Just as the title suggests, the contents in this book appeal to those readers that can readily accommodate the darker side of life. It is a rare and deep philosophical minefield and exploration of the wrongs of this world, as we know it.
By Beniah Munengwa
Title: Imagine Ghosts Telling Tales in front of Smoky Mirrors
Author: Shingirai L. Masunda
Publisher: Ouen Press (2017)
It is a work that dares one to open up their thought patterns and appreciate society’s struggle to define sex, marriage and life.
The protagonist narrates a story of hardship and exposure to the underworld. The emerging verdict though is that of surrender and ambiguity on what should be done to understand life.
Wanting to publish his second book, When the Slave Ruled the Master, after a successful launch of his debut, They Murdered God, 10 years earlier, the narrator then seeks to employ a traditional healer’s “anointing” for his new consignment to pass previous heights. But it is not as easy as it sounds.
The protagonist gets involved in murder of his girlfriend Fadzai and his mother, and his story just gets tainted. The principle of understanding life here is striking. It hovers from the revelation of how abusive childhoods, absentee fatherhood and the quest to achieve what is beyond our reach influence in characters making all the wrong decisions in life to how the society is structured.
Using dreams and memory as a source of the narration that spans 17 years, Masunda unapologetically expresses his self-doubts, new discordant views on life and goes uncensored in cataloguing his sexual exploits.
The fictional memoir borrows from the world of current realities, where the narrator places himself between circumstances like being raped by a group of women. This is against a background where men have been raped on the highway and it has somewhat been denied the attention it deserves as an issue.
The narrator, in exploring issues like the gay inclination of his father, and the prospect of legalising marijuana props at the need of an accommodating approach to life for he argues that women were at one time barred from preaching, not because it was unbiblical but because some men deemed it so.
“Nobody deserves misery son. It’s just your turn. We all have rounds at it… It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.” Passages like this make the book outstanding to me rather than the darker aspects of the story, as remorse is found in dark corners of life.
In the epilogue, the narrator puts it this way: “The scheme was to make everyone believe there is a system. In that way we couldn’t hate the orchestrators for not getting what we deserved, but ourselves for not getting what we deserved for not having what it takes.”
This, on its own, helps in explaining the rubris that surrounds the atmosphere of the book. Subdivided into dates and time of the life of the narrator, the voice of the narration finds itself placed in the varying settings of life to create an outstanding timeline in which life is lived and the narrator then intends to come up with an understanding of the system that rules and runs life.
And what is unique on this text is the extent of which manages to find balance in the exploration of the follies of life. Even when the narrator is not in agreement with a character, he manages to justify an action of a person or of nature. It is centred on the premise that, “individuals are not in themselves bad, just the circumstances.”
Outstanding points of encounter of the narrator and the philosophy of life include his take on death. “Does it matter who survives the longest if ultimately to kill us all is life’s prerogative?” he probes. This settles the question of fighting against death and the atmosphere that comes with it. The conclusion becomes, we will all die, so why give a fuss?
In the exploration of life and its circumstances, the narrator poises a problematic approach to life, questioning every form of set rules, ultimately arguing that, life is what it is because man has set it to be like that.
Not a page passes without a new understanding of life, and since this is what writers are for, Masunda’s book makes a good read for those who search for wisdom.