65. Today, 9 August 2019, marks my fifty-fourth year as a resident at the Matapi Flats in Mbare…( J. Makonise)5 min read

Today, 9 August 2019, marks my fifty-fourth year as a resident at the Matapi Flats in Mbare. I must
say, life has not been so cosy and rosy after all, but l have survived.
“Hodha bhero! Hodha bhero!” It’s always a scramble to get access to the latest bale on the market each morning. Mothers rush to grab one or two t-shirts for their children, hoping to shield them from the scotching sun or cold winter breeze. Children flock to St Peter’s Secondary School, full of joy and excitement. A dark cloud looms over my household. Rejection and isolation has left me with no hope at all that some day my community will accept and embrace me.

I remember the times when we would gather around a bonfire, with ‘Mukanya’ leaving us drenched in the pleasant realm of soothing African traditional music. Those were the days when unity and love were the pillar stones of our communities. I witnessed our culture fading day by day and the ‘generational gap’ era take over the nation by storm. It was the time when minds evolved and started a revolution against traditions that existed for centuries- cultural erosion and cultural dilution. It was in that time that people delighted in nakedness than covering their God-given accolades. It was in that same phase where youngsters found joy in stealing than asking or working to get what they needed. That is when respect was lost. It’s the reason why l am in this catastrophic state.
Just a week ago whilst going through my usual morning routine of feeding the chickens and watering my one metre by one metre vegetable garden, l decided to take a stroll down Simon Mazorodze Street, towards the Star FM radio station. Still in the wee hours of the morning, l grabbed my jacket, locked my wooden door and started off my journey. I had always done this every fortnight, little did l know that today was going to be quite different.

It was still the same old route, the same trees l always saw but a different day.
Humming to one of Jah Prayzah’s tunes, Kumahumbwe, l got lost in my own world of thought.
Memories of my childhood sweetheart cascaded into my mind, leaving my heart void due to lack of love. He had been assassinated during the second Chimurenga war in 1966. May his dear soul rest in eternal peace. Just then, l felt a jerk on my right shoulder. I reluctantly looked back, hoping to see one of the street children l usually offered candy during my little escalades. However, it was not the light-skinned seven year old boy l hoped to see or the twelve year old Ndebele lad who loved my Zezuru dialect.

l saw a frail looking man. Short, masculine, fairly-bald headed with ears stuck to his head. He must have been around twenty-two years of age, close enough to be my second born child if things hadn’t turned out the way they did. My Shumba Murambwi, l miss you. He wore a tattered yellow tshirt, written ‘Born to win’ and a pair of khaki shorts which had different coloured patches. He wore no shoes and seemed to be comfortable tracking bare footed in this cold. He stared straight into my eyes and did the most unexpected move. He slapped my right cheek. A seventy-four year old childless mother slapped by a man old enough to be her son.
‘Strip down to your underwear.’ He said that in a voice so hoarse that it sent shivers down my spine.

My bladder was about to explode. Was this the way l was going to lose my well-kept virginity, my pride as a woman? I tried pleading with him, begging him to show mercy on me but he turned a deaf ear. He dragged me towards a bushy area and ravaged my body. He travelled to lengths beyond his imagination. He was a man on a mission. He was a stranger l met on my way to the radio station.
Indeed, we ‘met’.
10minutes and he was done. He ran off with all my clothing. Imagine seeing a seventy-four year old woman naked in a bushy area, in the early hours of the morning. My body couldn’t move an inch.

Pain got the most of me. I was weak and had no energy to shout for help. Next thing, l woke up surrounded by a group of angry residents of Mbare, accusing me of witchcraft. Yes, just because l was old and naked in front of them, l became a witch. I realised that trying to explain my situation to them was not going to yield any positive results. I accepted my fate and was led to the community grounds where people mocked me, threw stones at me and beat me till their last breath.
I was ashamed, embarrassed and neglected because of one man’s desire to exploit a woman. I blame the stranger l met on my way for defiling me. I blame him for inflicting pain and rejection upon my life. I blame that stranger for leaving me stranded in that bushy area with no clothing.

Ultimately, l blame myself for taking a walk on that fateful day.
I am tired of living. I am now ‘the walking dead’. That stranger walks free, with no persecution whilst l suffer the repercussions of his actions. This will be my last time communicating with anyone before l join my husband. In a few seconds, the rat poison l engulfed would have taken charge of my system. Till we meet again fellow comrades!