In our series of letters from African journalists, film-maker and columnist Farai Sevenzo reflects on life after the death of her father


There were days when I found it almost impossible to remember my dreams.
I do not remember many of them during that time. Many a time I would wake up
in the night and find myself sitting on the edge of my bed with my hands
clasped together in my lap. There would be no memories in my mind. My mind
seemed to fill itself with all the memories of the past and nothing to carry
with me into the future. There is an explanation for this but, like so many
symptoms of dementia, you will never find the answer in the dictionary.

So far as I am concerned my sleep patterns are now normal. There are times
when I can fall into a deep sleep, which I can call a sleep and sometimes a
dream, but my dreams no longer seem to be dreams, or rather, dreams no longer
seem to be my dreams.

My father’s death was a hard time. He was not the only one who found it
difficult to cope with. My mother did the best she could, but she was a
semi-retired teacher. A number of my friends were also in trouble, some with
their husbands and others with their children. I went to university, but I
didn’t take anything really close to a serious degree. I worked in a store that
sold second-hand books in the village. I had a small part-time job with a
grocery store in the city. None of these work was very challenging and I
didn’t bother myself wondering what the career path should have been. The
only thing certain was that when things were challenging, I could handle

It was a summer afternoon when I walked the dog down to the field that was
used for grazing sheep. I had a small dog called Cuthbert. He was a black and
white shepherd dog and a very friendly one. There were lots of birds living
in the field that day. As I approached the field my dog looked up into the
air. It was not like the look on dogs when they see something that they know
is not there. I could see nothing in the air. Cuthbert looked at me and then
looked up again. I saw nothing in the air but suddenly he charged straight
into it, charging through the trees, up onto the ridge where the sheep in the
field fed on their grass. He bounded up to the sheep and began to lick them
from ear to ear. The sheep began to run away and the dogs began to chase after
them. I ran too and began to chase after the dogs. As I got nearer, I saw my
eyes widen in alarm and I turned around and ran back, shouting Cuthbert. The
dogs began to circle me. I shouted some more. The sheep ran away and the dogs
tried to chase them up the field.

I was walking back to the town when I saw Cuthbert standing on the top of a
hill. The sheep began to run towards him again. A car began to drive out of
the town and it stopped. After a minute or two of watching me they began to
drive away again. Cuthbert looked down at me and looked up at me and then
looked down again. The sheep were running towards me very quickly. It was
just then that I realised he had flown up towards me. I turned my head round
and looked at the car. The driver started to walk towards me. The sheep were
still running towards me but now they seemed to be getting smaller in size.
They were much smaller than they were when they first approached me. Cuthbert
was now standing completely still, only moving his head once in a while. He
kept looking down at me. When the car reached me I jumped down and ran at
it. The car was turning and driving away. I jumped up on to the bonnet.
The driver looked at me and the car as if trying to think where I might have
come from.

I have a theory that there is a real difference between reality and dreams.
I say dream because we believe that our day-to-day life is so real that we
see our dreams as dreams. But the reality is that our dreams are part of our

I once had a nightmare where I was caught as some sort of a criminal.
I had been out in the countryside with a group of people. We lived on a farm
and were going to celebrate Christmas. We went to have Christmas dinner
with the farmer’s family. We had a game of football and then we ate the
dinner. After the food was eaten we started to celebrate in the house. I was
at the table with the farmer’s wife and we were talking when suddenly there
was a loud knocking at the door. It was the farmer’s wife. She said to me
that we have to go to bed now for we will have to be up early in the morning
to prepare the fields for the next day’s planting. She said that we would be
back at 6am to open the shop. The farmer’s wife said that we had to be ready
to go the next day. I said I would need time to pack up and then I went
to bed to prepare.

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