There was a moment of stillness during which Linda managed to regain her calm.
“Ah, I don’t fancy people creeping up on me, you understand?”
“Yes Madam, sorry Madam,”
And Sondoko proved to come in handy around the house for Linda. She drew a weekly menu table and had it pasted on the kitchen wall. But since Sondoko was not lettered he came in each time to ask her what was to be prepared. Linda would lead him to the kitchen wall and read out to him. Once he knew the food, he required no help in determining the recipe. He jumped on his bicycle and pedaled down to the grocery shop. Gradually Linda learnt to put some trust in him.
Through the eyes of him, she came to glimpse into the thought-world and aspiration of the black man. There was the feeling of betrayal, injustice and built-up bad blood that ran deep within his heart on account of how the white man had come camouflaging his ulterior intention behind the façade of business partnership. He built railroads and telegraphs to open up the land to the outside world and encouraged the black man to feel at ease. This was how Sondoko put it, “A man had welcomed a guest to share in his meal and the one invited had turned around to hold his host by the wrist, suspending the hand, so the host might not dip further in the plate. And when he resisted the madness he was beaten and killed. Would you say that is just?” Sondoko questioned. Unfading from upon the tongues of the people of the “House of stones” through long generations will be the accounts of the encounter of king Lobengula of the Ndebele land with Cecil Rhodes of the British South African Company after whom the country Zimbabwe had once been named.
One Sunday morning, in the seventh month of Linda’s pregnancy, Linda was gripped by unexpected parturient pains. James jumped behind the wheel and drove her to the hospital. It seemed they had been caught unawares, for James’ plan was that Linda would travel back to London to be delivered where standard medical care was available for the baby and the mother. Linda gave birth to a boy as James had wished; the infant looked everything like James, except that it was a stillbirth.
James wept. In the weeks that followed, he would halt in his track and look forlornly into the street. His tears were easy. Thrice he had wept in his adult life. First: when it looked as if he would never make his final papers in the police college, second: when he thought that Linda had slipped out of his hands and now that he had gotten Linda and baby Jake meant to come as a cement and further assurance of Linda’s stay in his life had been washed away. If the ill incident was a volcanic eruption in a dark tunnel, Linda was the survivor coming out of it hardly scathed while James was the victim shattered into bits and shreds.
In those days, James found more reason to drive home more often in the middle of the day. He said it was to stay close to Linda to console her but in reality it was perhaps himself who had needed all the consoling. The office of the police Chief Superintendent was down the avenue, a short drive from their stone house home. That was just as well because it afforded James the grace to flitter to and fro in his official Zighuli.
Linda regained strength and got up and about. James was full of gratitude as he watched the jewel of his heart come back to radiance.
One morning she got outdoors and wandered to the outhouse where Sondoko stayed. She raised the curtain and saw him sit at a meal.
“Ah Madam, sorry, I did not hear you call me! What you need?” Sondoko said, rising promptly to his feet.
“No, I did not call you; I need nothing, I’m just walking to test my strength,” she said with a smile.
“That’s good, Madam, you look good now, Madam.”
“Thank you.” She said leaning on the door frame. “Go ahead with your food.” She said.
“Madam, this is sadza, a popular staple among my people. I can make it for you to have a taste, it’s very rich,” Sondoko told her.
“Really? What’s it made of?” she asked.
“It’s corn. It’s very good, try some.” He presented her the plate.
“Ah, but no thanks,” Linda shook her head. She was amused at his fulsome gestures. She walked away and back into the house.
While Sondoko was in the kitchen cooking, Linda would sit herself near to ask him things. She wanted to dissect the world of the local as a way of filling the emptiness of her days in Salisbury and Sondoko here was a perfect specimen. Through him she learnt the structure of the land and all the mores that the people held dear.
Day by day the white settlers rose in number. Their presence was felt in form of changes that the county began to witness. Trade thrived now and the blessed resources that had lain fallow under the ground through the centuries were deftly exploited for human benefit. The white man’s touch was a touch of magic and it had made the world more beautiful and pleasant for all to live in.
Previous Posts in the Series – In Linda's World
IN LINDA'S WORLD Synopsis
IN LINDA’S WORLD I: Coming to Salisbury
IN LINDA’S WORLD II: Uncle Jake – the Dreamer
IN LINDA’S WORLD III: On the Day That James Learnt to Ride
IN LINDA’S WORLD IV: A Man Like Mr. Mwanyisa
IN LINDA’S WORLD V: Meet Sondoko
Next Post in the Series – In Linda's World
IN LINDA’S WORLD VII: A Dream Came True