I could feel her warmth, I could smell her favourite perfume though it was no longer strong.

“SHHH,” She pulled me closer until there was no space between our bodies.

“I went to varsity thinking I will forget about writing but here I am trying so hard to find my words back, trying so hard to express myself. 7 years later I still love writing dearly. Mama I can’t run away from this anymore.”

She let go of me and held my hands instead, it was an end of the warmest embrace I have ever experienced in a while. 

“Not getting a job is taking a toll on you Mntanami, your time will come and you will find a job.”

I snapped folding my arms, “I don’t want a job!” I could see her face change.

“I thought not getting a job frustrates you so much to a point where you are unable to express yourself,” She replied innocently. 

“I support whatever you want, you know that right?” I nodded.

“What do you want?” She asked with a straight face this time. 

“I want to write Mom,” I responded. The room was filled with laugher after my response. I was confused for a moment.

“Nana come,” She stood up holding my hand and we headed to the sitting room. 

“Look,” she pointed at a framed certificate on the wall. It was a certificate I got from Fundza Literacy Trust for being the author of the top read play “The Village Girl“ and for having submitted work to Fundza over a four-year period. We both looked at the certificate and my eyes once again were filled with tears. I wiped the few drops that have escaped - hoping to get a clear view of what was in front me.  It was as if I was seeing the certificate for the first time. It brought back the amazing memories, days were writing was exciting and easy. Every day after school I would get home, do house chores and write.

I didn’t consider writing as a career but when I received the certificate my perception changed. Maybe I could be a writer, maybe I could be an author. Could I be a writer? A secretly asked myself. I took the certificate and held it close to my heart. I wanted to touch and to feel the certificate. Gazing it on the wall was not enough.

“You see, that’s your name!” I smiled at mom, looking at the certificate once more. One would swear that the very same certificate didn’t reside on the sitting room wall, where we sat every day.  The certificate was literally in my eyes every day.

“I wish I never stopped writing,” I said sincerely.

“You can still write. You need to believe,” She said.

“Is this even a God given talent?” I asked.

She sighed, “It doesn’t matter, you love writing and you will master it.” I looked at her as if I was trying to read her mind, body and actions. I doubted what she said but she had said it with confidence. 

Maybe I should have studied creative writing or any course related to writing not education,” I clutched the certificate to my chest.  

“Nana go and rest I will take care of the mess at the kitchen” I placed the certificate on the table facing down heading to my room. I had listened to my mother’s advice. I had a long day, long day of self-analysis.

“You are a writer, now go and write,” I turned looking at my mom. It meant so much to me that my own mother acknowledged me as a writer. I finally got my strength back. I started to believe that I AM WRITER. 

I whispered, “I am a writer.”

I entered my room much positive. I was not the same person I was when I left the room that morning. I went straight to the drawer to take a paper and a pen. The paper was shrivelled and it looked like it survived many lonely years in the drawer. I threw myself on the bed full of laundry and I started writing. Before I knew it, I had already written 3 pages. In that particular moment I felt like the rock that was on my shoulder for the past 7 years has been lifted off. I have finally found my peace and words. I have been a lost soul for countless years and now I have finally found my way back home. Finally I have found myself and yes I am a writer.


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