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Behind The Cascading Wetness

Mapingire saw a wet line dribble down the girl's left cheek. There was life behind the wetness. Another line cascaded from her right eye. There was even more life behind the glistening salty wetness By Nhamo Muchagumisa Mrs Mapingire could not easily identify the object of her anger. Should it be Mavis? How could she speak to her as if she saw the devil incarnate in her own mother? Should it be Michelle, whom her daughter had taken into custody at her own very advice, and ended up wedding her son-in-law? Could it be her husband's humanitarianism? No, Michelle was the trouble causer. She should have left Grayson to find another woman. But at this point, her thoughts split into mazes. What difference would it make? Would that make her daughter less a divorcee? Less a disgrace? Michelle had grown up in Mrs Mapingire's hands and she had never seen a more promising wife.

Mapingire saw a wet line dribble down the girl’s left cheek. There was life behind the wetness. Another line cascaded from her right eye. There was even more life behind the glistening salty wetness

 

By Nhamo Muchagumisa

 

Mrs Mapingire could not easily identify the object of her anger. Should it be Mavis? How could she speak to her as if she saw the devil incarnate in her own mother? Should it be Michelle, whom her daughter had taken into custody at her own very advice, and ended up wedding her son-in-law?

Could it be her husband’s humanitarianism? No, Michelle was the trouble causer. She should have left Grayson to find another woman. But at this point, her thoughts split into mazes. What difference would it make? Would that make her daughter less a divorcee? Less a disgrace?

Michelle had grown up in Mrs Mapingire’s hands and she had never seen a more promising wife. But marrying a divorced man was not Mrs Mapingire’s idea of an ideal marriage.

Mrs Mapingire was seized by unexplainable fatigue and a kind of dizziness that had afflicted her when she had fallen pregnant for the first time.

Her nights became restless and she began to utter curses in her sleep. Her seventeen-year-old niece would rush to her bedroom to find out what was wrong until Tanaka decided to share her bedroom for the next two nights.

“Auntie, I think we need to go to the clinic. I will ask Mr Farikai to drive us there, and you know that his charge is $5 or one fowl,” Tanaka said upon the sunrise of the second day since she had moved in with her aunt.

“My Dear, I don’t think I’m that sick. I’m just stressed by the words my daughter spoke to me,” Mrs Mapingire responded.

Tears suffused Tanaka’s eyes. The words of the bitter exchange between mother and daughter echoed in her troubled mind. “How could you raise a witch and then surrender her into my hands to ruin my marriage?” Mavis had said to her mother.

“How could I tell that she would turn out to be a bad girl?” Mrs Mapingire had replied without displaying even the slightest trace of anger.

“Your sympathies shifted towards Grayson and the she-devil soon after the divorce court, as if you had forgotten which one between the two of us was your daughter,” Mavis had shouted into her mother’s face.

“I don’t remember such a thing my daughter, but the embarrassment that filled me I remember very well, especially as your husband was filing for divorce as a result of your infidelity.”

“Witch. Show me a woman who is faithful to her husband. The difference is only that 90% is never caught and that figure must include you. Then you pretend to play the holy one and literally disown your own daughter,” Mavis had spat the words at her mother without even considering the possible ramifications.

“Is this what I get for all my motherly commitment and steadfastness?” Mrs Mapingire had said in the lowest tone she could muster as the circumstances demanded.

After this exchange, Mavis left the house with no word of farewell. She got on board her car and drove out of the homestead, curses playing on her lips.

Mrs. Mapingire started experiencing nasal bleeding, all the blood of her body draining through the nose. Tanaka was petrified. Her aunt would fall into a comatose if she did not get immediate help. Her condition had incapacitated her and she had lost the power of speech.

Tanaka phoned Mr Farikai who rushed Mrs Mapingire to the clinic, and within half an hour of arrival at the clinic, the elderly lady was loaded into an ambulance and rushed to the general hospital.

When Mrs Mapingire finally reopened her eyes, the sight of Michelle made her think that she was dreaming, but the pain in her head, in her neck, in her joints and in the entire network of her muscles told her that she was very much awake and that she was in a  hospital bed.

Her word of gratitude remained locked within her chest because she had breath only to stay alive, not to say even a short word like “Thanks”.

Michelle sat on a chair by her bed, as if she was a nurse on duty around the clock. She seemed not in a hurry to say anything to her adoptive mother. But as her unblinking eyes continued staring at the younger woman, Michelle began to fade from Mrs Mapingire’s sight.

She desperately wanted to say “Don’t go away my daughter,” but the incapacitation of her speech organs prevailed. Michelle finally vanished from Mrs Mapingire’s eyes, and the room turned pitch black despite it being mid-morning.

Mrs Mapingire’s body became lighter and lighter until it felt as if she was floating in the lightless space. Then Mrs Mapingire felt nothing at all, not even anxiety, fear or uncertainty.

When Michelle finally resurfaced, she appeared before Mrs Mapingire as if she had gone a fortnight without food and sleep. Mrs Mapingire was still in the hospital, but she felt much better. A reflection of the ward window on the wall told her that it was an hour or so after sunrise. “It seems you also are recovering from a terrible affliction, my daughter,” Mrs Mapingire observed.

“Don’t worry mother. Now that you have regained your health, all will be well for me.”

Mrs Mapingire dreaded the double curse that seemed to be befalling her. The only child she had had disgraced herself, and the product of collective compassion with her late husband seemed to be passing away, like a flower that hosted a malignant worm within its system.

Upon discharge from the hospital the following morning, Mrs Mapingire was taken to a house which was unknown to Michelle. It was a magnificent building of more than twelve rooms. Michelle was puzzled to see Tanaka opening the gate for Grayson, Mrs Mapingire and herself as the car that they had been travelling in came to a halt in front of a tall gate.

As the party entered the house, Mrs Mapingire and Michelle observed that all the furniture in the house was new.

Mrs Mapingire was mentally fit enough to realise that Michelle’s condition might deteriorate into what she herself had recovered from after such severe pain unless something was done without any undue delay.

“I want you both to speak your minds, just in case you have abnormal loads in your hearts,” Mrs Mapingire said to Michelle and Grayson.

But Tanaka spoke first, “Michelle, Mavis spoke terrible words to Auntie.”

“Let that wait for now, even forever,” Mrs Mapingire said, her stern eye fixed on her niece. “Back to you Michelle and Grayson.”

Michelle spoke next.  “Mother, Grayson refused to take my advice when I asked him to pay the lawyers who represented Michelle at the divorce court. Now the house that he left in her name is going to be attached.”

“Let it be attached,” who am I to care, “Once she loses it, I will file a lawsuit for the custody of my daughters, then buy her a new house.”

Mrs. Mapingire did not know how she would rebuke her son-in-law, especially after her daughter had disgraced herself. But Michelle saved her from saying a difficult word.

“I’m afraid I have acted unfaithfully,” Michelle said. “It is well that you are here mother to learn more about my flaws and advise me accordingly. I have already paid the lawyers from the money he had given me to start income-generating projects on my father’s deserted farmland.”

Mrs. Mapingire saw the sofa Grayson was sitting on being lifted a few inches from the tiles, but only for half a second. But Grayson seemed to keep his calm.

“My daughter, I know how you felt, but next time…”

“No, don’t worry mother. From today I will respect her more. When I asked her to marry me, it was because she was the only woman who understood my problem then, but now I have the strange feeling that I cheapened her…”

“Hey Grayson, save me that embarrassment,” Michelle interjected.

“How could it be an embarrassment? What you have done for Mavis has greatly increased your value before me. An ordinary woman would have found joy in the downfall of her husband’s ex-wife.”

Mrs Mapingire saw a wet line dribble down Michelle’s left cheek. There was life behind the wetness. Another line cascaded from her right eye. There was even more life behind the glistening salty wetness. Mrs Mapingire remembered that in her childhood, Michelle’s tears never fell at the same time. The left eye always released its water first.

A wave of relief filled Mrs. Mapingire as she saw the charming beauty behind the tearful cleansing of Michelle’s face. She was the beauty another woman had left to fate because she was not her womb product.

“I have also done things behind my wife’s back,” Grayson finally said. Mrs Mapingire felt a sudden dryness creeping up her oesophagus. Had Grayson infected Michelle with HIV? Was that the reason why Michelle’s body had lost its turgidity?

“I registered this house in  your name mother. Tomorrow, a housemaid on company payroll will come to start her service to you. I have plans to commercialise my father-in-law’s banana project, but I will employ people to run the project.

Mrs Mapingire rose from the sofa she was sitting in and walked across the carpet to Michelle, took her by the hand and pulled her into the warmth of her embrace. Tanaka also rose from her sofa and joined them,   putting her arms around both women.

Mrs. Mapingire closed her eyes as she felt the touch of the bodies of the people who counted most in her life. She felt at home, as if she was under the colossal mukwa tree, a few metres behind her main house.

 

hamo 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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