I write best when I read

Reading a powerful writer, even a not-so-powerful one, may inspire a writer to start typing away; typing something that may morphe into a work of substance. Slow reading – that’s what I specialize in, because I get a chance to reflect on the narrative in relation to my experience, or the various experiences in the landscape of my writing. My writing, I like its rich terrain, the countryside of Zimbabwe, the beautiful chaos of High Field, the shining presence of Glenview, now slightly ruined by Operation Murambatsvina, the green and jagged presence of Chimanimani and Chipinge: these are some of the places with which I connect what I read. So, let’s say I am reading John Steibeck’s “The Chrysanthemums”, in which he introduces the story by describing fog that closes on the Salinas valley like a lid, I am taken back to Chipinge or Rusitu valley; I am reminded of the morning fog there, especially on that day when I arrived at Chipinge bus terminus and found out that all the day’s buses had already left and the next troupe of buses would not arrive until the next day. I slept at the bus rank in the rain. All night I shivered; all night I shared a talk about life with a vendor from Bulawayo who had slept at this place too many times to worry about a little bit of rain. All night I learned that sometimes the little comforts we take for granted may seem distant at a time life’s surprises get you by surprise and you pay the price for not having prepared adequately.
And so, back to “The Chrysathemums”. The fog is what I remember most about the morning of the night the rain pounded me at Chipinge. To the east of the town lie mountain ranges which seem to guard the town from some possible intrusion. On the morning I watched the fog first veiling the ranges, these sleeping lions, then the veil rose to cover the whole valley like the lid Steinbeck describes. It get’s better; when the sun arose, the fog vanished, but then some low-lying beastly clouds settled on the peaks of the mountains and spent some hours feasting on the ranges. The longer I looked at the white beasts, the longer the bus delay seemed. I did not leave Chipinge until a day later, after spending another night at the open terminus, soaked on the outside, arid inside. Then from somewhere between insistent night rain and greedy beastly clouds, the self harvested new hope, the beginning of a new journey, already bruised by the grazing clouds.


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