A white cloud, the size of a bedsheet, broke surface and soared into the sky

 

 

By Nhamo Muchagumisa

 

Ruvarashe sat on a stone at the edge of the pool. She was patiently waiting for the prophet and his team of spiritual leaders. The moon was high in the sky, so the fear of the night was not that severe. It was normal for such people not to be at an appointed place in time because they were always ministering to people’s spiritual needs.

The calm whisper of the wind finding its way through the leaves and twigs of tall trees was to her like the breath of angels.

Before her eyes stretched the pool in whose depths she would be cleansed of the curses that had troubled her life since the arrival and hasty incineration of her stillborn baby.

Suddenly, the gentle wind held its breath as the noise of the footfalls of a heavily built man rocked Ruva’s eardrums.

Why should it be one man coming? Before she could turn around to look in the direction of the noise, there was a commotion on the surface of the pool.

 

 

A white cloud, the size of a bedsheet, broke surface and soared into the sky. Ruva suppressed a scream or was it shortness of breath that made her vocal cords fail to articulate the noise? The spectra floated three metres above the pool. Ruva tried to blink it away, but the result spelt more horror for her beholding eyes.

The cotton white object transformed into a sheet of red flames and red embers were falling from it, plunging into the pool. What an eerie sight!

The peculiar sight dwindled in size as the red embers fell from its body into the quenching water below. As the last ember hit the wetness that had swallowed the rest, a sudden shadow blinded the moon and Ruva’s eyes shot open She was lying in her bed, gasping for breath.

For how long was the pool going to trouble her nights? Should she look for another prophet to exorcise her life of demons of the night?

It was a few minutes past midnight and Sakubva was quieter than usual.

It was a few days before her wedding ceremony. The pool had returned to her dreams as soon as she had been given for marriage to Takavada Endainashe.

 

 

She had made a bold decision to break new ground on the kaleidoscope of social life and she vowed that her experience at the pool with Prophet Gwande, and its subsequent recurrence in her dreams would not deter her anymore.

She was twenty-eight and Taka was twenty-six, which a lot of people would feel it should have been the reverse. But for someone whom fate had trapped in the past, it was the best that would bring the desired change, and Ruva’s strong emotional attachment to Taka was good enough for her to feel that she was doing the right thing.

A supposedly harmless error eleven years earlier had found her belly bulging with a baby whose father would never be there for his child.

The man who had stolen her youthful innocence had skipped the border into South Africa, and as Ruvarashe was still trying to learn the meaning of betrayal, she had learnt that Hurushe had been burnt to death in a ring of tyres after being caught in bed with a married South African woman.

She was nearly nine months pregnant when the horror of his death reached her ears. She had not realised how much she still loved him until she learnt about his gruesome death.

Her blood pressure escalated and she started experiencing nasal bleeding.

Her mother was traumatised, but the depth of Ruva’s incapaciation would not allow her to see it.

 

 

The torment of the sight of burning tyres and the smell of roasting human flesh brought terror to her dreams. When she got into labour, she could hardly breathe. The doctor could not perform a caesarian section on her which might have killed the mother and saved the baby, whose father had been burnt to ashes.

The baby finally came out, still warm for the medical personnel to learn that they would have saved its life if their mercies had not preferred its mother.

Unlike Oliver Twist’s mother, Ruvarashe could not ask to see the baby as she drifted into a comatose soon after bringing it out. Again unlike Oliver’s mother, she did not die.

Her restless nights made her parents send her to dwell with her aunt who lived at the foot of Rimiti Mountain, 60 kilometres from Mutare on the Masvingo highway, and half a kilometre from the bank of Mushamhuru River.

She was apostolic who believed in exorcism and she introduced Ruva to the prophets of her church. The prophets’ prayers were very helpful to Ruvarashe as she regained her physical health. The beauty that had vanished from her sapped body returned as her body cells regained their turgidity.

Then came Prophet Gwande, who began to prophesy about Ruva’s marital prospects. He had just joined the congregation from another sect of the church in Bocha, about ten kilometres away. Ruva listened to him with all the respect his predictions deserved.

All along Ruva had sought deliverance from the horrors of the night, but now that peace had returned to her sleep, the prophecy about marriage could not come at a better time.

Ruva allowed her mind to navigate the future, scanning the extensive horizons for her would be lifetime partner. Hurushe’s image disappeared completely from her mind, but at times the picture of the baby that was taken to the incinerator while she was in a coma troubled her.

 

 

Rituals were carried out on Ruva, whose social life was on the mend, including seven consecutive water baths in Mushamhuru River, accompanied by prayers and laying of hands by spiritual leaders. Then finally the respectable prophet from Bocha told her that she needed a night bath to complete the rituals.

She believed him.

The prophet promised to bring seven other members of the church to the usual pool. Ruva did not pause to consider why the appointed meeting was to take place while her aunt and the rest of the family was away.

She just left at 8pm, telling no one where she was going as her problems should not always be a public concern.

When she came to the pool, there was no one. The girl waited patiently as the night grew older. Prophet Gwande arrived after 10 pm, his white garment shining in the moonlight.

After exchanging greetings, Ruva asked, “Why have you come alone?” “Does it make a difference?” the prophet replied in a now I have got you tone. “I have to go back home right now. I don’t feel this is right,” Ruva said. “We are wasting time. We must strip and get into the water, ” the prophet said.

Ruva started walking away, but the prophet got hold of her and drew her body towards his. Ruva struck him in the face with a clenched fist.

Prophet Gwande did not allow himself to feel the pain and started tearing Ruva’s clothes off her body, but the girl planted her teeth into the wrist of her abuser’s right hand, breaking the nerves the muscles and the veins with her teeth.

Prophet Gwande groaned, but no mercy was coming his way. The sour test of the prophet’s blood filled Ruva’s mouth.

When she thought she had incapacitated him, Ruva unplugged her teeth, and with as much swiftness as she could muster, Ruva struck the prophet in the face again and gave him a mighty shove in the direction of the pool. The prophet plunged into the cold water and Ruva walked away without turning to check what was happening to Prophet Gwande.

Prophet Gwande went missing for three days, until his body was found floating in the water. When the police ruled that his death should have been an accident, the church concluded that Prophet Gwande’s angel had taken him.

Now six years down the line, Ruva had found someone to take her hand in holy matrimony, dreams of the pool had turned her nights into horror movies. She hardly slept more than an hour in a single night.

 

 

The nuptials were signed, and Ruva made her first nocturnal visit to the pool as Mrs Endainashe. Her body quaked as the temperature of the night plummeted. Once again there was chaos in the pool and a white dove emerged from the water, opened its wings, and flew in her direction.

Suddenly, she was awake and searched her bed for Taka’s presence, but there was no one on his side of the bed. She rolled out of bed and walked two paces towards the window, parted the curtains and looked outside. The sun was high in the sky.

Taka walked into the room and drew her into his arms.

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: muchagumisan@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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