Presentation on theme: "She made no bones about telling me that spending so much time with Nyasha was turning me into a snob. The door was locked but happily the dogs were not."— Presentation transcript:
She made no bones about telling me that spending so much time with Nyasha was turning me into a snob. The door was locked but happily the dogs were not loose
‘Tambudzai!’ she scolded anxiously, intercepting us in the passage. `Where have you been? Your uncle is very angry with you.’ I could feel myself shrinking. I lied thinly. ‘But you should have said,’ fluttered my aunt. ‘Now see what has happened. Babamukuru is annoyed.’
...my muscles simply refused to obey the half-hearted commands I was issuing to them. Nyasha was worried. She thought I was ill, but I knew better.
I appeared to have slipped out of my body and was standing somewhere near the foot of the bed, watching her efforts to persuade me to get up and myself ignoring her. I observed with interest and wondered what would happen next. It was quite exciting. Maiguru came in and mentioned Babamukuru.
‘Mai,’ he instructed Maiguru, ‘get that girl up and washed. Right away.’ He said I was ungrateful, that I did not respect him. ‘She is growing into a bad child. I am spoiling her here. She knows she is in my house not because of herself but because of my kindness and generosity. She must get up. Right away.’
The scene became much less focused. I heard them talking from a great distance that rapidly diminished as I slipped back into my body. I found I could speak again and speak I did, although my heart was racing and my voice when it came was high and thin.
Babamukuru was always very categorical when he made these kinds of statements. to trigger my uncle’s volcanic temper. I tried to explain why I could not go, but it was useless.
‘You have been having too much of the good life,’ my uncle raged, his voice rising on each syllable and breaking on the top note. ‘I do everything I can for you, but you disobey me. You are not a good girl. You must be up and dressed, ready in half an hour. Ma’Chido, come. Let us have breakfast?
Maiguru moved aside to let him pass, hung back for a moment as though to speak, then thought better of it and followed her husband out of the room.
Babamukuru could not leave me alone. ‘Tambudzai,’ he returned to warn me, ‘I am telling you! If you do not go to the wedding, you are saying you no longer want to live here. I am the head of this house. Anyone who defies my authority is an evil thing in this house, bent on destroying what I have made.’
He threatened all sorts of things, to stop buying me clothes, to stop my school fees, to send me home, but it did not matter any more. But I accepted that I had forfeited my right to Babamukuru’s charity.
Nyasha was watching me. ‘You should have told us earlier if it was so important,’ she said. ‘Really, Tambu, you should. Shall I be bridesmaid? Will it be better if all you have to do is sit there?’
I did not answer. As far as I was concerned, she belonged to Babamukuru and his beliefs, whereas I did not. Yes, Nyasha, I thought bitterly, we can change bridesmaids’ dresses because it’s all a joke. Andnow the joke’s over. You told me it wouldn’t last. ‘He won’t send you home,’ Nyasha soothed. ‘Goodness, no! Just imagine what people would say.’
Expecting worthy entertainment, they were not disappointed. Everybody was impressed by the elegance of the occasion. My father cutting a dashing figure!
Babamukuru talked to me calmly, authoritatively and at length, told me how disappointed he was that I had grown so rebellious when he was doing so much for me, when he had been holding me up for nearly two years as an example of filial virtue for his wayward daughter to follow. Babamukuru said I had to be punished for any disobedience and that although he did not like to beat me, because I was of an age to be treated maturely, my behaviour showed that I was not yet mature and a beating might speed the process.
I went about these chores grimly, with a deep and grateful masochistic delight; to me that punishment was the price of my newly acquired identity. I was so frightened of Babamukuru now and my own daring in having defied him once
This sort of talk made me uncomfortable because Babamukuru was taking on ogre-like proportions in my unconscious mind. Vaguely I thought he might suddenly appear and do something dreadful, like take away Lucia’s job if he heard her talk like that.
Did you ask my sister if she wanted that wedding? I do not see that the child did you so much wrong by preferring not to be there.’ ‘I see, Lucia,’ he explained, ‘that you think Tambudzai is being punished because she did me wrong. It is not that, Lucia, but children must be obedient. If they are not, then they must be taught. So that theydevelop good habits. You know this is very important, especially in the case of girls. My wife here would not have disobeyed me in the way that Tambudzai did. ’
‘Well, Babamukuru,’ said Lucia, preparing to leave, ‘maybe when you marry a woman, she is obliged to obey you. But some of us aren’t married, so we don’t know how to do it. That is why I have been able to tell you frankly what is in my heart. It is better that way so that tomorrow I don’t go behind your back and say the first thing that comes into my head.’
Don’t tell me you paid attention to Lucia. You know she says the first thing that comes into her head. As for Tambudzai, we will spoil her if we let her carry on in the way she has begun to behave. She must be disciplined. She must finish her punishment.’
Tambudzai is my brother’s daughter, I am her father. I have the right to discipline her. It is my duty.’
‘But when it comes to taking my money so that you can feed her and her father and your whole family and waste it on ridiculous weddings, that’s when they are my relatives too. Let me tell you, Babawa Chido, I am tired of my house being a hotel for your family. I am tired of being a housekeeper for them. I am tired of being nothing in a home I am working myself sick to support. And now even that Lucia can walk in here and tell me that the things she discusses with you, here in my home, are none of my business. I am sick of it Babawa Chido, Let me tell you, I have had enough!’
‘It is as I say,’ she insisted. ‘And when I keep quiet you think I am enjoying it. So today I am telling you I am not happy. I am not happy any more in this house.’ ‘I don’t think she will leave,’ Nyasha said as we lay in bed in the dark. ‘But you never know. She’s never gone this far before.’ There was a note of awe in her voice that I had not heard before when she talked of her mother.
I was silent. Nyasha knew nothing about leaving. She had only been taken to places — to the mission, to England, back to the mission. She did not know what essential parts of you stayed behind no matter how violently you tried to dislodge them in order to take them with you.
‘You grow,’ said Nyasha, as though she had heard what I was thinking. ‘You grow and you compensate. You have to. There’s no other way. We’re all trying to do it, you know. All of us. But it’s difficult when everything’s laid out for you. It’s difficult when everything’s taken care of. Even the way you think.’ Whether this was the case or not, I remember that there was something large and determined about Maiguru in the way that she made up her mind and, making no fuss, carried out her plan.
‘I’ll tell you why, Tambu,’ she explained. ‘Sometimes I feel I’m trapped by that man, just like she is. But now she’s done it, now she’s broken out, I know it’s possible, so I can wait.’ She sighed. ‘But it’s not that simple, you know, really it isn’t. It’s not really him, you know. I mean not really the person. It’s everything, it’s everywhere. So where do you break out to? You’re just one person and it’s everywhere. So where do you break out to? I don’t know, Tambu, really I don’t know. So what do you do? I don’t know.’
It was true. It was a sad truth, tragic in Maiguru’s case, because even if there had been somewhere to go, she would not have been able to, since her investment, in the form of her husband and two children, was all at the mission. If Babamukuru was unhappy about Maiguru’s disappearance, he made a good job of concealing it.
Nyasha was unhappy that Maiguru had gone to her brother. ‘A man! She always runs to men,’ she despaired. ‘There’s no hope, Tambu. Really, there isn’t.’ Maiguru had been away for only five days, but the change had done her good. She smiled more often and less mechanically, fussed over us less and was more willing or able to talk about sensible things. Although she still called Babamukuru her Daddy- sweet, most of her baby-talk had disappeared. ‘It’s such a waste,’ lamented Nyasha, noting the difference. ‘Imagine what she might have been with the right kind of exposure!’