An old piano one side of the fireplace, an equally old stool made out of animal skin on the other side. Two rocking chairs strategically positioned close to the fire place. On one of the walls is a huge sculpture of a king. The house and it’s old furniture resembles a museum. An 80 year old man walks into the room and sits himself slowly into one of the chairs. The glowing fire makes the old man’s wrinkles more pronounced and shiny.
“Why do you keep this piano grandpa? Look it has most of the keys missing. Are you going to use it one day?” asked Teddy sitting in the other rocking chair.
“There is a story behind that piano. A memory I should never forget.” Answered grandpa.
“Interesting, can you tell me the story,” replied Teddy a boy in his late teens.
“It’s a long story, Tadio. It dated back to when your grandmother and I were still teenagers.” Said grandpa.
“What did you do? Did you use to play the piano together?”
“You are going too fast Tadio! I will tell you the story some day.”
“I’m Teddy, grandpa, you know I hate it when you call me Tadio.”
“Do you know you were named after me? How can I fail to call out my name?”
“You know people of your age didn’t know how to call it out. They were supposed to call you Teddy. Anyway that’s not what’s important for now. Tell me your story behind the old piano.”
Grandpa started singing swaying his head from one side to another following the rhythm of the song.
‘where two Rivers meet
There I met my love
When I asked her name
Rudo do you love me?
She shyed away…….’
“I used to sing this song for your grandmother playing the piano. Her name Rudo, means love.”
Clapping hands “that’s fantastic grandpa, so you enjoyed your courtship hey?”
“It wasn’t that easy my Tad.”
“Teddy, you were almost there this time.” Replied Teddy.
“How did you meet grandmother, Rudo?”
“I visited my uncle who worked at the Mission Hospital and I was just roaming around the shops close to the hospital when the beautiful lady passed by. My heart jumped ‘I love this girl’, I said to myself.”
“I had to take action because I was a visitor at the mission otherwise I couldn’t get another chance to meet the beauty. I didn’t know where she stayed so I had to make sure I talk to her on that day.”
“But you once told me that I should propose someone I know not stra……………”
“Not when you meet someone beautiful like my Rudo. It was love at first sight! Forgive me. I really defied that advice myself.”
“That’s why it took you a whole to convince her, I guess…………”
“Tadio you are too fast. This girl I spend my whole life with is wonderful, an angel. I fought battles to get her.”
Teddy whistled and clapped his hands.
“Come on grandpa!”
“Where was I, you made me forget”
“At the mission, first time seeing your beauty.”
“Yah. I approached her, tried to greet her to get her attention. She jumped away like someone who had seen a snake. I felt a line of sweat trickle down my beards and my stomach sank. I left her alone for I didn’t want to attract people’s attention otherwise I was going to cause a scene. I watched her from a distance until she was done shopping. I followed her on her way home, at a safe distance. She somehow sensed there was someone behind, she turned back to see the monster behind her. She ran for her life.”
“And what did you do, surrendered?”
“How could I? I followed her in hot pursuit. She can run that one!”
“I wish there was someone to film the race!”
“She ran to a certain homestead, and I was done, finished, I could not follow her there. I prayed that she wouldn’t tell people there about a monster following her. I hid myself in the bushes waiting for her to come out, hoping she will be send to fetch water or firewood then I would have a chance to talk to her.”
“Love in the jungle…………”
“Wait I’m not done. She came out later maybe after an or two I’m not sure of the exact time I didn’t have a watch those days. I watched her as she took a path to her home with her shopping bag. I then knew that homestead wasn’t where she stayed. The race started again when she noticed I was following.”
Teddy burst in laughter falling from the chair and the chair coming on top of him.
“Mind, you break my chair!” grandpa shouted.
“You two have fantastic memories!” said Teddy getting up again.
“The river saved me! When she got to the river and removed her shoes to cross one of her shoes fell into the river. Then I dived in to take her shoe for her, she was glad I rescued her. The rest is history.”
“So how come you spend the whole year before she said yes?”
Grandma walked past with a basket of clothes in it. She looked at the two with an awkward look.
“What’s wrong grandma?”
“ You two were talking all the time until I came in, I hope you are not in some kind of mischief here.”
“No grandpa was relating how he met you. Why did you do that to him. He went through hell to get your love.”
“I wanted to make sure he was serious. You know in our age we used not to like any Tom and Dick you meet on the way. A boy had to prove he was serious,” answered grandma putting her basket down.
“Yah it wasn’t easy. We were committed to each other that’s why we have been together for more than 60 years now. Anything that comes cheap in your life will also go easily. You now say I love you, I love you over the phone but not knowing each other very well, that’s why you marry today and get divorced the following day.”
“I don’t forget the day my brothers released our dogs to chase away your grandpa,” said grandma laughing.
“You laugh but that wasn’t fun at all. The dogs almost ate me up…………”
“But why would they do that to you?” Teddy asked.
“It was a taboo to go anywhere near your fiancé’s house but I wanted to see my love so I had to risk.” answered grandpa.
“We are also from different tribes and that made our situation even worse. I being a Venda and your grandma a Shona complicated our love life further.”
“But what does that have to do with you being together?” asked Teddy
“We were not allowed to intermarry,” grandma responded.
“When I decided to fall on love with your grandpa I vowed no one would stop me from marrying the man I love. Being a king's daughter I was supposed to marry another King’s son. In fact my father had a boy he loved to marry me but I refused to go for any arranged marriage,” she continued.
“Grandma you must have been hard headed. Wasn’t it the norm that your marriage would be arranged by the two families?” asked Teddy
“It was but not when they want you to leave a gentleman like your grandpa here.”
“So how did you convince your parents to accept your marriage?”
“You see that sculpture?” asked grandpa pointing to a wooden sculpture of a king.
Teddy slowly turned his head to look at the sculpture and nod his head.
“I made it for the king.” Continued grandpa. “I was a good artist and musician.”
‘When the sun rises from the east
It brings my love,
From the east
From the east,
Never from the West
When the sun rise high above the sky
I pray , God bring a cloud over my
Cool down the heat
My love will be burnt.’
Grandma was already on the dance floor swinging back and forth to the music.
“So you mean you sang songs and won a lady?” asked Teddy.
“Yes, but it was never easy. I spend sleepless nights composing these songs to impress my loved one.” Boasted grandpa.
“I heard now you celebrate love once a year,” asked grandpa sarcastically.
“Who said that?”
“I once passed town and saw all shops with red boxes, dolls, flowers and when I asked what that was about, I was told valentinos.”
“Valentine’s day grandpa. It’s a special day to celebrate love and appreciate your loved ones.”
“How many Valentine’s are in a year?”
“Only one but very special day.”
“You see I was correct when I said you show love once a year. When I was dating Rudo every day was a special day to us.”
“So you would buy her gifts every day?”
“No, there is a problem with you this generation you think love is about gifts that’s why you celebrate it once. I had a small bag that I used, each time I went to see my love I would gather fruits and bring them to her. She loves nzviru so much.”
“What’s that grandpa?”
“Some wild fruit you don’t know it.” Grandma answered.
“You also brought gifts to your girl just like we do.”
“You only do so once, but I did it in and out of season. Love has no season. I also gave my girl fruits to eat, not flowers or dolls like you do. Can anyone eat flowers?”
“So for how long did you date Rudo?”
“Spare that for another day. Tad I have been talking and talking my throat is now dry, you didn’t even by me a drink.”