These hands of a woman by Rhoda Zulu


These busy and amazing hands belong to an African woman. They have always been handy in rendering competent services, since time immemorial. Therefore it would be right and proper to crown them my best companions.

During cheerful moments, they are right by the side. Surprisingly, even during sad moments they are there to shade off my tears, or caressing my forehead or cheeks, silently and tenderly consoling me in a way. It is surprising that these wonderful hands are uniquely different yet able to cordially function. Look at how they gently clasp each other and clap in enviable symphony to produce various attractive aesthetic sounds. Could this justify why we people are differently and uniquely gifted? they should be crowned your best companions as well.

Look at these strong woman’s hands; they are truly Malawian…! The crazy lines engraved in my palms somehow represent certain letters of the alphabet. Is it an M, a K or bot? And the knuckles which lead to the fingers alongside the shiny nails all lovingly appear to have been finely joint for particular purposes on the lovely palm. Ooh! Look at the brown bangles and wrist watch on the other, and, how about the wedding ring? And the BCG scar on the upper right arm…. Hhm!

I recall my earliest memories, at a tender age my mum trained me to use the right one when undertaking certain household chores and eating. As a matter of fact, my first school teacher encouraged me, "Use the right hand to write, it’s strong," Mrs Gomile Kuntumanji often reminded.

To ensure I had come of age to register for the first standard one class, my head teacher advised me to lift curve my the right hand up and around ,around, across my head until it touched the left ear. It was my hand that confirmed I was ready for formal education. It’s not surprising that whenever the right one hand is performing some task, the left one eagerly and patiently waits for its cue, and, sure enough, before a second passes, they are both functioning mutually as a team, thereby demonstrating that rare, characteristic of excellent supporters. Obviously they must be a precise and clear example of the importance of inclusiveness in our dealings. How come they behave as human beings with regard to their social and cordial work ethics? Aren’t they excellent models worthy of our emulation?

Then these hands have written tests and exams---They have put pen to paper and justified why I should be promoted to the next class; indeed taking me up through the heights of my dream colour. While trying to recall information, these hands have scratched my head or held my chin, even pretending to remove some dirt from the knuckles, in a spell of deep thinking, thereby assuming a coordinating role. At times I have wrongly thought these hands are responsible for some of the failures I have gone through. Was I right? They may have betrayed me when I had thought of succeeding, yet I never gave up on them, "Give it another try," I told myself.

These hands have tactfully written using the typewriter, computer and laptop of modern technological tools of the 21st century. They have surfed the internet and sent mails to far away places. Without these splendid hands, could I have achieved what I have? I doubt it. Could I have been the woman am ?It may be working right in my home, at the garden or farm, at friends’ functions; whether sorrowful or merry making. They irk whenever I forget to write in my diary and the monthly budgets, oopsy! Think of walking, they subconsciously assist me to balance up. I presume they are quite interactive and dynamic, even more stunning eeh!

Think of application letters for employment. How many have these hands written and forwarded? To various organisations they skilfully handed over job applications. While in the interview room these helpful hands have contributed to express my thoughts and feelings, ending up convincing the interview panel that I was worth employing. Surely, they must be crowned my best companions.
Indeed they have contributed to roles and responsibilities entrusted by my employer. Giving instructions, writing my daily schedules, driving to outreach programmes to various rural communities through participatory and edutainment modes, recording radio programmes, writing project proposals, implementing and evaluating projects, these hands have always accompanied me. How about report writing and what have you? Working with the disadvantaged my hands have helped marginalised communities draw water from afar, pound and process food cereals at the maize mill, all in search of empowerment to design their destiny through social transformation. Often times, particularly during rainy season, I had been stuck in mud for hours; at times till dark; wondering how my hands would lead to a much desired rescue. These friendly hands have courageously and tirelessly struggled till I was back on track in relief, rejoicing in turn. They have taken me aboard bicycles, cars, buses and even aeroplanes. From now onwards, remember that apart from being sincere and honest these hands are also a wonderful helper. Yes, they mould you to be the woman you are. They tiressly shape you and enable you perform various tasks. As we retire to sleep, the busy hands of a woman are by our side. It is with this hope that I promise to engage an extra gear to watch out and take care. How about you?