A Revolving Cage
A Revolving Cage
She came over to Chitungwiza Friday night and she had spent the weekend at her brother’s place in the Seke suburb of Unit C and we had agreed we would see the other at the church on Sunday. It is a bit of a crack thing to negotiate this compromise with her.
I met her three years before, and even negotiating a date with her was a crack thing. It was a fucking job interview! The moment I met her, I discovered that she had the mark of one who would be stubborn.
After church, I wait for her like a dog waiting for its owner to come over and pat and ruffle its sheaves of hair. Maybe I should have barked a bit like a dog and taken no responsibility for the noise.
Just like death, she hadn’t been taking responsibility for the way she had been mistreating me over the years.
But there was nothing I could do about it other than wait for her and I didn’t even know what would become of the waiting. I also knew it was even possible for her to come and say.
No, I don’t want to see you. No, I am busy with that. No, I do not have any prior arrangements with you about this. No, I don’t remember agreeing to this.
But I waited all the same.
A thick row of marigolds along the church’s yard fence is a fierce dark orange and burnt orange, and the rhubarb plant near the gates where I am standing is bright clear orange and sunshine yellow. They have turned their faces towards the yard walls for some mysterious reason. Maybe so that I won’t be able to appreciate their beauty!
I listen to the sound of the bees and tune their musical instruments according to what I was hearing. Deep down I am watching, listening, and imitating the bees’ reaction to the flowers even as they walk away from the flowers, they continue playing their songs.
I remember my grandfather, who was so good at harvesting the bees’ honey, saying that if you can manage to imitate the bees’ music, you can also be able to put a swarm of bees and the queen bee into a trance and take away its honey without killing not even a single bee.
But I couldn’t also help thinking that there were people in life who would never really appreciate others; the love they would be getting or even the love they have for the other person.
Somehow they are distorted. If you give them a flower they would throw it in the dustbin without even smelling it. Good things always make them feel inadequate and insecure. It reminds me of this girl that I grew up with. We called her the kicking girl. She was so competitive and distorted. She played football with the boys, she fought with boys, and she would beat us even though we were of the same age.
The funny thing about her was that she was afraid of fighting other girls and even got beaten by girls younger than her. But with boys, there were no rules so she always won. If you were small she would beat you, if you were bigger she would kick you, and she went about provoking fights.
If you run away she would laugh at you so you had to stick around and fight her so that she won’t have the pleasure of humiliating you and she would beat you.
The best that you could do was to hurl hurtful words, and you would know they have hurt her by the way she flies at you. This girl came from an ugly family.
I am still thinking of this girl when charlotte comes for me, half an hour later and fortunately for me she is good on her word this time, and she is with her friend which I feel is a welcome thing for it means we could try to talk to each other without trying to kill each other. I also know that she would try to tolerate me a bit today.
A soft quiet, a kind of soft enlacing fills me as I accompany them to Zengeza 2 shopping centre where she is going to take a lift back to Harare where they have relocated as a family.
Our church is in the middle of a small forest so we take the small trail out of this forest and this small trail revolves into a footpath and the footpath revolves into a big road and its something that I can’t help noticing as we are making our way and I can’t help thinking it should have been the case with our relationship.
Even though we have been seeing each other for three years now, we were still basically estranged as lovers, fighting every day for our spaces and identities but seeing her wass the only thing that seemed to hem in my longing for her a bit. However, it also inflated my depression and if I see her I still missed her and if I don’t see her I still missed her but this time I have decided not to force things upon her but let her do the reaching out.
We are at the intersection of this big road with another when she enters this intersection without checking for traffic on the other side of the road and I grab her some real hard to make her avoid getting run down by a truck that is coming from the other side of the intersection, turning into the side of the road that we are in and this makes me realise that there is something that is troubling her.
But she lightens a bit when we meet some friends who are dating, and the girl has a new pair of shoes we joke with this girl telling her that her boyfriend is such a good keeper, taking care of her and my girlfriend’s friend, Melody, even makes some jibes at me saying that I am not doing any better by my girl. I reply to her jokingly, that I am a sucker for pleasing my woman so if I have to do something it has to be the best there is but also that she wouldn’t take it.
All this is easy banter and it makes us laugh a little bit.
When we come midway through our journey Charlotte tells us that she had collapsed during midweek and that she had been admitted at the Avenues clinic, in the Harare Avenues area for a couple of days. I ask her what was wrong, and she says.
“Maybe it’s stress.”
She looks so vulnerable with a look of exhaustion in her eyes, and I would really like to hold her in my arms and protect her from whatever is troubling her, but I can’t take the chance.
I ask her what is stressing her, and she says petulantly.
“You could be the one who is stressing me.”
It makes me feel bad, and I know that’s exactly how she wants me to feel so I do not let that trouble me that much and do not show her that it is troubling me and that she has hurt me.
I know Charlotte likes to fight with me and is always spoiling for a fight with me and some other times I have avoided getting sucked into a fight with her by keeping my cool but some other times that I just couldn’t keep cool and raised some of the issues with her and we would fight it out like bloody hell. We are just Euclidean children, parallelism in constancy right to the end of things, and this I have come to accept about us.
That try I have always tried to make her feel comfortable with me but that a non-Euclidean way of being in which lines, ideas, thoughts, and feelings could come together here or far out there, at the vanishing Lough is not to be ours to have. I have also come to accept that the grab zone is always too big with us and that the corners are always too sharp it always makes her feel better whenever she fought things out with me.
Maybe I have just gone along, in this typical woman style, believing that if you are constantly fighting with your partner then it means there are problems and that the relationship is doomed. I know I believe love is not an easy thing but it sure makes the harder parts easier to work through, maybe I just want the kind of love that is as comfortable as old slippers.
But I also knew that this fighting was corroding my sense of self-worth so the only way out was for me to try to avoid situations that could put us into each other’s throats
When she realises that I have ignored her she provokes me more by saying that that would be her last time coming over to Chitungwiza since they have finally packed as a family and were now staying in Harare.
She says something like.
“There is nobody I care about good here for me to come here again.”
She either was feeling the forthcoming loss to become of her move to Harare and the gravity of fear of being alone could be eating her consciousness or she was really meaning well this time, that she doesn’t care anymore about anyone that side of Chitungwiza.
I did not know what to say to her but I want to say.
I do care a lot about you charlotte so you shouldn’t be saying this.
But I can’t say this because I am afraid it might invoke Dear John bombs like.
I don’t want you to care for me. You are not so important to me. I don’t want your love. Tat tat tara.
When she finds out that I have ignored her again she starts to talk girls’ stuff with Melody and I can only join them here and there when I know something about whatever they are talking of but most of the times I am just quite to myself. Somehow I knew without accepting it that this was going to be the last day I could ever lay my eyes on her if she was going to stick to what she had said.
I also know that all this angst that is being directed at me has something to do with another guy she has been seeing who hasn’t been coming out good. Her friend Melody had told me about this guy and deep down my heart I am all the happier for it that their relationship with this guy is imploding. I am also happy that I could be the only one vying for her heart now.
I also make a new conviction to fight for her even though a couple of weeks before I have been meaning to let her go when I heard about this guy but anyone could have seen that it was the cage that was revolving and that everything else was still the same.
By the time we reach the bus stop we are settled into each other’s company for the day but I also know there is something that is still bothering her. She takes the next bus that comes by and when she is embarking and is reaching for her bag that I have been carrying for her I tell her I was coming with her.
She is surprised but she doesn’t protest against this.
Deep down in my heart, I have come to terms with the fact that this is the last time we could be seeing each other and so what I want to do is to spend as much time with her as is possible so that’s why I have instantly decided to accompany her. She takes a two-seat in the middle of the bus and when we have settled down we start talking about my birthplace in Nyanga, Nyatate area.
This comes about when she says she still misses her time at school and this school, St Mary’s Magdalene secondary school is in my birthplace so we talk about this place. Even though we are now communicating well, this time I can still feel some contained thing or some sort of energy inside her waiting to explode any moment.
I also realised there is a creature inside her that I can never be good enough to bring out or even be stronger enough to reach out for. I keep the conversation about Nyanga, and when she starts to answer me with boredom, yawning in her voice, I keep silent.
We do not talk about anything much after this because she is engrossed in whatever is in the storm of her heart or in the landscape of her own psychosis. So what gives with her? But I do not ask her.
Later, when I am paying our bus fares to the Conductor, she says.
“This is the last time you will be paying my bus fares, so thanks a lot, David.”
She seems to be talking to someone inside her. The conductor throws a shadow at her and she shivers and I do not know whether it is due to fear of our parting or of something else that she is shivering. I do not have small monies to pay for our bus fares so I use the $100 billion note that I have when all that the conductor wants is only $2 billion dollars for the two of us.
When I give the conductor this bill Charlotte looks at me with this look as if she is saying I am just being pretentious but the conductor tells me that he will give me my change money when we will be disembarking at the Charge-office bus stop.
I am dry for something more to say to her and the bus is moving so slowly as if its destination would never come and I don’t even enjoy the freedom of this open road. Outside the bus, the western sky is a beautiful blue.
Such sweet blue is curled around the sun but inside the bus, it is so hot, clammy, and noisy, and I wonder a lot why all the other people in the bus had so much to talk to each other about when Charlotte and I didn’t have anything to say to the other.
This was a fitting example of the tone of our relationship for three years.
Very little to talk to each other about and we have always been two desolate islands standing against each other, lost and abandoned. The problems we needed to fix ran deeper, leagues and leagues into the ocean of our relationship. Charlotte was very physically attractive in a fragile way. I was animated with her but never flirtatious around her.
I have always been flirty with other girls, but this lack and the dilemma were also a problem
When we arrived at the Charge-office bus stop, we were in the middle of the bus so we had to follow the line of those disembarking, and the queue ahead and after us was ten minutes deep. When we disembarked, the conductor still didn’t have my change money, so we waited for him as he finished checking the other half of the queue of those disembarking.
Charlotte started complaining about this waiting and told me that her father was waiting for her at the Fourth street bus stop so she couldn’t wait any longer and I begged her not to leave me but to wait for a couple more minutes for I still wanted to keep her company. When the conductor had finished checking all the tickets he left for a couple of shops nearby to look for the change money and this time, I couldn’t hold her back anymore.
I let her go and she seems like a wind, walks like it, seems to come from it. I also realise that there are some winds we would never really understand even though we face them every day and that the slowness of the conductor in giving me my change money has now acted as the dominator of our destiny.
When the conductor returns back with my change money about two minutes later I am happy I might run and catch up with her before she has reached her father, but the conductor starts rolling through the possibilities of numbers slowly trying to figure out how much he owes me. At one moment I am almost leaving everything in my anger with this conductor but some voice deep inside me tells me that I have already lost her and that our relationship has become simply confusing, not confusing, and worthwhile.
That it is stupid of me to have to lose the money as well in the process so I wait through the conductor’s mathematical additions and subtractions.
I didn’t mind anymore how long it could have taken this conductor to work through the numbers for I was now drenched in a loss-like loss I had never felt before, and in the salt waters of my heart I knew that was it.
She had left me with more than I had left her with. A dry sob hit my chest with the thought attached to it. I have never really opened my heart to anyone before Charlotte. I have had a chance to do that but now she is gone. I do not know whether I will ever find someone someday to give my heart to again.
I also thought of sexual ecstasy and how I have never felt it and of how dating, such a huge strain it was, having to gear up to act as a social being.
When the conductor had given me my change money, I loitered through the deserted Sunday streets of this city, but I was not seeing anything even though I was sometimes gazing into the windows of the buildings in this city.
My mind is an essay to itself, so I do not even enjoy the sun’s rays that I have enjoyed before when the sun is falling low in the western skies, and its golden rays are sipping through tall and small buildings laying broad healing stripes of pale gold on the gap-toothed streets. All that I see is the ends of these streets.
I just walked and walked until when I was tired, and then I took the next bus back to Chitungwiza.