I write this letter with bitterness, coursing in my veins. The earth is squeezing out the breath of life through my nostrils second after second.
I write this letter on this tissue paper sitting under a nameless tree next to a heap of garbage. Cockroaches and other crawling insects are prowling, mating and breeding on my wretched body. My body that has become a habitation of all types of sores.
Yesterday I nearly gave up the ghost. I wondered all over the streets of Cambridge in search of anything that would hold my intestines. By a glimmer of luck, I stood facing a gate with a banner that read: Cambridge University Welcomes You.
With a leaping heart, I entered the gate. Instantaneously, I caught a glimpse of a silver bin in front of one of the tall buildings. Hastily, I trod my way to the bin and quickly removed the lid, gently lowered my head and hands into the silver container. Hamburgers, hot chips (though cold) and other nameless food stuffs and “stuffs” caused saliva to drip from my mouth. My hands raced with flies to settle on the tiny bits of leftovers. Within seconds, my mouth was busy munching as my hands were busy stuffing it.
In the middle of the feast, a metallic object landed on my buttocks flinging me deep inside the bin. The silver container fell down. Somebody kicked the bin, forcing it to roll down the pavement. With my half body inside, I felt the pain. Thanks to a tree that stopped it, otherwise I don’t know what would have become of me.
Two white hands removed me from the garbage container. Countless white youthful faces were staring at me. Somebody mentioned that I looked like the dog - the dog that stole their bones last week.
Laughter filled the air. Amidst laughter, a rain of urine drenched my face. I cursed. Countless names were poured on me: ape, black bastard, thief, destitute Negro.
Then mama, I was punched, kicked…then went blank, subconsciously I began to hear low voices…amidst the physical torture, mama, they called me Mugabe, Nkrumah and Charamba. I tried to explain that I am a Tembo and not related to these people. This called for more laughter and more beatings.
My ancestral prowess possessed me. I grabbed one tiny Caucasian by the collar, threw him aside and ran for life. They ran after me swearing and cursing. But they couldn’t catch me. Remember mama that I was a sprinter at College. I ran till I arrived at this garbage yard where I hid till now.
Dearest mother, this is but one figment of the life I live in white London.
Tell my brothers to study and open businesses at home. Caution them against seeking greener pastures because……… the grass is not always green on the other side.
I hear that now Chematama and Va Chatunga can share a joke. When I get money, I’ll buy an air ticket and come home. The grass is not green for a black Zimbabwean in white London.
Tererai Tembo (MBA)