Monday, November 21, 2011
No court poet for Mugabe: A review of Tendai Mwanaka’s ‘Voices in Exile’ - Langaa Research and Publishing Common Initiative Group
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
It’s like you have been walking, moving. It seems like in a maze of rooms, getting through passages, doors. You don’t see any windows. You don’t know whether it is darkness or light that surrounds you. It sometimes seems like you are walking in a road, a strip road, a path but with doors. You didn’t know where you were going but you couldn’t stop. Sometimes you would feel as if you were walking in a road spiked with nails, but you don’t feel any pain but the idea of pain. You are pain itself, so you can’t feel yourself. Sometimes you feel like you have been walking in a tunnel, underground, somewhere down there, but not upwards. You are walking through doors down there. You know you can feel it, you know you are seeing a particular door. It’s ahead of you. It has an inscription “this is it.” You move closer and closer to this door. You take hold of the handle. You are about to open it. You are now opening it, you are opening it....
I was just thinking of a door, the idea of opening doors. A door you don’t know what’s lying behind it. A door that might change your life permanently, profoundly, it’s a door that you know you have to get a good feel of its handle. The idea of the police detective in a crime film opening a door, in the chase of, or looking for a crime doer, who might be waiting for this police officer, behind the door, with a loaded gun. This offers another look at what that door could represent. It might be the door to the outside, to the backyard lawn, beautiful garden, and beautiful pool. It might be the door to another door, further ahead, and the idea of opening one door after another and another...it is a perpetuating feeling. It might be a door you may never be able to open. It might be a locked door. It might require breaking into. It defeats the whole image of a door. It lets that which is behind the door to take another form, posture, to disappear, to ruffle things a little, to even change them. It is a door. It might be a door into the very insides of things, feelings, lives, worlds. Worlds that are so far into realms beyond the scribble of this pen. This journey, into doors, the path to, it takes or asks for more, for much more. It asks that you be fully there, to walk with you full weight, full feet, full belief in the journey. Full will to open these doors, and keep getting inside and outside of doors. This journey doesn’t require force, physical force but an inside will, a propelling will, a believing will, a questioning consciousness. It requires a great maturity, emotional maturity. It builds great emotional maturity.
I like to open doors, new doors, than closing doors, old doors. New doors propose something exciting. Closing doors is a hard take. It’s either when you close a door you close yourself inside or outside. Closing yourself inside a door could equate to closing yourself in a personal prison sometimes without the wherewithal to get outside. It makes you feel so caged in a prison. Closing yourself inside doors become a problem, a big problem when you know you won’t get outside of these closed cells of your own making. Failing to find answers, solutions to questions and problems is a headache, especially to problems that won’t let you alone But, of course, closing yourself inside doors sometimes makes you feel so safe, secure, ensconced, protected. Closing myself outside doors tend to make me feel liberated. I feel I would rather stay outside closed doors, explore the outside. It is a horizon world. The only problem is knowing I can’t go back inside the door I have just closed. Even though I know there is not much to be got by going back, the impossibility of it all is an idea world. The idea is an idea....
Ideas are like doors, are another thing that amazes me. They open up like doors. You have to open them, pursue them, and own them, if you can. The more you pursue them the more you get deeper and deeper into their mysteries, their meaning worlds. The worlds of ideas can be a soft or stubborn take. Love takes to the idea of doors too. It can be a stubborn thing. It all depends on the pursuing, the opening of doors, and its own love doors. Lives, countries, worlds and many other things follow the idea of doors, the opening of doors...
Monday, November 7, 2011
A REVOLVING CAGE?
Charlotte came over to Chitungwiza Friday night and spent the weekend at her brother's place in the Seke suburb of Unit C. We had agreed we would see each other at the church on Sunday. It is a bit of a crack-thing to negotiate for this compromise with her. I met her three years before. Even to negotiate for a date with her was a crack-thing. It was a fucking job interview! The moment I met her, I discovered that she had the mark of the one who would be stubborn.
After church, I waited for her like a dog waiting for its owner to come over and pat and ruffle its sheaves of hair. Maybe, I should have barked a little bit like a dog and take no responsibility for the noise. Just like death, she hadn't been taking responsibility for the way she had been mistreating me over the years. But, there was nothing I could do about it other than waiting for her. I didn't even know what would become of that waiting. I also knew that it was even possible for her to come and say.
"No, I don't want to see you." "No, I am busy for that." "No, I do not have any prior arrangements with you about that." "No, I don't remember agreeing to that." Regardless, I waited all the same.
A thick raw of marigolds along the church's yard fence are a fierce dark orange and burnt orange and the rhubarb plant near the gates where I am standing is bright clear orange and sunshine yellow. They have turned their faces towards the yard walls for some mysterious reason. Maybe, so that I won't be able to appreciate their beauty! I listen to the sound of the bees and tune their musical instruments according to what I am hearing. Deep down, I am watching, listening, and imitating the bees' reaction to the flowers even as they walk away from the flowers, they continue playing their songs. I remembered my grandfather, who was so good at harvesting the bees' honey saying that if you can manage to imitate the bees' music you can also be able to put a swarm of bees and the queen bee into a trance and take away its honey without killing not even a single bee. I couldn't also help thinking that there were people in life who would never really appreciate others; the love they would be getting or even the love they have for the other person.
Somehow, they are distorted. If you give them a flower, then they would throw it in the dustbin without even smelling it. Good things always make them feel inadequate and insecure. It reminded me of this girl, who I grew up with. We called her the kicking girl. She was so competitive and distorted. She played football with the boys. She fought with boys. She would beat us even though we were of the same age. The thing that was funny about her was that she was afraid of fighting other girls and even got beaten by girls younger than her. But with boys, there were no rules so she always won. If you were small she would beat you, if you were bigger she would kick you. She would go about provoking for fights. If you run away, then she would laugh at you so you had to stick around and fight her so that she won't have the pleasure of humiliating you. The best thing you could do was to hurl hurtful words and know they have hurt her by the way she flies at you. This girl came from an unstable family.
I am still thinking of this kicking girl when charlotte comes for me. She came half an hour later and fortunately for me she is good on her word this time. She is with her friend which I feel is a welcome thing for it meant we could try to talk to each other without trying to kill each other. I also knew that she would try to tolerate me a bit today. A soft quite, a kind of soft enlacing fills me as I accompany them to Zengeza 2 shopping centre where she was going to take a lift back to Harare. They had previously stayed in Chitungwiza, but later relocated as a family to Harare.
Our church, where we are meeting, is in the middle of a small forest so we take the small trail out of this forest. This small trail revolves into a footpath, which revolves into a big road. Observing this natural progression, as we are making our way, I can't help noticing, thinking; it should have been the case with our relationship. Even though we had been seeing each other for three years, we were still basically estranged as lovers, fighting everyday for our spaces and identities. But, seeing her was the only thing that seemed to hem in my longing for her a bit but it also inflated my depression.
We were at the intersection of the big road when she entered the intersection without checking for traffic on the other side of the road. I had to grab her real hard to make her avoid getting run down by a truck that was coming from the other side of the intersection, turning into the side of the road that we were in. This made me realize that there is something that is troubling her. She lightened a bit when we met some friends who were dating and the girl had a new pair of shoes. We joked with the girl telling her that her boyfriend was such a good keeper, taking care of her and my girlfriend's friend, Melody, even made some jibes at me saying that I was not doing any better by my girl. I replied her jokingly, that I was a sucker for pleasing my woman so if I had to do something it had to be the best there was but also that she wouldn't take it. All this was easy banter and it made us laugh a little bit.
When we came midway our journey, Charlotte told us that she collapsed during midweek and that she had been admitted at the Avenues clinic, in Harare Avenues areas for a couple of days. I ask her what was wrong and she says.
"Maybe its stress."
She looks so vulnerable with a look of exhaustion in her eyes. I would really like to hold her in my arms and protect her from whatever was troubling her but I can't take the chance. I ask her what was stressing her and she says petulantly.
"You could be the one who is stressing me."
It makes me feel bad. I know that's exactly how she wants me to feel so I do not let that trouble me that much and do not show her that it is troubling me and that she has hurt me. I know Charlotte likes to fight with me and is always spoiling for a fight and that some other times that I have avoided getting sucked into a fight with her by keeping my cool but some other times that I just couldn't keep cool but raised some of the issues with her and we would fight it out like bloody hell.
We were just Euclidean's children, parallelism in constancy right to the end of things, and that I had come to accept about us. I have always tried to make her feel comfortable with me but that a non Euclidean way of being in which lines, ideas, thoughts and feelings could come together here or far out there, at the vanishing Lough was not to be ours to have. I had also come to accept that the grab zone was always too bigger with us and that the corners were always too sharper and that it always made her feel better whenever she had to fight things out with me. Maybe, I had just gone along, in this typical woman style, believing that if you were always fighting with your partner, then it meant there were problems, and that the relationship was doomed. I knew I believed love was not an easy chair, but it sure made the harder parts easier to work through, maybe that I just wanted the kind of love that was as comfortable as old slippers. I also knew that this fighting was corroding my sense of self worth so the only way out was for me to try to avoid situations that could put us onto each other's throats
When she realized that I had ignored her, she provoked me more by saying that it would be her last time coming over to Chitungwiza since they had finally packed as a family and were now staying in Harare. She said something like.
"There is nobody I care about good here for me to come here again."
She either was feeling the forthcoming loss to become of her move to Harare and the gravity of fear of being alone was eating her consciousness or she was really meaning well this time, that she doesn't care anymore about anyone that side of Chitungwiza.
I do not know what to say to her, but I want to say. "I do care a lot about you Charlotte. So, you shouldn't be saying that." But, I can't say that because I am afraid it might invoke Dear John bombs like. "I don't want you to care for me." "You are not so important to me." "I don't want your love." "Tat tat tara, tara..." When she finds out that I have ignored her again, she starts to talk girls' stuff with Melody. I can only join them here and there when I know something about whatever they were talking of but most of the times I am just quiet to myself. Somehow, I know without accepting that this is going to be the last day I could ever lay my eyes on her if she is going to stick to what she had said.
I also knew that all this angst that was being directed at me had something to do with another guy she had been seeing, who hadn't been coming out good. Her friend Melody told me about that guy. Deep down my heart, I was happy that their relationship was imploding. I was also happy that I could be the only one vying for her heart. I also make a new conviction to fight for her even though I meant to let her go when I heard about that guy a couple of weeks ago. Anyone could have realized that it was the cage that was revolving here.
By the time we reach the bus stop, we are settled into each other's company for the day. I also know there is something that is still bothering her. She takes the next bus that comes by. When she is embarking and is reaching for her bag that I have been carrying for her, I tell her I am coming with her. She is surprised, but doesn't protest against this. Deep down my heart, I have come to terms with the fact that this is the last time we could be seeing each other. What I want to do is to spend as much time with her as is possible. That's why I have instantly decided to accompany her. She takes a seat of two in the middle of the bus. When we settled down, we start to talk of my birth place in Nyanga, Nyatate area. This comes about when she says she still misses her time at school. This school, St Mary's Magdalene secondary school, is in my birth place. Even though we are now communicating well this time, I can still feel some contained thing or some sort of energies inside her waiting to explode any moment. I also realize there is a creature inside her that I could never be good enough to bring out or even be stronger enough to reach out for. But, I keep to the conversation about Nyanga. When she starts to answer me with boredom yawning in her voice, I keep silent. We do not talk about anything much after that because she is engrossed in whatever is in the storm of her heart or in the landscape of her own psychosis. So what gives with her? But, I do not ask her.
Later, when I am paying our bus fares to the Conductor, she says.
"This is the last time you will be paying for my bus fares, so thanks a lot David."
She seems to be talking to someone inside her. The conductor throws a shadow at her. She shivers. I do not know whether it is due to fear of our parting or of something else that she is shivering. I do not have small money to pay for our bus fares so I use the $100 billion note that I have when all that the conductor wants is only $2 billion dollars for the two of us. When I give the conductor this bill Charlotte looks at me with this look as if she is saying I am just being pretentious but the conductor tells me that he will give me my change money when we will be disembarking at the Charge-office bus stop.
I am dry for something more to say to her and the bus is moving so slowly as if its destination would never come and don't even enjoy the freedom of this open road. Outside the bus, the western sky is a beautiful blue. Such sweet blue is curled around the sun, but, inside the bus, it is so hot, clammy, and noisy. I wonder a lot why all the other people in the bus have so much to talk to each other about when Charlotte and I didn't have anything to say to the other. This is the fitting example of the tone of our relationship for three years now. Very little to talk to each other about and we have always been two desolate islands standing against each other, lost and abandoned. The problems we needed to fix ran deeper, leagues and leagues into the ocean of our relationship. Charlotte is very physically attractive in a fragile way. I am animated with her, but never flirtatious around her. I have always been flirty with other girls, but this lack and the dilemma is also a problem.
When we arrive at the Charge-office bus stop, we are in the middle of the bus. So we follow the line of those disembarking and the queue ahead and after us is ten minutes long. When we disembarked the conductor still didn't have my change money so we waited for him as he finished checking the other half of the queue of those disembarking. Charlotte starts complaining about this waiting and tells me that her father is waiting for her at the Fourth street bus stop so she couldn't wait any longer and I beg her not to leave me but to wait for a couple more minutes for I still want to keep her company. When the conductor finishes checking all the tickets he leaves for a couple of shops nearby to look for the change money and this time I can't hold her back anymore. I let her go and she seems like a wind, walks like it, seems to come from it. I also realized that there were some winds we would never really understand even though we faced them every day and that the slowness of the conductor in giving me my change money had now acted as the dominator of our destiny.
When the conductor returns back with my change money about two minutes later, I am happy I might run and catch up with her before she has reached her father. But, the conductor starts rolling through the possibilities of numbers slowly trying to figure out how much he owes me. At one moment, I am almost leaving everything in my anger with this conductor, but some voice deep inside me tells me that I have already lost her and that our relationship has become simply confusing, not confusing and worthwhile. That it is stupid of me to have to lose the money as well in the process. So, I wait through the conductor's mathematical additions and subtractions.
I do not mind anymore how longer it could take this conductor to work through the numbers for as I am now drenched in a loss like loss I had never felt before and in the salt waters of my heart I knew that was that. She had left me with more than I had left her with. A dry sob hit my chest with the thought attached to it. I have never really opened my heart to anyone before Charlotte. I have had a chance to do that but now she is gone. I do not know whether I could ever find someone someday to give my heart to again. I also thought of sexual ecstasy and how I had never felt it and of how dating, such a huge strain it was, having to gear up to acting as a social being?
When the conductor had given me my change money, I loitered through the deserted Sunday streets of this city. I was not seeing anything even though I was sometimes gazing into the windows of the buildings in this city. My mind an essay to itself. I don't even enjoy the sun's rays that I have always enjoyed before when the sun was falling low in the western skies and its golden rays were sipping through tall and small buildings laying broad healing stripes of pale gold on the gap toothed streets. All that I was seeing were the ends of these streets. I just walked and walked until when I was tired and then I took the next bus back to Chitungwiza.