By Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda
He could not keep it any longer. He had to break the news. They were staying under one roof. The anxiety was palpable. He could barely sit on his chair. He was wringing his hands, and taking frequent sips of water. The jug was already half empty. His blood was racing, his heart beating faster and louder. He could not hold this anymore. He looked across the room, and saw that his mainini was still waiting. He had requested her to sit down for some talk. He was not sure where to start.
They had been staying under one roof for over a year. She braced herself for the news, not so sure what was coming. Her brother-in-law, an elder brother to her husband had always been respectful. She knew this is something serious and important. She picked her wrapper and tightened it before she sat down. She picked her knitting, and waited anxiously for the news. What could it be that babamukuru has to say, he sounds, hurried, excited, and yet nervous. Anyway, she could only calmly wait for the news.
"Well, mainini, I have decided to rebuild my nest", he tentatively introduced the issue. "This is someone you know, and you know her very well, and am afraid you may misunderstand me". He was not sure whether to continue with rest of the details. He waited for her reaction, he wanted some re-assurance, some signal to continue. She put down her knitting, waited for him to continue. An uncomfortable silence sat between then. You could hear the whistle of the wind by the window. She cleared her throat and responded.
"Wafanaka, why not wait for your young brother to be home. As you know idzi ndedzemusha, and I have little say on such issues". She was not sure where this was going and what it was all about. She was looking for some way to postpone any uncomfortable conversation. Babamaukuru had not introduced anyone or mentioned that he had a friend all the days he had stayed with them. She had not heard anything in the street gossip, and sisi B who usually picks such details had not whispered at all.
She was not sure whether it was right for him to have such a discussion with her, and alone.
"Well, I had to come to you first. I am requesting you to approach your husband with this news. I want my young brother to accompany me next week kunoroora. The real issue is I am deeply in love with your maid. She has accepted to be a mother to my two children. She has refused me to touch her, and nothing has happened between us, I swear. Its impossible for me to continue living in this same house with her everyday, from the day she said yes to my proposal. She is almost 25 years you know" . He just continued to pour out his heart, his dreams, hopes and plans for life future wife. Now that he had opened his heart, wanted to say it all. He refilled the glass of water and drowned it all. He was at peace now.
He was doing piece jobs in Mabelreign, and had asked for a place to stay, a roof at his young brother's house was natural. Babamukuru was part of the family. His wife had died four years earlier leaving him to fend for his two children. The children were staying with his sister kumapurazi, and he wished he could offer them another life. As she listened Mainini's made a mental note of the small changes in his behaviour in the last here months. He had stopped smoking, had reduced on his drinking sprees and was always groomed even when he was just at home. She had been blind to love under her own nose.
She was lost for words. Should she say congratulations to him for finding love. Her brother-in-law was quietly sitting there and kind of waiting for a "go ahead its okay message"? Should she give her blessing? Is this real love anyway? Had they had a sexual encounter under her roof, was it consensual or coerced? Was she pregnant? What is she supposed to say to her househelp when she came back that evening from visiting her aunt?
She has trusted her maid all these years, had whispered some family secrets now and again. Sisi B was good with the children, and always kept the necessary distance. They had mutual respect of employer and employee, and yet at some level were like sisters. She took the maid under her wing as an older sister would do, after all she was a long distant relative. She had some kind of moral obligation to her and her family.
A deep silence fell between the two. He was relieved now that he had said it out. She was burdened, since she now had to navigate the real meaning of this news for today and for tomorrow.
The young brother, owner of the house was fully briefed the moment he arrived home. She did not leave a detail, a word or a punctuation in her narration. The wife's narrative was full of excitement, anxiety with the tingling feeling of holding the deepest family scoop and gossip of the moment. She had the breaking news. She knew she had to handle all this very very carefully, with the children, the neighbors, the church elders, and their relatives. Will they blame and accuse her if this marriage did not work out after all. She shrugged and with her mind preoccupied with the immediate implications. She has to find another maid!
It was an uncomfortable situation. It was clear to both of husband and wife that the two love birds were reaching out for support, advice and help. It was true that their relationship with babamukuru and their househelp had changed from that day. They could not believe the story about the two had abstained awaiting the tying of the knot. There were many occasions when they had been home alone, without even the children. But who were they to judge!
That evening a real discussion took place as soon as they had finished the evening meal. The maid, now maiguru-to-be was given one month leave with pay so that she can go home and prepare for the marriage. The brother in law informed that he was moving out. He had found a one room to rent in Mufakose only if his young brother and wife could assist with deposit for rent $50 at the time. While there was cordial discussions, the undertones were visible, the unsaid discomforts in the new arrangement.
Love had rearranged the relationships. Life was not going to be the same again. The younger woman stole a glance at the older woman, and she could feel the unsaid acceptance. In the evening, as Sisi B cleaned the kitchen and rinsed the dishes, mainini came in and closed the door. She had one question and one caution. Was she pregnant? Did she fully understand that babamukuru is ten years older than her and with two children? "No I am not pregnant. I hope one day I would like to carry his baby, with God's grace. I understand what I am getting into. The fact that he stopped smoking for me is good enough", she intimated in low tones. She had found her voice and was already protecting the fragile nest.
The traditional marriage ceremony was during Heroes holidays. The young wife was happy to build a nest with her loved one, whose encounter was brought by fate and proximity. One day, as as she sat with her friends in Mupani avanue, she told the story about the dating, how she started to give him extra favours, and how they covered the tracks.
The former employer and mother of the house was now a juniour, recieving advice and guidance from her former maid when they went for family functions. Traditionally, maiguru always caries some sort of supervisory role and authority. While the respect between between the two continued, they both know that some things are best left unsaid.
Its now over a decade since babamukuru and Sisi B got married. Imba yavo yatsvuka chin'ai, and children dance and run around the fields. Whenever the children ask how the their parents met, an exchange of knowing looks tell the story. "We met in Harare" is all that the little ones can squeeze out of their parents. Not all will be revealed, the children instinctively and knowingly continue with their play.
Its all about life, love and relationships. A true story.