A letter from my Grandmother

I just received a letter from my grandmother in the village written on a dirty patch of paper which I am sure was part of carefully cut pieces meant for her compound blair toilet.
 
Usually she uses newspapers but state publications are now expensive so instead she uses hard bond paper sent by her teacher nephew.
 
I cannot afford to send her tissues, they too are out of reach infact we all now use any paper.
 
She writes as one would if fingers were not part of the hand but still I am impressed that she can.
 
Her age mates can barely read half the alphabet, in church they squint at words in the bible, an obvious act that betrays their illiteracy not eye cataracts.
 
It is not a long letter, just three paragraphs of nonsense and her name at the bottom as if she thought I would assume it is from the President.
 
A few mispelt Shona words and a truckload of grammatical errors are tucked in for good measure.
 
The rains are yet to fall she says, the crops are wilting under the scorching December sun which has darkened her already dark grand kids.
 
The babies are my uncle’s, long lost in Wenela he does not even send a cent. We doubt he remembers he sired three kids.
 
My grandfather mourned him just after the long sleeve, short sleeve period then deleted the fool from his memory.
 
Talking of him in his presence always results in a lashing.
 
My granny says she needs food aid, the basics I sent last week are through, the money I gave her at month end has lost value.
 
She adds her revered MP has given them 2kg packets of rice and a litre of cooking oil as thank you for voting her into office.
 
My grandmother is happy about that, she doesn’t mind underdevelopment as long as they “eat, drink and wear” their MP.
 
She has plenty tshirts of the ruling party where a seemingly sneering president occupies the greater part and proudly brandishes her multicolored party flag in the face of opposing, starving villagers.
 
I know she rejoices each time those same villagers who at times bravely brandish opposition paraphernalia are denied aid.
 
They are sellouts she would say while squatting over a pot of sadza, attempting to reach another with nyevhe and leaving the sadza a centimetre away from her sacred spot.
 
My grandfather is a war veteran, poor and worse than she is, he thinks they deserved more short sleeves.
 
The MP agrees.
 
Her big bull, the pride of Chemhanza village at its prime, Bhera, is now so thin it resembles a virus ravaged patient in starving Sudan she says in her letter.
 
I should send money for cattle feed, she goes on, I should take care of them.
 
Though she is kilometres away, I can sense her tone, I don’t like it at all.
 
Yours Gogo MaSiziba she signs off with the “S” and “z” in each others spaces to make it “MaZisiba.”
 
I take one look at my letter, delivered by my Muzukuru, an aunt’s youngest daughter, fold it and throw it towards the dirty corner in my bachelor pad, right next to a box of used contraceptives.
 
To hell I decide in a split second.
 
Let their MP help them, I’ll buy the caskets.
 
By Leopold Munhende

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