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A Return To Eden, At The Alter Of His Heart

Every bush he passed, every rock he passed and every breath he drew into his lungs seemed to remind him of the social responsibility he was neglects By Nhamo Muchagumisa Chaora had built an altar in his heart, on which he worshipped the place where he and Flora used to meet. He allowed the evening airs to whistle in his mind, the blades of tufted grass, that would dust his feet, to sweep his heart of any polluting thoughts. The dosages of herbal aromas from summer blossoms remained a delight to his nostrils and a treat to his lungs, as if he was at the very place. He had decided to visit the place on new year's day before concluding this long stressful chapter of his life. He needed to placate the ghost of his relationship with Flora before moving on with his life. Though not dead, Flora was nowhere within the reach of his hand. Her parents had sent her Down South to nip in the bud the blossoms of their relationship.

Every bush he passed, every rock he passed and every breath he drew into his lungs seemed to remind him of the social responsibility he was neglects

By Nhamo Muchagumisa

Chaora had built an altar in his heart, on which he worshipped the place where he and Flora used to meet. He allowed the evening airs to whistle in his mind, the blades of tufted grass, that would dust his feet, to sweep his heart of any polluting thoughts.

The dosages of herbal aromas from summer blossoms remained a delight to his nostrils and a treat to his lungs, as if he was at the very place. He had decided to visit the place on new year’s day before concluding this long stressful chapter of his life.

He needed to placate the ghost of his relationship with Flora before moving on with his life. Though not dead, Flora was nowhere within the reach of his hand. Her parents had sent her Down South to nip in the bud the blossoms of their relationship. They did not want their daughter to marry poverty.

The blunders of his past were past redemption, but he had to start living again, so visiting the sanctuary was an absolute necessity. Mobility is only edifying if it places one’s social prospects at a higher level, but there are times when it is inevitable for the good of it or for the bad.

 

 

Chaora needed to raise his head above the murky waters that had submerged the affective side of his life. He needed to see his horizons again, what star was rising and what star was setting, what cloud was rising and what cloud was falling. He needed to see what silver lining lay behind every dark cloud that scaled the bright sky.

Yes, he had bungled on a few pertinent things whose correction was within his power, but he had found himself powerless in the face of mightier forces.

His parents had expressed their eagerness to take Flora as their own daughter when she had eloped to him because she was big with his child. The trainee horticulturist was profusely grateful to his parents. He had hoped to work hard to fend for his family once he got employed.

Now gainfully employed in the research department of the Ministry of Lands and Agriculture, the young father of an absentee child could hardly enjoy his life. His silent quarrel with his snobbish in-laws grew louder in his heart with every day that passed.

Now back in his rural home, he had very important decisions to make and face the ramifications, if need be, not only as a grown up man, but as the son of a mother and the father of a son.

 

 

His now widowed mother desperately wanted a daughter in-law and a grandchild within the reach of her grandmotherly heart.

Making his usual solo, back home rounds around the village, he realised that Dangauswa Village had ceased to give him the welcome it had always given him on his return from boarding school or university.

Every bush he passed, every rock he passed and every breath he drew into his lungs seemed to remind him of the social responsibility he was neglecting, something embedded in the expectations of any normal family. He was supposed to marry, and be called by the name of his child.

He visited every corner of the village, only avoiding the hot spot he would visit on new year’s day.

***

Chaora finally decided that new year’s day was not the ideal day to visit the hot spot. If he was to start a new life, he would have to visit the old nest at dusk on new year’s eve.

Having paid his last respects to a love consigned to the limbo of wandering spirits, he would then be able to summon his confidence to express his thoughts to Celine, the fresh temptation of his heart, whose soul he knew was struggling to break into his orbit.

 

 

***

His heart weighing with the events of the eventful night, he came to the old nest. The image of Mr Mangoti, sitting on the built-in bench of his mother’s kitchen hut, like a colossal dark cloud on a small hill, reeled before him. “I cannot surrender my daughter to this kind of poverty, she is only eighteen,” Mr Mangoti had said angrily and superciliously.

“But it is now my obligation, my family and I to look after her. After all she has made a choice,” my father reacted with all the humidity he could muster. I don’t want to sound rude to you, but I won’t retract on my decision. I am taking my daughter with me, ” Mr. Mangoti had said without making the slightest effort to conceal his arrogance.

Mrs Mangoti, who had been listening quietly, cleared her throat and said, “Sure, we have to take her away my Dear, otherwise, how will sleep return to my nights?”

Flora, who had been sitting pensively in a dark corner of the kitchen hut, allowed her tears to fall freely. I could see all the agony on her face in the dim firelight that lit the kitchen hut. My young wife was led away to her father’s car, sobbing convulsively at the same time.

 

 

Now he was back to the old nest, and no corner of Dangauswa had been so welcoming to him, especially on this decisive homecoming. The aroma of tender shoots, the scent of open blossoms, the gentle caresses of the blades of tufted grass, all had a balmy effect on his heart.

But when he came to the heart of the old rendezvous, his eyes fell on a young woman’s figure sitting on a stone. Her body was bent forwards and her face was buried in the palms of her hands.

“Excuse me,” Chaora said, wondering what help he might be to the woman, or possibly what help the woman might be to him. The woman raised her face from the palms of her hands and turned to look at Chaora through the wetness in her eyes.

“Chaora my Dear,” the woman said quietly, raising her hand for the touch of his. The latter allowed the warmth of Flora’s hand to seep through his as he gently pulled her up. “What are you doing here my Dear? When did you arrive from South Africa? Does anyone else know that you are here?” the questions all came in one breath.

“As to what I am doing here I can’t say, but my parents came Down South for the festive season. They are spending their festive season with Uncle and Auntie Pakai…  so they…” Chaora began to say.

“They ought to be looking for me there. I left with my friends without their knowledge. I did not even pass through immigration, so it will take them sometime to know that I am home,” Flora explained.

There was a long pause as the two began to be aware of the closeness of each other’s body, until Chaora asked the difficult question. “So where is our son? I am with him. I left him with Auntie Cynthia and Uncle Nhewa. I am currently staying with them.”

Chaora held Flora by the waist and started leading her away. She did not ask where he was leading her because she knew.

 

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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