The splashes of water from the puddles under their feet sounding like the noises of departed spirits trailing them
By Nhamo Muchagumisa
Chide realised that his death agony was going to last longer than he had thought. The trickles of blood oozing from his chest spelt out the certainty of his settling demise, yet it hung above him like a heavy, dry cloud, ready to sweep his soul away once his lungs released his last breath.
The last breath was long in its coming. Every breath of his that had felt like the last breath gave way to another painful breath and then another, as if the whole process would outlive the life he had lived until this point.
Somehow, the pain in his chest burnt like the love he had felt for Angelina. The sweet death he had signed for had come his way in morsels of her company and crumbs of her embraces and kisses. Tonight she had brought him death’s final moment by acting as its torch bearer.
Their illicit relationship had spanned four months, its blessings like a smiling angel’s face floating before him whenever he was not in her company, its pleasures transporting him to the moon and back when he was in the hold of her arms.
They had started burning the candle of love when they had travelled together from Premier Gold Deposits near Penhalonga to Chidahuyo in Mutasa District. She had gone to sell some food items to artsinal miners at the gold deposits, but ended up returning home without having sold much. Her husband who was a miner at the same place had beaten her up and told her to go back home, suspecting that she was getting customers in droves because of her seductive appeal.
“If you remain another two days in this depraved place, you will end up being the mother of every tent. How can I work and monitor you at the same time?” her jealous husband had said.
Angelina had incurred a heavy loss because some of the things she had brought for sale were perishables. She had to leave most of the things with her husband.
By chance, Chide was also travelling back home to Nyakatsapa, having made a little fortune at the same gold deposits. They had boarded an unregistered commuter taxi at Old Mutare Mission.
Angelina’s experience had upset Chide, but he did not allow it to infect his thoughts. After all, Angelina’s predicament was one example among thousands of crazy or bizarre examples.
A police roadblock complicated matters for Chide and Angelina. Just after Rwatsumbu, the vehicle he was travelling in was stopped by armed police officers. The officers ordered the passengers to alight at once. The driver was fined for operating an unregistered taxi and violating Covid-19 regulations.
Now, Chide had to walk the ten odd kilometres from Rwatsumbu to Nyakatsapa. It was already after 6 pm. “No need to walk fast,” Chide told himself, “after all there is no woman waiting for me.”
Thoughts of the curses of his life flooded his mind. The false sense of resignation evaporated from his thoughts and memories of how one year ago, his marriage had fallen on the rocks started playing in his mind. His ill-fated bond with poverty had seen his wife packing her bags and returning to her parents. Any thought of starting all over again always showed him the ugliness of mankind’s oldest relationship.
Having walked two kilometres along the road, Chide sensed the presence of another person on his side. “I had thought of looking for accommodation in this neighborhood, but it is hard to bring your problems on other people’s doorsteps these days, given the Covid-19 scourge,” Angelina said.
Chide turned to look at the woman who had been humiliated in front of scores of miners and traders.The smile of a lonely angel sat on her face.
“You are right, but how far are you going?” Chide asked, trying not to see much in her smile.
“Quite a long way,” Chide said, “It might be prudent to look for accommodation after all.”
“Are you not going that far yourself?”
“I am going beyond, Nyakatsapa,” Chide answered.
“So let us go. In your company, I will be safe.”
Chide’s muscles went stiff, and when they relaxed, after a minute or two, he could sense the flow of blood in every vein within his body.
“If it is
ok with you we will go.”
Chide looked at the woman again. The scratches on her face were visible marks, not only of that days exertion, but of a deeper crisis her life had turned out to be. The clumsiness of her company caused a rush of adrenaline within his body. They asked each other’s names. He was Chide Chinemhuru, aged thirty, and she was Angelina Wenga, aged twenty-six.
After walking for two hours, they reached Chidahuyo Turn Off and darkness was settling upon the land. Half a kilometre up the branch road, Chide and Angelina were astonished by the speed at which the night was settling. Then, a lightning flash, followed by a thunderous explosion told them what was happening. The petrified Angelina put her arms around Chide’s waist for support as the vibration of the ground under her feet knocked her sense of balance out of her body.
“There is going to be a thunderstorm,” Angelina said, “I wonder if we can make it to my place, roughly a kilometre from here.”
“Let’s move on,” Chide responded.
The rain caught up with them, and within minutes, they were drenched to the bone. They moved on, the splashes of water from the puddles under their feet sounding like the noises of departed spirits trailing them. Angelina slipped six times and fell, and Chide had to help her to her feet, until he was compelled to put his arm around her waist and lead her along.
They finally took shelter in the veranda of a disused shop building at Chidahuyo Shopping Centre. The heavy rains pounded Chidahuyo for one more hour, before an unusual calmness settled on the land.
“We can go to my place. You may proceed to Nyakatsapa early morning tomorrow,” Angelina suggested.
“If there is space for a visitor,” Chide said, feeling too drained to make any other consideration.
Angelina’s home comprised two flat roofed structures and a round kitchen. “My children are away in Nyatsanza Village with my mother, so it is normally my husband and I in this place.”
Angelina had to take a quick bath to rinse her body of the mud she had accumulated in the rain.She then prepared food for two, which they ate in silence, the fire place separating the bodies that out of necessity had held on to each other for nearly an hour. Chide would spend his night in the round kitchen as the fire would complement the warmth of the single blanket Angelina had given him.
Around 11pm, Angelina was back in the kitchen hut. “I want to prepare tea because I can’t be warm tonight, effects of the rain.”
That night, Angelina took Chide to bed and their love relationship began. They would meet in various coverts around Chidahuyo and Nyakatsapa. Chide had never seen such cheerful beauty as he saw in Angelina. He had become the medicine for her emotional crisis and was glad with the value she placed on their relationship.
Every relationship has its moment of grief. One night, having met her at one of their coverts, he texted her a message telling her how good the love act had been. The reply came thus, “I wish to come again for another moment.” Chide could not wait, he told her that he was ready for her and stepped into the dark, moonless night towards their love nest.
He spotted her from a distance. His heart hammered in his chest as he thought what an excitement to Angelina he had turned out to be. As she fell into his arms, she whispered, “Run away from here.”
He turned around and ran towards his home, but after a few paces he ran head foremost into another man. The man pushed him backwards and plunged a very sharp object into his chest which Chide thought missed his heart by half an inch. He fell backwards. As his body hit the ground, he heard Angelina’s hysterical screams as she fled the scene.
Thus began his gradual death agony. Finally he could feel her presence all around him as her echoing screams died down. Despite his benumbed senses, he could hear her whisper, coming with a deep calmness that contrasted sharply with her hysterical panic stricken screams when she had fled from the scene.
“It is over now,” went the smooth whisper of her voice. “Nothing of it can be undone including this.”
She seemed, to continue talking, but even the smooth whisper of her voice began to fade away until Chide could not hear it any more. His body became lighter and lighter until he could no longer feel the ground on which he lay, neither could he feel any more pain.
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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