I Am Sorrow
By Mellisa Muchena
I went to sleep hungry last night, and I can’t remember the last time I had a warm shower. It’s difficult finding joy in a situation that seems so dire; having to sleep with questions plaguing my mind.
“When will my next meal be?”
“Will I be able to find a decent home for myself one day?”
The morning light creeps in through the cardboard that I call a window and I have to get on with my day.
I go to the communal tap to get my bucket of water. Before I do, I pass by Ruva’s house to check on the baby. She was not well yesterday and I should make sure that she woke up okay. It’s the Shona way of doing things: taking care of your community.
I hear soft sobs in the wind. She needs to be alone. I’ll say a prayer for the poor baby’s soul after my bath.
There’s a long winding line of people waiting for the water. I’ll have to wait two hours to get my share. There is an announcement: only half a bucket of water per person is permitted. I’m not surprised.
At last it’s my turn and the tap spits its last breath just as the water reaches the halfway point of my bucket. I shudder to look at the face behind me that wants a bath, but who’ll now miss out because I have the last drops from the City Council.
I walk away quickly with my bucket in tow and shuffle to my home. I take an unsatisfying bucket bath in the freezing water and quickly cover my frail body with the one towel I have. Shivering, I ask the Lord to accept Ruva’s baby, and grant her soul peace. Tears stream down from my eyes. The pain is unbearable.
I stand up, put on my once brilliant red tattered dress and walk out of my box. I walk to the bridge that separates the slum and the city and I know in that moment I can never cross over to the other side.
My body is heavy with the water. It rushes down my dry throat and into my empty stomach. I am oblivious of what to do. I never had time to learn how to swim. Death is sweet. It is welcomed.