Spending the night alone, and facing it out with the dead beast
By Nhamo Muchagumisa
A dead bull lay on Mrs Murezvi’s doorstep and the entire neighbourhood had thronged her yard to witness the spectacle. Her yard was ablaze with camera flashes. She knew that pictures of the bull and herself would be splashed on the front page of the provincial weekly tabloid.
She wondered who had invited officials from the press and as she waited for the elusive answer, she could hear many people talking on their mobile phones.
She nearly dropped dead with fury.
She had woken up at five as usual to carry out her domestic chores, preparing to leave for work in the process. As she staggered into the verandah porch, the presence of the black bull greeted her eyes, its black velvet coat dazzling under the illumination of the tower light that stood majestically a couple of yards from her house.
She had stood motionless, bewildered by the presence of the dead bull, weird thoughts reeling in her head. She stared at the bull’s dead eyes and the eyes stared back. She could hear the noise of her thundering heart in her ears.
Her legs trembled and a burning sensation rose from the pit of her stomach, up to her chest. She wanted to scream, but a sudden dryness in her throat rendered her effort futile.
Then suddenly, the yard gate flew open and more people poured into her yard. They were talking excitedly about the spectacle. Mrs Murezvi finally found her voice, “Who invited you here? Why do you trespass into my private property?” No one heard her and the crowd continued to swell.
The camera flashes continued, transforming the place into an inferno. Suddenly, the air was invaded by sirens, and for the first time, Mrs Murezvi wished her husband was with her. As if in response to her vain wish, two mascular men, shouldering video cameras appeared on the scene.
Someone pierced Mrs Murezvi’s side with an elbow and her eyelids flew open. She was lying on her back in her usual bed. Chawagona was lying next to her. Her night gown stuck unpleasantly on her perspiring body. “You have been screaming for quite a long while Nosta. Is anything wrong?” Chawagona asked.
“I was having a terrible nightmare, “ Mrs Murezvi replied, wondering if she should tell him about the dream.
“Tell me, what did you see in your dream?”
Mrs Murezvi struggled to a sitting position and covered her eyes with the palms of her hands to block the tears that were gushing from their sockets.
It was not her first nightmare since she had heard about Murezvi’s death two months before, but none of her earlier nightmares had been as horrible as this one. She even dreaded to go outside, although it was almost daylight, fearing that the black bull that had visited her dreams would suddenly materialise.
Taking a deep breath , she began to narrate her paranormal ordeal to Chawagona. Chawa listened attentively, taking in every detail as if his life depended on it.
“Yes, it is a strange dream, but a dream is only but a dream,” Chawa said reassuringly, his suppressed voice betraying a lack of confidence in his explanation.
Chawa left Nosta’s bedroom to take a bath. Mrs Murezvi drew a second deep breath into her lungs. The smell of urine jetted into her chest.
She suddenly sensed the warm wetness under her. She was disgusted. Had Chawa noticed this?
Mrs Murezvi had kept custody of her children when her marriage had hit the rocks. The two boys were now in their teens and were learning in boarding schools. She was living with her housemaid who occupied the servants quarters.
The Murezvis had shared their property equitably as the law court had prescribed, but there was a special condition on the court order, that made Mrs Murezvi emerge victorious from the rubble of a failed marriage.
Murezvi had to leave the matrimonial home and seek alternative accommodation.
He had relocated to the capital city, changing jobs in the process. The law had not barred Murezvi from visiting his children, but he had to obtain clearance from the court first before visiting the children at home or away. A bitter Murezvi had complied with the court order.
Mrs Murezvi reflected on the events that had led to the collapse of her marriage. She remembered her estranged husband staring at her like a demon from the hottest part of hell, demanding to know why she always arrived home after 8 pm, while her work day ended at 4pm.
Such treatment was not proper for a lady who cherished her autonomy. Somehow, there was something in the dead bull’s staring eyes that resembled Murezvi’s, she suddenly remembered and her body quaked.
Murezvi had resorted to the use of force to tame his errant wife, while Mrs Murezvi sought the intervention of the law to win freedom from an abusive husband. The open palm of his hand had landed heavily on her face several times until Nosta felt that she could not stand it anymore.
She had no option, but to file for divorce. When divorce was finally granted, she walked out of court with her head held high, while Murezvi walked out with a limping ego.
Suddenly, there was a bellowing noise in the ceiling, and Mrs Murezvi reemerged from her reverie.She was perplexed. Was she dreaming again? A sudden stiffness took possession of her muscles and sweat poured out from every pore on her skin.
Chawagona saved her from the encroaching disaster when he suddenly reentered the room. An ashen heap, sitting in bed, Mrs Murezvi looked like a starving witch.
“Have you heard the noise?” she aked her lover.
“What noise?” Chawagona was puzzled.
“Didn’t you hear a bellowing sound in the ceiling?”
“No,” Chawagona was mystified.
It was Nosta’s turn to take a shower, but she felt too frail to go to work. She would phone her employer and tell him that she was ill.
Meanwhile, she watched Chawagona dressing , picking the items one by one from the wardrobe. When he was through, he cleaned her wardrobe of the remainder of his clothes and packed them in his briefcase.
“I will not go to work today honey, “ she told him as she accompanied him outside, “I need a day’s rest. I will phone my employer and tell him that I am not feeling well. He will understand.”
Mrs Murezvi watched Chawa closely as he sat behind the wheel of his car. Something seemed to tell her that he would never come back again.
Chawa started the engine as Mrs Murezvi opened the gate for him, then he drove slowly out of the yard, then picked up speed once he was outside the yard.
Nosta watched the car with pain as it rounded the suburban houses, until it disappeared from sight. For a long while she watched the direction Chawa had taken, as if she expected the car to suddenly reappear, but the image of the car slowly faded from her mind, as the picture of a dead black bull took over.
As she turned to look at her house, Mrs Murezvi felt certain that she had lost her nineth boyfriend. Tonight she would be all alone to face it out with the dead beast.
Nhamo Muchagumisa is an English Language and Literature teacher, and he writes from Odzi. He writes in his own capacity and can be contacted on +263777460162. Email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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