The letter from Uncle Tobias came exactly a month after he had returned to Umtali from the village, taking the new red Volkswagen back with him. Zviroto was just closing the cattle kraal, using horizontal wooden poles when little Ruru rushed with the good news, a radiant smile defining her face. It had been a busy day indeed. It had rained all day and all his clothes were drenched to the skin. Because of the rains, the cattle had also given big problems. Especially Charubeki. If it was not for the fatigue and hunger pangs, he would give it a thorough beating in the kraal right now… ………….. A while later whilst seated on the dung painted kitchen bench, he never stopped to think what he will achieve as a Fort Victoria City Council cleaner.
According to urbandictionary.com, Nyau is a Malawian cultural/religious (usually men’s) secret society that is a central part of the Chewa tribe. Members perform a dance called “Gule Wamkulu” or the “big dance” at weddings, funerals, initiations and other celebrations or gatherings where they take the form of an animal or “beast” and communicate messages from the ancestors to the village. They may also kidnap people and do other naughty stuff like extort money. The term can be used in reference to the society or the masked dancers themselves.
The years had been hard and full of toil. Over those years, she had never stopped to think of how much things had changed since her husband’s untimely death. So when her only son, Zviroto, married, she had cried, danced and ululated with joy. “Mwari mandiona. Kudzwai Jehovha. Munoona shirikadzi”. She had even written a letter to her brother Tobias in Umtali of the growth of the family. But alas, what started with tears of joy slowly turned into years of sheer, unmet expectancy. That unfulfilled yearning for her son to have a child slowly turned into a somewhat conviction she would not get to hold her son’s child. This scary thought made her withdraw into her cocoon. But she never stopped praying… *** So when the letter from Zviroto had come that evening, telling her they now had a son after many years of barrenness, she never wasted time. That next morning, the first bus that passed through the village found her already standing impatiently under the giant musasa tree.
When Uncle Tobias brought the new car from Umtali, the news quickly spread like a veld fire across the village. The news was filtered mid morning into the village by Nhetsu, the old man. We had just finished tethering the goats in the abandoned fields nearby. When we came back, Nhetsu, the old man was seated on the cow dung painted kitchen bench already, chuckling animatedly with gogo and enjoying the tea. He had just been to the bottle store where he had gone to buy his snuff. How we hated this old man!. We always wondered why he had a tendency of coming exactly during our breakfast and lunch times… And we overhead it. Uncle Tobias…Umtali…new car…bottle store…drinking…it shall come…today…. The words wafted in delightful bursts into our already anxious ears. *** However to our disappointment, Uncle Tobias did not arrive promptly in the village. He had spent a good part of the day at the bottle store, six kilometres away, embibing pitchers of clear beer. When the red Volkswagen finally arrived, we all left the cattle grazing in the wide valley oblivious of the consequences and ran along the narrow path home…..