Lost and Found: True Story of an African Hansel and Gretel

“What would you have done if you never found us?” She closed her eyes and seemed to delve into memories of grief relieved. “My world would have been torn apart.”

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Photo: Me and my big brothers. Nathan holding my hand. We were around that age.

My mother and I was recollecting our version  of events of the life Рchanging events. I was two and some at the time and my older brother was 3. We loved car rides so when a car mechanic offered us one we hopped in the car.  My mother tells me the accident happened paMbudzi, commonly known as the unofficial goat market close to the tollgate leading out of the capital city Harare. I distinctly remember all the traffic lights at that intersection turning green at the same time. Cars flooded in anyway causing carnage and death at the scene. I specifically remember a car full of fully clad apostolic faith members was hit by our car, a fault the mechanic was arrested for. I peered over the door to witness the aftermath and all I could see was the police pulling the mechanic away from the car, that was left in the middle of the road.

A bystander must have seen us and took us out of the car in case another accident would sweep us away.¬† We were retrieved from the car in such a hurry I left my little Sandak shoe in the car. My brother and I were taken from the only security we had to join the thrall of people at that busy intersection. My brother grabbed my hand and we started walking. “Hande kumba Dali,” (let’s go home Dali) my brother said reassuringly so I followed him with a shoe on.

The sun disappeared as we walked along the streets. My mother tells me it should have been Glen Norah. I whined to my brother about my empty stomach and my tired feet. “Tokumbira chikafu,” (please give us food). My brother placed trust in a lady doing some work outside her house. She asked the obvious questions, “Who are you with? Where do you live?” She promptly took us to the police station so they could help us (My mother tells me it was Glen Norah police station).

The duty officers asked so many questions I did not even know. My brother was brave and was not afraid to answer even if most of the responses were ‘I don’t know’. After a barrage of questions he volunteered the most vital information. “Our telephone number is 304771,” that solved the case. All we could do was wait.

My mother told me her side of the story. That day my mother was being baptised at her church and it was a significant day to show her commitment to God. She came home to distressing news that her two youngest children were involved in an accident and no one knows where they were. She told she broke down for a few minutes and strengthened herself to go out and find her children. “I was looking in the reeds, thinking maybe that is where you were harmed and left to die.” She said she prayed while she was driving, “Lord I have been a good servant to you, I have dedicated my life to you. Please give me back my children.” She went to Waterfalls Police Station where she heard the news that they have been found and they are at Glen Norah police station. She began to make her way to us.

“Ndomuuraya!!!” (I will kill him!!). That woke us up from our sleep as we snuggled in the thin blankets usually given to inmates. “Ndinomupisa murume uyu!” (I will burn this man). I saw a man glistening from head to toe from paraffin, which I assumed was poured by the woman hurling threats. The yelling and fracas increased and I held onto my brother tighter. Not long after their entrance, was their exit. I do not know how it was resolved. We fell asleep again and woke up to my mom’s voice, “Vana vangu!!!” (My children). We struggled to emerge from the blankets so we can run to our mother. She looked us up and down, to check if we were ok, thanked the officers profusely and whisked us out of the station. She couldn’t hide the relief and pent up worry from her voice. All I remember from that is asking if we could still have our usual Saturday burgers and chips dinner because we were starving. “You can have anything that you want.”

“I did not realise how important teaching your children your home telephone number was,” She uttered with a grateful smile.

The End

I have never felt so choked up about telling the story as much as I do now. Much like a Hansel and Gretel tale it was spoken about alot and my brother’s memory was the breadcrumb that led us home. I always thought that we were brave but in actual fact it was my brother who was the rock. I am sure many people have times in their lives where they needed someone to hold them by the hand and guide them through the unknown. Sometimes that can be the change from death to life.

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Thank you for reading, lets get a-tweeting (@dali_lamah)

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