When finally the depth of real sleep sucked me in, I found myself sitting on the floor of the sanctuary

 

By Nhamo Muchagumisa

 

Sagura’s sanctuary was up a small hill between two walls of granite rocks that faced each other. The distance between the two walls was about four metres. The floor was littered with clay pots of various sizes, calabashes, ceremonial knives and wooden rods to name a few items.

A small potion of the floor was reserved for a reed mat on which we played love as husband and wife. We had ceased playing in the bedroom. We went to the sanctuary twice a week to play and we only played during the day. He had two other wives and their share of his love was confined to their separate bedrooms.

“I had a revelation that we should shift our love life to the sanctuary,” he had said, “it is a way of enhancing the potency of my practice.”

Sagura’s other wives were not allowed in the sanctuary. Their visits would desecrate it. My role in the sanctuary made me feel important, but it also made me feel a bit uneasy. Had my husband taken to magic arts in order not to lose clients to younger faith healers who bought charms from underground cultists to make money out of dubious spiritual practice?

No livestock strayed into my husband’s sacred territory. Surely it ought to have been such a holy place. He only performed healings at the sanctuary on rare occasions, but he seldom performed healing without first visiting the sanctum.

Things began to change when my husband seduced the junior wife of a client and married her. Sagura no longer took me to the sanctuary and I was afraid to ask why. He also shunned my bedroom.

 

 

My dreams of the sanctuary on fire gave me a restless mind. At first I kept them a secret, but when such a dream visited me during the day when I was taking a nap in my garden, I realised that I could not contain the situation anymore. I had to speak to my husband. Since he no longer took me to his spiritual stronghold, I had to talk to him in my garden.

My garden was very much alive. The fresh leaves of the green vegetables, contrasted with the dead items in my husband’s shrine made the garden the perfect place for our love, only that the ominous cloud of misfortune rising beyond the fence of my garden struck my hormones with impotence.

“My husband,” I said. “What is it my wife?” my husband asked. “When did you last visit  the sanctuary?”

“Last night, my Dear. Is anything the matter?” Sagura asked, the skin on his face darkening. “I hope you are not doing things with Sally in the sanctuary,” I said, staring my man in the eye.

“Are you mad my Dear..?” “Not mad at all. I have had strange dreams of the sanctuary on fire countless nights.”

Upon my confession, my husband began to tremble and sweat until he fell into a trance. I laid him under a pitch tree and waited over him for about thirty minutes, wondering what help I would seek if he should get worse.

 

 

 

The summer showers had become infrequent but the level of the Save River was still high. If Sagura’s condition deteriorated, it would be wise to take him to another spiritual healer across the high water. When he stirred from the trance, Sagura looked as fit as his original self getting ready to perform an exorcism.

The night following our time in the garden, Sagura went in with Sally, whose manner never showed even the slightest exhibition of guilt that might be expected from a woman who had switched bedmates within the blink of an eye.

That same night I lay sleepless on my reed mat, smelling the smoke of the burning sanctuary. But around midnight, my senses were taken over by a gradual recession into a fitful sleep. Then between sleep and wakefulness, I heard a voice telling me to rouse my husband and take him to the sanctuary.

I knew I could not do that, no matter how sensible it seemed. It would be an open interference against the conjugal pleasures of his other wife.

When finally the depth of real sleep sucked me in, I found myself sitting on the floor of the sanctuary, my husband approaching me from the narrow entrance with a bunch of wild, yet ornamental flowers. When I stretched out my hands to receive them, he was gone and I was back in the bedroom.

It was sunrise. I rose from my blankets and had no time to make my bed. I headed straight for the sanctuary, but I could not find the hill. Every like hill I climbed had no sanctuary.

 

 

I returned home around nine, and Sagura’s other wives informed me that Sagura had walked out of Sally’s bed around midnight and was not yet back.

I felt my heart sinking into the coldness of my stomach. It would not be surprising for a spiritual doctor to behave in such a manner, but how about my dreams and my failure to locate the sanctuary?

We made a police report and together with the search party, we failed to locate the sanctuary. Had the sanctuary been such a long dream I had finally awoken from?

Two days after his unannounced departure, my husband’s remains were found by three herdsmen, naked and lying in a sprawling manner on the bank of Save River, about four kilometres away from the “sanctuary”.

He had probably intended to cross the river on his own, to meet that other faith healer across the river, then got swept away, only to be deposited by the same tide on this sudden bend along the river’s endless course.

But what was Sally, a mere twenty-two-year-old child going to do now? Was it not too cruel for Sagura to charm her into his seventy-six year old arms then surrender his life to the wet death soon afterwards?

 

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