The Convert
eBook - ePub

The Convert

Danai Gurira

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  1. 112 pages
  2. English
  3. ePUB (mobile friendly)
  4. Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

The Convert

Danai Gurira

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About This Book

A young Shona girl escapes an arranged marriage by converting to Christianity, becoming a servant and student to an African Evangelical. As anti-European sentiments spread throughout the native population, she is forced to choose between her family's traditions and her newfound faith.

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Oberon Books
A YOUNG MAN and THE GIRL run down the street, perhaps from the back of the house, the YOUNG MAN holding THE GIRL’s hand. They are moving at record speed. Both look about cautiously, THE GIRL marvels at her surroundings, at times pausing to take something in and exclaiming.
THE GIRL: (While snapping her fingers in amazement. At those moments the YOUNG MAN urges her to keep moving.) ‘Eeeeeey!!!’
YOUNG MAN: ‘Kasika! Kasika kani!’
They reach the house and disappear behind the back. MAI TAMBA bustles into the room, she is a stout Muzezuru woman in her late fifties, dressed in a threadbare housekeeper’s uniform, complete with apron and cap, she has eyes that can never drink up too much detail. She ushers in her charge, the YOUNG MAN in tow, talking rapidly to him and to a girl of about sixteen, traditionally dressed in a nhembe (a goat skin skirt) and very modest beads only partially concealing her breasts. She is barefoot. THE GIRL has an unavoidable keenness and resolve in her eye. She looks around the room nervously.
MAI TAMBA: (Rushing them in. In Shona.) Kurumidza, Kurumidza! Babamn’ini varikupi? [Come, come quickly! Where is Uncle?]
YOUNG MAN: Vaenda kudhorobha. [He goes towards town center.]
MAI TAMBA: Enda ovachingamidza! Usamira mira! [EYYY! GO and meet them as they come! Do something!] (The YOUNG MAN rushes back out of the house.) Maiwee! (To THE GIRL.) Huuya ndikupfekedze, azviite kutiMasta vakuone wakadaro. [I have to find some clothes for you, this Master cannot see you like this.]
THE GIRL: Hindava? [Why?]
MAI TAMBA: Kwete Mibvunzo! Chimira panapa. [Don’t ask stupid questions! Wait here.]
MAI TAMBA exits. THE GIRL scans the room, she marvels at every part of it, it is obvious she has never been in such an enclosure before. She touches the chaise, and pulls her hand back in shock, surprised at the soft texture of the upholstery, exclaiming, ‘Eeeeey!’; she rubs the smooth cement floor with her bare feet; confused by its consistency she sinks to the floor, sitting in a manner typical of a young Muzezuru girl, legs bent to one side, feet neatly tucked under her posterior, back inexplicably straight. Slowly as if in fear that someone was watching, she leans her face towards the ground and sniffs the floor; not smelling the cow dung texture she thought all floors comprised, she verbally expresses her confusion.
THE GIRL: Eh eh?
She touches the floor almost sensually with her hand. MAI TAMBA bustles back in the room.
MAI TAMBA: Urikuitei pasi?! Simuka! Kurumidza! [What are you doing on the floor, get up! Hurry up!] Chipfeka hembe iyi! [Go put this on!]
She has a shabby dress, obviously many sizes too large for THE GIRL. THE GIRL stares at it in confusion.
THE GIRL: Eeeeeey! Chii ichocho? [What is that?]
MAI TAMBA: (She shows her how to put it on, demonstrating on herself.) Simudza maoko, pfeka wakadaiso. [Lift your arms, put it on like this.] Famba! Ndakugadzirisa imba – Kurumidza! [Go! I must prepare the room – Hurry up!]
THE GIRL exits, attempting to make sense of this strange garment. MAI TAMBA commences to sing and dance around the room with a mutsvairo (an African broom) in hand. She enters a very spiritual seeming trance, singing and sweeping over all items of the room, as though cleansing them from bad spirits. She places objects we cannot quite discern in hidden places in the room, between the couch cushions, underneath the rug and continues her dance. Every now and then she stops and sniffs a brown powder from a small pouch and gains more energy and animation. Suddenly she stops and rushes into the next room at the sound of the door. CHILFORD Ndlovu enters. CHILFORD sits immediately at his desk and pulls out a paper and pen from his worn leather satchel. He is a catechist in the Catholic Church, the only African who holds this position in the Mashonaland region. He is also an occasional assistant to the Commissioner of Native Affairs in the area of native disputes. He is a man of great deliberation and precision, never once placing anything in the wrong place, as though his calling comes with so much responsibility that it dictates his every movement. His English is that of one who has strained to sound as European as possible, though he can never fully escape his African intonations; his attempts to color his speech with as many British sayings and expressions as possible leads to several malapropisms of which he is wholly unaware. After a time he begins to write, dipping his felt tip pen in its inkwell only when absolutely necessary, writing with economic movements. He is completely focused on his letter writing, his furrow creased, his breathing heavy. He pauses and sniffs the air curiously. MAI TAMBA pushes through the door with a tray of steaming food. She approaches CHILFORD heavily.
MAI TAMBA: Good Evening Masta Ndlovu.
CHILFORD: (Writing frantically, not looking up.) Yes, good evening, could you just place it on the table.
MAI TAMBA: It is not good to wait. It get cold.
CHILFORD: You know I do nothing until I write my evening letter. And what is that smell?
MAI TAMBA: No smell Masta. Today you eat fast.
CHILFORD: What? No, I have –
MAI TAMBA: Today she come.
CHILFORD: (Finally looking up.) What? What is it Mai Tamba?
MAI TAMBA: My brotha who die – he daughter – she come to work.
CHILFORD: I never said –
MAI TAMBA: You say you need someone cook, someone crean rike at Fatha Hem’s house.
CHILFORD: Yes, but I never said –
MAI TAMBA: So I bring ha.
CHILFORD: I never said I wanted someone right at this once, I said it would be NICE to have someone to do both like Father – I never said –
MAI TAMBA: You said it Masta. Then I say it will help us because my brotha –
CHILFORD: I know your brother passed and I am sorry about that but that did NOT mean I was going to employ your whole family// in its entirety –
Mai Tamba:// She need onry little, she smar [small] girl but she work hard – she strong, she crean the house good and you just keep ha in the back with me and she can just have sma pay to help ha motha with hut tax Masta.
CHILFORD: Mai Tamba – I cannot – I am very, very occupied// right now –
A knock at the front door. CHILFORD rushes to the door, voices are heard from outside.
UNCLE: Masta – it was him who took it Masta – prease!

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