Boulders, golden grass: the landscape of home

My sister and I make our way through the crowds in Harare's large city, passing mammoth buildings reflecting the sun's beaming light.

I roast, longing for a cool glass of water, as the heat waves sweep across the city.

Earlier I walked to the sink to find nothing, not even a single drip - the water comes and goes as it pleases.

Stories of typhoid lurk around the city, the disease making its way from the clear water that holds it, to the mouths of many.

The heat mocks me as we walk, surrounded by a song of laughter, loud chatter and ''Vrooooms''.

The rough roads are dented with potholes here and there.

Some of them are deep; most of them shallow, gradually expanding under the heavy loads they bear.

The cars manoeuvre left and right avoiding each obstacle.

No-one knows the last time these roads were maintained, shaped and renewed.

Loud ''peeps'' occasionally ring in my ears and there is chaos on the roads as cars rush to the few gaps available in the mass of traffic and pedestrians.

The white lines that used to mark the boundaries of the roads are now but a faded memory; some of the traffic lights are broken and only a few are left to control the chaotic traffic.

Vendors wearing striking blue, red and white clothes sit by the grey concrete pathway selling ice creams and my favourite, Cascade.

We continue passing shop after shop, buildings that have faded with time.

Gum wrappers, chip packets, plastic bags, rainbow plastic lolly wrappers are hard to miss as we rush through the city.

We pass the food buffet, the aroma of fried chips, chicken and pizza lingering in the air.

Ladies sit on the footpath selling ripe yellow mangoes, perfectly baked by the feverish December sun.

We near the crowded Mbare, overflowing with people, vans and loud voices announcing ''Tafara ... One Dollar ... Copacabana'' and some other places.

The Windies move around looking for customers, browsing and advertising their transportation services.

The Mbare is filled with market stalls, selling maputi (popcorn), cool icy freezits, crunchy Zapp Snax, vegetables and more.

We board the van heading to Tafara, relieved to be out of the roasting sun.

One by one, people file in, taking up every space there is.

I sit jammed against the window, which I hastily open to let in some needed air.

Once the van is full, the Windy hits the side of the van, making a loud bang, giving the driver the signal that the van is full. The engine revs up and we are on our way. Cool refreshing air whooshes into the van through the widely opened windows.

I stare outside, mesmerised by the familiar landscape.

Loud music fills the van and we all sit in silence apart from the casual chatter and music.

Money makes its way forward to the Windy who stands slouched at the front behind the driver. He counts the money eagerly, not once but thrice, making sure everyone has paid and there's not a dollar missing. Then he relaxes. I continue to watch the striking scenery in silence and at peace.

The van makes its way along the narrow road to Tafara and I see the Balancing Rocks again, only this time with appreciation and awe.

Big and bulky, shades of brown and grey, shaped by God's own perfect hand.

The Balancing Rocks, one of our national treasures.

One big boulder balances two others which are stacked on top of each other, unwavering.

Golden grass and a cluster of small green trees grow beneath them.

This alluring landscape makes me feel an overwhelming excitement at being home again.


• By Adelaide Chuma (Year 13, Queen's High School)



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