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By Nhamo Muchagumisa An empty city after sunrise is a strange sight, yet that is what confronted Viola the day she was going to make a very important decision. The pavements were deserted and as lifeless and desolate as Sodom and Gomorrah after the rain of sulphur. The roads were rolling black carpets, the buildings, piles of brick and tile with not the slightest sign of life within their bleak compartments. Having walked more than a kilometre up main street, she decided to cross to the other side, towards an edifice that housed government offices. For a reason she could not immediately fathom, the colossal mass of brick, tile and steel looked alive, despite there being no sign of a human being within. Maybe she was dreaming, she thought. She closed her eyes a split second, hoping that that would bring back the familiar reality that had made her an intellectual high achiever at the age of 18. Reopening her eyes, she saw standing before her a girl dressed in exactly the same way as she.
By Nhamo Muchagumisa
An empty city after sunrise is a strange sight, yet that is what confronted Viola the day she was going to make a very important decision. The pavements were deserted and as lifeless and desolate as Sodom and Gomorrah after the rain of sulphur.
The roads were rolling black carpets, the buildings, piles of brick and tile with not the slightest sign of life within their bleak compartments.
Having walked more than a kilometre up main street, she decided to cross to the other side, towards an edifice that housed government offices. For a reason she could not immediately fathom, the colossal mass of brick, tile and steel looked alive, despite there being no sign of a human being within.
Maybe she was dreaming, she thought. She closed her eyes a split second, hoping that that would bring back the familiar reality that had made her an intellectual high achiever at the age of 18.
Reopening her eyes, she saw standing before her a girl dressed in exactly the same way as she. Another Viola in every respect from toe to temple, a mesmeric body structure and a radiant face, glowing with the bloom of youthful femininity. “Good morning,” Viola said hesitantly.
No response came from her twin. Viola furtively surveyed the emptiness that surrounded them. She began to retreat, but she managed only two steps backwards.
Then a sudden force, like a squall of wind fell on her, turning stiff every limb of her body, so that every organ within her was dead except her heart that seemed to be playing an ominous drumbeat within her chest.
Finally, the girl before her made an attempt to talk. Her lips moved, but Viola heard nothing. Her twin seemed to be hysterical with fear. She seemed frustrated that Viola was not listening. Two wet lines dribbled from her eyes.
“Tell me if you are a friend or a fiend that has copied my form to cause me untold harm,” Viola finally said.
Her twin suddenly evaporated and the city became alive, the noise of vehicles, the shouts of vendors, music from shop fronts, but no human being or vehicle visible, only the chaotic emptiness. The silence that had characterised the streets slowly settled on her again.
But before the deafness with which the silence had struck her plunged her into further crisis, she began to sense the closeness of the walls and the ceiling of her bedroom. She had only been dreaming, but she would never consider her encounter with her dream twin a pleasant one.
She had broken new ground in her intellectual development. She had won a scholarship to go and study in China and the agency had asked her to select or recommend another student for the same privilege, one who did not only have good passes in three Science subjects, but one who was also good in at least one sporting discipline.
Her choice would be drawn preferably from her school or from another school in the same district. It was not going to be easy. She had her friends to consider and her teachers’ opinions too. Why would the agency not just visit her school and get recommendations from her teachers?
Time was running out and the following day she would be visiting the agency with her recommendation. She knew that she would have to make that choice, and with that done, she would have the chance to rejoice at the good fortune that had unexpectedly come her way, like the proverbial Zion Train.
That night her visitor came again. Before her dream twin could say anything, Viola had spat a barrage of cursing words. “Go back to hell demon of the night. I have no twin sister, neither does my mother have another daughter besides me! Go and burn cursed spirit!”
Yes, Viola was aware of having said something, but nothing of what she had said had rocked her eardrums. But her spiritual twin had heard her as her laughter echoed through the empty street.
An attempt to blink away the lovely demon brought on to the scene something she had never anticipated.
Her sweet enemy, as she was very beautiful, was now sitting on a bench in the empty pavement in front of Viola with a boy of the same age. The couple seemed to be in a cordial relationship, exchanging vows to last the span of the life of the one who death would claim first.
“Now I know your agenda evil one. You want me to abandon books for marriage. That I won’t do, no matter how sweet your persuasion.”
Her impotent shout still echoing in her ears, Viola saw her visitor slowly transforming into a shadow, and finally the young man was left alone on the bench. He then rose to his feet and began to approach Viola. She could not turn to run away.
She wanted him to come close enough so that she would spit her rejection of him right into his face. But the moment she parted her lips to shout the rehearsed words, the young man vanished. Viola was back in her bedroom, on her bed and betwixt her sheets.
Viola rose early enough to visit the scholarship agency. Alighting at the city centre bus terminus, she was encountered by the lively activity that stood in sharp contrast with what she had seen in her dreams.
Half a kilometre up main street, she would be at the agency’s office. She was now able to place a name on the young man she had met in her dream. It was Felix whom she had rejected a countless times while they were in high school.
Now she knew that she had only rejected him for being her classmate, not because there was anything abhorrent about him. She had finished high school without a lover, and it was pointless to start reconsidering Felix’s amorous advances at this stage in her life.
The trick of the moment was, however, worse than her weird dreams because Felix was the only eligible candidate for her co-beneficiary as far as the scholarship was concerned.
He had scored maximum points in Mathematics, Physics and Computer Science at Advanced Level like herself, and was the best athlete not only at school, but in the entire province.
“How am I going to keep the past in the past if Felix and I are going to share one university life?” she thought as she waited for the lift to take her up to the fifth floor. Was her relationship with Felix going to be the Captain Wentworth/ Anne Elliot type in Jane Austen’s “Persuasion”?
Once in the office, she completed her acceptance form that included the recommendation section and she recommended Felix Maucha an A-Level graduate of Mutambara High School. The school was duly informed and Maucha’s full details were emailed to the agency.
Next, he would be visiting the agency to accept the offer.
Night time was dream time, and Viola dreaded meeting her spiritual twin who alternated between devil and angel. But that night Felix came alone, handsome as usual, his love words fresh as they were when Felix and Viola were in form 3.
“When I see you, I see love, when I hear you, I hear the immortality that awaits the bond the two of us can make, only that your subtle evasiveness postpones everything indefinitely.”
Viola could not remember what she had said in reply. Did it matter anymore? Did she have to say the words again? She only replied with silence.
They rose from the bench where Felix had sat with her spiritual twin and started walking up the empty street. She knew there was a flight to take, a new life to begin, but even if the scholarship was cancelled, she would be content to be with Felix forever.
Emerging from her dream she reached for her phone; a thank you message from Felix was good enough to tell her that she delighted more in their reunion, than in the life awaiting them thousands of kilometres across several time zones.