When Everything Becomes Strange

The hen had run across the road. The elders always believed that such was an indication and signal of an imminent bad omen. The bus was packed to the brim. We were packed like sardines. You could hardly straighten your back. It was Christmas holiday. Most people were travelling from the City to the Village.
The very same evening the owls were hooting unendlessly. I was so frightened. The dogs had been backing continuously. Having had spend much time in the city – I was a stranger in my own village just like Lucifer in Charles Mungoshi’s Waiting for the Rain. That night I could not catch sleep, images of ghosts and the fear of witches kept on crossing my mind.
Maybe someone had cast a bad omen – to my home come.
The next morning I woke up feeling so exhausted. All the elders from our village were gathered under the Msasa tree. There were three clay pots of frothing home-made beer. It was home brew that had been brewed by the elderly women who had reached menopause. Some were already sharing homemade cigarettes (chimonera). Others were bragging about how they can be allowed to smoke snuff (bute) even in the aeroplane. As if they had boarded the plane in their lifetime. This was the village talk – it was their way of socialisation. Everything in this village was done at ease.

I witnessed how uncle Nyandoro stood up and used his palm to wipe his mucus and in no time he was exchanging the drinking gourd with others. As I sat on the reed mat I kept on thinking, whom will I share my fears that there seemed to be a bad omen in the village. Maybe it was the problem of growing up in this society. A society that was so superstitious.

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