I racconti del Premio Energheia Africa Teller

Sting of guilt_Jealous Nyandoro

alberi5 _Africa Teller 2001/2002


It was mid-morning. In the forest on the outskirts of the city, birds

were singing out their merry melodies of thanks giving to their

Creator who gave them such a unique carefree life. This morning I

was in mood for nature’s poetics. How could I be when my heart was

so broken? Twice that day, as I wandered deeper into the forest, I had

thought of hanging myself but the pangs of labour had restrained me

from scrambling up any tree. The dreadful moment had found me

fallen under a Mopani tree whose base was adorned with a variety of

closely-knit undergrowth. The baby had come with no complications

at all but the searing pain and sweating.

Hot tears of fury stung on my eyes as I glared at the nude whimpering

infant lain on the ground. My mind was a whirlpool of emotions:

motherly love pledged by labour pains, distress caused by

hopelessness and hatred born of a man’s brutality. Try as I might, I

still could not believe that Bhekizwe with whom I had been madly in

love to the extent of eloping could really have deserted me in so cruel

a manner. Some weeks earlier Bhekizwe and I had had a heated row

in which he claimed that the pregnancy I had was not his for rumours

had reached him that I was having an affair with our landlord, which

was not true of course. Three days later he had disappeared leaving

behind him two month’s rental arrears. Come month-end, the landlord

had simply evicted me and, in a bid to recover his loss, confiscated

our property -an old squeaky 3/4 bed, a couple of threadbare blankets

and one fairly new, a paraffin stove and culinary utensils of no value

at all. Fearing for my life, I could not go home where my father had

threatened to spear me if ever I dared set a foot. I sought refuge at my

widowed aunt’s place.

Shortly the grapevine had reached me too, revealing Bhekizwe’s


He had gone after his ex-girlfriend who now resides in South Africa,

his best friend Aleck told me. It was then that I realised what a big

fool I had been.

Sometime before the argument of my alleged affair I had come across

a hot baby-come-back letter when I was washing one of his trousers.

It was addressed from South Africa. Upon asking him about the

author of the letter he had calmly replied, “Believe me honey she is

just my ex-girlfriend. We went our separate ways some three years

before I met you. Her behaviour wasn’t the kind of my liking”.

“Why then is she still writing you such kind of letters?” I had asked.

“The truth is she can not bring herself to believe that it is all over

between us.”

He had paused and held me in one of his embraces, which usually set

my whole body on fire. His sexy eyes melting the essence of my soul

he had continued, “But with you now as the queen of my heart she is

as good as a long dead person. Even if she writes me a million letters

a day we can not get back together again.”

A sizzling hot kiss had turned the whole matter into history, I had

instantly thrown it out of my mind. What really mattered then was

that I had him in my arms.

Little did I know that our union was to be for a short while? How

could Bhekizwe be so ruthless to me after all this waste of time and

my being turned into an outcast of my family? What was I going to

do with this child he had fathered? Was it a gold medal by which the

whole world would recognise me as a champion of foolishness? No! I

was not going to keep a fatherless child. Never.

As my fiery eyes re-focused on the wailing infant a strong nausea

welled from the bottom of my stomach and slowly churned its way

  1. A painful lump knotted on my throat, I swallowed hard. Suddenly,

as of possessed by some devil, I pounced upon the infant and

grappled its frail neck which was still slippery with blood and after

birth. Clasping my hands, I pressed it hard on the ground bringing the

wails to a choking stop. Kicking and flailing wildly, the infant let out

a succession of tiny nerve wrecking coughs. I closed my eyes

dreading to see it die.

The guttural sounds the infant made sickened me to the core of my

soul, making me which I had some earplugs on. The crackling

crunched on my ears like a dentist’s drill. I clenched my jaws. My

nerves grew taut. Amazingly the devilish strength escaped me as

sudden as it had come. My hands became numb try as I might to

tighten them. Involuntarily, my eyelids flew open. God forbid I

should have gone blind. The infant had become a heart-rending sight,

which only a cannibal could behold without flinching. Its face,

contorted with pain, had turned into a pathetic crimson with every

pore gleaming with sweat. My heart-beat nearly burst my chest open

as an electric shiver shot down my spine threatening to pluck out all

the hairs on my head. I passed out.

How long it was while I was unconscious I do not know. I only

remember myself being woken by inquisitive twitters of bluebreasted

tit birds, which were hopping on the lower branches of the

undergrowth. My eyes wavered dreamingly on the undergrowth and

tree tops as I tried to ascertain where I was. A throbbing on the side of

my head dizzied my senses, I must have bumped my heard on a stone

or something. When my head cleared my ears caught faint wheezy

gasps -the cause for the tit’s curiosity. The infant was still alive!

Instantly, a replay of the heinous act flicked on in my mind. Fear

gripped me as I realised that had I been caught at it jail was sure

going to be my home for the next couple of years or so. I jerked up.

The tits took flight with shrills. My pulse racing, I glanced all around me.

Upon seeing no one in sight I thanked the good Lord that the forces

of evil had led me to choose such a remote place for their ghoulish

ritual. I picked up the soil and leaf plastered infant. It had cried its

voice out and was then merely gaping its mouth like a long starved

bird-chick. My sweaty hands shaking uncontrollably, I wrapped the

infant with my jersey which I had taken off when the labour pains

raised my temperature. I then tried to bring it up to suckle but the

umbilical cord would not allow the infant’s head to reach my navel.

It was then that compunction overwhelmed me, stripped me naked

with guilt. I found myself not comprehending how the infant had

wronged me for it to be at the mercy of my vengeful wrath. Was it not

my fault that it was born anyway: owing to my pig-headedness, didn’t

I take heed of negative peer pressure and clung on to false promises

of an earthly paradise at the expense of my mother’s advice that I

should abstain from playing around with men too soon if I were to

avoid the worst results of some of their dirty games? Didn’t I allow

myself to be deceived by a valentine’s dinner by candlelight at a city

hotel with Dolly Paton’s “Tomorrow Is Forever” as background

music; and a boxful of gifts -perfumes, cosmetics and fancy lingerie?

What could have the infant which was not even an embryo then done

on my behalf?

The sting of guilt brought with it a fresh surge of anger. Anger

summoned back the devilish spirit of vengeance which, this time

around, chose to feed venom into my mind.

“Why subject yourself to such mental anguish. Bhekizwe discarded

you like a dirty rag now you want to burden yourself with this child

that would forever remind you of him. Just dump it there and go

before someone sees you”.

Choking with renewed rage, I threw the infant on the ground. It fell

with a thud and a muffled whimper.

As I tried to stand up, again the umbilical cord checked my move. I

froze with horror as I watched an extension of my flesh lain on the

ground kicking in slow motion like a cyclist battling against a steep

ascent. I could not stand the idea of ripping the cord from the baby’s

stomach and leaving it dangling from inside me. I could not tear my

soul. Powerless, I feel besides the infant and wept.

Convulsing with sobs, a volley of questions burst fort from my

conscience completely exorcising the fiend from my mind. What

would killing or dumping this baby bring to you?

Are you not, by God’s decree, supposed to be the guardian of this

blessing which some women desperately need to the extent of paying

thousands of dollars for cures or even bogus cures for barrenness;

with some snatching it from other women? What if it is the only seed

you are ever to conceive? All the same, are you going to be able to

live with the guilt and cope up with the fight against the “ingozi”

spirit of the human blood seeking vengeance?

“No!” I found myself shouting eerily as frightful images threatened to

blow my head asunder. My shout startled the infant.

“Hush my baby”, I said to it softly. “No harm shall befall you now.

Nothing is ever going to come between us. With you my girl I shall

need no man, not even a billionaire. Men are heartless cruel beasts.

You shall be souvenir of all the heartache. I have suffered because of

a man I so much loved. I will Christen you Memory”.

Tears streaming down my cheeks, I upturned the front of my skirt to

make a pouch in which I carefully placed the infant. I stood up

abruptly and fled the place without looking back as if it was Sodom

and Gomorrah to which if I looked back I would instantly become a

pillar of salt. My mind was made up. I was going to join my aunt in

vegetable vending at the city market so as to raise money for the

upkeep of my daughter. How could I fail to care for only one child

when my aunt has been able to pay rent, raise and educate a family of

five with money from vegetable vending.