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Reading Painting a Mirage

The reading world is going to have something wonderful to ponder on as Painting a Mirage penetrates their space. Book one of The Mire series by Rumbidzai Samantha Vazhure, the free flowing narrative as told by Ruva is interesting as it is thought provoking.

Ruva the first person narrator takes us on her journey as young girl till she has come out of age as a graduate from the University of Kent. Ruva was raised of disciplinarian parents who instills in her the fear of failure as they also limit her freedom to make decisions and explore. The traumas of childhood: rape, “the pain of a lack of nurturing, the lack of boundaries, hypocrisy, lies, double standards, self-centredness, lack of privacy, jealousy, control, criticism, abuse, victim blaming and shaming” stifles her voice as it chased Tizai her younger brother to an unknown place. She is never courageous enough to engage in heavy conversations in her circles. As a reader, looking at Ruva made me think of how much of my childhood baggage and lack still influence my decisions today.

Ruva’s life is entangled to the many lives of her immidiate and extended family (as well as those of her country men in Zimbabwe and around the globe) whose lives are at the mess of a modernity which leaves them fractured and tattered. However, one is left wondering if there is a solution to this predicament when incurable “strife” is all we have as humanity. I’m reminded of Shimmer Chinodya’s Strife where education, technology, modernity, medicine, religion prove to be vanity. Ruva’s family and its predicament couldn’t be better as the “matriarchs” that is Gogo and Mhamha calls it quits of this life.

Both Gogo and Mhamha were business women of note whose labour and skills were stolen by the patriarchs. The existing patriarchy of the family as Ruva refers to Baba (or Davis) is failing to control the family members whose destinies are connected to graves, diaspora and the unknown as the country’s fortunes are waning. Baba’s sisters, children and even wife are driven out of the country where they seem to get limited freedoms to challenge his decisions. For instance Ruva and his brother Tizai who were accustomed to fear and silence found courage to say their minds to Baba’s mistreatment of Mhamha through email before they get the actual strength to challenge him face to face.

The book left me thinking if individuals are in control of their lives. I think of the burdens of existence that drive many of Ruva’s relatives to commit suicide. Is it a possibility that some of us become “tired of living and have [to] make a choice to die.” Besides suicide, people like Mhamha and other uncles are ravaged by diseases such as cancer and AIDS. This leaves a lot of anguish to the living as it leaves the reader with questions pertaining mental health issues, grief and culture among other issues.

Painting a Mirage left me wondering how far can individuals can be able to follow their hearts amidst societal expectations. Ruva was afraid of getting married to a person she was not compatible with. She wanted the litmus test of time and cohabitation before permanent commitment. All her plans were frustrated when Baba imposed a time frame for her wedding and Baby (Morris). It only took few of her aunts like Tete Gertrude and Tete Mary who defied the family rules attracting the ‘whore’ tag.

Vazhure has added an invaluable voice in the Zimbabwean literary canon exploring fractures of modernity, hazards of motherhood, marriage, love, culture, individual versus community expectation, religion among other issues that pertaining to existence.

Samantha Rumbidzai Vazhure is editor and publisher at Carnelian Heart Publishing. Apart from these roles she has published a Shona poetry anthology Zvadzugwa (2020) Musango and it’s translation Uprooted (2020) which celebrates and documents issues and lives of those immigrants. She compiled and edited Turquoise Dreams: Anthology of short stories by Zimbabwean women (2020).

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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