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One Way Ticket | Valerie Chatindo

One Way Ticket | Valerie Chatindo

One Way Ticket- Valerie Chatindo | Agbowo



Dear Diary…..

We are all screwed!

Pardon me.

If anyone even says that anymore. 

I beg your pardon. Lol!

You see, I’ve been told that I need to start expressing my feelings. All of them. And I’m supposed to do so without inhibition or judgement. You see, I somehow managed to land myself in therapy. Years of repression have eroded my emotional awareness and left me as a conflicted and deeply depressed soul. Though to be honest I’m just a mean little bastard.

So my therapist suggested I start journaling everything down to find an outlet for my unvented anger and childhood traumas. Apparently, when a fifteen-year-old boy starts to say things like fuck and we’re all screwed  he retreats into his own little shell because he watches the news and finally wakes up to the fact that the world is messed up place full of animals masquerading as people. It’s a crisis.

The name is Anesu, by the way, Mr. Diary. And if you happen to be one of those curious white people wondering what Anesu means, it’s Shona for God is with us. See, Shona isn’t even an actual word, it’s what South Africans used to call migrant Zimbabwean migrants, batshona. And about that God stuff, I don’t feel that he is; with us, I mean, iff I’m to be honest, just looking at the world, I don’t even think I believe in God but that’s another discussion for another day. Does time even exist in the Diary matrix? And before you start getting excited at the idea of a long-term relationship between us, please know that this is just a one-day thing. 

Now. Where was I?

Oh yes, the God stuff. So my mom’s sister, Aunty Mabel, says that young people in Zimbabwe are now a bunch of entitled, ungrateful snobs and that only people who are eating three square meals have the audacity to insinuate that God doesn’t exist. A hungry tummy will make you believe in God, Allah and every other god there is. Hunger will force a grown man down on his knees. Only people who are feasting and shitting on a regular basis and have feasted and shat so much, can sit down and actually convince themselves that there is no God. All the young people are becoming atheists nowadays but that’s not why I’m one. Wait, am I an atheist? Maybe agnostic? Do I have to be anything?

That’s something I’ll have to think about.

Call me an agnostic for now, Mr Diary.

Anyways back to the main issue at hand. Me. Haha.

I’m sure you’re wondering why a fifteen-year-old is even in therapy. And in case you aren’t and would rather be doing something else, please just know the fireplace may be a better companion. Just kidding!

Oh yes, I’m fifteen, and soon, I’ll be turning sixteen. That means I’ll be getting my ID soon, which should be easy. If the big bosses in leadership weren’t chowing down all the money that’s supposed to be serving the citizens, I’d simply have to wake up a bit early, stand in a stupid queue and get a piece of plastic which officially makes me an adult. But that’s not going to happen because nothing is that easy around here. And because nothing is easy, Aunty Mable will have to slip a few extra bucks to her colleague’s cousin who works at the national registry just to fast-track the process. And by fast-track, I mean we have to pay to be afforded what should be normal service. If we don’t do that, I’ll have to wait for more than half a year. If we don’t pay for what should be a free service offered by a country to its citizens, I will find myself waking up at 3 AM, day after day, and being told that the plastic has run out while I watch people with fancy big cars walk in and out of the national registry with pieces of plastic for their kids. 

I will have to be one of those people. 

 The cost of doing business. Everything is an effort……..

……that’s why Dad left.

I wish I could go out and celebrate like those rich spoiled kids that they show on MTV’s sweet sixteen. The kind of kids who are either obese or are skinny enough to convince you they’re on drugs. Kids who talk back to their parents and say things like, fuck you mom. I do that sometimes behind Aunty Mabel’s back. I open my mouth wide and mouth it really slowly. And even that makes my heart race. Anyways most of those rich brats have all these fancy clothes but they don’t dress all that well to be honest. Money doesn’t buy taste!

Man, I even wish I could even take a few of my friends to the local hotspot and even have a few drinks and all- alcoholic of course. My aunt says that will never happen because my dad was a deadbeat who left nothing but a lot of debt and even more bastards like me. 

“I’m not taking care of any more of Tk’s bastards!” She always says.

He’s dead, so is my mom too, in case you don’t know.

Anyways, I’m writing in this stupid book and stuff because I’m sort of miserable. And no, it’s not because my parents are dead, nor is it because I’m going through some teenage bullshit and no bad man or woman (gender equality or whatever) touched me. I just now have this supernatural knowledge from above. That no matter how hard we try, we eventually succumb to a shitty fate. History and time have shown that the world is a fucked up place. People killing each other, women being raped, and bad people getting away with it. My mom was a good person who loved an idiot and irrespective of how hard she tried, my dad never straightened up and that’s kinda why she died but that has nothing to do with it. What it all boils down to is the fact that we are all screwed! 

We are all screwed!!

I don’t really have much to talk about really, and I’m not sure what I’m even supposed to be writing about. Aunty says if nothing comes out of these therapy sessions, she will beat the depression out of me. She usually says it in a humorous way, like “f you waste my money I’ll kill you little bastad.”‘ The way she says it sounds like she left the r out. 

Bastad Bastad Bastad Bastad.


 Child of a big bastad who turned out into a little bastad

You’d think something like that would get to me. My family is messed up, but we love each other. And I know she doesn’t really mean it because she’s in the UK now, working as a support worker who is wiping old white people’s bums just to give me a better life. The Zimbo dream that is a product of diaspora fever. Soon no one will be left in this little teapot-shaped gem of ours and not once do we ever wonder why the white man chooses to come here while we run away. Oh well. At least I can attend private school now and even afford to sit down twice a week with a woman who sits with a board and asks me to tell her how I feel like it’s the simplest thing on Earth. Sometimes she rushes out and tells me she’ll be back soon but doesn’t return for almost an hour. I know she’ll be handling other stuff because she’s a runner too, meaning she buys things from South Africa for people here. Most times she’s on her phone with a frown on her face just saying uhuh uh uh uhuh. I don’t tell Aunty about it because I know it will only piss her off, and honestly, I don’t mind being left alone. I guess you could say we have some sort of unspoken agreement.


And there’s Uncle Thabang too but we don’t talk about him a lot. But since I have nothing to talk about I’ll talk about him.

When Uncle Thabang left for the UK, we were all excited. That was ten years ago. Uncle Thabang was Gogo’s favourite son and Aunty Mable’s brother. It was just the two of them, but even then, everyone knew Uncle Thabang was Gogo’s favourite. It’s even said that when he was just a small child, he would bring his mother flowers every day and hang around her like plague. He was also quite the chatterbox. Despite not being Grandad’s real son and rather the son of his best friend , he was loved. It’s not that my late grandfather didn’t know Uncle Thabang’s real paternity but he was a quiet man much like my uncle would also turn out to be, and chose to keep his peace, until he got drunk. They say whenever my grandfather got drunk, he’d start shouting, 

Why must I take care of another man’s son, I’m not a Dhundhahead inini mhani.

Anyways when Uncle Thabang turned eighteen, he finally confronted his mother, and she told him in a teary account that he was a bastad, bastad. Not in those words, though. Jesus, no!

Uncle Thabang would become quiet after that encounter.

Everyone says from there on he rarely spoke and that when he did, it was unlike the loud, boisterous voice of the boy who’d tell Aunty Mable, “Stop whoring yourself in my father’s house.” I always knew him like that though. 

So when a year after the rather rude awakening, Uncle Thabang mentioned that he needed money to go to the UK, Gogo, who was doing everything to compensate for whatever her son needed compensation for, took out a loan from the bank and bought her son a ticket and a whole new wardrobe for Gatwick.

She really couldn’t afford it because by then the economy had taken a turn for the worst and inflation was hitting faster than Mike Tyson’s quickest boxing match. The food portions in the household were growing smaller and a teaspoon of sugar really meant a teaspoon. Even tissue paper was being rationed.

Still, Gogo went all out for her favourite love’s child. The day before he boarded the plane, she called him into her bedroom and sat him down. She told him that she was putting all her hope in him since his sister would never amount to anything and that he should always remember to send money from the UK since she had gone through so much to make sure he could have an opportunity most people could only dream of. The next day we all got to the airport three hours early and did the whole picture snapping shenanigan while we waited for him to board. As we all watched him board his plane we all felt that somehow things were getting better. I remember how we all waved and cheered until the airplane shrunk into a tiny blinking light.

We never heard from him again. 

I remember how we had all waited for that call from the UK until we realised that it was never coming. Something had gone terribly wrong. 

Indeed it had.

Gogo would always insist that something had to have happened to Thabang and that the son she knew would never do something like that. The son she raised on milk and honey would never leave his mother to suffer. Whenever Gogo said this, Aunty Mable would always raise her voice and answer back, “That bastad son of yours is alive and well, my friend even said she saw him in Manchester boarding a bus.”

Gogo would never listen to such talk. She’d always remind Aunty Mabel that she was a whore and did nothing but sponge off her.

That was until two years ago.

Two years ago Aunty Mable, like half the Zimbabwean population completed her nurse aid course with Red Cross and after working her butt off to pay for her IELTS she finally got a job in the UK.

All of it was done hush hush because Gogo insisted that the same relatives that had bewitched Aunty to make her a barren and loose woman and killed her son, would surely find a way to do some serious spiritual sabotage. The assumption obviously was that these said relatives had nothing better to do than fixate themselves on our lives since we obviously were as important as the Windsors.

All these relatives did, after all, was gossip and witch around. I once asked Aunty why people performed witchcraft since most of the people who did were poor. The few people I knew from our almost ghetto neighbourhood who did indeed look and behave like witches, were extremely poor.

She said it was because the world sucked and when people became witches they could eat meat and perform orgies everyday. 


When Aunty left we didn’t tell anyone nor did we take pictures. When our neighbours asked us where we were going that day, since the taxi cab gave us away, we simply lied and said Gogo was unwell and needed to see the doctor. We told no one. No witches and gossip. This time we did not cheer as the plane took off. We simply stood and silently watched. But this time it was going to be different.

Within hours of landing, she called us and told Gogo, I’m going to prove that your favorite son is an evil bastad!

She would call us months later with a slight English accent to recount to us how it all went down.

She had found him.

She had found the bastad.

Alive and well. 

The same friend who had spotted him boarding one of those big red, double-deck buses, had also followed him to his address.

Thabang was living with a white woman, the friend had said. And he wasn’t Thabang anymore. He went by Tabby now.

When Aunty had knocked on the door she wasn’t surprised to see her brother answering. He hadn’t looked a bit embarrassed but I’m sure he was a little embarrassed. Aunty had said he had greeted her like he had just seen her yesterday and that’s not even the most interesting part. A white lady had called out, “Who is that, Tabby?”

Aunty said a little white lady with big blue eyes had appeared. When she learnt who Aunty was, she gave her a big hug that lasted for a while. They would later be sitting down to cups of tea when the lady would tell Aunty that they were so relieved to see her and how fortunate she had been because “Thabang told me he lost contact with you guys after that genocide. Aunty had said nothing but simply looked at her brother because the year was 2020 and Zimbabwe hadn’t seen genocide in the last thirty years.. 

“Yes we survived but things have been tough.”

Though Tabby would’ve been relieved to see Aunty go and never hear from her again, his wife wasn’t. She had insisted that they use their ‘vacation money’ to move the whole family from that ‘GOD FORSAKEN WAR ZONE. ‘

Aunty had just smiled and said, “You are too kind.” 

In two weeks,  Gogo and I will be enroute the UK on our one way ticket. And our lives will change. Do they have depression in the UK? 

Valerie Chatindo | Agbowo African Literary Art

Valerie Chatindo

Valerie Tendai Chatindo is a biochemistry graduate from the University of Zimbabwe, entrepreneur, writer and poet. Her work has been featured in the literary online journal, The Kalahari Review, for three consecutive years. She has also published with Enthuse Afrika and most recently Pinkdisco Magazine. She also has a poem and short story featured in the Nehanda anthology published by Povo. Her short story Sheba was shortlisted for the African Cradle ‘African Heroines’ competition and she is currently working on her first book of poems with them as part of their writing clinic. She currently is a resident artist with Page Poetry Alive and works closely as a content creator and editor with The African Cradle. The twenty seven year old resides in Harare, Zimbabwe with her cat, Muffins.

Photo by Christopher Sardegna on Unsplash

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