2 Short Fictions of Mbizo Chirasha, of which the first is titled Letter to God

Usually ,autumn arrived  with god’s gifts of  multi- colored costumes  of blooming  flowers , their petals  nodding erotically to the  hesitant sun, the sun winked back secretly  to the smiling flowers  . Bees and cicadas haunting them like delinquent boys to village damsel’s .This time, the earth becomes a beautiful princess scented with natural perfume    and clad in floral gowns of pink, yellow, white, peach and ox blood red.

June is a vicious dog, it brought howling winds and winter’s canines grazed deep into our lives. The earth is undressed into utter nudity. Elephant grass saluted to the passing wind like grandfathers surrendering life. Our hills spotted jailbird’s bald shave as they nodded to the winter’s sirens: whirlwind and dust ripples .Forests stood shell shocked in their torn overalls. Flowers are tightlipped, their cousins rot into extinction   waiting for rain when the earth is born again. The cold bruised sun is a patch on   the undergarments of grey horizons .This time, the moon is a hesitant bride. It is winter and nights are ink black and unfriendly. Hyenas wail in pain of winter’s bite, regular face- booking of monkeys is on hold. Cicadas are silent like birds. Sometimes hills wept to each other under the veil of mist and the shivering moon   lulled our somber souls into sleep until the next morning. When morning comes , the  baldheaded  hills are ready for a fight, standing proud in anticipation of sunshine or rain , alas the biting winds persisted and  the hills are  resilient too  and  similar to the undying spirits of  peasants  eking out life from tracks of hard red earth on the fringes of Zvagona hills.  At night hills were draped in robes of white mist and towards dawn, they fit onto skirts of grey and top gear of blue. We were told ancestors walked alongside the mist at nights and in mornings they would go into deep sleep. The mystery of Zvagona hills, hills of home. During that season, we stacked loads of firewood for warmth, cooking meals and brewing traditional beer. We lived off the forests.

When Gods are angry, the earth is clad in rags like an imbecile. It wears a black torn monkey hat over itself like a pick pocketter. The air is taunt with foul smell of decaying lives. Baboon’s sermons are placed in God’s wardrobe. Our creased faces told sorry tales of poverty and hunger gnawing the pits of our bellies

When the red glow of heat persisted like in hell. Silence and barrenness are weaved together onto red earth. While rivers become white washed skeletons of dry sand .Elders spoke in tongues to the wind, we lost their words  in the pleats of their elderly  language .After some days  they traverse to the end of the earth to supplicate  Zame, the spirit of rain  . Njelele, Zame’s disciple would direct them to Nyami Nyami, the goddess of water .They are told to wash their feet and dance to Gods. They were punished for replacing forests with concrete jungles. Birds and spirits of the land were now vagabonds. They are told the earth is simmering in abomination and Gods are angry and choked with carbon laced fumes. They are warned of the coming of devil’s triplets: hunger, heat waves and cyclones. They paid their ornaments, applauded the gods and returned to their hovels underneath the fringes of Zvagona hills.

Later, when heavens get overexcited. Gods washed our sins with tears of their joy, rains washed and blessed our land. The earth is born again and is dressed to kill in its usual   green gowns and floral doek’s .We danced to the clap of thunder and camera flashes of lightening winked at us. Our poverty marinated, yellow maize teeth grinned to sudden glows of lightening .Sometimes lightening jolts sank our tender hearts into our rib -boxes. Zvagona hills also gyrated under the grip of thunder. We danced still for the blessing of rain and rebirth. Our planting fields were patches of alluvial earth between the hems of the hills and the banks of Mamvuramachena “river of white waters” .Sooner pumpkins bred like rabbits, veldts wore a silver cap of water and new dark green military combat of sprouting elephant grass. Smells of fresh dung and the scent of fresh udder mik were our morning brew. The new grass fattened our cows, their oily skins shimmered under God’s obedient sun.

Our mothers traversed from hill to hill harvesting mushroom, nhedzi, zvihombiro, nzeveyambuya nezhouchuru ‘names of different kind of mushrooms’. Wild mushroom is an African delicacy, a delicacy that raised us from mucus drooling   kindergartens into goat bearded grown-ups. Wild fruits of maroro, nhengeni and nhunguru were showered to us by the excited Gods. Bushes became our second homes. We dried fruits and mushroom for the future with the aid of our loving grandmothers. We salivated to the rich fart of roasting meat and baking bread emitted from kitchen huts. Grass beautifies the earth as food beautifies lives. We enjoyed to see our goats getting fat. Bush honey was abundant. We fought successful battles with ferocious red bees for the mouthwatering delicacy, dendende sweet red honey. We accompanied the red honey hunt with a song
Sunga musoro wedendende
Sunga wakanaka  dendedende
Sunga musoro wededende ,
sunga wakanaka dendende
Sunga wakanaka dendende
sunga wakanaka dendende

The rhythm had returned.

When cockerels   announced   the new days, eastern hills were beautifully capped with the glow of orange hats from the sparkling sunrays   . Baboons cuddled each other in the wake of dawn romance. Rock rabbits jived to the acoustics of cicada tunes and to the discord of village sounds. Mother monkeys rebuked their babies from over eating. Down the stream, fish and toads bathed in smoking falls of fresh water. They are home again. Shezu ‘honey bird’ spoiled the festival by singing a warning hymn, maybe for another drought to come or death of a reputable person. Nights are stitched with thread of hyena’s laughter’s and the syntactic hymns of owls.

Our elders sang in contented choruses, nhaka inhara meaning ‘the year is blessed with rains’.

We sang to the silver white moon that was fresh from God’s mouth as it sat on its throne, over the fontanels of Zvagona hills, Mwedzi wagara ndira uyo    tigo   tigo ndira –and later with time   the moon was ripe to go we bade her farewell    mwedzi waora    ndira tigo tigo     ndira.

Now many years had passed since I left for the city, two decades away from years of dance and abundance. The land is now a wretched vagabond. I am sitting underneath the ragged skirts of mystery hills, pondering if   my great ancestor’s bones and spirits are still lying here. I see the luxury of rotating seasons is long lost in the abrupt silence of this land. The tenor of birdsongs and baritones of baboons on the mountain zenith is no more. Birds and baboons are long gone, maybe to blessed climes. The joyous scream of hyenas and jackals at dawns was cut short .The joy of reeds dancing to the soprano of mighty streams was remote silenced. A deadly silence.

The sun’s heat is menacing as if tongs of red hot charcoal are floating in the air. The heavens are rude and clear blue .Waves of heat turned the earth into a baking oven. Fields are chunks of dried and burnt bread. Trees are strips of roasted biltong. Cyclones passed through and carried away my ancestor’s bones to faraway seas. Skeletal dunes of sand replaced our mighty Mamvuramachena ‘river of white waters’
Hills are bald headed and wearing a herpes zoster belt around their bellies. They are sweating under the grip of heat caused eczema. I suppose we are cursed.  Nyami nyami once warned of hunger, cyclones and heat waves, the menacing triplets.

Behold my earth is naked.

Dear beloved God   are we cursed?

River Goddess
Throbs and thuds of drums tinkered from behind those naked hills. Dogs barked madly as drums continue to tinker from a distance .They continued barking to nothing but rather to the invisible sound of throbbing drums. It was towards the end of winter. Pastures strutted in brown jackets of dead grass. The wind was cold and cheeky baboons yelped in lowered tones. Fields were empty. The night was young and willing to grow. Ambuya Ratsauka was widely awake and mumbling alone in a hushed manner. “He killed you that viper! Dogs are licking bare bottoms of grinding stones. ” Ambuya grunted. She snorted loudly, black drool splashed from her nostrils. She wept quietly hiding her remorse from the howling winds outside.

“Tisvikewo!” The visitor and his voice were familiar. “Tisvikewo o...….!” The intruder persisted impatiently. Ambuya trotted to the door, wiping the sting of tears with the back of her palms. She heaved an abrupt response with her ever – joyful baritone laced voice. “Ndiani! ndianiko! , aha pindaaa……….i”. She enquired, while at same time calculating the shadow of the intruder. She was surprised to see him visiting her this time of the day. A towering gigantic figure with his handsomeness overshadowed by bushy, cotton tuft hair and neglected grey beard stood by the entrance. He then limped hesitantly into the dark hut. He coughed from the sting of black soot dangling under the thatched roof. His rib shattering cough vibrated the walls. The hut reeked of old stale urine and a strange smell of ancient snuff. The walls were draped in soot coated silver trinkets, tinkling golden coins and smelly rags of goat skin. The visitor pulled his nostrils like a wild baboon.

Amboyna Ratsauka ordered Dandajena to sit more closely since age had burnt her ears.

“Imi chihera. Mutunhu unemhago .Varidzi veDungwiza .Ndati ndikutsikeyi sezvamareva” ” Dandajena mumbled a totemic praise before sitting down .He stared fixedly into Ambuya’s eyeballs. His millet beer scorched mouth trembled. He made a quick gaze outside and then stared back to the motionless bundle of firewood and then back to Ambuya again. Silence interrupted the hot air inside the hut.

Ambuya retorted in a frenzy as if possessed, “Don’t play with me sit down .Viper! You soiled the village .Sit down and listen”. She jabbed his forehead with her middle finger .Her lips shivered like sunburnt banana leaves. In a jolt of lightening, Ambuya grabbed Dandajena by the torn hem of his ragged overalls. It was a tight bolt grip. She wailed, the echo sent shockwaves into the dilapidating walls. She cornered him the same way boxers do to their opponents .He gasped in utter shock. Ambuya Ratsauka waved a blind fist in his direction. It landed in his face and he spat his front tooth tainted with blood. Dandajena groaned, bellowed and then tumbled down with a loud thud. She paused a bit thinking that he was dead. She cursed the gods. She rushed towards him and then squatted over his head. She urinated into his right eardrum. Her warm urine smashed him inside. She fanned him with the hems of her torn skirt .He rolled his eyes, an exhibit of being alive. She giggled and spat onto his sweating forehead. Remains of her black drool spattered onto the floor...Dandajena rose and feverishly squatted near the cold fireplace. He regretted ever coming to her.

“Ambuya I came because you called for me. I will not fight back, the Gods will be angry”. Dandajena pleaded. He wiped the sticking remains of the saliva ball on his forehead. Thin layers of blood caked his lips. His upper lip swelled into an ear of wild mushroom.

“Nonsense! They are already angry”, Ambuya interjected.

Dandajena made a high jump stride to the door. “Dandajena the village is weeping, the granaries are yawning with emptiness. The heavens are laughing at us because of you”. She persisted .She ground her brown teeth and spat harshly into the dying embers of the cold fireplace. An abrupt rush of wind swept across the hut and she giggled again. Dogs barked outside and the wind howled in agreement.

Dandajena scratched his head. The sound of scratches resonated with the howling winds outside Ambuya’s rondavel. Drums continued to tinker from a distance. He knelt in front of her, clapping and berating praises. “Ndimi varidzi vepasi. Musaramwa chirongo nokuda kwepwere yenyu. Mhaka inoripwa .Ndipei mukana. Shava yangu nhuka.” He recited the praise with the heart stuck in the throat .Sounds of the barking dogs slowly faded and got succeeded by midnight cockerel alarms from beyond those grey hills. Dandajena village had lost its usual rhythm due to incessant droughts. No more bird songs, riverside gossips, cockerel alarms or barking dogs. The vibe was long gone. Planting fields remained fallow for years. Naked skies hesitantly winked to the bare bottoms of the village .Danda hills stood confidently in their bald shave, suffering the humiliation of the roasting hell of a sun. Incessant droughts rendered the village lifeless. The air was hot and thick with rot. The stench of dying and dead lives choked the breath of that earth. Elders sold off their daughters for food rations. Barter trade.

The alarming cockerels helped to ease the drama inside the hut. A pot of millet beer stood there in a lone stature. It frothed to the brim like the smile of a full moon. It was emitting a sweet and beautiful scent of freshly baked bread. The catchy smell wafted around the hut. Dandajena snorted carelessly .He salivated and wetted his cracking lips with his tongue. Ambuya staggered from the trap of her slumber as if seized by demons. She lifted the pot of brew with a whirlwind grip. She made loud swigs and her gulps were heavy. .She stole a rushed glance outside and then shoved a cup of millet brew into Dandajena's hands. He cracked a wide smile for the first time that night. He swigged madly. Afterwards, she summoned Dandajena to carry her drum. She carried a pot of brew over her cotton tuft head. Ambuya was beautiful. She had a serrated tooth and her waist beards were made of wild seeds. Their jingling sounds resonated with her gigantic strides towards the river. She was leading the way. She fumbled a song until they arrived. It was an ancient traditional hymn. It was their traditional hymn. The lines were difficult to master. Ambuya warned him not to say any word unless she ordered him to. Dandajena nodded in agreement.

The scent of rotting carcasses crept around the river. A clatter of whitewashed bones covered up for that sorry state. The midnight air was tense and demonic. Ambuya bellowed and belched incessantly. They knelt down beside the dark enclosure of river made of rock boulders. Ambuya Ratsauka poured three gulps of millet beer on mounds of sand and sniffed from the snuff container made from ram’s horn .That horn was her souvenir. She sneezed unstoppably amid silent whispers and hushed incantations. She bellowed again from the pit of her belly, pleading with the blowing winds, the air, the spirits and the god’s for forgiveness. Ambuya instructed Dandajena to imitate after her. They clapped their hands with a supplicating thud, facing the balding hills of home .She fumbled some poetic verses, “Kunemwi varidzi vemvura. Vanoinaisa nokupfekedza nyika .Ndauya nayo ndumure iye kuzoreva mhosva .Botso tariona tapfidza. Tipeiwo donhodzo vazukuru vagute. Imwi varipasi .Varikumhepo . Nemwi Nyadenga, Musikavanhu noMupi wazvose.” Ambuya Ratsauka wept bitterly, her trembling forefinger pointed to the direction of the decaying village. A gust of invisible wind swept through her eyes to nowhere. A fat bead of tears drenched her dust clutched feet. She ordered Dandajena to beat the drum slowly. She mumbled a hymn under her lips .It grew into a fatty ancestral song. It popcorn - cracked into the thickness of the night .She trotted back and forth as the drum tinkled in agreement with her dance steps .She slid into another spirited frenzy . Her gourd shaped head shook languidly in an unstoppable trail of trances. She sprinkled a shower of black snuff into the wind, blowing it to all directions of the earth .Storms of sweat poured over her old but delicate frame. Lightening flashed in a wink of a second .It cracked with a heart- thudding jolt. Dandajena was left dazed as Amboyna disappeared alongside the lightening thread. Fear seized his heart and a shower of sweat trickled down his age smitten spine. Ambuya returned abruptly than his expectation. Her right hand was tightly holding a mound of fresh mud. Dandajena’s mouth gaped in awe .He wanted to speak, he then reminded himself of the warning .Darkness soon blanketed the earth. Heavy clouds billowed above lazy and tired hills of the east. Spiritual quietness replaced the village’s deathly silence. Thunder roared, flashes of lightening streaked across the drought shaved pastures. A heavy down pour cleansed the abominated village.Ambuya smiled as heaven’s tears washed away sins from the land of her fathers. Frogs, fervent patriots of rain giggled with joy in sheets of floating water. Dawn arrived as if nothing had happened. It carried bold rays of hope that erased the tight grip of darkness from the land , the sun as though a yellow ball peeped through the newly rain washed hills .Its rays passionately caressing the tired skin of those village elders. “Dandajena! Dandajena! Dandajena! Do not kill the Nyami Nyami again”. Ambuya was choked by her last words. Tears bathed Dandajenas old beard. He wobbled towards home like a squashed worm. Ironically damp air around was pleasant and new. He drank gulps of that refreshment with mixed feelings of content and sudden loss. He sobbed profusely for Ambuya’s sudden death.

Mbizo Chirasha is the Poet in Residence at the Fictional Café (international publishing and literary digital space). 2019 Sotambe Festival Live Literature Hub and Poetry Café Curator. 2019 African Fellow for the International Human Rights Art Festival (ihraf.org), Essays Contributor to Monk Art and Soul Magazine in United Kingdom. Arts Features Writer at the International Cultural Weekly. Founder and Chief Editor of WOMAWORDS LITERARY PRESS. Founder and Curator of the Brave Voices Poetry Journal. Co-Editor of Street Voices Poetry trilingual collection (English, African languages and German), initiated by Andreas Weiland in Germany. Poetry contributor to AtunisPoetry.com in Belgium. African Contributor to DemerPress International Poetry Book Series in Netherlands. African Contributor to the World Poetry Almanac Poetry Series in Mongolia. His latest 2019 collection of experimental poetry A LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT was released by Mwanaka Media and Publishing and is both in print on Amazon.com, and is featured at African Books Collective. 2003 Young Literary Arts Delegate to the Goteborg International Book Fair Sweden (SIDA AFRICAN PAVILION). 2009 Poet in Residence of the International Conference of African Culture and Development (ICACD) in Ghana. 2009 Fellow to the inaugural UNESCO Africa Photo Novel Publishers and Writers Training in Tanzania. 2015 Artist in Residence of the Shunguna Mutitima International Film and Arts Festival in Livingstone, Zambia. A globally certified literary arts influencer. Writer in Residence and Recipient of the EU-Horn of Africa Defend Defenders Protection Fund Grant. Recipient of the Pen Deutschland Exiled Writer Grant. He is an Arts for Peace and Human Rights Catalyst, the Literary Arts Projects Curator, poet, writer, publicist, and is published in more 200 spaces in print and online.