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I had to tell him that I would not go, but how was that to be done?... I was and would remain Tambudzai, the daughter. Babamukuru was still and would always.

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Presentation on theme: "I had to tell him that I would not go, but how was that to be done?... I was and would remain Tambudzai, the daughter. Babamukuru was still and would always."— Presentation transcript:

1 I had to tell him that I would not go, but how was that to be done?... I was and would remain Tambudzai, the daughter. Babamukuru was still and would always be the closest thing a human being could get to God. So although I knew I had to talk to him, I had no idea how that could be done.

2 ‘She does eat her supper when I have time to supervise her properly. Yes, I think you are right, Mai. It is not so serious. What she needs is to rest.’ Yet it was serious. Nyasha was losing weight steadily, constantly, rapidly. It dropped off her body almost hourly and what was left of herwas grotesquely unhealthy from the vital juices she flushed down thetoilet. Did he not know? Did he not see? I could not ask him these questions. The most I could do was ask in a small, timid voice to beallowed to stay, with Nyasha, I specified, for a few more days.

3 ‘I have to get it right,’ she would whisper with an apologetic smile. It was truly alarming, but nobody commented, nobody acted; we were all very frightened.

4 I don’t want to do it, Tambu, really I don’t, but it’s coming, I feel it coming.’ Her eyes dilated. ‘They’ve done it to me,’ she accused, whispering still. ‘Really, they have.’ And then she became stern. ‘It’s not their fault. They did it to them too. You know they did,’ she whispered. ‘To both of them, but especially to him. They put him through it all. But it’s not his fault, he’s good.’ Her voice took on a Rhodesian accent. ‘He’s a good boy, a good munt. A bloody good kaffir,’ she informed in sneering sarcastic tones. Then she was whispering again. ‘Why do they do it, Tambu,’ she hissed bitterly, herface contorting with rage, ‘to me and to you and to him? Do you seewhat they’ve done? They’ve taken us away. Lucia. Takesure. All of us.

5 They’ve deprived you of you, him of him, ourselves of each other. We’re grovelling. Lucia for a job, Jeremiah for money. Daddy grovels to them. We grovel to him.’ She began to rock, her body quivering tensely. ‘I won’t grovel. Oh no, I won’t. I’m not a good girl. I’m evil. I’m not a good girl.’ I touched her to comfort her and that was the trigger. ‘I won’t grovel, I won’t die,’ she raged and crouched like a cat ready to spring.

6 Nyasha was beside herself with fury. She rampaged, shredding her history book between her teeth (‘Their history. Fucking liars. Their bloody lies.’), breaking mirrors, her claypots, anything she could lay her hands on and jabbing the fragments viciously into her flesh, stripping the bedclothes, tearing her clothes from the wardrobe and trampling them underfoot. ‘They’ve trapped us. They’ve trapped us. But I won’t be trapped. I’m not a good girl. I won’t be trapped. ’ Then as suddenly as it came, the rage passed. ‘I don’t hate you, Daddy,’ she said softly. ‘They want me to, but I won’t.’ She lay down on her bed. ‘I’m very tired,’ she said in a voice that was recognisably hers. ‘But I can’t sleep. Mummy will you hold me?’ Shecurled up in Maiguru’s lap looking no more than five years old. ‘Look what they’ve done to us,’ she said softly. ‘I’m not one of them but I’m not one of you.’ She fell asleep.

7 ‘It upsets people. So I need to go some where where it’s safe. You know what I mean? Somewhere where people won’t mind.’

8 But the psychiatrist said that Nyasha could not be ill, that Africans did not suffer in the way we had described. She was makinga scene. We should take her home and be firm with her. This was not asensible thing to say in front of my uncle, who found these words vastlyreassuring and considered going back to Umtali at once, turning a deafear to Nyasha when she begged to see an African psychiatrist.

9 There were no black psychiatrists, but she was persuaded to see a white one. This man was human. She needed to rest, he said. I felt Nyasha needed me but it was tme: I had to go to school.

10 But the psychiatrist said that Nyasha could not be ill, that Africans did not suffer in the way we had described. She was making a scene. We should take her home and be firm with her. This was not a sensible thing to say in front of my uncle, who found these words vastly reassuring and considered going back to Umtali at once, turning a deaf ear to Nyasha when she begged to see an African psychiatrist.

11 There were no black psychiatrists, but she was persuaded to see a white one. This man was human. She needed to rest, he said. I felt Nyasha needed me but it was tme: I had to go to school.

12 We did not talk on the drive back to Umtali, Babamukuru and I, and this was as things should be. Babamukuru’s age alone merited therespect of silence. His education made him almost an elder. You simply could not talk. The vast rippling fields of maize and tobacco between Rusapi and Marandellasno longer impressed me If Nyasha who had everything could not make it, where could I expect to go?

13 It was difficult to accept that this thing had happened, particularly difficult because I had no explanation. If you had asked me before it all began, I would have said it was impossible. I would have said it was impossible for people who had everything to suffer so extremely.

14 I may have had no explanation, but my mother had. She was very definite. ‘It’s the Englishness,’ she said. ‘It’ll kill them all if they aren’t careful,’ and she snorted. ‘Look at them. That boy Chido can hardly speak a word of his own mother’s tongue and, you’ll see, his children will be worse. Running around with that white one, isn’t he, the missionary’s daughter? His children will disgrace us. You’ll see. And himself, to look at him he may look all right, but there’s no telling what price he’s paying.’ She wouldn’t say much about Nyasha. ‘About that one we don’t even speak. It’s speaking for itself. Both of them, it’s the Englishness. It’s a wonder it hasn’t affected the parents too.’

15 I knew she was thinking about him and I could see she considered me a victim too: ‘The problem is the Englishness, so you just be careful!’ It was a warning, a threat that would have had disastrous effects if I had let it. When you’re afraid of something it doesn’t help to have people who know more than you do come out and tell you you’re quite right. Mother knew a lot of things and I had regard for her knowledge.

16 For I was beginning to have a suspicion, no more than the seed of a suspicion, that I had been too eager to leave the homestead and embrace the ‘Englishness’ of the mission; and after that the more concentrated ‘Englishness’ of Sacred Heart. I told myself I was a much more sensible personthan Nyasha, because I knew what could or couldn’t be done. In this way, I banished the suspicion, buried it in the depths of my subconscious, and happily went back to Sacred Heart.

17 I was young then and able to banish things, but seeds do grow. Although I was not aware of it then, no longer could I accept Sacred Heart and what it represented as a sunrise on my horizon. Quietly, unobtrusively and extremely fitfully, something in my mind began to assert itself, to question things and refuse to be brainwashed, bringing me to this time when I can set down this story.

18 It was a long and painful process for me, that process of expansion. It was a process whose events stretched over many years and would fill another volume, but the story I have told here, is my own story, the story of four women whom I loved, and our men, this story is how it all began.


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