I have always loved words. When I was little, about eleven or twelve, my grandmother asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I told her that I wanted a dictionary. I received my first Webster’s. It was a school edition, but I loved it. Sometimes I would sit with the dictionary open to a page and read all the words on that page with their definitions.

My grandmother knew I loved words, so she also gave me her very own Roget’s International Thesaurus – the 1941 edition (which makes it a year older than I am). My first dictionary went the way of all good books (which means I have no idea where it is after having given it to my son when he went away to school in the States) but I still have the Thesaurus and use it frequently, although I have acquired a new edition dated 1978 and today I generally prefer to google the word because internet offers all kinds of fascinating connections.

Yesterday, somewhere on Facebook -or maybe it was a TED talk- I heard and saw the word that forms the title of this page; kufungisisa. It is Zimbabwe for ‘depression’ and literally it means ‘thinking too much’ which –of course- hits the nail on the head. If I am constantly thinking gloomy thoughts (nobody loves me, the world is in a terrible state, everything is wrong, I’m all alone, I’ll never have enough money) and believing these thoughts, I create a state of kufungisisa, I get the ‘thinking disease’ which in the west we call ‘depression’.

To depress means to deject, to make despondent, to exhaust, afflict, beat down, bother, dampen, daunt, discourage, dishearten, dismay, dispirit, disturb, dull, lower, reduce, sadden, sap, trouble, upset, weaken, weigh down. Or, in a sense, to abase, cow, darken, debase, debilitate, degrade, desolate, devitalize, distress, drain, enervate, faze, mock, mortify, oppress, perturb, scorn, torment, try, weary, to reduce to tears… which is exactly what depression or kufungisisa does.

Well, today –despite the fact that the lights have gone off and on four times and made me rewrite entire paragraphs of this post- I am not in a state of kufungisisa, although I very well could be if I did not regularly question my thoughts.

For instance: the other day someone said to my face that they considered me despicable. Now that is a word I don’t remember ever using either in my conversation or my writing. Despicable is a word that apparently can and did make me rankle for a moment as I withdrew from the speaker and sat with. For a while, I was definitely nettled, peeved, piqued, ruffled and put out, but as soon as I was able to find how that person might have seen me as despicable, and realize that what I had done to provoke her wrath might have been done in a kinder way, I was free to apologize for my part and move on to simply finding exactly what the adjective meant and how it did for synonyms. It was a rich field of investigation and one that had a personal motive: I wanted to see if I really had been despicable, as the other person had suggested.

Despicable is an adjective meaning very unpleasant or bad, causing strong feelings of dislike. It is said of someone deserving to be despised or regarded with distaste, disgust or disdain; contemptible. This person might be so worthless or obnoxious as to rouse moral indignation (oh dear me, what I had done wasn’t really that bad!!!); a wretched or wicked person (not me at all, no, at least not in this case).

According to internet, if you say a person is despicable, you are emphasizing that they are extremely nasty, cruel or evil. I looked closely at myself and certainly did not find that I had acted in any way that made me abominable, abysmal, apocalyptic, appalling, awful, corrosive, grisly, grotesque, gruesome, maybe just a little bit hateful, but certainly not rotten, shitty, shockingly stinking, wretched, vile, perhaps a bit mean, but in no way detestable nor contemptible, low, base, cheap, worthless, disgraceful, shameful or abject, perhaps just a mite reprehensible, but in no way ignominious, disreputable, beyond contempt and deserving of hatred and contempt. To say the least, I found that the person who called me despicable had exaggerated (as in amplified, distorted, falsified, inflated, misrepresented and overdone it just a wee bit, and with this the rankling, bother, hurt, vexness desisted.

So, seeing that the sun has finally come out and the despicable weather (as in appalling) has passed, I think I will take this just slightly abominable self out for a walk with my lovable (as in adorable, captivating, cute, delightful, darling) dog, Salomé.

2 thoughts on “KUFUNGISISA

  1. Add this to your collection: SUKHA translates from Sanskrit as genuine lasting happiness independent of circumstances.

  2. Qué curiosa es la vida. Me ha llegado tu artículo cuando acababa de leer un correo que un amigo me había enviado hace un tiempo. Era la respuesta a cómo me veía él, cuál era la impresión, según él que yo daba a primera vista y luego lo que él veía de mí. Se lo había preguntado a varias personas cercanas a las que consideraba con criterio, en las que confiaba. Pero su respuesta, la de este amigo concreto, había pasado desapercibida para mí hasta hace unos días, cuando hacía limpieza de correos. Lo primero que decía es que a primera vista yo era una persona de personalidad endeble. ¡Y mi cerebro no lo había registrado hasta hoy!
    Tu artículo me ha hecho pensar, en qué momentos en mi vida soy endeble o, mejor dicho, parezco endeble. Y lo puedo encontrar: cuando me quejo, cuando estoy cansada, cuando me niego a mí misma, cuando no creo en mí, cuando creo que soy superior, cuando no me expongo… Pero cuando hablo de mí y me muestro vulnerable no soy endeble, ni débil, soy yo y esto que soy es fuerte y amable.
    Como tu Salomé, Cleopatra (mi reina particular) me enseña lo que es ser vulnerable. Con su patita coja, su mella, sus canas, sus ganas de caricias y su sueño, acurrucada en mis piernas, me da su vida para compartirla entera conmigo.
    Así que, bienvenida esta palabra que me resultó transparente cuando me la regaló mi amigo y que hoy releo con curiosidad: endeble. Según el diccionario de la lengua española (RAE), significa: débil, flojo, de resistencia insuficiente.
    Pues sí, soy débil, floja y de resistencia insuficiente en muchos de mis propósitos y en muchos de mis comportamientos. Puedo encontrarlos a casi todos. Y puedo sentir el peso del cuerpecito de Cleo sobre mis muslos mientras escribo esto, dándome calor y regalándome su presencia vulnerable y endeble, como la mía.
    Gracias, querida Brianda por recordarme el valor de las palabras.

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