Saturday 6 June 2020

'Scatterlings' by Taffi Nyawanza

Your great-grandfather Romorehuku settled in Skies when he followed a willowy woman with skin like loquat. He assimilated and became Ndebele in all but name. He is buried there. 

Your grandfather Mjubeki trekked to Egoli and never returned. He settled and established an off-shoot family with a gold-toothed Venda woman who sold umqombothi. He caroused with Zulus and Xhosas and Malawians and Zambians and Congolese and lost his fortune in the shebeens.  

Your father Tongai trekked to Salisbury when the war intensified and it became impossible for young men to be in the Tribal Trust Lands without being taken for terrs. Or freedom fighters, if you were a believer.

He lived in the Single Quarters in Matapi and learnt to ride the motorcycle. Your mother and the children, the ones born before you, remained behind in Selukwe. Then, in the year that the Pearce Commission of Inquiry arrived in the country to enquire about self-evident things, your family inched to the top of the housing waiting list and were finally allocated a core house in a place called Canaan in the Highfields Township. There, you were born on 29th February.

When the family grew some, he moved you again, this time across the highway to Glen-View, right opposite the porky, little library built by Rotarians. That little library was your joy and window to a world beyond Glen-View. It is where you first read about The Famous Five and Biggles the Flying Ace and the Boy Scouts. Where you discovered that the bible comes in all sorts of versions; the Good News bible, the Authorised King James Version, the New International Version, the Spirit-filled bible, the Bishop’s Bible with Concordance, the Bible for Boys, and so on. 

You became obsessed with boy scouts and with knots and patrols and camporees and jamborees. And at the jamboree in Gweru, you met the American with astonishing red hair, like the burning bush, and strident voice.

‘I am a leaper like you,’ he yelled. ‘Welcome to the Honour Society of Leap Day Babies.’

You became pen-pals and bonded over motorcycles, your other passion which you inherited from your father, and the upsides of a Leap year birthday. It is he who invited you to Milwaukee for a short visit. You stayed on and spawned your own line with a minor royal from the Kingdom of Toro.
Your eldest, the manga animator, has moved to Tokyo with his work and has started his own family with the eldest of your red-haired pen-pal.  

Your middle one is on tour, taking in Bali, Thailand and the Philippines, with his accapela quartet. 

This fall, your youngest will enter graduate school in New England to read English. That is because as a sophomore, he wrote an amusing story in the style of the bible which won a state-wide commendation; about the one who brought you out in order to bring you in, and about your great-grandfather who begat your grandfather who begat your father who begat y’all.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic writing, Taffi! As a fellow Zimbo out in the diaspora this was a lovely little taste of home :) Do you have any other writing out there? I'd love to read more of your stuff :)


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