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Trapped: Reading our lives

Do I regret the impulse of bumping into this one and become immersed in it while juggling other reading and work targets. I have zero feeling of regret. The book is Valerie Tagwira’s 2020 Weaver Press published Trapped. A second novel by Tagwira, Trapped is a realist story centred mainly on three graduates: Cashleen a media studies graduate, Delta a chemical engineering graduate and Unesu a medical studies graduate whose lives are inseparable from that of their age mates’; fellow graduates or not. Through this realism, wonderfully weaved in words the characters’ daily struggles and shattering hopes are entangled with a disillusioned nation’s history. The story then becomes connected to the everyday forms of resistance which only leave individuals in greater disarray than before. The fixated motion of existence and history saps the energy of the once hopeful graduates and their guardians in a country failing to take off to the old promises of the rivers of honey and milk.

In this book the grand historical incidents and makers that one sees in history books and news papers front pages is mixed with the day to day survival struggles of the ordinary who only feature in national narratives in nameless state as ‘our people’ ‘the people’ ‘masses’ or ‘povo’. Through the pages Tagwira small people like Itai, Tanaka, Rufaro, Takudzwa and others in this pigeon hole of suffering called Zimbabwe and even across borders to have their stories be heard alongside those of Dr Stop it, the old man, vice presidents and many others.

I was trapped in the traps of lives that I know as wonderfully mirrored by characters Cashleen, Unesu, Delta and their friends as they navigate their lives on a hope killer terrain marked by political and economic uncertainty. It was a pleasure finding history not read in some academic book or article, but history bearing its marks on people’s mind, emotions and bodies. I could see myself in the cheerful and hopeful Delta and Cashleen armed with their priced degrees peeping through newspaper job adverts and making unrestrained efforts to apply.

The book is marred by tales of serious breakdown of almost everything: morals, ethics and rules of young graduates as the survival laws and edge takes precedence. P92

Even young Tari and Delta are trapped and left in a precarious condition in a marriage cracking in response to a dying economy. “At breakfast, they ignored each other, using Tarisai, their six-year-old daughter, as the medium of communication. The tension was palpable. Dellta wished herself faraway.” p.83

Through the book the trending mental health issues can be seen right through Unesu the upcoming pyschiatrist to Sandodzangu Chidhakwa the ultimate expose of the bruises of trapped young lives in a Zimbabwe that tramps away their bright dreams and lives each day.

Tagwira takes you through mental struggles of a professional doctor thinking of possibly avoidable deaths that could have been avoided if it were not of the ill state of the health institution and unaffordable costs of the services for the ordinary citizens. The book takes one through the gap between policing lagging behind reality on topical issues such as pregnancy termination in a country where the woman body has become her tool of negotiating the survival terrain in a crisis ridden nation. As a result poverty hit doctors are making fortunes in that back street business.

You are taken through the struggles of a mechanical engineer turned chef and who is even contemplating being an escort at pimp Rich Richie’s flourishing business in a country heading to a season where it consciously opens for business.

There are moments of laughter riding through social media platforms as Zimbabweans mimic issues of grave magnitude. But one moment that sipped through my heart was the warmly motherly and tenderly moment when Delta’s mother made her chemical engineer turned vendor some tea after day’s struggle.

Review by

Brain Garusa (aspiring writer)

Published by advocateofunpopularopinions

I am a preacher confused in the constant happenings of life. I have been secretive about inner thoughts. Now I want to flow with them. I want to vomit. The pen is my link to the paper. The keyboard becomes the first step towards you. The internet will sort everything else considering I am not broke.

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