Extract from a sequel to NERVOUS CONDITIONS. (The heroine of NERVOUS CONDITIONS, Tambudzai Sigauke is speaking)
Typical of August, the temperature was soaring towards thirty degrees, quickly after the morning coolness. The dogs stretched out on the verge inhaled and exhaled shallowly many times a second, ribs expanding like the hood of a cobra, their tongues long and thick with thirst; and children at this or that communal tap fought to fill rusty jam tins with water. Now a stream of five to eight year olds who should have been at school flooded towards me with their containers. “Hey whitey, Murungu!”
“Money, whitey, give us money!”
“She isn’t, are you so stupid!”
“She’s not white!”
“Of course she is.”
“European! Murungu! Give us money!’
“Twenty cents, just twenty cents.”
The cries clamoured from all directions, regardless of whether there was or was not consensus concerning my racial heritage.
“Sister, I’m hungry.”
“Of course she is!”
“Are you looking?”
“Of course I am. Can’t you see!”
‘‘Course I can.’’
“Well, then, can’t you see that car. And that hair!”
“So what! She isn’t European.” Mercifully I maneuvered the vehicle back onto the dirt road before they gained on me.