“So, that’s pretty much it,” Penguin explained as the video concluded. “What do you think? Unozvikwanisa? I had suggested it to the others but they weren’t all for it, Twista says zvinozowandisa magetsi. But iwewe…” he looked over at Mona. “I’ve seen you uchitamba,
I honestly think you’ve got what it takes. You in?”
She looked down at her feet. Why had she worn those shoes? They’d been a Christmas gift from Mufaro. She only wore them when visiting Mufaro’s friends or the odd occasion, and in town once or twice.
“I’ll let you think about it. But we don’t have a lot of time ka. No pressure,” he said with a smile.
The choreography was a bit complex, she didn’t know if she was up for it. That doubt and the mild pang of disappointment that the meeting had been nothing more.
“Ko the gear though,” PK began eyeing the sparkly pumps and short navy summer dress, “Kasi, uri kuenda kuParty?” double whammy. Mona really just wanted to disappear, or at the
least go home, no matter how upset Mufaro probably was.
“Perkins! Hey, Perkiiiiinsss!” a group of young people walked past the field.
Mona spotted one very beautiful girl, short, fair, voluptuous. She definitely isn’t waving at me, she thought.
“Hey, PK! You coming?” the girl called over.
“Sha, I gotta go. We’ll talk yeah?” he smiled as he turned to Mona, then jumped down from the
terraces and ran in the direction of the cool kids. MaSalad Paida would have called them.
Deflated, Mona made her way home. Perkins, well, at least I know his real name now.
Her phone buzzed violently as she
got through the door.
2 New Messages
The small screen squealed.
U wud be great tho.
Think about it.
She reread the last message. Think about it. Hah! She had. Her mind was well made up. She wasn’t going to. No way. She wasn’t a pawn in a chess game. That Perkins, did he think she
was his puppet, just because she didn’t have a voice of her own? And who was that girl anyway, the pretty one, the one who had called him over so boldly as if he had better things to do than sit with “the dummy”?
Mona felt tears well up in her eyes. What had she been thinking? That he actually liked her? That he wanted to be her friend? He probably just felt sorry for her, and she despised pity.
Neither Mufaro nor her wayward beau were home. Thank God! Mona didn’t think she could stomach them at that moment. She hid her head in her pillow, till it was soaked in her frustration. Violent, hot, bitter brine water. Tears were stubborn like that at times. Several days had passed.
“Nhai PK, mwana wacho aripi? Weren’t you hanging out with her? Wakamuiita sei?” Charlie interrogated.
“PK, don’t be acting malove stories pabasa, wanzwa? Where’s the girl? We have work to do, hapana time for games” Twista fumed as he grilled the dancer. There were only a few weeks left. Where was Mona?
“Ah, ah, ah, amana. How am I supposed to know? I didn’t do nothing to her, I just…” PK broke off in the middle of his defence.
“Just, just chii? Aripi? Where is she man?” Twista’s chest heaved at that point.
“Charlie, kaRoutine kaya, that’s all I showed her, that’s it. You don’t think, ndakamubvundutsa
right? I thought she was up for it. I…”
“PK!” Charlie clasped his forehead in exasperation. PK and his great ideas.
Mona wheezed heavily. Her heart raced faster than her size four feet as they padded the
ground. She ran. She hadn’t been much of an athlete at school, but she was quite accustomed to running. Running from classes, from assembly, from her form teacher, from Stacey and her crew of tyrants. Just running. Always running.
The only exception that day was that she was running from… herself.
Exasperated, panting, she sagged into a heap as she reached the summit of the hill the
locals had christened Gomo rePwere. The hill was the pinnacle of Mona’s identity. It was where she had fled when Mufaro and the world overwhelmed her, where she had disappeared to when her peers had gone for maSports, where she had many a time grieved for her late parents, it was where she had cried out words she ached that she could scream. It was where she had learned to dance.
Huddled on top of the hill, her arms wrapped tightly around her legs, she looked out over the
horizon and exhaled. In her mind’s eye, she saw the ghosts of her memories dancing around the hilltop, a tableau of times past playing out the scenes of her life painted upon the landscape. She saw her twelve-year-old self, a happier Mona, a lively, full Mona, years before the accident, hiding from her sister behind the hill’s granite boulders. She could hear the wailing of a heartbroken teen, coming to terms with being orphaned. The agonized wordless cries of a young girl. She saw Paida spinning wildly in an attempt to keep up with her friend’s
amateur choreography. She smiled, as she remembered how Paida had toppled over whilst trying to Voshso. What a gormless creature. A tear trickled down Mona’s cheek. Why was she so afraid? What would become of her? Would she always be…?
As she brushed away the stray tear, she heard a still small voice,
Mona, Trust me…
Whether from the wind, from inside her, or from her imagination Mona wasn’t sure. But she felt
an inexplicable, overwhelming peace. Strangely enough, whoever they were, whatever the voice meant, in the very pit of her being, Mona just knew, she trusted that all would make sense.
She knew what she had to do.
She lingered a little while longer on the hill, hugging close to her the new embrace of hope
she had received. The moment had passed, but the peace and newly gained strength went with her, as she got up from her resting spot and headed down the hill. There was no need to overstay the welcome and hang around like an off smell, or kunge mweya wetsvina, Gogo had used to say whenever the girls had sat around idly in the kitchen.
“Changamu, changamu. Mashaya zvekuita here vazukuru vangu? No, no, it’s not good, basa haripere rekuita,” Gogo had cautioned.
Then on the days they were overworked and worn, paradoxically,
“Iii, nhai vana vemwanawangu, hamugare pasi? Hmm, no girls, zvinzwireiwo tsitsi, kufirwa hayisi mhosva,” before taking her mid-day dose of fodya.
Mona continued her way down the steep hill, carefully avoiding a defiled clay pot that had been smashed unscrupulously along mharadzano. Mona teasingly shook her head at the dismal pieces. Whatever the voice had meant had given her a new found confidence, a feeling of invincibility. She wasn’t about to be frightened of some folklore about travellers wandering along cursed crossroads.