Short Stories,Spoken Word and Poetry

1965

(Image from Pinterest: Vongai and Tunga.)

Vongai glanced at her wrist watch and sighed,as she waited for Nurse Margaret to release her. It was 17:47 and from her calculations, it would take her 20 minutes to walk from St Andrew Fleming Hospital to the bus stop. She knew she was going to be late to leave the city centre and being on her second warning did not bring any comfort. Ever since Ian Smith announced the UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence) a statement adopted by the Cabinet of Rhodesia in November 1965, announcing that Rhodesia would no longer be under the British government and solely ruled by the white minority in Rhodesia, life for the blacks in Rhodesia had become worse.

The United Kingdom, Commonwealth and the United Nations had deemed the UDI illegal, however Rhodesia had broke away and continued on as an unrecognised state with the assistance of South Africa and Portugal. The UDI was a system which promoted segregation and discrimination with silly regulations such as blacks where not allowed to be in the City Centre past six pm, black people had their own restrooms,mode of transport, the only brand of alcohol they were allowed was Chibuku and they were exposed to limited education. Vongai had only qualified to get a job as a nurse at St Andrew’s Fleming because her grandfather had been a missionary who had helped convert myriads of African people. She had an opportunity most black people in Rhodesia could only dream of, which is partly why she never complained. However, Nurse Margaret and all the other white nurses made sure she knew that she was and always would be – a kaffir.

She walked towards the entrance to see if Nurse Margaret was on her way to take the handover for the night shift. Vongai saw Nurse Margaret a short distance from the entrance, leaning against the wall lighting a cigarette. She was not surprised by her actions, Nurse Margaret had overtly expressed that she did not like black people and saw them as inferior. Expecting her to be concerned about her safety, would be silly and naive. She signed with fear and uncertainty as she contemplated on whether to go to her or wait for her to come and release her. Waiting would mean she would have to walk all the way from the hospital to Mufakose where she lived and going to Nurse Margaret would mean starting a war she would never win. So she stood by the door and waited for her.

Vongai,”, Nurse Margaret barked as she walked towards Vongai who was removing her stockings behind the reception area, preparing for the long walk home. She knew there would no mode of transport for black people and the only safe, well, relatively safer way was to walk the ten miles home. “Vongai“, she called again her voice husky and loud. At 56, Nurse Margaret looked older than her age. Her skin pulled with every expression and the way she drew her eyebrows made her look animated and angry at the same time. “Go on now, won’t you be late catching your bus just standing there?”. Vongai hurriedly went out the door,more afraid of the journey ahead rather than Nurse Margaret’s rants. Being a black person walking in the city after 6pm was dangerous in Rhodesia, but being a twenty-five year old black woman walking alone after 6pm, was deadly. If anything were to happen to her, no-one would come to her rescue or aid because the law clearly stated: NO KAFFIRS IN THE CITY AREA AFTER 6PM. Vongai ran towards the kaffir designated bus stop, which was the same direction as her secret route. There was not a soul in sight as she half ran and half walked home, only the creaking of crickets and her thoughts kept her company. She prayed Tungamirai would be waiting for her at the bus stop or fingers crossed he would walk towards the City to meet her halfway. If that was the case, she knew he would take the route they had chosen to use if such an incident took place. Tunga had suggested it after many black people had been imprisoned or killed after using the main road from the City after 6pm. He always worried about her after all, he had vowed to always love and protect her till death. Pacing through the dusty pathway which was covered with shrubs and long stems of grass- Vongai thought of the one bedroom house she owned with Tunga. He had just finished painting their kitchen walls, the smell sickened her but she still looked forward to being there because it was her home. Having lived with four brothers and three sisters, having to share a house with one person was like heaven on earth. With Tunga she no longer had to time herself when she was having a bath or just looking at herself on the bathroom mirror. These tiny pleasures made her long for home on her long day shifts at the hospital.

She increased her pace when she saw the lights from the Bakayawa Grocery Store, this indicated she was half way home and she was at least safe from the white patrols but still a target from the local robbers. At least her own kind would only harass and steal from her, they would not beat her to a pulp or rape her. With the creaking of crickets still keeping her company, Vongai thought of her future and if bringing children to a world where their future was determined by the colour of their skin, a world where you could never be yourself before you were told who you were suppose to be. She had had this discussion with Tunga, and numerous times he had threatened to send her back to her father’s house. She wished he understood her perspective, the pain she went through each day at work and the life they lived, was not one that God had intended for anyone of them.

Please, I do not want to hear about this nonsense. Wazvinzwa? Do you hear me? I want children, all my friend have children and now they think you are infertile or i am impotent.” He had said the last time they had talked about it. She remembered how he was holding a half stab of cigarette, leaning forward in his chair as she sat opposite her.

He always furrowed his eyebrows when he was upset, and he would never look at her. Vongai stood up and went to the kitchen, she stood by the empty sink where Tunga had washed the dishes earlier that day. She thought of how he was a good husband and never made her feel any lesser than himself, even though she was a woman but that would never be enough to have her bring a child into such a hateful and painful world. She took a glass from the rack, poured water then left it on the sink untouched. She walked towards the living room which also acted as the dining room and said goodnight to Tunga. He grunted at her as he slammed their 21′ black and white television to adjust the volume.


Where is Fungai?,” Tunga asked as he put his pint down, “I thought he was coming to join us tonight wani”. He gestured at Gumi for him to pass him the lighter he held in his hand and sat beside Tamuka who was getting comfortable in his seat.

“Ah iwe,you should know never make plans with a man who has just gotten married”, said Gumi as he blew the cigarette smoke in the air. They all laughed.

“Knowing Fungai, I am pretty sure the wife is already pregnant. You remember how quickly his first wife got pregnant. First week of marriage!“.

Only to find out the child was not his“, Tamuka said passively and the three men all laughed out loud in the dingy shebeen. It was owned by Tom Brown,the only white person who had willingly chosen to live amongst the blacks. He had been threatened by the UDI police to leave Mufakose and live amongst his own kind. At one point, he had been offered a two bedroom house and a pub in the highlands area where it was predominantly white. However, he would have to leave everything behind and that included his wife Natsai and their three brown children.He never moved nor did he even consider the “options” because to him, love was more of a right not a possibility.

Not everyone thought of it to be wise, especially the black men of Mufakose who always reminded him what a grave mistake he made. They thought him stupid for not taking the opportunity to leaves the slums and have a proper and decent life. Some thought he was mocking them by turning the government down, making it seem as if it was bearable and easy to be a black person in Rhodesia. He had tried to explain numerous times and overtly, that his views were not the same as other white people, he believed in equality and mutual respect and did not expect to be treated differently because he was white. The men would all sneer,shaking their heads and others laughing. Equal and mutual respect?Is this man alright upstairs?He thinks it’s fun for us to only be limited to garden boys and builders regardless of how intelligent we are? They would all take away something different from what he said, but none of them ever considered he meant what he said.

Tom walked over to the corner at the back of the shebeen where the three men lounged, with a quarter bottle of Jack Daniels and shot glasses. There was a small round table that looked like it had been handed over several generations before it found itself in the shebeen, a brown double sofa with tattered arm rests where Tunga and Tamuka sat and three bar stools circled the small table. The low roof made Gumi hunch as he stood near the window blowing the cigarette out. The three men saw Tom walking towards them at the same time and exchanged glances.

“Hona, your friend has brought a peace-offering for the pain his people are causing us”, Tamuka whispered to Tunga who was nursing his second pint of Chubuku.

“Ah iwe, leave him be. He is trying to be friendly, give him a break.”, Tunga said.

Hey, be nice to him. He has whiskey, its been a while and Tamuka don’t spoil this for me. We do not need to hear how as a black man you are oppressed and can only use one ply tissue paper”, Gumi whispered as he walked to a bar stool next to the sofa.

“One ply? Sha, that is a luxury. Why do you think I always collect newspapers here? Just put a bit of water for them to be soft and they are as good as three-ply tissues”.

They all busted out laughing and as if on cue, Tom approached them and sat on one of the stool and grinned at them.

Gentlemen, maswera sei?”, he said sitting the bottle of Jack Daniels and four shot glasses on the table now stained with ashes and streaks of beer. My girl by The Temptations was now playing for the umpteenth time from the time the shebeen opened .It had just been released and Jacaranda FM was making sure everyone would know the lyrics by the time they went to bed.

“Mudhara Tom, how are you this evening?”,  they chorused as Gumi turned his attention on the bottle of brown-goldish liquor calling his name. Tamuka excused himself and went to the restroom. Gumi had never been a fan of the cheap and uninspired brand of alcohol restricted for the blacks. His taste buds had savoured quality alcohol from the time he worked for Mr Walker, of no relation to John Walker, who sold diluted whiskey and spirits to “upper-class” black people. He was known all over Mufakose for his fine taste in quality alcohol and cigarettes, only because ninety percent of the time, he was the one who would have made them. He studied the colour of the liquor and could tell by the way the light from the bulb over them pierced through the bottle, it was diluted. He realised a diluted whiskey was better than the Chibuku that had cornered him to gain weight. He lit another cigarette and paid attention to Tom who was mid sentence talking to the other two gentlemen who he was certain where eager to have a shot too.

“… business has been good,terrific even.My father-in-law has agreed to help me open another shebeen at his house in the mean time”, Tom said as he stared at his wife Natsai who was behind the counter taking orders from drunk and semi drunk customers. Tunga saw him looking at his wife and instantly thought of Vongai. He had no idea why Tom suddenly took time to glance at his wife mid conversation, but he liked it and could not help but miss his. Tom saw Tunga looking at him and turned to him.

“She is beautiful,isn’t she?”,Tom said to Tunga who was now attempting to act as if he was not looking at him.

“Yes”, Tunga said nodding his head and taking a sip of his Chibuku, wishing it was whiskey.

“You know, it was love at first sight for me. I just knew she would be my wife the first time I saw her at her mother’s market”, Tom reminisced, Gumi and Tamuka, who had now joined them, reluctantly listened to him.

“She was not even paying attention to me, I was overseeing the men who were constructing my father’s bar and I would walk past her market countless times a day. ” he said chuckling to himself. The three men were a bit uncomfortable as to why he felt the need to confide in them. They had known him from the time he came to Mufakose six years ago, exchanging pleasantries and congregating around the small stereo when there was a soccer match. However, they had not been acquainted enough to borrow cigarettes or know if he had any siblings, but here he was, bearing his heart and telling them his love story.

“So, mudhara, how did you end up “conquering” the situation?”, Tamuka insinuated as he shuffled in his seat next to Tunga who realised his pun. All four of them knew where the conversation was headed. Tom reached for the bottle of whiskey and poured into the shot glasses. He gestured for the men to take one and they all toasted and gulped it down.

There was an awkward silence for a few seconds, Gumi complimented the fine and exquisite texture of the whiskey. And Tunga agreed with grunts and hand gestures. Anything to fill the loud silence was welcome, they knew Tamuka would not let it go though. He had been orphaned after his parents were burnt alive in their house after they declined the offer to sell their farm for a price less than a single cow. He ended up living with his grandmother in the reserves and had never seen white people as genuine and considerate people. He made it no secret that he had been hurt and he was not afraid to show it, he was not violent or menacing but he asked questions that would have people, both black and white, question themselves.

Tamuka sat there quietly but observant of the men around him. He turned his gaze to Tom who was also looking at him about to say something. He thought of interrupting him but he decided to let him proceed.

“I did not “conquer” nor did I threaten her. I was respectful of her space and I knew the danger she would face if she were to even talk to me. I watched her from a distance for nine months, and on Sundays on her way to church.”, Tom said shuffling himself on the three-legged stool.

Falling in love with Natsai was the only decision Tom was proud of after fathering three children, and he was privileged to have been loved back by her. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen when he first saw her seven years ago. She was twenty-one years old, ambitious, independent and fearless. Her parents were worried that she was getting a bit too old and no one would find her suitable or attractive if she did not get married soon. She had told them that marriage was not something she was worried about and what was important to her was her teaching career. As an only child, this did not go well with her parents, especially her mother who began holding prayer meetings nemadzimai eruwadzano, every Thursday to drive out the spirit that had possessed her daughter.

Tom had learnt of this when he was eavesdropping on the conversations the builders had during their break. One of them lived in the same neighbourhood as Natsai, he had tried to pursue her but alike the rest of the other men before him, he had found her intimidating and intolerant of juvenile pursuits. He had tricked his sister, Kathleen who was a senior teacher at the school Natsai was hoping to be employed, to hire female black teachers. He had convinced her by suggesting, by hiring a black teacher, the school would portray a more “diverse” spectrum and it would make her look good when the Pope and priests visited the school. He knew Kathleen was not keen on associating herself with kaffirs, but impressing the Catholic board was as important as entering heaven to her. He did not care using his sister’s racist nature against her, because now he would see Natsai up close, without her getting into trouble.

He stole glances every time he dropped by to see Kathleen, his tall frame, broad shoulders, blonde frizzy hair and blue eyes did not go unnoticed by the other ladies at the school. Hillary, Kathleen’s deputy had tried throwing herself onto him whenever she got the chance, but Tom would always come up with an excuse to avoid going out with her. He only agreed after learning that Natsai was being supervised by Hillary so they would always be together, and because of that, he agreed to meet up with Hillary at the school, only if there was someone for accountability. When Hillary pondered on who to ask, he readily suggested Natsai who technically had no choice because she had to follow Hillary everywhere. Hillary could not impose because she was twenty-four and desperate, and all the other female teachers envied her for being chosen by Tom.

Every weekday during Hillary’s break, Tom would come and they would all go to the sports field and sit on the terraces. Natsai would sit at a distance, but Tom would make sure to include her in the conversation and most of the times, he would talk to her more than Hillary. Natsai did not seem to be interested or pay much attention to him during their encounter. It was until one day, Hillary became annoyed when Natsai laughing at Tom’s joke that she reached out and slapped Natsai who was sitting a distance from them. Tom was baffled and angered by her action, he quickly ran to Natsai and held her face and felt the warmth of her streak of tear running down her smooth,black cheek. He gazed into her dark brown eyes which changed to a light brown when she faced the sun. Tom looked at her for a while and could not believe anyone could be more beautiful, Natsai pulled away from him and briskly walked towards the classes without turning back.

“Oh Tom, why do you care?!”, Hillary snapped at him as she descended from the terrace making her way towards him, tucking a few strands of brown locks behind her ear. “..these people get too comfortable and before you know it, they start asking you for money”. She said putting her arms around his neck and searching for his eyes as he looked down. She kisses him on his lips but he did not flinch, she tried using her tongue but Tom pushed her back and looked at her.

“That is no way to treat a human being! You should be ashamed of yourself, how can you think someone of less than you based on the colour of their skin?.”, Tom exclaimed as he moved away from her. Hillary was confused, she had not expected him to react that way. Why would she be ashamed of herself? She is not the one who was wrong, that woman should have known her place and kept quite. Why did she have to apologise? Hillary questioned herself as she looked at Tom running towards the classes. She began running after him and calling his name. Tom stopped and waited for her to catch up, he turned around and looked at her, she appeared more confused than remorseful.

“You had no right to hit her.”, he said shaking his head. “She did not deserve that, and a word to the wise Miss Kent, these people are as human as you are. They reason, they love and they hurt just like you!”, he said walking away from her and went to the staff room. The room was empty and he did not know where to find Natsai. He did not even attempt to ask as it would raise question and it would get her in trouble. Tom walked to his truck and drove away with anger and a broken heart, knowing he might never see Natsai again. It was not until a year later, he met her at another school across town where she was a Standard Three teacher and he was foreseeing the building of an additional block at the school. This time around, he made sure to be intentional and brave, and the rest is history.

Tom poured another round of whiskey after narrating his love story. Tamuka, Gumi and Tunga took time to digested the story trying to find the lesson or the take away from it. Tom took his shot and cleared his throat and looked at the three men who now looked tired.

“Tamuka, I might not have answered your question but I hope you see that for me, being with Natsai is more than any house they can give me. I saw a black woman who I fell hopelessly in love with and I could not have been happier.”, he grinned at Natsai who was clearing the counter ready to close up. “Akandipa three amazing children and she loves me dearly. Anondida chose and I am a blessed man. Love knows no colour and when you find it, never let it go. It is a once in a lifetime kind of thing. It is not easy but it is worth it.”, Tom stood up as he saw Natsai walking towards them to dismiss them.

“Imi varume imi, don’t you have wives to go home to? It is past 10pm and I am sure they are worried sick”, she said jokingly smiling at the three men who stood as she approached.

“Ah sisi Natsai, blame mudhara Tom ava. He is the one who kept us here for long.”, Tamuka said as he stretched himself and walking towards the door with Gumi and Tunga behind him. They all laughed as the walked out, bide their farewells and left Tom and Natsai in the shebeen.

They walked towards Chigubhu Road where they all resided separated by a few houses. They had been friends since primary school and had remained friends ever since. They walked in silence, each pondering on Tom’s story. Was he just telling them or where they to take something from it? Tamuka decided to break the silence.

“Ah but varume, what was the point of mudhara Tom’s story? Hee? Kutivhairira? Was it to show is that his wife loves him more than the other wives love their husbands?”, he said exasperated. He was still single and had vowed to marry until the country was free from Smith and his men. Which did not seem to be happening anytime soon.

“No kani, I think he was just sharing his experience. He is a man in love and is not afraid to show it. He makes me want to make it official with Shuvai but, Shuvai is a wild card. You know she wears trousers?! My mother will die if I bring her home”, Gumi said as he contemplated marrying the one woman who challenged him and drank as much as him.

“I think he was trying to say, love knows no colour. He married someone who was not deemed to be good enough by anyone or worth it by his own kind but he chose love. Moyo muti unomera paunoda shuwa. I guess he was trying to emphasize on loving whoever you want regardless of what people say.”  Tunga gave his two cents as he tried to dissect Tom’s story.

“Ah, I hope he was not trying to mellow us into ignoring what his people are doing to us. I will not be tricked. Ah kana, no, I will not succumb to that.” Tamuka said as he walked towards his small one room wooden cottage. He bade his friend’s goodnight and disappeared into the room. Gumi and Tunga proceeded to their homes which were a few houses down.

“You know, I get what mudhara Tom was on about. He is not like the rest of them but shaa, that does not excuse how we are treated like dogs. Their dogs have better lives than we will ever have”, Gumi sneered and shook his head. It was hard to believe or hope for a better life. He imagined what bringing children would be setting them up for failure. There lives would be limited and agonising. Tunga shook his head but did not say anything, he agreed and understood his friend. He thought about how Vongai had tried to explain to him how raising a black child in Rhodesia was a permanent life sentence full of pain, poverty and condescension. He did not want anyone to suffer like that, and he did not want to partake in bringing in to the world an innocent soul to be castrated before they learnt who they were for themselves. He had to make peace with the possibility he might not father a child. He parted ways with Gumi and headed towards his house. A few houses still had their lamps on, he could hear a few voices of people who were putting out their cooking fires and others filling buckets and drums with water, ready for the next morning.

As he approached the house, he saw that the lamp was on. Usually Vongai would have never waited up for him because she always had to get up before 5 a.m. He paced towards the house worried Vongai had forgotten to turn the lamp off. As he got into the, he saw Vongai sitting on the sofa, with a large basket in front of her on their small coffee table. She sat stone-faced and was teary eyed staring at the basket.

“Ko,why are you seated by yourself this later?, Tunga inquired as he walked over to Vongai. He towered over both Vongai and the basket in their tiny living/dining room. Vongai looked at him but could not muster up the courage to say anything. She began to cry and covered her face with her hands. Tunga knelt beside his wife and embraced her whilst she sobbed.

“Tell me mudiwa,what is it? Was it that horrid senior nurse again?”, he tried to console his wife as he kissed her forehead. He did not want to rush her, so he held her and waited for her to compose herself. Vongai held her husband’s face and looked into his eyes. He saw fear in her eyes and the first thing that came to his mind was someone had died. He could not bring himself to ask her but Vongai looked at he basket and sighed.

“Tunga, I am sorry but I could not leave it. I just could not!”, she began sobbing again. “I know, I could have just left it there and kept walking, but I could not.” Tunga realised she had walked home from work again, but that did not explain the basket. He looked at the basket, it looked ordinary with a lid which had a knotted handle, but it was not familiar. He tried to think or guess what would make his wife that upset.

“Please, do not be angry. I know we will be in trouble but please, j-j…”, she began to cry again but this time pointing at the basket. Tunga stood up and looked at the basket and braced himself. Could she be playing with him? She had done that a couple of times before but this time around she looked serious. He composed himself and opened the basket. He gasped, not believing what he was seeing. He looked at his wife confused, trying to comprehend what was the meaning of what he was seeing. Where and how did she come across it? Did she steal it from the hospital? She knew better than to steal anything, that much he knew, but what was the meaning of this?

Tunga looked at Vongai who now stood beside him looking into the basket too. He could not believe she would do this, create more strife for them whilst they could barely survive their current ones. They both looked at each other, lost of words. Vongai still teary eyed and sniffling, Tunga confused and now afraid, and the basket with its content snug and peaceful.

“Woman, explain to me why there is a whole baby with blonde hair and white skin in that basket?” . Tunga said as he slumped himself on the seat Vongai previously sat, waiting for his wife to explain how she ended up with a white baby in the middle of Mufakose squatter camp in 1965.


https://basicgirl.blog/2019/03/26/1965-part-ii/

Africa to the world.

Africa is well-known for her breathtaking landscape, majestic wildlife and favourable weather. She is the second youngest and populous continent and harbours 54 sovereign states. She offers different climates and sceneries. From sunny and dry weather in Southern African, hot and arid weather in Northern Africa, warm and humid in West Africa, pleasant and cool in East Africa and in winter, snow in Lesotho, Morocco, Algeria and a few parts of South Africa.

However, what makes Africa is not a great landscape or variation in weather, but her people. With over 1.2 billion people, over 3 000 native tongues and hosting the largest diversity of ethnicities and cultures, Africa births greatness through and through. Her people show her beauty and majesty. Today, we look at those who were still able to make it in Africa, equipping themselves with what Africa is known and admired for – authenticity.

Hamamat Montia

Hamamat Montia is a Ghanaian model, entrepreneur and a former Miss Malaika Queen. She is the owner and founder of Hamamat African Beauty, a brand of skin care products which are all handmade with raw, authentic natural ingredients with freshly unadulterated Shea Butter being the main ingredient. Her technique takes people on a journey on how Ghanaian ancestors had a deep and rich connection with the land, and how they utilized on its produce. The focus of her brand is to utilize ingredients from the three regions of Northern Regions of Ghana and a mixture of Africa’s best kept natural remedies. She aims for men and women around the world to maintain a youthful, healthy and natural skin glow, and to make skincare regimes simple.

She has grown her empire in Ghana and has expanded it by opening a village spa and hotel called “Hamamat African Village”. She has helped her village by creating employment as they help with the processing and making of the raw shea butter products. She runs one of the most successful self-made and African based skin care companies and the first online-based retail to ship freshly handmade shea butter directly from Ghana to the world.

Maxwell Chikumbutso

Maxwell Chikumbutso is a 27-year-old Zimbabwean who invented the world’s first ever green power generator which can produce electricity using radio frequencies. He has designed and built an electrically powered vehicle and a hybrid helicopter which uses six different types of fuel.

Having dropped out of school at 14 years old when he was a Form 2 at Kuwadzana High School, Maxwell has no formal training in technology or science, he has it all comes from revelations of blueprints and visions which he has used to formulate his inventions. He is the owner of the company SAITH Technologies. In July 2017, he closed up shop in Zimbabwe and moved to California, USA. However, it is reported that after he made his announcement, he was never heard from again and he has actually gone missing.

Sherrie Silver

Sherrie Silver is a Rwandan creative editor, dancer and actress who is best known for her choreographing of “This is America” by Childish Bambino. She moved from Rwanda to England when she was 5 years old. Having been inspired by African church culture of dance, Sherrie was always been passionate about dancing and performing; which her mother did not view as a profitable career but through her hard work and drive, she persevered.

Before catching the attention of millions, Sherrie got her start recording dance videos and uploading them on her YouTube channel. She travels the world to bring African dance to the world and regularly makes appearances at festivals and also host small group dance classes. She is also a dedicated advocate and activist, who has financed 200 Rwandan citizens’ healthcare, holds community events and donates the proceed to various charities and on her own, she rents out a home in Rwanda to shelter displaced and underprivileged children.

Peter Tabichi

Peter Tabichi is a Kenyan science teacher and Franciscan friar, who is the winner of the 2019 Global Teacher Prize and the prize money of $1 million. He is a teacher at Keriko Mixed Secondary School in Pwani Village. The school is in a semi-arid village in Rift Valley, a region affected by famine and drought. He gives 80% of his pay to support pupils at the school, who could not afford uniforms or books. Most of his students are orphaned and almost all come from underprivileged households.

When asked at the why he sacrificed his income selflessly, he said, “It is not about the money but as a teacher, working on the front line I have seen the promise of the young people, their brilliance, belief and spirit of inquiry.” The award had 10 000 other nominations from 179 countries.

On receiving his speech, Brother Tabichi exclaimed, “It is morning in Africa. The skies are clear and the day is young. There is a blank page waiting to be written. This is Africa’s time”.

Chipo.

Chipo and Tonderai

(Image from Pinterest: Chipo and Tonderai as a married couple.)

P.S: Brace yourself as this is one of those “quite long” short stories.

I held her hand as she laid on the bed, snoring softly. I took in every inch of her face, the chocolate skin that masked her body, the once long and bouncy curls that were now patches on her oval shaped head. I traced her nose which I kissed each morning before she woke up, the full lips which produced malicious words when her brilliant brain could not solve a problem or when I could not understand what she meant, even after explaining it to me numerous times. The lips I loved to kiss, the lips that uttered I love you first before I was ready to say it.

I won’t lie, I was taken back by her boldness. Not because I did not know that I loved her, but because I was so used to the typical Zimbabwean girls who showed their feeling by being passive aggressive or ignoring you. Chipo was different. She knew what she wanted and she was never afraid to speak her mind. She made me uncomfortable, her boldness I could not fathom, her resilience and mysterious mental agility kept me wanting to unveil her for my own understanding. She was a breath of fresh air, but she suffocated me sometimes. I can never say I have fully known or understood her. She cannot be defined by one word. She is both an introvert and extrovert, shy and outspoken, kind and selfish, sweet and has the temper of two-year-old. She kept me on my toes, and I loved that, I still love it.

As I sit here seeing her weather away, I can not help but think God is playing a cruel joke on me, I can not stop thinking about the time I wasted looking for something I already had. I can not stop thinking about the first day I met her. It was a blind date, Mazvita had set us up. I had known Mazvita to like me for a very long time, but I never engaged. I do not know if she set me up with Chipo because she was genuinely wanted me to find someone or she was being passive aggressive, subtly telling me that she wanted me by making this move. Typical Zimbabwean girls, they can never say what they really mean. Haphazardly, Chido and I got along quite well. I took her out for ice cream, it was May but summer was still very much around although the breeze was cooler. She wore a dusty pink top that shaped her torso, had a red maxi skirt and yellow pumps. Her hair, God, her glorious hair, was big and free. I could not stop looking at her. She, well, at first she seemed a little shy but as I got to know her, it was not because she was shy, she was studying me.

” Tonde, you just don’t start yapping about around new people. You study them, sense their energies, then you engage.” She told me when we started dating. On our first date, I did all the talking. She asked questions here and there. My occupation, how I knew Mazvita and other basic things. We sat on a bench at Africa Unit Square, a bit clichè, yes, but I did not know where to take her. She would lick on her ice cream and observed the people in the park. Just across us, there was a couple who were having their picture taken. They were posing awkwardly, the lady was trying to sit on her lovers’ legs, but they were too short to support her bountiful bottom. We both involuntary laughed and looked at each other.

” So, how is this going for you so far?”, she asked me. To be honest, I was not having the best time but I was comfortable. I was not really feeling anything, to be honest, she was attractive yes, smart and creative but I did not have a flutter in my chest or sweaty palms. I was planning to drop her off at her house, delete her number and try my luck elsewhere.

” Well, it’s fun. Nothing beats sitting next to a beautiful lady and eating ice cream in a park.”, I said trying to charm her. She did not look amused.

” Hhhmm, so you think there is going to be a second date?”, she asked me so calmly, looking into my eyes. I was uncomfortable and to top it off, I was about to lie, which I am very bad at. I remember chuckling and looking away. What is going on here? I thought to myself. I had never been with a girl who was so direct, I was used to girls who would shy about and just do what they thought I wanted. They seemed to want to please me more than to also be pleased but this one was different and I was not equipped.

” Ehm, yeah, yeah. Of course.” I stammered, which made her laugh. I was confused but I laughed with her. The way she threw her head back as she laughed caught my attention. She laughed with the freedom of a child.

” You do not have to lie. I can tell you are not particularly enjoying this.”. I just smiled, I was a loss for words. I licked on my ice cream which was dripping on my hand, hoping for this awkward moment to pass.

” I am looking for consistency, respect, honesty and fun. What about you?”, this woman asked me as if we had known each other for the longest time. Like we had gotten to the stage of calling each other by childhood nicknames, but it was just our first date.

” Ok, uhm, I value openness, sense of humour and stability”. I said.

” Haa! Did you just say the same things I said using different words?”, she laughed, this time shaking her head. Touchè, she had caught me.

” Well, haha..”, I was a loss for words. She seemed to have called my bluff. She was studying me.

” Ok, I will give you another chance. Tonderai, what are you looking for? You know, using your own words this time. Not copying or twisting other peoples words.”, she said as she flashed her carefully arranged dentition. She had, she has a pretty smile.

Chipo And Tonderai

(Image from Pinterest: Chipo and Tonderai on their first date.)

” Alright, alright. I see what you did there. You are mocking me, aren’t you.”, I am not proud to admit it, but I was blushing. She made me blush but thank God for my dark skin, one could never tell but the dumb grin on my face betrayed me. We walked in silence to my car which I had parked a few metres from Herald. As we approached my car, I went over to open the door for her so I could drive her home. However the Council had other plans for me, they had clamped my car over a speeding ticket I had forgotten to pay for. She looked at me and shrugged. ” Kombi, I guess?”, she said as she closed the door. I smiled at her sheepishly, embarrassed by the Council exposing me like this and also the fact that we had to walk in silence again, annoyed me. She did not seem annoyed or embarrassed by the situation. From my history with Zimbabwean girls, a car was what made you graduate from a “maybe” to a “definitely”. She appeared not to be moved by the fact that we had to walk from 2nd street to Copacabana where she boarded her kombi.

” Do not worry,  I understand how hard adulting is. Trust me.”, she said as we walked past Angwa street, it was rush hour. Harare was its peak with cars hooting, drivers shouting and hwindis cussing in defence of their driver’s manoeuvring. I walked close to her, to protect her from the pickpocketers and waifs, who now prowled the streets hoping for a score, but mostly so I could smell the scent of lavender wafted around her. I do not know why I boarded the kombi with her, but in a few minutes, we were headed to Westgate where she lived. Our silence was filled by the raspy voice of Oliver Mtukudzi as he lamented Pindurai Mambo through the speakers of the kombi. Being the gentleman I am, I paid for the both of us. She was a bit hesitant but she let me pay. She sat by the window and I was wedged between her and a lady was talking on the phone tumultuously, it was as if she was in a tag of war with Mtukudzi, competing over who would be the loudest. We alighted at Westgate shopping mall and began to walk towards her house. She told me about her childhood, growing up an only child and how she was close to her family. She told me about how she was frantic about moving into her own place, but she had gotten used to it now, how she became to discover she loved art and how she was planning on making paintings that would be shown in some of the most popular galleries and museums.

” Even at the Louvre!”, she exclaimed as she stood in front of her door, her keys clutched in her hands. I was amazed by how she talked about painting and art, how her eyes widened and brightened, the excitement in her voice when she told me about her favourite artists and their patterns. I love how she lost herself in her imagination as she explained how much art had been her escape. We were bonding, we were now past the awkward stage.

” This is me.”, she said pointing at her door as if we had not been standing in front of it for the last 20 minutes. She looked at me and smile. She moved closer to me and leaned forward. After our bonding session and her teasing me earlier, I saw my way in and kissed her. ” What do you think you are doing?”, she exclaimed as she moved away from me. ” Well, you leaned in and I thought yo..”, I tried to explain myself. I had misread her leaning into her wanting to kiss me but she was leaning in for a hug.

” Well you thought wrong. I only kiss my husband wanzwa? I clearly do not understand how you thoug..”

” Hold on. Husband? Are you married and you had me take you out on a date in broad daylight?”

” No! I mean to say I am, well, I was saving my first kiss for my husband, now I.. mxm actually, please leave.”, she snapped at me as she struggled to unlock the door.

” Wait, aren’t you like 26 and you are telling me you have never kissed anyone?”, I asked her, making sure I was not misunderstanding her.

” Please leave.”

” Wait.”, I insisted, holding the door which she was about to shut in my face. ” Help me understand. You said you were saving your first kiss for your husband. Where is he?”, I could not fathom what she was saying. Was she in an open marriage? Was her husband Jesus? I had so many questions.

She looked at me for what seemed to be the longest time then heavily sighed. ” Ok, the thing is, I made a vow to God that I would wait until marriage to have an intimate physical connection with anyone.”, she said it so confidently and so matter of factly. I do not know why, but I laughed. I had never heard anything like that before. She was one of those girls who would use these tactics to play hard to get, I thought. She sneered and before I could explain myself, she slammed the door in my face. I knocked but I was reassured this was how the night was going to end by the key I heard turning behind the door. I stood outside her door trying to explain myself for a good 10 minutes, but the only response I got was her turning off the light on the porch where I was standing. With that, I knew she was not coming out.

I won’t lie, I was annoyed. The whole trip from Westgate to town, leaving my car on 2nd street and walking all the way to 4th street to get a kombi home to Masasa Park. I remember calling Mazvita to tell her how sensitive and uptight her friend was. ” I know you were trying to help and all, but please do not set me up with any of your friends,” I told her as I stood in the middle of my living room, shouting at the top of my voice. ” Wow, she really did a number on you, huh?”, Mazvita said at the other end of the line. ” She is just, I don’t even know what to say.”. I was not very sure why I was so annoyed by it, was it because she had not played to the beat of my drum or because she was hard to read. I too was a bit confused by how irritated I was by the whole ordeal. I thought of texting her and speaking my mind, but I got a hold of myself. She had clearly made it clear she wanted nothing to do with me, so I also wanted nothing to do with her. ” Ah, so if you don’t want me to set you up with my friends, pasara inini.”, Mazvita cooed on the other end of the line. I barely paid attention to her, my mind was still trying to perceive what had happened earlier. ” Haha, Mazvita so. You know you are like a sister to me, you will always be my girl, but these your friends. Please, no.”

For two months, I went on with my life. I did not try to contact Chipo ask about her whereabouts, but I could not stop thinking about her. I could not stop thinking about her, the images of her smile, free afro, gentile but confident air haunted my mind. I tried to go on dates with other girls, I tried to engage with them but I found them lacking something. They all talked about how they wanted to please their man and do whatever he wanted. What do you like? What are you looking for? I wanted to ask. I stopped going on dates and decided to be the bigger person and text Chipo. Technically, she had told me to leave her house but not her. So I still had a chance there. I had to know why she was still on my mind, even after I had blocked her on all the social media platforms to restrict myself from stalking her.

It was a Saturday morning when I decided to text her. I had nothing planned for the day, so I had all the time to plan out my strategy and see how this would work in my favour. I did a few push-ups and lunges before I texted her, I do not know why, but I felt like I needed to be ready for anything.

Chipo

She blue ticked me and never replied. I spent the day playing Fifa and checking my phone. I decided to be more intentional because I knew texting would not get me anywhere. For all I know, she would have already blocked my number. I decided to go to an Art Exhibition at the Rainbow Towers where Mazvita told me she was showing her art pieces. I saw her standing by one of her pieces, it was a painting of a man, big and strong, his muscled looked as if they were about to pop out of the canvas. He was shielding a woman from what seemed to be a falling building. The woman seemed to be putting a crown on the man’s head. It told a story. She had her hair tied in a huge bun, which I got to learn to do later in the course of our marriage. She had on a white shirt and black cigarette pants that traced every curve and black open-toe sandals. She looked beautiful.

I waited until she had finished her exhibition and when people had displaced. She was packing her things and was not aware of my presence. I stood behind her for a solid 3 minutes, thinking of what to say.

” Need any help?”, I blurted out moving in clear view. She looked up at me and sighed.

” Oh, it’s you. You have come back to laugh at me again?”, she said, shoving the remaining pieces in her carry case. She seemed to have a funny expression on her face, her lips were tight and her eyes opened wide. I could not tell if she was being sarcastic or serious. I did not want to take my chances.

” No, please. Hear me out. I am so sorry for laughing. That was stupid of me. Truly. Let me make it up to you.”, I genuinely meant it. I could not get her out of my mind, I had to know why I was so drawn to her, why a 30-year-old man laid awake in the middle of the night, thinking of what to say to a woman he had only met once.

” And if I say no?”, she said looking at me. She made me nervous, her confidence, it was her confidence and awareness of self that interested me.

” Well, I will keep showing up.”

” You know that is called stalking, right?”, she said, her head tilted slightly. Her responses always left me speechless.

” Ok, will you give me another chance, please. We can go anywhere you want, but let me make it up to you.”

” Hhhhmm, anywhere you say?”, she asked, her arms crossed around her chest, with her index finger tapping her chin.

” Yes, anywhere.”

” Ok, next weekend Sunday you can come to my church.”

” Ok, cool. You go to New Life right?”.

” That is correct.”

” Ok. That will be alright. First service, second or the third one?”

” All of them, I guess.”, she said shrugging. I did not want to protest to the idea of attending to all three services which first started at 7 am, the second at 11 am and the last started at 3 pm. I just nodded my head.

She took her bags and walked closer to me, I straightened up and looked at her. ” Just so you know, I am stretching my hand so we can shake hands. I am not leaning in forward for a kiss, ok?”, she said it with a smile on her face. I laughed as I also stretched my hand to shake her soft hand. I walked her to her car and helped her put her things in her car.

Chipo(Image from Pinterest: Chipo at her exhibition.)

I did not contact her the days prior to our meeting. I arrived around 6:50 and found seats not too close to the pulpit. I texted telling her I had arrived and had saved her a seat. She replied and asked me to look behind the pulpit. I turned my gaze towards the pulpit and I saw her sitting amongst people who wear the same coloured clothes as her. She was in the choir. She smiled and waved at me as she was fixing her microphone, I did the same as I took my Bible off the seat I had reserved for her and placed it on my lap. Well played, I thought to myself. This girl was putting me on a test to see if I was serious or not. She was going to be singing at all three services, which meant I would see her after 5 pm. Challenge accepted, I said to myself. What harm would come from hearing the gospel for the whole day? I sat through the first service quietly, listening to the Pastor who was talking about the joy of the Lord. The second service I pay more attention and even took the time to turn to my neighbour and reassure them, their blessing was around the corner. By the third service, I was standing with the church mothers who hollered “Hallelujah” and ” Hameni” when the pastor prophesied that we were no longer slaves of fear but children of God or that victory was already ours. I had even forgotten about Chipo.

We had an early dinner and talked about the service. I told her about how the church mothers reminded me of my mother who had died of cancer a few years back. How she always stood in the church throughout the service, shouting hallelujahs and amens back to the Pastor throughout the service.

” I am sorry about your mom.”, she said as I walked her to her car after dinner.

” It’s alright. Such is life hey.”, I said. ” Thank you for inviting me to your church. I really enjoyed the service.”

” No problem. You should come again.”, she said as she opened her car door getting in.

” Yeah, sure. Definitely.”, I replied, closing the door for her.

” I guess this is goodnight.”, she said as she started her car.

” Yeah, I guess it is. Goodnight.”, I said, thinking she was going to say something else, but she closed her window and drove off.

I stood in the parking lot dumbfounded. This girl had brought me to the church, which I enjoyed, but she had barely said anything in regards to us. I knew there was not much but just leaving me hanging like that was just cruel. As I was walking to my car, I heard a car slowing down beside me.

” Hey.” It was Chipo. She had driven back after driving off a couple of minutes ago.

” Hey.”, I responded, not sure what to say.

” Are you free next Saturday? I have an exhibition at the Meikles Hotel, and I would love it if you come.”, she said looking out her window. I was still walking but a bit slower now. I tried to come up with quick quip to make her laugh, but I could not think of any.

” I would love that.”, I responded.

” I would love that too.”, she said then slowly drove by me to my car. We bid each other goodbye, both in our cars. And from that day, it was smooth sailing.

I will not lie, we had our ups and downs. I remember the other day when she annoyed me. I am a person who hardly holds grudges, but I knew I would not be as lucky again and have her suck up to me. So I took the chance and faked being angry with her. I won’t lie, it was hard waiting that long to reply to her. I wanted to talk to her and text her all day, but I had to stand my ground. It was my time to shine.

Chipo and Tonderai

I know it was petty, but I saw my chance and grabbed it. We would later laugh about it when I told her.

We courted for 8 months before I proposed. If I am being frank, I took that long because I did not want it to seem as if I was rushing her, but I had been ready from the time we went on our third day. We would go out every Saturday night after her choir practise. We met each other’s friends and families. We spent most of our time with our friends, but Friday night was our day. After our 9-5’s, we would meet and chose a restaurant to go to or watch a movie. At times, we made plans on Saturdays and would drive to any direction and just explored the country. We made sure not to spend too much time alone. The day I asked her to be my girlfriend, she had told me we better not do anything sexual because she was more afraid of disobeying God than losing me. She made sure I knew her deal breakers and I told her mine. She told me if I cheated there would be no talking or reconciliation. Me betraying her like that, simply meant she did not mean as much to me. I knew she meant it and I believed her.

The day I proposed, we were at her house where she was putting the final touches to her art piece. I had overheard her tell her friends she did not want an extravagant but spontaneous proposal. ” I wouldn’t mind being proposed to on a Tuesday at 14:39 or something. I just want it to be me and my future husband, take in the moment of the new chapter and savour it.” So that is what I did. She always listened to 90’s R ‘n’ B when she worked, so that day I made a playlist which included all her favourites, Kci and Jojo, Boys II Men, Joe Thomas, Donell Jones and all the men and women who made us believe in love. She sang along, sitting on her stool, darting different colours on her canvas. I was waiting for Joe Thomas’ No one else come close to play so I could propose. She had been used to wearing headphones when she worked, but I had hidden them, so she listened to the music on the speaker.

Chipo and Tonderai(Image from Pinterest: Chipo doing her art.)

I knelt behind her with the ring in my hand. I was so nervous I did not say anything to her or called her to turn around. I kept repeating the song, she sang along as always, until it repeated again for the 6th time.

” Hezvo, what kind of shuffle is this?”, she shouted, thinking I was busy on my Play Station. I remained glued kneeling on the floor. ” Baaaabe.”, she called but I kept quiet, still kneeling, hoping she would turn around soon because my knee was giving way. ” Baabe!”, she shouted again. ” Where is this fine man of mine?”, she said under her breath as she turned, facing me. She froze when she saw me on one knee. She had that look on her face, eyes open wide, stone-faced and holding her breath.

” Chipo, you have been someone I never thought I wanted but someone I definitely needed. You challenge and push me in so many different ways and I-I want that to be the rhythm for the rest of my life. Please, will you make me the happiest man on a Tuesday at 14:39 and marry me?”, I was nervous, I looked down at the ring and extend my hand to ask for hers. ” About time!”, she said as she jumped on me. I dropped the ring as she jumped into my arms. We both fell on the floor as my knee gave way. We stayed on the floor and laughed. ” I am going to need you to say it before you trick me out of it.”, I remarked as I gazed into her eyes. ” Hhhmmm, say what?”, she responded smiling. ” Oh, you are no getting away with this one.” , I laughed, reaching my hands towards her and started tickling her. ” YES!”, she bellowed as I tickled her. ” Thank you! Was that so hard to say?”, I asked as I sat up to look for the ring. ” I love you Tonderai.”, she said as she grinned moving towards me and knelt in front of me. ” And I love you Chipo.” She leaned over and kissed my forehead, I took her hands and kissed them. ” Now, help me look for your ring before I demote you to girlfriend again.” We laughed as we scurried the floor for my mother’s ring which would now be hers.

Most people talk about the three-year itch but never the one year glitch after marriage. We were just off. We were like roommates who shared a bed and the last name. We were not fighting but we never talked. We could not explain what it was, but it seemed there was a dark cloud over us. I no longer woke her up with kisses and made her late for woke with the long showers we took. She no longer waited for me to get home from work, opening the door wearing only lingerie. We became strangers and barely spoke. We were in a mundane place. We both yearned for each other but no one knew how to initiate the conversation or make the first move. She began to paint more and spent most of the day in her in-house studio. I started working late more and that is how it started. Her name was Tsungai and she was my secretary. She reminded me of the Chipo I fell for, the Chipo who never missed a chance to make a joke and leave me speechless. For 3 months, I emotionally cheated on Chipo with Tsungai. I had become bothered about Chipo, she appeared to be more forgetful, disoriented and always complained of being tired. She would spend the whole day in bed and would not be aware of the time or date when she woke up.

Chipo(Image from Pinterest: Chipo.)

One day when I came from work, I decided to tell her about Tsungai. I had meant to tell her sooner, but there was never the right moment. She looked at me for a long time, I saw the disappointment in her eyes and I began to cry. ” Why?”, was the only word that came out of her mouth.

” Chipo, I love you ver..”, I belted, walking towards her. She had grown thinner than I remembered.

” No. That is not what I asked you. Ndati why?”, she snapped, walking away from me.

” Baby, we were not talking or anything. I was lonely and I-I am so sorry.”, I begged. I was disgusted by myself. How had I got here? How had I become the person who would hurt the person I vowed to protect.

” So you were lonely and decided to get attention elsewhere? Do you think I wasn’t lonely too? You think I didn’t miss you and yearned for you?”, she said stand further from me.

” Chipo, I ended it and we can work this out. We can work on us.”, I pleaded, I felt my eyes stinging. I was going to lose my wife.

” Tonderai, you remember 2 years ago when you asked me to be your girlfriend? What did I tell you?”, she asked me sternly.

” Chipo please, we are marrie-..”

” So, do you think us being married will make this invalid?”

I do not know why I brought our marital status up, but it made sense at that moment. She began to cry. I wanted to hold her but I knew I was the last person she wanted to be close to. She began to sob so hard I felt my heart ache. I felt helpless and the only thing I could think of was to get her a glass of water. I hate myself for this part because when I came back, she was lying on the floor unconscious. I ran over to her and shook her. She did not wake up. Knowing the terrible medical service here, I did not bother calling the ambulance but I carried her to my car and drove her to the hospital. I shouted for help as I got through the hospital doors, with her lying limp in my arms. The nurses took her from my arms and laid her on a stretcher which they wheeled on a room I was not allowed to enter. I stayed in the waiting area pacing up and down, I was confused and afraid. Was I going to lose her twice? I had caused all this and killed the woman I love.

” Mr Tonderai Moyo?”, a man wearing a white coat called as he approached the waiting area.

” Yes!”, I jounced as he turned towards me.

” Yeah, uhm, your wife is conscious now and we have made her comfortable. However, I am afraid her tumour has advanced and is inoperable. We would suggest you prepar..”

” Wait. What tumour?” Had he mixed up his patience or were there 2 Chipo Moyo’s? It made no sense because Chipo had never informed me or, no, she would never hide something this big from me.

” Yes, sir. I am afraid she does not have long. On our last appointment, we had suggested treatment but her tumour seems to be growing quicker than we expected.”, he explained it so calmly, I wanted to shake him so he would see how this made no sense to me.

” Appointment? Wait, whe- when was this?”

” The appointment? Uhm, about 2 months ago. She had declined treatment anyway. She said something about everything falling apart and being betrayed. We believe she was talking her brain betraying her but we cou..”.

” She knew!” She had known about Tsungai but never once did she mention or say anything. But why?

” If you would like to see her, I can take you to her room now.”, he said gesturing his hand to lead me to her room. Everything felt louder and brighter. How was I going to face her now? I had cheated on my wife when she needed me the most. How could I not tell she was sick? Her sleeping too much, being a bit disoriented and fatigued, was not because she was in a “rut”, my wife was suffering from a tumour and her beautiful mind that I had fallen for and loved so very much, was wasting away.

When I got to her room, I saw her holding a clump of her hair. She was cutting it off and putting it in a bag that was on her lap. I softly knocked on the door, she looked up, looked at me and continued cutting her hair. I walked into the room whose smell brought bad memories I had fought to stash at the back of my mind. Each tube that was connected to her and the white covers that shielded her now bony frame, took me back to 10 years ago when I lost my mother to cancer. My initial instinct was to run away and leave the building, not because of her, but the building I had avoided for as long as I can remember. I gathered all the courage I could scurry for in my being and walked in. I did not know if I should sit or stand, which she probably did not take notice of because she was looking at her self in a hand mirror. I stood beside her but she ignored me. So I knelt beside her bed and reached for her hand. She pushed me away.

” W-why didn’t you tell me?”, I asked her, my eyes itching with tears again. She looked different, her big bright eyes were now hollowed, her once bountiful flesh I loved to touch each morning, had been replaced by a bony frame I could not recognise. And her hair, the hair I loved to run my hands through when I kissed her, was no more. Only patches and bald spots. I wept.

” Would you have stopped cheating?”, she asked me so calmly. I could not read if she was angry or not. She tied the bag with the hair and handed it to the nurse.

” I am sorry, I- I am so sor-. Tell me how I can fix this, please.”, I begged her, kneeling beside her. I was not doing this to manipulate or try and have her to forgive me. I meant it with every ounce of my being.

” I am dying, Tonderai. What is there to fix?”, her demeanour was so calm whilst I was in shambles. I did not want her to bear my mistak-, choice but I am sure it played a part in her tumour growing so fast.

” I am sorry. I didn’t know you were so sic-“

” Please don’t.”

” Are you going to leave me? I understand if you do because I do not deserve y-.”

” I am dying Tonderai. Whether I stay or leave, I am dying.” Each time she said dying, my heart dropped. It was dawning on me that I was losing my wife. I was going to lose the person who had been by my side and who had taught me so much. I was going to lose her twice, first as a wife and eternally. She laid on the bed and switch off the light in the room. I was still kneeling beside her. She turned and faced the wall.

” Can I stay with you here?”

She did not reply, but I stayed. I brought the chair next to the bed and sat there. Staring at her and watching her chest go up and down slowly. When she started snoring softly like she always did when deep in sleep, I reached for her hand and touched it. I looked at the veins that ran across it and I noticed she no longer wore her wedding ring. How had I missed that?

I took in every inch of her face, the chocolate skin that masked her body, the once long and bouncy curls that were now patches on her oval shaped head. I traced her nose which I used to kiss each morning before she woke up, the full lips which produced malicious words when her brilliant brain could not solve a problem or when I could not understand what she meant, even after explaining it to me numerous times. The lips I loved to kiss, the lips that uttered I love you first before I was ready to say it.

They say you never miss a good thing till its gone, but what do you do when it is within reach but you can not have it back? I looked at her breathing softly, connected to different tubes and barely looking like herself. I had so many things I wanted to say, so many wrongs I wanted to make right. I believed her when she said if I cheated there would be no talking or reconciliation, which is why I was not surprised when the nurse woke me up a few hours later and told me my wife was dead.

The end.