The Chosen Generation

Thomas Sukutai Bvuma

The Chosen Generation

This novel is dedicated to my little brother, Edgar Tanyaradzwa.
At fifteen, he left school and family and followed me to the liberation war.
His young life was brought to a brutal end by Rhodesian Selous Scouts commandos
when they attacked Chimoio guerrilla camp, Mozambique, in November 1977.
May his soul rest in eternal peace..

Chapter 1

Minutes later, two men jump out of a car and invade a hotel. They start shooting guests at the swimming pool. In the reception area, guests are wondering what the hell is going on. They know soon. Guns blazing, the young men shoot at every human being in sight. Most of the guests are Europeans. One of the attackers yanks a grenade from his bandolier, pulls out the pin and hurls it at a crowded bar. A blinding flame leaps into the ceiling, instantly igniting a fire. An explosion splits ear-drums. Bones break and scatter. Blood gushes and splatters horrendous graffiti on the wall. The floor becomes bloody and slippery. Women and men skid and fall as they flee. Murderous muzzles mow them down to the floor. The reception area of the hotel is turned into a concoction of blood, bones, spleen, screams, smoke and death. The two attackers keep their AK-47s rattling on rapid-fire, maiming and killing

So much slaughter without opposition. No one to stop the terror. No soldiers. No police. What about the hotel security guards? Armed with sticks, they can’t stop the murderous fury. The attackers take hostages. Using hotel guests as shields, they take them to the first floor. They force-open the doors of the hotel rooms and shoot everyone they find. A family is hiding in the toilet. The attackers toss a grenade into the toilet room and close the door. The explosion sets the room ablaze. The Kalashnikov sprays bullets into the bodies of a couple hiding in a closet. Smoke billows out of the windows of the hotel. As the attackers terminate life with bullets and grenades, firefighters offer their own lives to rescue the victims. They raise long ladders to windows and rescue hundreds of guests. “Is this real or it’s a Bollywood movie?” Yababa asks. But what he is watching is not a movie. The terror is real. It’s breaking news.

Yababa shuffles his old, arthritis-stricken body to a one-time brown sofa which age and usage have worn smooth and black. He tries to lower his body gently but slumps into the sofa like a three-quarter filled sack of sorghum. He sits straight-backed and attentive like a cocked rifle pointing skywards. His body is spent, worn out and rusty like a bullet cartridge lost and forgotten in the bushes of the war that ousted Ian Smith and his band of arrogant settlers.

Sewage flows on the street that runs in front of Yababa’s house in Zengeza high-density suburb (what Ian Smith used to call African Township or Location) in the town of Chitungwiza. Pipes burst several months ago and effluent leaks onto the streets, unchecked. The city council is too corrupt and broke to provide services, abandoning ratepayers to wade and lament in their own piss and faeces. The date is 26 November 2008, the beginning of the rain season. A tropical storm menaces from Seke communal lands, accompanied by searing flashes and drum-bursting explosions. The house and the world outside turn dark. Yababa flicks on the lights using a walking stick that has become an indispensable third limp.

The gruesome images on the television screen make Yababa forget his cautionary habit of switching off the television set when storms threaten. Thunderstorms, sometimes even light showers, generate rogue surges of electricity that burn television tubes. And the denizen has no money to sue the power utility.Yababa massages the bald dome of his head. Chunks of rotten memory that he has long forgotten begin bobbing to the surface. They float at the top like faeces in the sewage on the street outside his house An eye-slashing flash wriggles down the dark skies of Chitungwiza like a supersonic eel, followed by an ear-splitting bang. The storm has arrived. Gusty winds, powerful as mortar bombs, tear roofing sheets off nails and wrench tree trunks from their roots. Trillions of raindrops and hailstones strike heads and shoulders like blunt crystal bullets, scattering people for cover. Life consists of perennial storms interspaced with deceptive placidity, Yababa thought.The stench from the sewage in the street punches Yababa’s nose, shoots up his nostrils and drops into his lungs, heavy as mercury. He does not flinch. Strange how one can get used to the abominable and abnormal and accept it as normal. As the killing unfolds on the screen, Yababa gradually gets a sense of what is happening. Terrorists are attacking soft targets in Mumbai, India’s financial hub. Colonial education introduced that town to Yababa as Bombay. Yababa is familiar with commandos and terrorists. He had experienced them, intimately, when he was a younger man. Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab would have been described as a handsome young man. If he were an actor in a horror movie; he would have become an admired supervillain. But he is not acting. He is a brutal beast. A real-life butcher. Dressed in khaki combat pants and a dark blue T-shirt, Ajmal is a merciless killer. He follows his instructions and beliefs to the book, killing as many people as he could.After Ajmal and his murderous associates had landed and divided into groups of two, they went on to attack twelve civilian targets in Mumbai, including the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, the Oberoi Trident Hotel, Cama Hospital and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus.