Norest Hazvineyi Dumba grew up in the high-density suburbs of Glen View 1 in Harare. Her family valued love, peace, happiness and loyalty. Her father was a truck driver and her mother a businesswoman.
Hazvineyi is the oldest child and recalled her earlier life as memorable and filled with happy times.
Life was a fairy tale. I never lacked anything. When I was at boarding school, I would always get visits. Outings such as picnics, birthday celebrations were always there. In terms of dressing, we were the trendsetters. I always thought life would be the same without knowing that one day, death would creep into our lives.
A dark cloud fell over the family in August 1993 after Hazvineyi’s mother succumbed to a short illness.
It was a huge loss. At first I thought I was dreaming, yet it was reality. Inasmuch as I was heartbroken, my heart bled for my father who, ever since I could remember, had been very close and in love with my late mother. I never witnessed a fight between them. They were the best of friends and I grew up with the notion that all marriages [were similar]. Whenever my aunty asked me [about] the type of man I wanted to marry, I would without hesitation mention ‘Big Sam,’ as we called our father because of his physique.
Though in pain, Hazvineyi reminded her father that love was still there at home by placing small notes in his suitcase whenever he would pack to travel to different destinations. Since he was a driver, he asked his sister, Aunty Portia, to be his children’s guardian whenever he was away.
My father played many roles in our lives as children, especially during our teen years. He tried to guide us in all aspects of our lives from careers to religion. He also told [my sister and I] many times, that he will always be the first boyfriend we will ever have in the sense that he wanted to be our companion. He took us out on dates, movies, shopping. He instilled a sense of value within us.
In the beginning of 1998, February, tragedy struck again…Big Sam passed away after a short battle with meningitis. My whole world crumbled…I mourned and I was heartbroken.
Hazvineyi was left with nothing. Two years later, she dusted herself off and enrolled for a secretarial course.
Life from then did not go according to what I had dreamed of. Our relations with our paternal relatives were cut off.
In 2001, I got my first job, data capture clerk, at a local organisation called Safetylite Glass Manufacturers. I worked there until October 2008 then left to join my husband whom I had customarily married on New Years’ Eve of 2007. I gave birth to my firstborn baby girl. I named her Vimbainashe Millicent. We moved to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second capital city, when she was eight months. I was happy to be married. Being a wife and mother made me feel complete as a woman.
Hazvineyi’s husband had a business established that supplied medical equipment and supplies to hospitals, schools and other institutions.
We led a life that was almost perfect and my children were well cared for. (I conceived my son in September 2009). Even though the period was characterised by hyperinflation in Zimbabwe, I was well taken care of. We managed to rent a house in a low-density area and had three cars to our name.
I worked with [my] husband as the administrator for his companies. By then, he had two companies formed between 2011-2012. With time, I left because of so many conflicts over decisions for the company. It was really affecting our marriage. I decided to leave and be a housewife. It was not the best thing to do, but I had to do it to save my marriage and family. As time went by, I got frustrated with staying home, so I decided to enrol for nurse aide training.
All hell broke loose in 2014 when she learnt that her husband had taken in another woman as his wife. Hazvineyi told The Weight She Carries that at this stage, she pretended as if all was well. She felt as though she did not have a voice and she felt sorry for herself. At the same time, she could not leave since she did not have any source of income.
My empire of a good life started to crumble, moving from a full house to stay in a staff quarter with two tiny rooms. It was a fall from grace…but in that, something more precious happened. I discovered the true living God. I grew closer to God and I began to realize that in every situation, we have to find the will of God for our lives.
I continued to realize the hand of God and how much God chooses the people He loves. It was an amazing transformation of my life by just experiencing how much God loves me after I had lost much of what I had possessed.
I had adjusted well until 2016 when my husband brought home children from his previous marriage. It was like adding salt to a healing wound.
Hazvineyi already had two children and an additional three from her husband’s previous marriage were brought in after he won custody of his children.
I played the mother figure to my now five children, but it was not easy at all as the eldest stepdaughter would insult me in every derogative way possible that she saw fit. My husband’s efforts to build a relationship between myself and her were fruitless.
As if the insults were not enough, I was implicated on allegations of child abuse stating that I had hit the youngest of the kids with a plank resulting [in] the minor sustaining a broken back. There was no evidence and the doctor’s report that was done [proved otherwise, so] I escaped prison by grace.
It was such a devastating season for me and the people around me. After all this, my stepchildren were returned to their mother despite my husband not being happy about it.
In 2016, life totally changed for Hazvineyi. She told The Weight She Carries that she held on to the marriage for the sake of her children since society mostly respects a married woman.
All the love had really run out of me. I just had to hang in there. Ninety-eight percent of my time was spent in pain and tears. At this stage, all I wanted was for my babies to grow. I still had a great support system and my husband’s sister was supportive and loving as always.
In late 2017, her husband’s health started to deteriorate. It got worse after his diagnosis of pneumonia.
He had stopped working – it was difficult to work in such a condition. We decided he should go to neighbouring South Africa, so we had to do anything possible [so] he [could travel] to SA.
January 2018, he improved. He came back home and he intended to get more financial support for his medication. He was really improving, so we arranged for him to go back for the second phase. He went but didn’t make it back home. He lost his life after two weeks.
On receiving the news of his sudden death, I really didn’t think it was true. I was not told of his death till I was at my aunty’s place and one relative had said their condolences. I could not believe it. We laid him to rest in [the] rural home in Mrewa. Reality struck that I was left alone with my two kids and I needed to take care of them, yet I was jobless.
Fortunately, for the next ten days, I stayed with my aunt who was my voice of reason since at this stage I was filled with so much anger. When she left, reality struck again that I was left alone; however, I had to be strong for my children.
Life had to go on as I was entering a different season altogether. I started focusing on the things that needed immediate attention, which were bills in arrears and school fees. I saw God’s grace a month later when I got a job at a cleaning company. I felt a heavy burden lifted [from] me. I began to realize that I am now in control and I had to take the right steps.
Hazvineyi was a mother working for the survival of her family. She had support, especially from the church as the elderly women encouraged her to keep on moving. It wasn’t until August 2019 on a fateful day that she received news that would change her whole life.
It was the last Monday at school for my children as they were closing for the third term. We prepared well and all left for work and school respectively after saying our goodbyes. When I got to work, a workmate was sent for me from another department. The lady broke the news to me that my child had been involved in an accident. My first question was ‘which child?’ as my children learnt at the same school. I was then told my daughter was the one in hospital.
I arrived at the hospital and was shocked as my child lay lifeless. It was not what I expected. She was moved to ICU and we were only notified about the none availability of child facilities, so we had to transfer to another hospital.
My pastor from the local church, deputy president of AFM Zimbabwe, Pastor Mupakaidzwa, and other loved ones gave me full support and would always be available.
Tuesday morning, the doctors asked to see me. It was the unexpected news for me to bear as they told [me] my daughter was in a state and there was no chance of survival. All there was for me to do was to give them a go-ahead to turn off the machines, but I declined. When we visited Tuesday night, she was showing signs of responsiveness. Her skin tone was back. That was indeed a relief.
We continued to only hope for the best, however, we received the news that she had [passed]. I could not believe my ears. I felt cold. My feet froze. I felt every pain. I asked to see her body. That was the last thing, beautiful thing, I saw; she was gone for sure.
This time, I had no choice but to admit that life was no longer meaningful at all. I felt so heartbroken [at] the thought of me putting so much into life only to get a life I was so devastated [with]. I got weaker and weaker until people were realising that I am losing a grip on myself.
With that, my family decided it was not good for me to continue staying alone with my son in that condition. It was discussed that I move back home [to] Harare soon after laying [my] baby to rest. I visited her resting place to say my goodbyes. The wound was still very fresh, and [my] heart felt broken beyond repair.
My advice to all those who have lost their loved ones:
Have fellowship with God and your church members. They are the people who stand by you. Be a person of good character. Be humble and also know that there is no situation that is permanent. Every phase you go through, you will always come out in good faith.