One More Earthquake 

One More Earthquake

I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately. An unquiet mind, clearly. Troubled by something. And maybe it doesn’t help any that I’ve been reading K Sello Duiker’s [link= ]The Quiet Violence of Dreams[/link].

Duiker committed suicide in 2005 at the age of 30, leaving many wondering where his career might have gone. I first came across him when I read his short story, “When You Least Expect It.” The Quiet Violence of Dreams is a novel about a university-aged student in Cape Town. It’s a powerful, interesting read, with different characters taking turns to tell their own stories in their own voices. And in so doing, the novel allows for a rich exploration of topics like race, sexuality, gender roles, family, and “success.” Duiker had an exquisite way with words, and the challenges and triumphs of each of his characters come to life. The novel also features some highly descriptive homosexual male sex scenes which share more detail than I, as a lesbian, ever particularly needed or wanted to know.

So maybe that’s part of why I’m not sleeping. Im also staying with some friends at an unfamiliar house with unfamiliar sounds. But last night I was also challenged by another tremor. Around midnight, I awoke to that now vaguely familiar low roar, heard the windows rattling and felt my bed shaking. At least this time I knew. Although it was windy yesterday, this wasn’t a hurricane. Or a tornado. “Just another earthquake” I thought to myself as I lay in bed and waited for it to end. I didn’t hear my friends get up, so I didn’t want to disturb them. But there was that part of me that just wanted to double check I wasn’t imagining things. So I sent a text message to my best friend, the only person I knew wouldn’t at all mind a midnight check up. Yes she had also heard it. But thought maybe it was some kind of explosion. She’d heard a shot. And said there was a weird noise.

Loosely translated, Harare means “they don’t sleep.” Based on the nostalgic anecdotes of people who lived here in the 80s and 90s, that might once have been true. There might once have been busy roads at midnight, people out for a jol and having a good time. But all that has changed. And to hear cars on the road as late as midnight is unusual in a residential area. In that blurry half-daze of wakeful sleep, I could convince myself my friend was right. The three cars I heard drive past in succession were army trucks ferrying soldiers to their stations. The wind outside was a distant helicopter, making its staccato way to a high density area south of town. And the dogs ferreting in the leaves outside was the sound of fire, crackling as the city was bombed, torched and left to burn.

Of course, it was only an earth tremor. Not long later there was another one. Months delayed aftershocks, perhaps, of the earthquake in Mozambique some months back. When morning came, and the house woke up, and we all went off to town for work or errands, it was clear the revolution hasn’t started yet. Nor has it been violently suppressed by gun waving state security agents. All of that might be still to come. The MDC continues to make its bold proclamations about a “winter of discontent.” But at this rate, we’ll see the next earth quake long before the regime starts to quake in the face of collective non-violent mass action.

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