columnBy Rosenthal Mutakati
AFTER spending close to three hours doing chores around his wattle house which now leaned backwards owing to the vagaries of weather, bossy Penzura demanded fresh hot sadza from his expecting wife while puffing a pipe.
The instruction was loud and clear, but Sarudzai's reaction was slow. The village beauty with large round eyes and an imposing gap on her upper front teeth had grown weary of her husband's demands. He wanted good food all the times even when the chips were down.
Penzura had a craving for a salty chew, but his pockets were too deep and his hands too shot to finance the demands.
The bloke was only a 30-year-old, but looked 50 owing to alcohol abuse. His body bore countless marks owing to beer-induced brawls, which had also claimed a number of teeth from his foul mouth. Here was a bloke who would get large amounts of cash in rural terms from hiring out his scotch cart and span of oxen.
He was also workaholic. Though he had no course after being orphaned at a tender age, Penzura was a hard worker. He could skin five goats in less than an hour and fell giant trees at lightning speed -- jobs that made him always have cash on him. But all this was splashed on women of easy virtue and gambling.
Part of this money was in some cases funnelled to police fines for public disorder under the influence of the wise waters.
Being seven months pregnant, standing on her feet was a challenge and asking Sarudzai to prepare sadza in that hot weather was more of an insult.
She first had to do the dishes, light the fire, pluck the vegetables from the garden before setting about cooking.
Piqued by this delay, Penzura struck his wife with the back of his hand. But the moment they heard her wailing, six to eight elderly neighbours entered the hut to investigate. "You witch. How cruel can you be?
"This woman was pregnant last summer, the last one and the last and she is pregnant again. Without respect you even have the cheek to beat her over a plate of sadza," one of the elderly women chided him while her peers threatened to beat the living daylights out of him with their walking sticks.
"Wakafana naniko uyu mwana?" the puzzled women pondered. One-after-the-other, the agents of peace had no kind words for Penzura, the pencil-slim carpenter with a penchant for alcohol that made him wander from village to village in search of the traditional brew.
The other woman likened him to a beast while the other likened him to a lion. "Chinonakidza pakurova mukadzi chii? Rova zvako ini moyo wako ufare mwana werombe," Mbuya Runesu challenged him while inclining her back towards Penzura as if hungry for a beating.
All this while, Sarudzai's tears were streaming down as if at one point she would drown in them.
It however, took the sixth old woman who spoke a bit of English to convince her peers to drag Penzura before the king. "Handei narwo kudare rwutongwe. Mukadzi anemimba haarohwe. You should know this young fellow," she said. Before long, the group was before the king, explaining, explaining and explaining until the accused was found guilty and fined.
Varume vane udzvanyiriri panyaya dzerudo,
Varume tine udzvanyiriri panyaya dzerudo,
Mukadzi anotorerwa hembe, Pese paaonekwa orohwa,
Chikonzero: Wakandirambirei? Sang the wordsmith and self-proclaimed messenger of God Hosiah Chipanga. True to the singer's lyrics, most men are offensively self-assured in so far as love is concerned.
They want to control everything from what to eat, when, why, how and when to kiss thereby creating friction with their spouses who also want to be in the driving seat. Domestic violence occurs physically, emotionally and financially. Slapping her soft cheeks is physical abuse, sucking your teeth whenever she says something is emotional abuse while blocking her access to cash is financial or economic abuse.
No abuse, gentle reader, is better than the other. Kunyima kunyima chete hapana kuti ndanyima mbichana.
But wife bashing is not confined to the poor.
It is as old as lifetime itself. There seems to be something about beating a woman that makes the lion in most men roar. Some men actually invite relatives and friends over to see them beating up their wives.
"Huya ndikuratidze mabeterwo anoitwa zvimoko," a friend who is now doing time behind bars would always say before beating up his wife in public.
So given to assaulting women are some men that hardly a day passes without neighbours rushing about to play the role of the United Nations.
"Eh . . . mapindwa neiko nhai Matemai. Ngaisiye matambo kani nhai veduwee-ee," you hear people pleading in the dead of the night with someone to let go of his wife whose body he would be using for a punching bag.
And some women too seem to have become accustomed to the life of being struck against the wall or being lashed time and again like a bovine resisting to take a plunge in the dip tank.
As I commit pen to paper gentle reader, the courts of law are inundated with cases of wife bashers who cut across all age groups, the political and religious divide.
Zanu-PF supporters beat up their wives daily, the way their MDC, MDC-T and Ndonga rivals do.
Office orderlies and their chief executives are also not to be outdone. They are beating up their spouses as if they were at a competition. So fierce are the cases of spouse-battering that it now requires global efforts to arrest the scourge.
It is not unusual these days to walk into a hospital and find a woman nursing wounds inflicted upon her by her own lover. Some men are also doing time behind bars for spousal assault.
But what are the real causes of this problem. Yours truly heard that violence is a language of the defeated.
Those who have no facts often find expression in wife battering, though this often exposes them as barbarians.
Women here also create problems for themselves by trying to outshine the head of the house without persuading him to view things the way they do.
Cash is also a major contributor to spousal abuse.
This time of the year when people generally have more disposable incomes after getting their bonus payments often witnesses a surge in violence as couples fight over use and control. This is the time when ladies of the night go overdrive to wring cash from their clients at the expense of their wives.
Attitude is also another sign of spousal abuse.
Some people are control freaks who want things done their way all the time even when they contribute less to the family cake. But for whatever reason gentle reader, time bids on us as a community to stay in harmony and raise our families in the glory of God without fighting.
Sights of women donning ragged clothes while strapping an equally dirty child on their back are common when lovelorn women visit their husbands' places of work as they seek to embarrass them.
The same happens at public places, but that's how worst not to do things.
Inotambika mughetto, kana kuruzevha futi!