Last Friday, I was blessed to meet 13 amazing women at a peaceful little getaway just after Milare Roadblock in Chikhwawa. These ladies had travelled all the way from California, Livingstonia, Nkhata Bay, Lilongwe, Liwonde and Zomba to tell their stories on paper and be part of the Amherst Writers and Artists training.
Save for five of the women within the group, I had never met the others before and did not know who they would be. As I drove to Milare on Friday, I was both excited at the prospect of spending five days exchanging stories and writing from the heart with such a diverse group of people. I was also uncertain as to how all of us would gel together and actually make that happen. Would this be a therapeutic retreat or a camera-free big brother of sorts, made worse by the fact that all the participants were women? (You will agree with me that sisters have earned the bad rep of harbouring jealousy and resentment towards each other in different social circles!) Would we get along or would we try to pull each other down and outshine each other? Would we inwardly sneer at each otherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s work when we read our writing? Would we be aggressive and competitive or would we work as a team, pulling each other along when a member of the group faltered and patiently pausing our work until each one of us had grasped a certain point? Would we smile into each otherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s faces then look away in scorn or would we let the kindness flow from within us to everyone around us?
As it turned out, I need not have worried about anything at all! The minute I stepped into the house, I was greeted by warm smiles and bear hugs. As we got down to the actual training, everyoneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s commitment to the work before them became apparent through the beautiful pieces that were shared. By the end of the very first day, we all felt like a sisterhood that had known each other for ages, bound together by the colourful thread of our presentations, writings and outpourings. Jokes were thrown back and forth and melodious laughter flowed through the house. Emotions were reawakened and passions discovered. We sang songs and danced with joyful abandon. For a few moments, our responsibilities, stresses and the outside world were all forgotten; the only thing that mattered was the present. As the five days came to a close, we all felt emotional at leaving and agreed to do everything in our means to keep in contact.
One thing I learnt from all this is the beauty of diversity. It is the colour that keeps life interesting. Through this experience, I was reminded of the fact that there is a wealth of knowledge in the people around me. We should never limit ourselves in terms of the people we interact with. Getting together with people we barely know, from the other end of the spectrum might probably be more enriching than sticking to those in our social circles. When others talk; take time to listen carefully at what they are saying because they each have stories to be told that might just enhance your life!