Monday, 9 November 2020

The Moana That I Knew: An Obituary For Michelle Mimi Amuli


I hadn’t talked to my friend in months. She was now in a serious relationship and naturally, we both drifted, she wanted to protect that space with her new man, I also wanted to respect that space. I mean, I wouldn’t want any male friends hanging around my better half too.

I first met her during the lockdown, 27 April 2020, to be exact. Before that being friends with the iHarare establishment, I would just see her fabulous fitness pics in iHarare WhatsApp groups and occasionally some of our editors would write about her. Most of our readers loved her breathtaking, gorgeous yoga and fitness pictures. Naturally, I requested one of the iHarare team members specialising in social media management to perhaps look up her number and maybe do an interview.

She naturally acquiesced to the iHarare request. I then got her number from the establishment and being the groupie that I am, especially enchanted and enamoured by her crazy work ethic, we started chatting. I had been struggling to get started with my fitness regime despite having a reasonably well-equipped gym at home. A local musician who is my neighbour and a very good friend(still good friend) at that time was then like, “Ah Mudhara todii lockdown iyi, let’s lift the weight”.

I agreed, we roped in the caretaker, but to ensure we got off to the right start and would get maximum gains possible quickly, I told them, I want Moana to be our trainer. 

I called her and told her, “I want you to be my trainer, how much does it cost?” She said “Dude, ndinodhura (Dude, I am expensive).”

Turns out her fee was acceptable to me and I paid upfront. She added an extra condition: “You have to pick me up, or give me fuel.”  I had recently acquired a BMW convertible which was the source of my pride at that time.  I gladly accepted. The first day I picked her was a Monday.  I borrowed my brother’s Range Rover in a bid to impress her.  I mean, they say first impressions make all the difference, isn’t it? So I picked her up in the Range. It wasn’t those latest ones, but I had hoped to make a very good impression, so you can imagine my chagrin when she didn’t say anything-in her typical cavalier style I came to love about her- about what I thought to be a very majestic car. I was more wounded by the fact that when I got to her place, a very expensive looking Mercedes was parked in her driveway thus dampening the thrust of my mission.

My hopes were to be raised, however, when we finished our first workout, which was excruciating by the way. When we finished our first exercise, still hung up on my mission to impress her, I then said, you know what, the Range Rover is now low on fuel(a lie obviously), let’s take the BMW to get you home. It was parked in the garage, so she hadn’t seen it. She loved it and she shared my love for cars. As we kept interacting, an unexpected camaraderie developed between us. In some ways, we were one. Later on, during our workouts, we would exchange cars, briefly, of course. She would drive mine, I would drive her Mercedes and we would have so much fun. Sometimes we would go to Chicken hut and other eateries where she would shoot her commercials and I – ever coy about the limelight-would slither into the terraces as she would do her thing. She really was a talented actress. Her TikTok was always fire.

Our friendship progressed quickly. I had just come out of a relationship with someone I had really planned to settle down with and I was on a bit of a bender/escapade. So on a Friday night ( we would only workout together Monday Tuesday and Thursday) I got really bored and texted, “Yooh dude, what’s happening?”  She replied, “Nothing much, we chilled at home having a few drinks.”

I told her I was bored to death at home and asked if I could join and she said, “Sure, but bring a bottle of Champagne. I went and bought by Alex, ku njanji uko, that thing is expensive yooh.  Anyhow, she specified, ” Veveu Cliquot Rich Rose, I don’t drink anything else. ” Being a farm boy, I wondered why this was so, but later on I understood. I used to think Champagne tasted horrible, bitter. Having grown up in the rural areas, I am not so “woke” when it comes to some of these upmarket things, alas I had been buying the wrong Champagnes. Rich Rose, tastes delicious but  I digress.

So I drove to her place, and for the first time, I think in two weeks or so since we had been training, she let me into her house. She did hesitate. I think she just wanted to grab the bottle and run but figured this guy needs a bit of company, seeing as I was in some ways still hung over my failed relationship.  So she said, “I don’t usually invite people into my house because people become so judgemental and everything, especially clients, but we are friends now so I guess it’s Ok”

She had a really nice place, she introduced me to her friend and auntie(mainini), Lin and Helen. They were also very warm and friendly to me, she popped the bottle, and we all started having the Champagne. Honestly, it was my first time, to have Rich Rose. I mean whenever I (would) make some surplus cash in my humble endeavours I try the nice things as a way of treating the rural boy in me. I once bought Moet, and that was some bitter sensation on my tongue but oh my! Veveu Cliquot Rich Rose tastes like heaven. I can understand why all the big boys say that’s what they only drink.

I love digressing sorry.  We drank and drank and then she was sitting on her sofa doing an Instagram live video, so while sitting with Lin, we had instantly clicked too. I then got an idea to say(inspired by a scene in the movie Killing Gunther) let’s shoot a live video of her live video. Lin, her best friend, loved it and we started filming her. She was in her evening wear and most people who followed me on the Facebook platform I was broadcasting the video on, loved her ravishing beauty, her graceful looks and how merry she was. She realised we were up to some no good and came to us, admonishing us, “what are you naughties up to?”  Then we told her, we are making a live video of your live video! She loved it and cut her Insta video and we had an impromptu party, we all danced, they had this big ass radio, the type that those American gangster rappers appear carrying in their Youtube videos.

We had so much fun and so did the viewers. Eventually, we got tired and by 1 am or so, I said my goodbyes and drove back home. I hear a lot of nasty accusations about Moana being whatever, but it never was my experience. Absolutely nothing untoward or inappropriate happened that night despite how it had looked to some of the viewers who thought we would have an orgy that night. To be frank with you, this was probably one of the best nights I ever had in my life, especially considering my strong rural background.

I have had some lucky breaks in life, I am certainly no saint, been in pubs, sometimes gracing questionable establishments in my younger years,  I have travelled to different countries some outside Africa and would occasionally look for some innocent pleasure. I never got it, but that night, I felt good. These guys are my friends, yes hot friends for sure, but I had a very warm feeling in my belly, I was so happy, nothing untoward had happened just pure fun, drinking champagne(is that thing even alcoholic) dancing and merrymaking.

Later on, I roped in my brothers and a few more female friends and we would do, games night.  I had never really done drinking games and those Truth or dare games. I did try a bit in South Africa during a wedding reception once with my cousin but some of the folks we had there were dumb as rocks and or solemn like priests and it wasn’t fun, but at Moana’s house, we had so much fun playing these games. We would all take turns to ask each other lightly embarrassing/mischievous questions and what glee we had. I remember her aunt, she was uptight and would always opt to drink which invariably led to her trumpeting (vomiting).

Over the following weeks, she continued training me, but we had become almost family. She would tell me her story, how she came from nothing and hustled her way up. How she had been in abusive relationships that nearly cost her her life in terms of depression. How she had been body-shamed to the gym by her ex. We would exchange notes, but she was proud that she was on her way up and she was confident she was going to make it, especially her acting career.

We got to hang with her daughter a lot. Very intelligent girl Tyra, she asked me for my phone and as I was giving it to her, I punched in my pin code and next time I was there, she just grabbed my phone and started playing games, she had figured the Pincode. Moana would reprimand her, don’t take people’s phones. But I would be like, “No I am the one who gave her, she has a head for numbers this one, maybe she will be an engineer or Actuary”. She loved her daughter and would tell me, I will give her what I didn’t have.  I think the baby was doing ballet, fitness too and some other “English extracurricular” my head is too slow to grasp.

Over time the lockdown restrictions were loosened and she started getting busier and busier with new contracts coming in, Nash Paints, Chicken Hut and so on. She started having issues keeping up with our training, so I told her o not to worry about it. I had become self-sufficient in the fitness arena. My musician friend, the caretaker and I were now serious and dedicated about lifting the weights. We had an amicable parting. Sadly, we didn’t see each other much since then.  We had been seeing a lot of each due to the training.

Here and there we would link up as a group, have our takeouts and so on, but we started drifting, we had had a good run and I think e had gracefully accepted the inevitable eventuality. One time we went to visit her with my boys, all my boys wanted to meet her, and would beg me to take them to her, she was that alluring, so that day she stepped out to take a call and I was like you, WhatsUp and she was like eish, I am in a serious relationship now and I am even off Whatapp, I don’t want temptations, I have strong reason to believe it’s the relationship that the culminated in her engagement. I then told myself I have to let her go as a friend we have to end this friendship so her relationship can be uninterrupted. I had also found love as well, So we were both lucky I think. One day I did wake up missing her, I called Lin(her best friend) and told her to tell her that I missed her and that they must visit me. They came together and we hung out for like an hour, we rarely hugged, or had physical contact except when we would spar or she was adjusting my form during a workout, but that day I asked for a hug and she gave me a long one and we took pictures, I guess our last pictures.

The Moana that I knew
The Moana that I knew- She loved life and was full of it.

Since then, till the tragedy struck, we didn’t then have direct contact, she was in a good place with her fiance, or is it, fiancee, these things confuse me, I sent my congratulations through Lin for the engagement as well as birthday wishes.

The next thing, because I am close and a friend of the iHarare news establishment some folks know I always have the “latest”, I am waking up to a text message from my cousin, Boss, is it true Ginimbi and your friend Moana is dead, it was around 9am, instantly I dismissed it, “Fake news, you know people love spreading fake new son Whatsapp,” I chided him.

Then I opened my WhatsApp messages, then the iHarare Newsgroups and there it was….

I don’t know how I really feel about the whole matter death is really hard to process, especially one so close and young. I am still numb, perhaps I will regret writing this unofficial obituary, I think maybe friends must defend each other, tell the untold story, especially in absentia or when the other one is incapacitated, perhaps I have no right, I honestly don’t know. So many are besmirching her, all sorts of nastiness, she was this she was that…I mean we are all evil in someone’ story, aren’t we? But that’s not the Moana I knew, the Moana I knew was a very warm, kind, generous and loving friend. A dedicated mother, a passionate fitness trainer, that’s how I will remember her always, that’s the image that’s always going to be ensconced in my head.

Maybe as a parting note, to everyone, I would just wanna ask, “Why do we focus so much on others sins, as if we don’t sin ourselves, as if on judgement day God will ask us about the sins of others instead of ours”

No comments:

Post a Comment