Creatures Great and Small: Stories deal with human situations
Kangira’s choice of stories is wide and discerning – they deal with the human situations at its most poignant, absurd, fantastic, macabre,miraculous as it applies to those one might think’ ‘nothing ever happens’.
The short stories has been used to advantage by novelists -Waugh, Maugham, Du Maurier -these writers together with Kangira’s writers show that the shortest of stories can say so much. In three pages Ethel I Kabwata in ‘Time Let Go’ tells of the climacteric of a wife’s love for her husband, the return of her husband to her home when he tells her he is leaving her for ever.
These short stories are too close for comfort, confronting us with our excesses and fantasties,wish fulfilments and dreams. We say “I see my relative, brother, aunt’in the pages. We become aware of the mistakes inadvertent ,deliberate which can costs us our lives. The stories people our eroding and changing landscapes with the strong, the frail, the susceptible of mind, and those who teeter between sanity and madness.
There are some heart stopping stories,some which cause tears, some which bring about love.some deal with memories which torment and plague us. There are stories of witchery,sorcery,prophecy,and people put ‘under spells’ by cats. There are stores which deal with the sadly stereotypical situation of molestation and child abuse. And there are stories which deal with false prophets. In ‘Fauth’ R Mupfudzwa plays havoc with the Creation Story and presents earth as run up in seven days by some gren machine in outer space, Adam as a genetic experiment.Many theories have debunked the Creation Story but this is the most bizarre. ”Faith’ also rants against old age prophets in new age dress and children called ‘Baba Jesus’ by their mothers today.
“Angel of Light’ by Zviseni Sandi deals with a woman’s deep etched memory of
a past love, her accumulation of momentos of flowers and photographs which
‘bring on’ this memory of James who sometimes ‘lived in the stars and far away’.
There is most of all Nevanji Mandanhiri’s ‘The Cats at the Farmhouse’, the story of a successful man torn from his wife by the lure of his teenage daughter.”On the road’ as a successful computer expert, he picks up Theresa a female hitch hiker., and goes to her house.Here he is overwhelmed by the presence, the smell, the stench, the feel of unease that a large number of cats can cause. Existance becomes sinister, threatening- his mild flirtation with his daughter over a pizza takes on the dark dimensions of the Oedipus tragedy. The dark night takes over the bright day,like the night clouds crossing the moon. He takes the G tox formula from the back of the truck and sprays the cats. They sniff, sneeze and suddenly cease to be. He drives home, his wife is suddenly more alluring than his daughter.But on seeing the family cat Mangoyi in the arms of his daughter, his reason is no more and the darkness of night clouds the brightness of day.
Each of these stories and there are others by David Mungoshi and Memory Chirere which makes palatable for today the truths inherent in traditional folklore and myth, a new way of handing down and passing on.
Jairos Kangira has edited and contributed to a book which the reader wants to re savour, a book which will soon have the thumbed appearance of the successful book
He has elevated the level of the short story as written in Zimbabwe to a serious genre, and a mainstream within the diverse literary traditions of the nation.