Now, upon my return to my native country and hometown, all the homesickness healed in a flash and my longings turned towards Harare

 

By Nhamo Muchagumisa

 

I wanted to work in the capital and visit my home as a tourist. I knew very little about the scenic places that surrounded the city of my upbringing, all mastered between the pages of a school textbook.

The Vumba Mountains, Nyanga and Mutarazi Falls became the heartbeat of my homesickness when I was studying abroad, yet I had never set foot in any of these places.

Now I felt no pang at all about my wish to leave the border town without visiting at least one of these places first.

My eyes brightened to the prospect of being invited for an interview by at least one of the Harare based companies to which I had emailed job applications.

I never knew that I could be so attached to my homeland until I went to study overseas. The life I had lived back home was one a lot of people who surrounded me envied, but the absence of two important figures from my life sometimes made it a nightmare. A loving aunt and a supportive uncle made my life roll on a smooth carpet, but my mother had succumbed to heart failure when I was three or less years old, and had never married my father.

My father was only a visitor in my life as he came to see me on distant occasions, but when I turned sixteen, he would come and collect me for shopping, so that I could choose for myself the items I needed for the back to school season.

 

 

As I grew older, I often berated myself for being ungrateful, but a father’s remote love did not have such a positive impact on my psych. As I gleaned more facts about my parentage, a kind of bitterness against my grandparents often made breathing a major mechanical task for me. Why had they denied my parents a chance? Yes, my mother had been impregnated by a much younger man, but whatever had attracted them to each other, would have made them husband and wife.

What I later found more upsetting was that my father was the son of a family friend, a reputable family friend whose help had elevated my grandparents’ fortunes. So my grandparents had annulled the engagement between my parents, saying that they needed to protect the integrity of the younger player in the mismatch of the two love birds.

“Was my mother a disgrace to  the man who had made her pregnant?” I often asked myself in the wakefulness of the night.

Truly my mother was not a disgrace. Her own parents had disgraced her. After that had happened, my grandparents always reminded me to keep counting my blessings as if being the daughter of a shamed woman was my first blessing.

My aunt said almost nothing about her elder sister. All the scanty information about my mother came from neighbours’ children, and it is of importance to note that I learnt about the most important part of my life not out of someone’s benevolent intention to share such important information, but often out of malicious jealousy, especially as I seemed to live a comfortable life and looked stunningly beautiful in the eyes of many, if their compliments and accusations of vanity in the same line were anything to be taken seriously.

 

 

I begrudged my aunt for being mute on a subject that gave me nocturnal headaches when children of my age were purring in their separate slumbers. Why wouldn’t my aunt just tell me the sad story and help me mourn her sister, then we would wipe each other’s tears, promising to always be there for each other.

I would then be able to forgive my grandparents for “killing my mother”, and I would never allow the thought that my aunt was part of the conspiracy to rob me of parental love to continue lingering within my aching heart.

It was when my father had divulged the secret of my past that he decided to send me to study abroad.That was on one of the rare occasions when we gathered as family under the roof of his magnificent house, that is my father, my stepmother, three of his other children and I.

All that I had learnt from malicious jealousy turned out to be true. I could not contain the bitterness until my father told me, “Four years in a distant country would rejuvenate your esteem for the only family you have,” my father had said sensibly.

“Father, I think given the love you felt for my mother you should have taken me into your custody,” I told him as my luggage was being inspected at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.

“It was not as easy as that. There was the law to consider and also a kind stepmother is the rarest woman you can dream of. So with your aunt your life never suffered emotional deprivation,” Mr. Guvi had explained to me.

“My life did not suffer emotional deprivation,” she did not say to her father, “but having secrets about my parentage kept from me until much later in life had killed me emotionally.”

Now, upon my return to my native country and hometown, all the homesickness healed in a flash and my longings turned towards Harare.

One night as I sat behind my portable computer in the bedroom where I had spent most of my nights, a gmail notification popped up on the screen. It was my father telling me about an employment opportunity at Maruziva Transport and Logistics. “You will tell the Personnel Manager that I referred you.”

The four walls of the spacious room raced towards my bed. The huge window disappeared. I could hardly breathe. I closed my eyes, trying to figure out the direction my life was taking. I knew my father had worked for the same company and left after a bitter misunderstanding.

“But if I despise the advice of the only parent I have, what good is that to me?” I asked myself as I opened my eyes. The walls had retreated from my bed. I had regained my freedom again, this time I had the freedom to be my father’s daughter.

 

 

Hammond Maruziva was a nice, good-looking young man who allowed business to take away much of his ease. I soon realised that my duty would not only be to bring the accounts of the business back to order, but also to breathe back fresh life into my employer.

“Thanks Miss Katana, for being here on time” said the youthful employer, speaking from behind a huge ornamental desk, “I don’t doubt your skills at all, but the task ahead demands patience in addition to your intellectual abilities.”

When Hammond Maruziva proposed marriage to me, I realised that I had won the task of breathing life back into him, and I did not need my aunt to disclose the “unexpected” development to my father. I had to do it myself.

“If you find him good, I won’t stand in your way,” he said. “The story of your mother needs no repeat.”

It was soon after the bride price had been received at my aunt’s place that Hammond and I took a rest in  Hammond’s car and opened my father’s parcel, locked in a small wooden box. My father himself had not attended the bride price ceremony. From the note within, we learnt that Maruziva had remained my father’s benefactor after Hammond had fired him.

“It had never occurred to me that you could be Guvi’s offspring, and that Mr. Guvi had donated the much needful kidney to my father,” Hammond said after a long silence in which we stared in each other’s face as if each of us was searching the mirror for the other’s heart .

 

 

“I never knew that my father ever donated a kidney, neither had I imagined that you were my benefactor’s son,” I said.

When on the day before our wedding I showed Hammond photos of my late mother in her Zimbabwe Republic Police uniform, he exclaimed, “That woman was the leader of the search party that rescued me from Mutsiyabako Caves. I had gone missing when I had gone on a school trip with two teachers and forty other grade six pupils.”

In our honeymoon hotel room, my husband played the video recording of my late mother in action, to clear my heart of doubts. The clip of my mother, standing at a cave entrance, holding Hammond to her chest,  the boy resting on her bicep muscle, brought tears to my eyes.

I only said, “Thanks Hammond for getting lost and letting my mother find you for me. Now I will remember my mother as a heroine, not a disgrace.”

 

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 +263771271478 Email him at: muchagumisan@gmail.com