Shumi Chimombe

Verbal hurricane

“Get up from there! The house needs sweeping!”

A torrent of words. Words weaved and coiled into an endless noose, through which my downturned head droops, fatigued.

I am lying on my bed. She stands at the doorway, hands on hips, her lips moving to the current of words that washes over me, drowning me.
“Why can’t you be more like your friends?”
Mary does this … Rebecca does that.

My head hurts. Won’t she shut the hell up?
No.
Me! I do this! … You! … You do that! … Mrs So and So does this!
The voice is not a monotone, but it sounds like one to me because I can predict the rise and fall of its tone, which can be heard beyond the neighbours’ hedge.

Hypothetical questions. …Why don’t you just do this? … Do you think other girls sit around all day like you?
Ominous silences in between.

Should I answer? No. No chance, because the voice is off again.

Outside the sun is shining. The birds sing in the blossomed trees that line the suburban street, and together with the melodious humming of the bees, the neighbourhood resonates in a glorious connubial orchestra.

In the kitchen, dishes clink in the sink as the maid busies herself doing work that does not need doing.

In our house, one must always keep busy. Tidy something, make something, take something apart then put it all back together again. If you have done all you can do inside, then go outside and do something there. Dig something, water something, prune something.

And in between all that, words, words, words. And they all sound the same, probably because the face that speaks them could belong to anybody.

The words filter through me like poison, slowly but systematically killing off everything. And the sad thing is, I don’t even know it.
I’m getting bigger, older. Frustration, anger build up in me
“I’m not Rebecca.”
“Yes, because you are lazy!”
I don’t even listen to the words anymore. But they still penetrate, still poison. Only now, I am starting to feel the pain. The words have taken on a new bite. I feel them. I need to escape from those words.

But something else happens. The words contaminate me. They contaminate my tongue, my mind. They become normal. This is how it should be done, right?
After all, everywhere else I turn, it’s the same thing. Words linger in the air like smoke. We carry them around like handbags. They are heavy, but we adjust and they become the new normal. We go around in circles, from here to there, and from there back to here.

And just like a space shuttle needs to break through the atmosphere in a burst of fire and dust and much noise to escape into the heavens, I too burst through my enclosed space in a burst of flames and pain.

And I realise then that my world is but a tiny part of the Universe. It’s much bigger up here. There are other galaxies, other worlds, other ways of thinking. Everything exists in harmony. I look back. There is much debris, but it sprinkles down in a dust of diamonds.
And around me I realise only one thing.

The beauty of silence.

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Shumi Chimombe

The battles are over

The battles are over
I have saved my life
Celebrating myself, knowing exactly where I stand
to settle in the peacefulness with the sound of wind chimes

I have saved myself
from ups and downs like rolling hills
to settle in the peacefulness with the sound of wind chimes
roots settling deeper within me while my branches rise up and up

from ups and downs like rolling hills
a celebration of life
roots settling deeper within me while my branches rise up and up
contentment like a Sunday afternoon

A celebration of life
celebrating myself knowing exactly where I stand
contentment like a Sunday afternoon
The battles are over