by Dumisani Kufaruwenga

During our youthful village days, there were no cellphones.

Long distance communication with a loved one was done through hand written letters or was done, in order to avoid detection by parents, through a carefully chosen emissary who was usually the recipient lover’s relative, friend, or neighbour.

Securing an appointment or a date with a loved one therefore required careful reconnaissance and planning, or simply required capitalising on any opportunity that may have presented itself.

Every possible avenue which could lead to a successful appointment or date with a girl was relentlessly persued.

Enlisting the help of your own relatives, family members and friends, was usually a good strategy. Teamwork was crucial, rural dating could be a dangerous, lonely and heartrending game.

You could accompany a brother to the distant homelands of Manjobo on foot, only to find out that his date had gone to Tumba Primary school for a church function, and the two of you would have to walk several kilometres back to Tumba Primary school and wait for several hours, thirsty, hungry and weary, until the brother’s date emerged from the church function, only to tell the two of you that she couldn’t see your brother on that day, as she had already been assigned to accompany her young brother to her aunt’s place and reach her own home before nightfall.

Your brother and yourself would commiserate with each other and give each other advice on relationship matters and encourage each other as the two of you trudged back home empty handed.

Companionship rekindles a dying spirit.

Your nephew could confront and distract the girl’s furious brothers in Gakata Village, while you sneaked with the girl into the thickets on the banks of Musavezi River.

Having each other’s back yielded desired results.

You could scribble a quick note requesting to meet with the girl at Tongogara Business Centre later on that very same day, and hand the note to your little sister who would be going for choir practice at Poshayi Primary School after giving her strict instructions to pass through the girl’s home and secretly deliver the letter to the girl, and in response to the letter, the girl would turn up at Tongogara Business Centre later on that very same day.

Sometimes capitalising on an opportunity paid.

But in the game of rural dating, neither opportunism nor careful reconnaissance and planning could always guarantee success.

Sometimes things just went wrong.

When we were growing up, l was great friends with my cousin, who l will call Diligent.

We played soccer together and smoked and drank and teamed up with each other and helped each other with each other’s dates.

Our friends who taught at Tongogara High School had invited Diligent and myself for a soccer tournament which was going to to take place at Chivakanenyanga Secondary school. Their school (Tongogara High School) had hired a bus to ferry both students and teachers from Tongogara to Chivakanenyanga.

Diligent confided in me that a girl from Tubugare Village, who had shown interest in Diligent, would be at the soccer tournament. Diligent said he wanted to take their relationship to the next level, and I should be around to ensure that nothing would hinder him in achieving his fell design.

I readily agreed.

So we put on our best outfits and walked briskly to Tongogara Business Centre where we were scheduled to board the bus that had been hired by Tongogara High School to ferry both teachers and students to Chivakanenyanga for the soccer tournament.

We hurriedly purchased provisions for the trip before the bus arrived. Brandy, cigarettes and Chibuku beer from Mudhara Svoba’s counter.

The bus arrived and our teacher friends let us in and we were off to Chivakanenyanga for the soccer tournament, and we shamelessly sang along the way;

“The tight thing
belonging to the
little lass

Pound it hard so as
to loosen her arse

Use even your longest
Pound it so it opens
like a snare”

All of us in the bus sang that song; myself, my cousin Diligent, the male teachers, the female teachers, the male students, the female students, all of us.

The spirit of soccer madness had gripped us all.

A large vociferous crowd awaited us at Chivakanenyanga Secondary school.

Diligent had a young brother called Machinda Jimmy who played for the Chivakanenyanga team as a full back. Myself and Diligent had come under the banner of Tongogara High School. Our own brother was playing for a rival team. We had a torrid time choosing which team to support when these two teams played against each other.

But we were also on a mission of our own.

We sent our network of spies to locate the girl Diligent was interested in, and in no time she was brought to us.

Of course she wanted biscuits and a cool drink from the nearby shops called kwaKayo where Zanda also ran a thriving bar.

Our network of spies quickly procured what was required and delivered the parcel to the girl.

After some time, Diligent whispered in my ear that the girl had agreed that we accompany her to her village in Tubugare, and that we should wait for her at the school borehole.

We had to leave before the pulsating encounter between Tongogara High School and Chivakanenyanga Secondary school was over, but I felt proud that our young brother Machinda Jimmy was outstanding at the rear.

We bade farewell to our teacher friends and walked to the school borehole and drank our beer and waited.

It was getting dark. It was important that we strategise.

“Do you think she’ll

I asked Diligent.

Diligent who knew exactly what I meant answered;

“Of course she’ll
succumb, no-one can
resist Diligent’s charm”

I said;

“That’s good, steer her
to the gum tree
plantation when she
arrives, l’ll wait for you
at Nephew Hananda’s
kraal. Join me there
once you are through.”

The girl arrived shortly thereafter and we rejoiced.

Before Diligent and the girl branched off to the gum tree plantation, l relieved Diligent of a few cigarettes and also relieved him of the Chibuku beer container and set off for Nephew Hananda’s kraal. I found a warm comfortable place and sat down and leaned against the kraal, enjoying the darkness and the liqour and heady humid hue of cow dung manure.

There can be peace in rustic existence.

But the tranquillity was shortlived.

Diligent, with his arm around the girl, invaded my peace. So early? I wanted an explanation. I pulled Diligent out of the girl’s earshot and asked;

“Did you succeed?”

He said;

“Not yet. She says she
will only reward me
with whatever l want if l
accompany her as far
as her homestead.
Lets take her there.
Today its going down!”

Tubugare Village is not very far from where we stood. But if you combined the distance to Tubugare Village and the journey back to our own home, the mission was impossible to accomplish at that dark hour.

But Diligent was on fire, and was no longer thinking with his head.

And so we walked all the way past Mapumbu Forest into Chiponise River and turned southwards towards the homelands of Tubugare, chatting up and charming the girl to put her off guard and destroy her defences, and she warmed up to our good humour and giggled happily in response to our suggestive jokes.

Things were looking good for Diligent.

There is a small stream near the girl’s village, all three of us sat on its dry and sandy riverbed before I disappeared quietly to give the lovebirds some alone time.

I smoked and drank and waited. I whistled a signal to Diligent for him to know l was waiting for him. He whistled back acknowledging that the message had been well received.

Everything was set.

During our youthful days, village girls were more difficult to handle than their urban counterparts. Most urban girls were bold and carefree and adventurous, while some rural girls still boasted about chastity. But when the environment was right and if the boy knew the right buttons to press, many rural girls were ready to yield to their lover’s demands to prove their devotion to the relationship.

Diligent therefore enjoyed good prospects of success.

So l waited with patient optimism.

But when Diligent finally left the girl and came to fetch me, he looked downtrodden and defeated. He announced;

“We have come all this
way for nothing. Lets
go home. She has

I was puzzled;

“But why?”

Diligent answered;

“Because I was stupid
enough not to buy a
cheap plastic she
insisted l should wear if
l wanted to consumate”

We thus went back home empty handed, as weary as a travellers and as tired as a hunter who had not caught anything!

Who said village girls are unsophisticated?

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