I was not sorry when my brother died. Nor am I apologising for my callousness, as you may define it, my lack of feeling. For it is not that at all. I feel many things these days, much more than I was able to feel in the days when I was young and my brother died, and there are reasons for this more than the mere consequence of age. Therefore I shall not apologise but begin by recalling the facts as I remember them that led up to my brother’s death, the events that put me in a position to write this account. For though the event of my brother’s passing and the events of my story cannot be separated, my story is not after all about death, but about my escape and Lucia’s; about my mother’s and Maguru’s entrapment; and about Nyasha’s rebellion – Nyasha, far-minded and isolated, my uncle’s daughter, whose rebellion may not in the end have been successful.
I was thirteen years old when my brother died. It happened in 1968. It was the end of term and we were expecting him home by the afternoon bus that passed through our village at three o’clock. My brother went to school at the mission where my uncle was headmaster and which was some twenty miles away from the village, to the west, in the direction of Umtali town. Sometimes, when my uncle was not too busy with reports and administration at the end of the school term, he was able to come away from his office at three o’clock in the afternoon, sacrificing the remaining hours in the day in order to bring Nhamo home. This was what Nhamo preferred. He did not like travelling by bus because, he said, it was too slow. Moreover, the women smelt of unhealthy reproductive odours, the children were inclined to relieve their upset bowels on the floor, and the men gave off strong aromas of productive labour. He did not like sharing the vehicle with various kinds of produce in suspicious stages of freshness, with frightened hens, with the occasional rich-smelling goat. ‘We should have a special bus,’ he complained, ‘like they have for students who live in Fort Victoria and in Salisbury,’ quite forgetting that these were towns, autonomous urban centres, whereas our home was in the communal lands that surround Umtali, and that since my uncle’s mission was considered to be in Umtali there was no need to hire a bus in order to ferry him and the other pupil who lived in our area home.
Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions, ayebia, Banbury 2004. 212 pagine.