He waited by the bus-stop, all day, shaking his car keys rather impatiently, pacing up and down as each bus arrived, as each bus left. Only a dishevelled tramp sat by the benches, mumbling incoherently to himself…But no sign of his visitor!
BY ZIFISO MASIYE
So, a story is told of a man who expected a special visitor, carrying special news, he prepared a special room for his guest, dressed up and set out to receive him by the bus rank.
Brain has whispered to me several times, in his barely coherent chuckle, “My brother, these churches with names and brands are churches of the world. God’s church neither has a name, nor a business brand… For in it everyone is welcome, the clean and the dirty, the sick and the healthy, the rich and poor…”
I insist he stays home and that he wears his mask properly all the time… Yet in his mocking manner, Brain always shakes his defiant Bible at me and insists that “Many more will have to suffer. Many more will have to die… The viral mystic blowing in the air may not be stopped by a piece of cloth. What you must wear in public, in private and everywhere you go is the Word of God. That’s Who you must never be ashamed of. God is the ultimate mask of society!”
I have been so terrified by the advent of coronavirus, that two months can go by without me ever stepping into the city once. I can stay a week without getting out of my gate. But you could never be scared enough or careful enough. If it must catch you, somehow it will find you, even inside your bedsheets!
Brain laughs at me and argues that more for than anytime before, this is the time God’s team to defy the demons of death, for true Christians to spring out of our homes and proclaim the power of God to all neighbourhoods and to nations far and near. I wake up to his loud street preaching at 5am every day!
Rather scornfully, Brain says to me that the psyche of Covid-19 works the same as a dog. It smells and senses arrogance and fear. It targets both groups of people that are terrified and overly precautious and those that are arrogant and dismissive of the virus. He has a very intriguing view the early harvest of Covid-19 seems to be in some circles of power, arrogance and material wealth.
Covid-19 is in the habit of a thief. It can avoid the most obvious loopholes. I was screaming my lungs dry at my brother, Muzi. At the peak of the virus, he was a NUST student, attached to the Health and Environment department of City of Bulawayo. Pushed to the firing line often with zero protection, the lad would spend 10 hours daily in the Covid-19 hotspots with a hailer announcing protocols to contemptuous crowds all over Sekusile, Mganwini, Cowdray Park, Hyde Park, name it. He confessed the most extreme exposure, but seemed too excited by the thrill of the moment to be convinced to drop it. He would return home excited, stand by the lounge, enjoying relating just how relaxed and carefree the people of eKasi were about this whole Covid thingi. I would be livid! I was certain the little hooligan would infect and kill us all. He didn’t. He passed well and proceeded with his happy life.
Then I was certain now it was my great chef daughter Zinzie with her ins and outs and endless clients who would bring the deadly virus. I could have strangled her with my own hands as she knocked late in the evenings from, I knew not where, but I was scared I might catch it in the strangle! But no. She’s clean!
Then I was certain it was my friend Brain Murandu, who spends the whole day moving all over the city, preaching on the streets, at the malls, in the hair salons, everywhere . . .unprotected!
Brain is a community soldier, the harbinger of all the neighbourhood news. He knows and attends every funeral in the suburbs, ensures I know every detail of who is unwell or who is dead. I have never met such a soul as he. Brain insists it is the specific instruction of God that we rise to every situation of need as if it was our own. He says Jesus would puke to find us filling up churches and singing His name to the roof while neighbours are sick, hungry and dying and we look the over way.
True, he does exhibit some recurrent mental challenges or memory lapses (who doesn’t?), but Brain is a good man… No. A very, very good man with the very heart of God. Yet everyone treats him like the shabby tramp on the benches!
The fellow needs a new pair of shoes every two months because of the relentless walking he has to do across the length and breadth of the city. A brilliant ex-journalist, sharp, witty marbles . . . much more sensible and often more fulfilling company than many of my more accomplished buddies out there.
Having traversed the Covid-stricken City of Bulawayo, the whole day, Brain winds up daily, here in my home lamapaper lamangwenje-ngwenje of all sorts!
He is my best friend and my gate is permanently open to him though clearly he is a public nuisance and an annoyance to many in the neighbourhood. He believes verily we are brothers and he is family… And so do I. His mom has grown strong ties with my wife and she counts on us for moral and family support.
We had to have serious family meetings as to how to manage the obvious Covid danger posed to all of us by Brain! I was certain, the little devil was going to infect us all!
I couldn’t stop him moving, moving, moving because I’m convinced that’s what keeps him sane, and true lockdown would destroy him.
Yet I couldn’t stop him coming into our home daily because he is my true friend, he counts on me, he confides in me and considers this his second home. It would crush his soul. I could only warn him to be a little more careful (whatever that would mean to him), but that’s it. I find that as I treat him as an equal, as a brother, as a true friend, as I accord him patience and sincere respect, the little annoying traits and behaviour he manifests that tend to put off many also disappear. Like all of us, he simply wants love, acceptance, respect and has loads of that to give in return.
Then when they opened schools, I was convinced my lil granddaughters Zothi and Lulu would bring us the virus from their school. The schools were so unprepared, so dangerous and poorly sanititised. Brain said it is in the children that the very spirit of God resides, I must place my fears elsewhere and let God’s angels be.
My respiratory health is bad and I was always terrified. The only people I thought were listening , cautious and better behaved were my wife, Thenji, my lil daughter Zina, who locks herself in her room, reads, prays, worships 23 hours a day, and myself!
But as Brain would insist, God’s ways are not our ways!
Corona came home. It came in such a way that I have no doubt as I trace back just when and just who and just how it entered the gate, the house and our bodies.
It was on December 10 2020. And it was the most scared and careful of us all who brought it home: Myself!
Corona was careful not to touch all the culprits and chief suspects. It moved swiftly from the chief corona policeman, myself to the most careful angels; Thenji and Zinanzile!