Tendai Mbirimi : Review Correspondent
Life has a way of turning us into subjects of fortune or disgrace. Naturally there are events that manifest themselves within our period of survival that make us regret the day we were born.To some it might seem as if the gods have forsaken them and given them to the dogs as no one seems to care about their fate and quest for survival especially when all those you expect to give you a helping hand, comfort and love have been taken away from you and have returned to dust.Such is the life story of Mavhu Chikowore of Bhika Village in Murehwa who is 103 years of age. Due to ageing she has lost sight. She is, however, mothering her only surviving daughter Denise who became visually impaired barely 24 months after setting her foot on mother earth.
Before she could visually enjoy the beauty of nature, Denise was no longer able to separate between light and darkness, dawn and dusk; hers has been a life anchored on dependence and censorship for the past 79 years.
Their life is full of horrendous circumstances punctuated by misery and abject poverty.
As we approached Gogo Chikowore’s homestead, a sombre atmosphere of isolation and emptiness welcomed us. The round hut which is their all – kitchen, dining, bedroom, lounge or simply their only safe haven, is stuck behind a cluster of other deserted houses left bare by the orphaned grandchildren who abandoned the two blinds for greener pastures years ago.
A putrid stench engulfs the whole room signifying that Gogo might have had an unpleasant night.
The fire place is located at the centre of the hut, demarcating where the bedroom and kitchen end in an oxbow format, with an assortment of goods scattered right round the hut following the hut’s circumference. Their day has neither a specific time of start or ending; whatever time they woke up marks the beginning of a new day.
With all the love and care Denise does all house chores ranging from gathering of firewood to bathing her mother. Because of the blindness, she has difficulty mostly when it comes to making of the fire as she often burns herself.
“My mother became visually impaired three years ago when she turned 100 years, now she has been in and out of hospital due to a chronic ailment which is causing her navel to bulge and she needs help to be operated on,” said Denise.
Onismus, one of the grandchildren, shared more light on the health of Gogo Chikowore.
“As you can see, Gogo is always sick due to old age and recently the doctors realised that she is having a bulging navel and they said it needs surgical operation, but their relatives are not taking any of that. Culturally, we cannot do anything without the approval of their maternal relatives and the resistance is due to the fears that the operation might not be successful.”
“Some of my siblings including step brothers and sister neither visit nor remember that there is Gogo in the village. When I want them to come, I fabricate lies like saying ‘Gogo is seriously ill’, without that they don’t come,” said Onismus.
Denise went on to explaining some of the challenges that she faces on daily basis in trying to make sure that they have something to eat and also look clean and good all the time.
“At times I get lost when I go out to look for firewood. At one point I burnt myself when I mistakenly got hold of a burning log thinking it was a pot,” said Denise while lifting up her right hand whose four fingers except the thump have since been amputated.
Denise’s daily chores begin by taking Gogo Chikowore outside their hut to enjoy some sunshine; sightlessly bumping into whatever may have found its way into her accustomed pathway. Inside the round hut, the loving daughter blindly uses her bare hands to feel if Gogo had messed the blankets or not. In the event of any mess, she then gets down to clearing it. While this is taking place, politics of the stomach will be calling for attention too; in the same breath the solo mother will be in dire need of a fresh bath from this only surviving incapacitated care giver, Denise.
“I understand that we might be in a difficult situation right now but l don’t let that restrict me in what l can do for my mother. She has been caring and loving to me and the others who have passed on and l am thankful and grateful for what God has given me to work on; which is the welfare of my mother”
“Because of age she can’t do anything on her own and she has been bedridden for three years, meaning that all she wants is a helping hand since many a times she messes herself from wherever she will be as she no longer walks nor stand on her own,” she said.
According to Denise, it is disheartening to note that of all the grandchildren and relatives who were brought up by her mother have not come back to feed the two or to cater for some of their basic needs.
“At one point this homestead had a lot of life with many grandchildren and relatives staying at this very place but now l am confused because no one seems concerned about us. We feel rejected maybe because of our condition,”
“Even those who went away in search of greener pastures seem to have forgotten all about their roots as they are enjoying the so called greener pastures. What hurts the most at times we starve to the lowest point while there are over 20 grandchildren scattered around Zimbabwe and yonder,” she said.
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