Holding Hands-My Memories of Holding Hands
I remember at the age of seven playing with other children in the sands of my grandfather’s farm, under the moonlight of Zimbabwe. Many of the games we played, we were holding hands. With a smile now I remember looking up each night seeing the twinkling stars and the milky-way, which my grandma told me that it was a path that the Rozvi kings had traveled, and I in my innocence believed it to be true because anything said holding hands was the truth. We danced and we sang holding hands, it was a symbol of unity and oneness of the family; which I knew to be an extended large family. I never could have imagined a nuclear family. How could I? Even our neighbors were in some way related to our fore fathers and grand mothers. Apart from family there was the whole clan factor and totems that consciously made us to hold our hands together and clap them as an honor and greeting to every elder who came in our presence. Thus holding out my hand is my second nature; it stuck with me from my roots. Now I see myself in Cincinnati Ohio still trying to greet every one I meet with a hand shake. Some people look at me and wonder why? I can see it in their faces but because I have a contagious smile, my hand is irresistible. Most of my friends know they will receive a hand shake from me or better still an embrace of brotherhood.
In my childhood and early days in school every game we played we held hands after selecting our team members, we held our hands in solidarity and with the determination to beat an opposing team even after we lost we still came back together and whispered to each other that we can be better next time. It built up our attitudes and courage as we raised our voices "We have won!” or “We will win next time, we ran out of time. Wait for time and chance!” I don’t want to give you the notion that maybe holding hands was only for our traditional games and holding hands in my grandmother’s story telling circle. In my family at eight I remember holding hands serious not as a game but a warfare because TB had almost claimed my grandfather’s life. We held our hands in prayer and agreement as each member of the family poured out our hearts to God. I think of holding hands in prayer that day as the miracle that restored my grandfather and has made him the oldest member of our family now at 101years. He is our answered prayer for a long satisfying life.
I know the adage that, ‘charity begins at home’ but now I know it is a cloud that hold more water than we can see. My early childhood memories are full of those moments where my grandma and my grandfather walked with me in the farm holding my little hand, guiding me away from thorns in the pathway. My grandfather walked with me in the garden holding my hand and showing me ripe tomatoes, carrots, papayas and bananas. We enjoyed squeezing the leaves of mint, rosemary and thyme breathing the richness in the aroma of fresh herbs. I can feel his hand in mine still feeling wide and firm. Recently on June 1st on my birthday I had the pleasure to help my friend to plant flowers in their front yard and deep with in me I could feel the confidence of a master farmer; grandpa’s hand over my hand helping me to press down the soil around my tomato plants and thinning carrots. Grandma holding my hand teaching me to cook, sweep and peel potatoes and pumpkins. I laugh now when I crush groundnuts with my thumb easily. I used to use my teeth when I was young so grandma would un-shell nuts and hold my hand cupped up and then fill it with shelled nuts. In me I associate holding hands with productivity and self-reliance as I saw my grandma and grandpa holding hands supporting each other each year as they announced the master farmer of the year trophy or shield. In most of their active years they walked away with prizes. I wept over the lost of those wonderful hands in 1999 as my grandfather held my hand to lay my wreath at her grave with tears rolling down my cheeks I cherished and honored her; our hearts will not forget the hands that held us in laughter and in sorrow, her sweet embracing hands, love and kindness.
My greatest seared memory of holding hands is a symbol of love. I stood on the balcony taking my eyes away from a painting I had just created because I wanted to watch the golden sunset. As beautiful as the sunset was in its amazing African glory, I heard the birds singing a love song to two love birds strolling among the pink blooms of our peach trees in the orchard holding their hands and it seemed like there were in a world of their own. This couple was not in a hurry so I watched them laugh, smile and loving each other. For a moment I felt the seal of their love, mum and dad’s love was beyond me and my siblings; they lived it and breathed it. I learned at that moment to love in word and in deed. In that sweet moment as they passed through the rose bushes; I saw what every bouquet of roses meant to my dear mother and every gift of presence coupled with memorable moments that my father built in every vacation and moment he spend at home before he made another trip. Holding hands they kept strolling as I sat down, branded with a hot iron of love. I wrote these words of love.
A gift of presence,
A gift of yourself,
Pouring out your love in words,
and in deed;
Give me a dozen of roses, not only
on Valentine’s Day,
Or to mark my birthday,
Give me a dozen of roses each day;
So if one dies, another will still be fresh;
Let the symbol of your love,
Forever be fresh and never wither,
A daily supply of fresh red roses,
Fresh dozens and fresh memories,
Will make a life time of love,