Bleeding stories of the abuse of women were a torture to Tsimba’s conscience, especially as they were accompanied by pictures and videos

 

By Nhamo Muchagumisa

 

When his employer told him that there was going to be workshops on gender issues in relation to the workplace, Tsimba realised that the time to treat gender related issues as a transient wind had expired. Mr Rude had always treated gender issues with disdain, saying the whole thing sprang from the “misguided” school of feminism.

“You know Elina, sweetheart, I am going to be attending workshops on gender issues from Monday next week to Friday,” Tsimba told his wife as he slumped into a sofa after a tiring workday.

“You will find the workshops enlightening Dear,” Elina responded, excited.

“I beg to differ, but I assure you I am going to enjoy the free food and beverages. Most of all it will be five days off duty.”

Elina stood up from where she was sitting and walked across the carpet and planted herself next to him. She presented him with the hand that wore his ring and he did the same and the contact of their rings seemed to be a ritual that transported husband and wife into a world in which they would forever be young.

For a few moments they sat quietly oblivious of the TV in front of them, lost in the realm of love without words, love free of the sweet and tender lies of the shameless tongue.

Elina finally spoke. “You do not know how every married woman treasures the title she acquires after the exchange of matrimonial vows. Just being called Mrs X or Mrs Y is a great pride to a woman.” Elina paused.

“Go on, I am listening,” Tsimba said, recovering from the magic of their wordless communication.

“After the five day workshop, you will see more value in me and in our relationship than you do now. You will learn to enjoy the role of being a daughter’s father than you do today,” Elina continued, thinking of their daughter’s fourth birthday two days away.

 

 

 

 

Bleeding stories of the abuse of women were a torture to Tsimba’s conscience, especially as they were accompanied by pictures and videos. At the end of the first session of the series of workshops, Tsimba vowed that he would ever be a good husband and father.

Throughout the week, he gave his wife detailed feedback of the lessons men still had to learn.

It was only on the fifth day that the chief facilitator treated his audience to a tiny story that he thought had gained great magnitude in the narrative of gender abuse.

The facilitator distributed coloured photocopies of a story that he felt had touched him more than the rest of the stories he had shared with his audience.

The story was of a sixteen year old girl whose widowed mother had saved her from gender based abuse.

She had been suspended from school after winning a dubious beauty contest, even though the contest had been held during the school holidays. The school authorities viewed the celebrity that she had become as a dangerous influence to other girl children.

Her mother had contested her suspension in court, with the help of a human rights lawyer and the school had lost the case.

“So you see how society can be unfair to the girl child,” the facilitator had said after his audience had read the story.

 

 

 

 

But Tsimba’s face was burning. How could Elina be involved in such a vice? The sight of her pictures, wearing clothes that scantily covered her body infuriated him. The beauty pageant was dubbed “The Face of Tomorrow”, but it was more about parading the nudity of girls than the charm of their faces. Elina had won the title and had collected a fortune in cash and kind.

When he arrived back home, Tsimba got into the house through the kitchen door. He passed Elina silently as she stood in the kitchen, preparing the evening meal. This was unlike him, Elina thought. Whenever the first thing that greeted him back home was her presence in the kitchen, he would hold her until she complained, “Hey, set me free. My pot is burning.”

Elina switched off the electric stove, left the kitchen and walked into the sitting room. Tsimba was not there. She proceeded to the bedroom, the tapping of her heels on the tiles echoing ominously in the ceiling of the mansion.

When she came to the bedroom door, she noticed that it was locked. She passed by Priscila’s room and saw her sitting on her bed, playing games on the computer. Had it not been for her daughter, she would have stopped preparing the evening meal.

Tsimba never opened the door for his woman that night, so she had to move in with Priscila. He spent the whole night seriously considering how he would confront her about The Face of Tomorrow scandal. The whole thing had, like a colossal smudge, blotted out any affection he had felt for her.

He tried to search his heart for any traces of the strong emotional attachment he had nursed for her and found none.

Tsimba did not go to work on a Saturday, but he left early in the morning before Elina was up. He left a copy of the Face of Tomorrow news story on his bed. On his return home, the photo was no longer on the bed and he also noticed a change in his woman’s mood. The cheerfulness and the radiance of her face had drained away, leaving behind a tormented visage, that was a far cry from the face of tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

Five months down the line, Tsimba and his wife had come to terms with the new order of things in their life, paying very little attention to each other’s presence. Tsimba never asked Elina about her participation in the Face of Tomorrow Contest. What difference would it make? Her explanation would not rekindle a dead flame.

He had met someone new after all. He had not yet said the love word to her, but the word had already formed in his heart, and in iridescent colours. Something seemed to be holding the word back, yet he spent hours with her on WhatsApp.

When he was finally able to type the word, he wondered how simple it had turned out to be, and how he realised that Lucy had kept her sweet reply at the tip of her thumb.

The very day Lucy had confirmed that they had fallen into the same orbit, Elina brought some great news from Sakubva District Hospital where she was a nurse.

“Tsimba Dear…” she started. She had not addressed him in that way for a long while and Tsimba felt the scales of his now habitual insensitivity falling from his body.

“I have excelled in my duties at work and I have been nominated to go and study for a degree in Advanced Nursing Science in the UK,” she continued.

“Great!” Tsimba forced himself to say.

“So in a month’s time I may be going.”

“Too early,” Tsimba said, digging into the Face of Tomorrow behind her current tortured face that had not smiled in six months.

 

 

 

 

Now that she was going, Tsimba began to weigh the magnitude of the loss ahead. Once again, she was the treasure he had vowed to keep as a pearl from the deepest sea. The chat with Lucy ceased to be a delight afterwards. He even ignored most of her messages.

Wishing he could plead with Elina not to go to the UK, Tsimba felt his world crumbling. Something, however, seemed to tell him that Elina had not yet fully made up her mind, yet the time for her departure was approaching fast.

A week before the day marked for her departure, she brought home more great news.

“Tsimba Dear…” Tsimba’s heart missed a bit and a half.

“I don’t think I can afford to be away from my mother for two or more years. You know how her health is deteriorating,” she said.

“So are you giving up the programme?”

“There is also an option to do it virtually,” she explained, so I will be mounting my study centre in this house with effect from next week.”

Tsimba stood up and walked across the carpet towards her sofa, raised her by the right hand and drew her into his arms.

“Just tell me that I am the other reason why you have decided not to go,” he pleaded with her.

She said nothing, but he sensed something within her that had not died from the night he had locked her out, something she was never willing to hold back from him.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twitter:@realdigitalnews
Facebook: Zimbabwe Digital News


Zimbabwe Digital News

Contact: (+27) 834767918
See News Differently
Facebook: Zimbabwe Digital News

Twitter: @realdigitalnews