Tinashe Muchuri is a Zimbabwean author, NJAMA 2012-2013 Delta Corporation Arts and Entertainment Journalist of the year and storyteller. He enjoys reading and writing. His poems are published in Jakwara reNhetembo (2008), State of the Nation: Contemporary Zimbabwean Poetry (2009), War Against War (2010), Visions of Motherland (2010), Daybreak (2010), Defiled Sacredness (2010), Mudengu Munei (2010) and in several college and international journals. He has appeared in Zimbabwean feature and short films like Tanyaradzwa, I want A Wedding Dress, NyamiNyami, Playing Warriors, and The Husband. He performed at Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo, Dzimbahwe Arts Festival, Chimanimani Arts Festival, Arts Alive International Johannesburg, SADC Poetry Festival in Botswana and Harare International Arts Festival.
Maiguru was allowed to caress me, to run her hands all over my body; my head, my face, my ribs, my neck, my back, my arms, my hairy chest, my legs and right there , where it gives me pride to stand among other men boasting,’ I am a full man.’ She was permitted to undress me like a mother preparing her baby for bath till I was left wearing my birth suit. She was allowed to toy with my naked body in whatsoever way she deemed fit for her without my consent, without me putting a fight. I was not allowed to start a fight over it. It was taboo. If I dare raise a finger against her, I would be taken to a family court where every one would take me for a fool. The court would ask me to pay an admission of guilty fine or my parents would be asked to pay the fine for me. What I was only permitted to do was to bolt away from her like a hare running away from hot pursuit of dogs. Running away from her naked was not possible. Villagers would take me for an insane person. They would tie my hands on my back and legs and took me to court for indecent exposure.
On the other side, maiguru was regarded my wife. I was allowed to stroke her blond hair, caress her pretty face, her giraffe like neck, her twin towers like breasts, her hairy arms, her belly, her backside, her thighs, her legs, and her holly body. I was not restricted from kissing her eyes, her forehead, lips, neck, arrow like tits, cheeks and her chin. I was not prohibited from playing with that which makes her brag to other women that, ‘I am a true woman.’ She had no right to put a fight with me. It was taboo. I was not hindered from viewing her whole body nude as a mother does before bathing her baby. This was an initiation to adulthood. Maiguru was a teacher to manhood. Playing with her was my show of appreciation of her presence in our clan. The only thing maiguru was permitted to do was to run away from me or beg me not to continue. Was it possible for her to run away from me naked? Not at all. If she did, people would take her for a psychiatric patient and dose her with heaps of maragadu. If found sane she would be charged for indecent exposure.
On this day, we were left alone at home. Maiguru had complained of severe headache. Mother and father had gone to mourn Muparidzi’s daughter. We were also supposed to have attended the funeral, but I was left to attend to the sick maiguru Sonia. If only my sisters had not dropped from school preferring to share long and short nights in the big city with their male friends, I could have attended the funeral to mourn Raina. Brother Kudubu, husband to maiguru Sonia was in the city sweating for their future with maiguru. Home was left to us, maiguru and I. Chickens and dogs were others of us.
Maiguru and I were good friends. We were very close to each other. I was her first born child. Her son. Our custom prescribed that, if a woman is married to a clan, before she bears her own children, a child is given to her. From that day on, she will be called by the name of that child. Mai nhingi. Baba nhingi. Maiguru was called, mai Tarusarira. Brother was called baba Tarusarira. Everything maiguru asked me to do, I did it without complain. I was her son. She was my mother.
After mother and father were gone to Muparidzi’s place for the funeral, and maiguru Sonia was sure they were away and there was no other person around except of us, she called me into her room. I quickly answered her call. I thought she needed help since she was ill. I found her seated on the edge of her bed, with her head between her legs and her hands on the back of her head. Her body was wrapped in a zambia cloth that left her shoulders bare. Strings of a black bra on either of her shoulders which looked like pieces of biltong on a bachelor’s room line hung. As I neared the bed she raised her head. She cast a short glance at me. Her hands fell off her head.
‘I am here .What do you want me to do for you maiguru?’
‘Take a comb from its usual place and remove dandruff from my head.’ She said smiling. Her usual smile. Her face shone with every word she said. The pain that had made her excuse herself from attending Raina’s funeral had deserted her. I could not understand where it had vanished to.
‘Will this not increase your pain maiguru?’ I said feeling pity for her.
‘No bamunini. I am feeling better now.’ She said with an assurance of a smile that revealed her gap between her milky teeth. This gap, the way she exposed it made her more beautiful. I believe this is what stole the heart of brother Kudu. Without delay her smile made me took the comb and the scales started falling off her head like leaves in winter. Ever since my sisters eloped to the city, maiguru enrolled me to remove dandruff from her head. At first it was a tiresome duty, but with time it became easy and I started enjoying it. This inflated my closeness to maiguru Sonia. Instead of her asking her friends to remove dandruff from her head as other women did she preferred it done by me.
After scaling off her head for sometime, maiguru stood up and went to the door. She modeled all her way to the door. I thought she wanted to relief herself. In our tradition it is a taboo to tell someone you want to go to the toilet. Even at school children ended saying, ‘please teacher, may I leave the class.’ It was when maiguru reached the door, that her intention became clear to me. She put her hand under the zambia cloth between her legs and fished a bunch of keys. She locked the door from inside. Before she left the door, she raised the zambia cloth to above knee level and returned the keys between her legs. I stole a glance of her inner thighs. She had no petticoat. She then came to the bed and sat as before. I did not ask her for the keys. I continued with my dandruff removal duty. My mind told me that she would give me the keys when I needed them after completing my dandruff removal duty.
After she was satisfied, maiguru patted my back and said, ‘you are a real cobra bamunini. Now you can poison Trudy to labor.’ Trudy was my sweetheart. Maiguru took the zambia cloth and wrapped her body again. She unlocked the door and walked back to the bed like a Brahman bull. She sat next to me. I jumped off the bed and left the room in a huff. I went out into the nearby bush. I walked listening to the singing birds. I walked along a stream that run along Chibaranyanga hill and pour into Rupiri River. The birds’ singing was cool and soothing. I felt bad though. I felt dirty, while walking aimlessly in the bush. It was after sometime that I remembered I had a date with Trudy. We had arranged to meet at the summit of Chibaranyanga hill before the news of the death of Raina arrived. Trudy was left with a few days before she joined an agriculture college between Gweru and Kwekwe.
If I had missed her this day, it was to mean ages before we see each other again. Gweru was hundreds of kilometers from Zaka my homeland. I crossed the stream and hastily started for Chibaranyanga hill. I heard drumbeats from Muparidzi’s family cemetery. I also heard the song mourners were singing. A church song. They were now burying Raina. “May her soul rest in peace?” I said to myself as I quickened my pace up the hill.
Nyora nyora tsamba
Nyora nyora tsamba
Kuti dho-o, kuti dho-o
Nyora nyora tsamba
Mourners sang at Raina’s funeral. Their voices tortured my ears as I climbed Chibaranyanga hill to see Trudy. They were burying their daughter, a friend, a relative, and their neighbor. At some point I thought of joining the mourners to sing for Raina. After all, she was a former girlfriend of my friend Pembe. I knew it well that Raina was not a Christian. But gospel songs were now popular than traditional songs at funerals. Traditional songs were replaced by Christian songs. Traditional songs were pagan songs but ironically Christian songs were sung even for renowned enemies of Christianity.
This reminded me of the day Raina was deflowered by Pembe. It was a Friday afternoon. Raina, Trudy, Pembe and I connived to run away from school sporting activities. Friday was a sporting day at our school. We left at lunch and never turned back for sports. We went to Rupiri River near Dzivarakondo, the undying pool. As soon as we arrived here, we took separate ways. I took Trudy to our usual hiding spot. Once there we touched a lot of topics. We talked of our teachers, our prefects, our classmates and what we wanted to be after school. We even went father to talk of how many children we wanted to have after our wedding. Trudy said she wanted two. I said I wanted five. She said she hated odd numbers. She argued they were not organized. I later gave in.
It was after we heard other students’ noise on the pathway going home from school did we started for the pathway from our hiding chamber. We found Raina and Pembe already on the pathway. Both, their uniform were soiled and wrinkled. Raina was sobbing. Her skirt was red with blood. Pembe’s trouser had some blood sports near the zip. It was dirty of sandy loam soil at the knees. Raina was refusing to go to their home. She wanted to elope with Pembe. This was three years ago when we were in form 2 that Pembe torn her apart. We persuaded Raina to go to their home though. She agreed on the condition that if she gets pregnant we were going to testify that it was Pembe’s responsibility. We assured her of our honest support. Weeks later, Raina was caught in a teacher’s corridor under the weight of the Shona HOD. She was sacked from school. The teacher was fired from school too. But their ways never met after the school corridor drama. A few months later, Raina became ill. This came to me as I climbed Chibaranyanga hill to see my Trudy.
Up the hill, I found Trudy waiting for me. She sat on the rock. Her skirt was open between her legs. This allowed my eyes to have a share of her inner thighs for the first time since we became lovers when we were in grade seven. Her yellow inners reminded me of maiguru and her dandruff. As I neared the rock on which she sat, she gathered herself. I pretended I had seen nothing. I helped her gather a bundle of firewood. Soon we had enough. I debarked a Muuzhe tree for strings to tie the firewood into a bundle. Afterwards we sat on the rock next to each other for the first time again.
We talked about anything our minds could lay on. The topical issue was the safety of our love far away from each other. I was doubting Trudy would stand the trying of times when she set her foot at the college of agriculture where she were to dine with people of like minds. My subjects were not college worth. I was to re-sit. My main worry was; will she stay with me after she acquires a diploma in agriculture? I was temporarily relieved when she said, ‘Taru, you have no substitute. You are my first choice. There is no second choice in my love vocabulary.’
“You are now a real cobra, bamunini. Now you can poison Trudy to labor.” The prayer of baptism from maiguru clouded my mind. I felt I needed to do something that was to make Trudy always remembered me when she got to the college. Soon I jumped at Trudy like a cat at a rat’s head. Trudy was new. She had no beads around her waist that make some music as you crave for each other as those of maiguru. Trudy cried. She threatened to elope with me. This quickly reminded me of Raina and Pembe at the pathway near Dzivarakondo pool.
The singing at Raina’s funeral intensified. The drumbeat echoes became louder and those of stamping feet reached us at the summit of Chibaranyanga hill. They all embraced Trudy’s sobbing.
Mumureverere mumureverere mumureverere
Vedzinza rakwe vainamata
Baba namai vakwe vainamata
The song pierced through my ears like a sharp needle. Trudy was full of anger. Tears were shinning down her innocent face. I felt guilty. Besides, I persuaded her to consider the value of education in this era. I convinced her. She knew the world has changed. It now requires women armed with education. Women of steel. She bought my mind.
Brother Kudubu was in the city spending nights away from maiguru Sonia. He used to come on a Saturdays and returned on Sundays. Maiguru was left to endure the long winter nights and shorter summer nights alone enjoying her bedroom walls’ company. They were now six years in their marriage without a baby cry in their house. I continued with my dandruff removal. Sometimes the whole night and other times during daytime when mother and father were away.
Six months from my debut with Trudy, I received a letter from her. The first one since she became romantic with her agriculture studies. I took the letter to my heart. I wanted my heart to feel the pulse of the words before I read it. I kissed it several times before I opened it. It was short. Very short. This was unusual of the letters from Trudy. She was fond of long letters. I later consoled myself that she was busy with mountains of college work. After convincing myself I started to ponder of what the contents of the letter were. One thought said, “she wants to tell you Taru of how she is coping with the ever demanding college studies at the hands of the always no show lecturers. Who are always engaged in salary negotiations and strikes. Maybe she wants to tell you of the new life at the college or maybe of her new friends at the college. Maybe of how troublesome the college boys are. The other thought told me that, Taru, she wants to tell you how much she missed you. Maybe she wants to tell you of the aftermath of the Chibaranyanga hill encounter. The last thought clouded my mind. I saw myself surrounded by a thick mist. It made me be uneasy. I began searching in our village of all the rumored abortionists whom I would approach for a remedy to terminate the seed in Trudy in its bud. I feared, how can a man who hasn’t cared for himself could care for another life, two lives to be real. Being a father before brother Kudubu scared me much. I was obsessed with what the village would say of me. Mai Maone was my ultimate answer. I said as I begun reading the letter.
Used to be my love
Thank you, for poisoning me. Fara hako ufarisise. I understand you are in cloud nine after the Chibaranyanga encounter. Be happy more. You are the first and last. That was your first and last with me. I am sick. The doctor said I contracted it. Let me tell you that, I am going to take malaria tablets soon. I shall see you on my way home to the family acre. Wait for me there. Lay flowers on my bed. I have told no-one about this. You are the only one. Don’t tell anyone. Wait for me the one who used to make me wet my pants. I want it to be lonely and peaceful. If you are brave enough, go to Siyawareva clinic. Maybe your life would be extended.
Yours truly, Trudy.
Brother Kudubu came the same day I received a letter from Trudy. He came aboard a big truck with all his belongings. His workmates had seen it fit to surprise us. Brother Kudubu had also seen it fit to surprise us. We took him to his permanent bedroom next to his grandfather. A few days later while I was still thinking about Trudy’s first letter from college I received another one from her. Her second letter from college.
My darling Tarusarira,
My love for you still stands. I understand my first letter from college to you was a scare. After you poisoned me, I believe you still have the passion left in you for me. But, you need counseling like the one that saved my life. Go to Siyawareva clinic for counseling. I hope you will get handful information that will see our love not tumble along the way.
Yours still in love
This opened my eyes. Before I visited Siyawareva clinic as advised by Trudy, maiguru Sonia followed her husband. We gave her a bed next to her husband’s. This persuaded me to visit Siyawareva clinic. Once, I was shocked. I was told how lethal my blood had become. The very day Trudy came home for her semester break she came straight home. We had a long discussion about our future. I told her how chiramu set us ablaze. ‘Bury it today! Bury it now! Bury it forever.’
© Tinashe Muchuri 2008
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