The morning was so quiet with the birds chapping all around making melodious symphonies. The comrades were shinning their riffles whilst the commander slid into the cave in a sudden rush.
“Comrades it’s time, the trucks are coming!” he shouted with all the other fighters taking to their feet instantly.
They all ran in a single file and dispersed into three groups when they were outside the cave. When they were outside one group leader signaled on the radio that his group was one man short. Before they even thought of where the missing comrade would be there was a huge drone from a distance. All birds flew away from the trees and huge birds appeared in the sky at very high speeds penetrating the silence that prevailed before.
The leading helicopter dropped something by the mouth of the cave and a huge blast followed. Immediately the commander shouted, “We are under attack take cover comrades.”
The dark helicopters lowered closer to the ground and white skinned soldiers were seen jumping out one after the other on to the ground. The freedom fighters took cover behind the bushes and ant hills. They shot at the white soldiers who kept on advancing. They maneuvered through the bush and came closer to the comrades whom they now surrounded and the big birds hovering in the sky like lost spirits. Mr Tembo just flashed from behind the hill and started firing with great rage. The more shots he made the louder he screamed. The commander tried to draw him back behind the hill but Mr Tembo was determined to stand his ground. He signaled the commander and other guerillas to move and escape while he created a diversion. He kept firing and one shot out of nowhere struck his hip and he screamed louder that the commander heard him from a distance and stopped. He came back running and saw Mr Tembo rising back to his feet and started leaping firing emotional shots with his AK hanging beside his right rib. As the commander shouted to Mr Tembo another bullet went through his heart and the other through his right shoulder. A grenade was thrown before him and exploded. The commander saw him suspended in the air for a moment and the force of gravity claimed him back to the earth.
As the commander ran to retrieve the hero’s body a volley of shots also struck at him unexpectedly. This was all in the eyes of the other freedom fighters with their hands covering their mouths and others were already weeping.
Masimba was weeping in his sleep. Mrs Tembo was surprised the moment he screamed shouting Tembo dzokai (Tembo please come back). She leapt from the kitchen to check on her son who was now the head of house by appointment of his father.
He narrated how he had had a terrible dream. His father and the commander had been shot dead by the white soldiers. Mrs Tembo burst into tears. The memories of her husband struck her. It had been two months and they had not received any news from the battlefield on how things were going.
Unfortunately later that day news arrived. Men who seemed so exhausted came by their house accompanied by the village head. It was evident by their looks that they were fighters and they had come a long way. Their faces, although very humble, were not those that bring good news.
Mrs Tembo served them Sadza with dried meat that Masimba had brought from his hunting expeditions. Thereafter they relieved their hearts of the grief that troubled their hearts. They had come to tell Masimba and his household that what they last saw of Mr Tembo was the last of it all.
Mr Tembo was never to return home again. He had joined Nehanda Nyakasikana and Kaguvi who also died for the soil like he did. Amongst the guerilla’s there had been a rotten apple that sold the rest of the crew when they were to attack the enemy’s convoy one morning. The narration matched that of Masimba’s dream. Therefore, the missing man in his dream was the sell-out who led to his father’s death.
From that day onwards, things were really different now. Hope for his father’s return had been confirmed invalid. Masimba was now the absolute head of the house and had to pull his socks further up.
To be continued….