‘Delicious Monstalia’

I am awake. The heavy darkness seems to be weighing on my soul, on my body itself. My husband and daughter are snoring – a mini orchestra: his a deep baritone, the child’s a light whistling noise rather like fireworks as they leave their shiny wrappings to explore the world beyond. How is it that just when I am about to feel that I am also free, my dream returns? I dreamt of that place again – my uncle’s house.

Ignatius Tirivangani Mabasa.
Ignatius Tirivangani Mabasa.

Here I am, twenty-seven and hoping to have a second child, but still these dreams come back to ambush me.

We are buying a tree. The one I want is a weeping willow. The sales person – a young man – wants us to buy other plants, but all I have eyes for is the weeping willow with its long drooping leaves and branches.

‘You must buy this plant,’ he says. ‘They call it Delicious Monstalia – a good outdoor plant.’ ‘Another time,’ I reply, handing him a crumpled note that I’ve fished from the confusion of my handbag.

‘Delicious Monstalia!’ I say to myself. What a crazy name. I can tell this one is going to haunt me, as some names do, echoing in my mind long after I’ve heard them. Sometimes I speak them aloud, suddenly, just like that and then I feel myself caressing insanity’s hand.

My husband is running after my daughter, who is giggling and hiding behind shaded pot plants arranged in rows. They love this game: they love just running after each other and laughing. Free people, happy people. The only problem is that when my husband wants to stop, Hazvi will not permit it. To her, my husband is a friend who belongs to her child’s world; her only world.

After I pay for the tree, the monkey-faced salesman follows me to the car. I open the boot and he places the young tree next to some jump leads.

‘I tell you the Delicious Monstalia would have been good for you, Madam,’ he says as if he has been tasked to sell only that plant.

‘Why? I’m not interested in it,’ I say, slamming the car boot shut. ‘Well, all the most beautiful homes have one.’

‘I see,’ I say, throwing myself into the driver’s seat. Then I start the engine and drive off leaving my husband and daughter behind, playing hide-and-seek among the plants.

I find myself pulling up outside my uncle’s house. I grew up here, in this very place, but I no longer want to have anything to do with it. Why am I here and not back at our own beautiful home? I start digging.

I plant my beautiful tree in my uncle’s yard. Even though I’m dreaming, I know I shouldn’t be here; the willow should not be planted here. This tree was chosen for my own home. Why does the dream bring me back here?

I have been married for six years. We have our own house. My father-in-law gave it to us on our wedding day. I left my uncle’s house for college when I was eighteen. But still my every dream is set at my uncle’s house – even events that never happened there like my wedding,

my child’s birth, my …. After planting the willow, I find myself inside my uncle’s house.

There is a public toilet and it is filled with men. I ask them what they are doing in a ladies’ toilet, but they tell me I’m the one in the wrong place. I apologise and leave. Outside, my uncle is peeing on my new plant but it is no longer the weeping willow that I planted, it is the Delicious Monstalia.

Uncle tells me he is going to sleep with me. I tell him that he can’t do that, it’s not right. He laughs and says, ‘It’s payback time, and unlike last time,’ he says, ‘I will not hurt you, I will be gentle.’ ‘But why?’ I ask. I can feel the tears in my heart and on my cheeks, ‘This is wrong.’

‘Things have always been wrong in your life, and they will continue being wrong,’ he says maliciously. Suddenly, the monkey-faced boy who sold me the weeping willow arrives. In his hand is a Delicious Monstalia. ‘This will be good for you,’ he says to me. ‘Yee-ss,’ replies my uncle in a dry windy whisper.

I look at my uncle, but he has become a Delicious Monstalia and is about to embrace me with his wide, leafy arms. I close my eyes and pick a line from Psalm 23. ‘Even if I walk through the valley of the shadow of death …’ I wake up. I’m confused! I hate myself. I hate my uncle and his house. I hate my bed and my pillow. I hate sleep and the dreams it brings. I hate my husband because he is enjoying chasing my daughter’s light whistling snore with his deep baritoned one. I feel deep hatred. I go to the toilet and sit on the cold seat. I want to shit my past, push it out of me – a mound of it – the size of elephant dung. Only a small fart and a trickle of urine come out.

I pray that my husband is not, and has not and does not become a Delicious Monstalia in my daughter’s life.

Post published in: Arts

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