Reborn From Pain

I was 15.  The scene was the Jacaranda city of Harare in the beautiful county of Zimbabwe.  Well, at least then it was.  Our late President, Robert Mugabe, had made something really special of the country post-independence in 1980.  Zimbabwe was a land of milk and honey, and an example of success on the African continent.  She was thriving.  And I was thriving too.  My life was simple, uncomplicated, and had order.  I was in high school and performing well.  My days were predictable in an assuring way.  And I was a confident young lady eager to take on the world in whatever shape or form.

I would come home after school and find ways to entertain myself.  This came easily.  Sometimes I would jump over the wall (as if the gate would not open when I pressed the button), cross the road, and play with friends in neighbouring houses.  Other times I would play with my dog Silky in the garden.  And if it wasn’t that you would find me in the kitchen cooking extravagant meals for one.  Mid-afternoon, can you imagine!  If all else failed, I would take a thirty minute walk to the public swimming pool and spend the rest of the day in the water.  It’s amazing what a different time I grew up in.  I hardly let my kids out of sight to walk the dog around the neighbourhood today!  Any how.  My afternoons were never dull. 

One day I came home from school and noticed a chocolate cake recipe on a cocoa tin as I was making a glass of hot chocolate for myself.  It looked an easy recipe and a delicious cake.  Something my sweet tooth could not resist.  So, I decided to bake it.  Other than the weekly cookery classes at school, where we baked simple recipes and cooked delicious meals while having had fun in the 1 hour slot allocated to us, I had never taken the time to bake.  The prospect was exciting.  I quickly searched the kitchen for everything that I needed and went for it. 

My first chocolate cake ever was done within the hour, and it was perfect.  What’s more, it was delicious.  So, for the next year this became my thing.  I would bake cakes after school.  My family were the happy recipients.  I would even sell the cakes on some occasions.  I really enjoyed it.  Baking gave me a sense of peace and pleasure.  It was therapeutic.  And it made sense.  I loved the process.  I loved watching people indulge in my cakes.  I loved receiving the positive feedback.  And I loved spending alone time through it all.  I could go on.

But one day, about a year later, things took a turn.  It seems I woke up and realised that there was a life out there to explore.  And that this life seemed way more interesting than hanging around at home baking.  So, this was the start, of the end, of my baking relationship, and the beginning of that other life.  I no longer had time to bake.  In fact, I completely lost interest.  It just wasn’t a priority anymore.  It was more fun spending time with friends, exploring the streets of Harare, and hopping from one event to another.  I happily put down my baking tools and didn’t look back.

Roll forward 15 years.  I was now an adult with a family of my own.  And baking was a distant memory.  I had long forgotten it as I lived what I believed to be my best life without it.  But one day, life came crashing down on me.  Which was not surprising given the whirlwind adventure leading to that point.  And, in a second, what was my best life became my worst nightmare.  If you want more details on what happened.  You can read my book Full Circle which is available for purchase at Tsim & Bibi.  But please understand.  Full Circle is a fiction novel.  The story is inspired by my own journey.  But is not my actual journey!  However, it will give you a good sense of what I am talking about and fill the gap nicely.  I digress…

Faced with the impending doom and imploding of bad decisions taken over nearly 15 years, I remembered.  I remembered how I had once found healing and wholeness in baking.  I remembered how free I had felt when I was baking.  So, I did the one thing I knew best to do for my hurting soul.  I pulled out a recipe book and some baking trays and started baking.  Again.  This is when my relationship with the red velvet cake began.  I had never baked, or even tasted, a red velvet cake before then.  I had just heard about it.  And knew that it was the cake of the day.  So, I gave it a stab.  And it came out perfectly.  Ok, so it was only on my second try.  But you get the drift?!  I loved it.  Everyone who tasted it loved it.  And, what’s more, I found so much peace in the process.  

In no time I had rekindled the flame with my first cake – chocolate, and I added other flavours to my repertoire soon thereafter.  I would bake for hours throughout the night, sometimes without sleeping at all, simply because I found the strength I needed to go on with life through this process.  It was cathartic.  And it was exciting.  In the quiet of the night, with my kids sleeping soundly and only the noise of the cake mixer going, I connected to my soul in such a beautiful way.  I would ponder on my life and my story, and I would encourage myself.  That there is still tomorrow.  That the bad times are not the end times.  That hope is always available to those who are bold enough to go for it.  That one does not have to crumble simply because everything around you is.  As I baked and brought life to cakes, through passion reborn, I found meaning for my own life and many reasons to go on.  All this simply because I remembered. 

And the rest is history.

What began as a whim during my teenage years and was re-ignited during my adult years has become Tsim & Bibi.  A business birthed from pain.  But a story begun from birth.  I love the synchronicities.  And how Tsim & Bibi’s story continues to evolve.

So, to anybody out there who thinks that your pain is in vain.  Just dig deep.  There’s a beautiful story inside you that is waiting to be birthed and shared with the world.  In that very cloud of pain and shame is the light and sunshine the world is waiting for.  You’re just one ‘I remember’ away from vision.  All you need is to go for it!

Yours in caking-it,


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