Romney removed his red tie.
Even though he was an electrical engineer, he was now involved in corporate advisory. Today, for example, he had made a presentation on the merits of a corporate merger between 2 logistical entities.
His boss enforced a strict dress code. Especially on days when he had to do client engagements. That meant a deep blue Paul Smith suit, tailored. A white shirt, including cuff links. A black belt and black shoes, both from QPD Fashions. And this damned red necktie.
Well, it was 5 pm and he didn’t have to wear it anymore. So, Romney removed his red tie, placed it in the drawer below his desk, undid 2 buttons on his shirt, and headed to the cocktail bar.
“Hey, I am here now, where are you?” Romney sent her a text as soon as he got to the Carousel.
“Hey, I am here too. I am sitting by the window. I am wearing a Grey hoodie… If you can see me.”
“I have a blue suit and white shirt…” Romney texted back.
“You know you could have told me your hoodie is written ‘Dope Sh*t’ right?” Romney laughed as he went to hug her. “That would have made it so much easier to find you.”
“Oh, I just found this is town. Kukotamai.” Mutsawashe replied as she looked down. It was almost like she was noticing the writing for the first time.
“Well, that’s some dope shit.” Romney grinned.
“Oh, thanks, I guess.” she whispered.
“How are you? My name is Mutsawashe, Mutsawashe Mishora.” she said as she extended her hand.
“I’m great… Yourself? I’m Romney. Just Romney”
“Nice to meet you.”
“Carousel has the best burgers in town. I kid you not. And, on Thursday they come with a free beer too! How cool is that?” Romney beamed.
“Oh that’s nice.” Mutsawashe said as she shift in her chair. “But I don’t take beer.”
“OK… I can always get us wine if you prefer.”
“No, no wine either. Thank you. I am having grape juice.”
“Oh, you don’t drink at all??”
“Yeah. Sort of. I am… Seventh Day Adventist.”
“That’s fine. But I am drinking. I won’t turn down a free beer.” Romney said… Trying to make her feel at ease. She looked a little nervous.
“So, tell me, how did you come up with, Across The Divide?” he pried.
“A friend, Darren, had it and he gave me a copy to read. I loved it. Your writing style… It’s sooo vivid.”
“Glad you liked it. In fact, today I high key feel like a celebrity!!”
“You should… You are really good.”
Mutsawashe might have been shy, but Romney could feel her sincerity. It’s not every day that someone reached out to him to compliment him on his novel.
“What inspired it?”
“Death.” Morbid, but he did not know how else to put it.
“How else can human beings become angels except through death?”
“Wow. And yet, it sounds so tender when I read it.”
“It’s meant to. I hate all the crying that happens at funerals. Across the Divide was me trying to make it all stop!” Romeny laughed easily.
Mutsawashe laughed too. Not as easily, but she laughed. A full belly laugh. Her shoulders relaxed, and she sat in her chair a little more leisurely.
“I saw so much of my home in that book. I come from Guregure too.”
“Oh that’s dope! I honestly was winging most of it. I have actually never been to Guregure.”
“Really? But… How?”
“I talk to people. Like with you, right now. But, even from Kunzinza, Kureti and Dambamba. Our rural areas have a lot in common when we really think about it.”
“That’s so nice. I mean, when you spoke of swimming in the river. Of leaving our clothes to dry in the sun as we wait naked in the shade. That… Felt like me.”
“You used to do that too?”
“Yeah” Mutsawashe blushed when she realized what she had just said. “I grew up in Guregure. Did my primary, O level and A Level there too.”
“So how did you end up in Harare?”
“I teach here now. I did my teaching at Seke Teachers College, and graduated 2 years ago. So, I teach here now.”
“Do you like it here?”
“Yeah, sort of.” But her voice lacked conviction.
“Well, how do you expect to like Harare if you don’t drink?” Romeny chided.
“Hey! There is grape juice here.” Mutsawashe laughed. She looked comfortable now.
“It’s ok. Know what? You should come to a book launch in 3 weeks. A friend of mine has a poetry collection he is launching at the Music Academy. You should come through.”
“I would love to.”
“Thursday, 6 September at 5:30 pm at the Music Academy. See you then.”