When the long-awaited message from David finally found her WhatsApp inbox, her reply was a laconic “Love you too”
By Nhamo Muchagumisa
There was a bitter taste in Wanga’s mouth, as if she had received dosages of bile for the past seven days. She had spat countless times in the twenty-litre bucket next to her pillow, but the unpleasant taste would not go. She had rinsed her mouth three times with Colgate toothpaste and litres of freshwater, but the foul taste stayed.
Sleep, the proverbial season of all natures, vacuumed away from her orbit. As if being awake into the other side of midnight was not hellish enough, her head was throbbing agonisingly, as if someone was pounding corn with a pestle and mortar in there.
Wanga had just lost the Miss Colleges pageant, held at her school and regarded her loss as the greatest humiliation of her life. She had not even featured among the fifteen finalists, and she wondered if there had been conspiracy to shoot her down as she was undoubtedly the Helen of Mutare Teachers’ College.
The pageant flame she had lit in her life and allowed to burn within her ever since she had started high school was now burning her alive, consuming her whole being, like a sacred fire burning the carcass of a burnt offering on the altar of her bed.
Tears spouted from her swollen eyes, pumped from her tortured skull as her mind rewound on the events of the contest. Her paces on the stage had been received with thunderous applause. Throughout her performance, the College Hall was a conflagration of camera flashes.
Her responses to the adjudicators’ questions were out of the ordinary, driving the spectators cum audience into torrents of ecstasy.
“What in your view is the difference between femininity and gender?” went one question.
“Femininity is God given, a gift every female person must treasure.
Femininity gave meaning to Adam’s masculinity, while on the other hand, gender is a human construction that often undermines the beauty of biological opposition entrenched in femininity and masculinity,” she had responded without pausing a second to think.
Even the devil was a miracle worker. Surely, it was not through God’s miraculous involvement that she had lost the contest.
The discomfort of her drenched pillow seeped into Wanga’s brain matter. She had to replace it with a dry one. She rolled from her bed to collect a spare pillow from her locker. All her joints were aching as if her body had been exposed to a series of electric shocks.
Wanga had not always been a loser. A fortnight ago, before the winds of fortune had betrayed her, she had won the provincial public speaking contest in which the two teachers’ colleges in Manicaland, as well as Mutare Polytechnic, Africa University, Manicaland State University and Forestry Industries Training Centre had sent participants.
She was due to participate in the national contest coming in six weeks time. Her humiliation had left her dispirited and she had made up her mind not to participate in the forthcoming contest.
The mirror was a great liar, Wanga thought, as more salty water drained into the dryness of her spare pillow. Her life size reflection in her wardrobe mirror told her how mesmeric she was from toe to temple. Wanga wondered if the mirror was such a despicable liar or an unexplainable blindness had struck the judges during her performance.
As the days passed Wanga began to find delight in her studies. She had closed the chapter on beauty pageants and would occasionally revisit it only through reminiscing, but had cancelled deliberate involvement. This decision made, her smile returned to her face.
Whenever her reflection smiled back at her, she would say, “I am in love with myself.”
Three weeks after, the College Hall disaster, something unforeseen happened, which Wanga at first thought was a piece of romantic treachery. A certain young man drove into the college on a Saturday morning and sent for her.
“Wangawaitei Mushava!” went the young man’s excited salutation. “I think we have met somewhere,” Wanga tried to remember. “In the College Hall. My name is David Nemapari.”
On hearing his name, Wanga felt like slapping the handsome young man across the face with the open palm of her hand. He was one of the adjudicators! But that feeling began to subside, as she awaited what David was going to say.
David requested Wanga to take him to the College Sports fields, away from the inquisitive eyes of the guards at the main entrance and Wanga’s fellow students, mingling and mixing in the open to pass the time.
They sat on a concrete bench facing the empty soccer pitch, under a colossal flamboyant tree. A silent conversation ensued. What David was saying in his silence echoed in Wanga’s mind.
On the other hand, David could read into Wanga’s great puzzlement, as to why the man who had played a part in her humiliation could be emotionally attracted to her.
David finally spoke. “I have confessed my love for you to myself long enough, and I feel that it is time my confession finds your heart,” David said without stumbling over a word.
“This is sweet madness. If you were one of the judges, you are asking for an improper association with me,” Wanga protested.
“You know Wanga, my Dear, we complicate relationships by creating terms that make the most ideal relationships impossible,” David said, “Yes I was one of the judges for an event that is now history. I was not even supposed to be judge. I was standing for my immediate supervisor who had gone on sick leave.”
The two would-be lovers learnt a few things about each other. David was, human resources officer with Fairfield Agricultural Engineering, one of the upcoming business entities in Mutare, while Wanga was an English Language and Literature in English Major in her final college year.
Wanga and David exchanged phone numbers, Wanga hoping that David would forget about her as soon as he settled down to work on the coming Monday, but as David drove out of the college premises, she felt her heart being dragged under the wheels of his red car.
Wanga then started engaging in a serious task, to drive David out of her mind, but David stubbornly remained foregrounded in her thoughts.
When there was no word from David that day and two more days to come, Wanga was angry with David for killing her plan to torture David with negative responses, until he ran short of his clever expressions that had made her think that David had held a full rehearsal of his first direct encounter with her.
When the long-awaited message from David finally found her WhatsApp inbox, her reply was a laconic “Love you too.”
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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