Chapter One

Aliya held the cigarette in her hand, her throat constricting in shock, causing her to cough violently. Her body started to tremble. She hurriedly moved away from the group of girls in front of the band and, hoping that no one had noticed, began to examine them one by one. Even if she had done something embarrassing, she repeated in her heart that she disliked this habit. A man inhales smoke into his lungs and coughs as if he’s about to die, but due to societal pressure, he continues to indulge because it’s a common practice among the women in this place. It’s embarrassing to be unable to even inhale smoke properly. This societal pressure is why Aliya reluctantly participates.

Aliya spat out the unpleasant taste and discarded the piece of tobacco in her hand. She sighed from her position. She could see young men and women, as well as older individuals, all gathered here. Among the crowd, a man stood out with a thick mustache and a matji (traditional musical instrument) in his hand, playing music and dancing simultaneously, his beard growing wild. It seemed as though the world had forgotten about poverty in this moment.

Most of the women wore identical attire, engaging in Asin-da-Asin dance, especially for the FATI ZAFI ZAFI event. Only a few prostitutes with some privileges and protection had managed to escape the cycle of poverty. Among them was Aliya, although rumors suggested she wasn’t far from being attractive, but her behavior had led her into this unfortunate situation.

Aliya checked the time on her phone; it was already two o’clock in the morning. At this point, the Indian man began packing up his equipment, and the attendees of the event started to disperse and head into the town of TAFA to continue their night.

The concert had taken place in a vast football field just outside of Tafa town. Aliya had initially thought of organizing this event to gather clients in the large open space, believing that if someone were to spread rumors about it, she’d make a profit.

As the crowd began to leave for the town of TAFA, Aliya couldn’t help but notice a young man squatting near the gas station, dressed as if he had left his car behind. He appeared to be observing the festival stage, occasionally tossing stones at men and women while engaging in conversation and contributing to the foggy atmosphere.

For over six hours, this young man had remained in his spot like an owl, observing all that unfolded before him.

The distance between Aliya’s location and where the young man crouched was less than ten feet. Aliya glanced at him with a hint of pity and thought, “People have been kind to him. He has youthful and attractive features. But whenever an unbeliever annoys him, it drives him crazy.” Aliya smirked as some of her friends joined her, and she glanced at the young man once more.

Now that she was feeling intoxicated, Aliya said to herself, “Wednesday is just around the corner. I’ll take a look at Aliya in the mirror. Are you really that ashamed? Just because you couldn’t do the sewing, did you turn away like a prostitute?”

Aliya from Harare sighed. “It’s unbearable how crowded this place is. I can hardly breathe.” That’s why she had moved to the side to catch some fresh air.

Asabe burst into laughter and teased, “Aliya, you can sleep anywhere, just like a car. Why don’t you do something about it?”

Aliya clapped her hands and responded, “Oh, I’m Aliya, and I’m all ears. Where’s your gossip? I’ll tell the girl’s father, and she’ll give them a stern look, I swear.”

Wednesday joined in the laughter. “Oh dear, are you serious?”

Aliya retorted, “Well, you’re the one who seems serious.” She checked her phone for the time once more.

Araba rested the potato on her forehead, retrieved a cigarette from her pocket, lit it, and exhaled the smoke into the sky while glancing at Aliya.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *