The Stone Virgins, by Yvonne Vera
Yvonne Vera, writer of the novel The Stone Virgins, is one of Zimbabwe’s best-known authors. She received her doctorate from York University, Canada, and returned to Bulawayo where until recently she was Director of the National Gallery.
Selborne Avenue in Bulawayo cuts from Fort Street (at Charter House), across to Jameson Road (of the Jameson Raid), through to Main Street, to Grey Street, to Abercorn First Street, to Fife Street, to Rhodes Street, to Borrow Street, out into the lush Centenary Gardens with their fusion of dahlias, petunias, asters, red salvia and mauve petrea bushes, onwards to the National Museum, on the left side. On the right side, and directly opposite the museum, is a fountain cooling the air; water flows out over the arms of two large mermaids. A plaque rests in front of the fountain on a raised platform, recalling those who died in the Wilson Patrol. Wilson Street. Further down the road is a host of eucalyptus trees redolent; their aroma euphoric. Selborne Avenue is a straight unwavering road, proud of its magnificence. The first half, beginning at the centre of the city, is covered with purple jacaranda blooms. Vibrant. These large trees stand high off the ground, with masses of tiny leaves, their roots bulge off the earth where they meet rock, climb over, then plunge under the ground. Wedged in between them are the flamboyant trees, with blistering red blooms, flat-topped, which take over territory from December to January, brightening the sky louder than any jacaranda could. But first, the jacarandas. Their leaves and petals merge above the wide street and the pavements flanking it. The trees create a dazzling horizon. On the face of every passer-by the flickering movement of the leaves traces shadows of the tree like spilt dye, while light swims from above through their dizzying scent; the shadow is fragrant, penetrating. These trees, carefully positioned to colour the road, create a deep festive haze. Bell-shaped petals carpet the street scene where veiled brides and their maids suddenly appear from the magistrate’s court at Tredgold Building and drive a few blocks down to Centenary Park, they emerge out of polished cars, in twirling gowns and fingers of white silk clutching bouquets of pink carnations. They circle the fountain, and the groom. Their poses are measured and delicate. The groom wears a tailcoat, a pleated shirt, a grey cummerbund, and a single white buttonhole rose. The photographer bends and shifts and shields his lens from glare, from spray, but not from the blooms. From the beginning of October comes a relentless heat and a gushing rain; November beats the petals down. The heat is intense. Long after the blooms have withered, the small leaves turn yellow, and dry. They rain down. The trees now are naked and majestic while feathery seeds waft into the glassy sky. They drift. Higher than the trees. They land in the sky. Selborne is the .most splendid street in Bulawayo and you can look down it for miles and miles with your eyes encountering everything plus blooms; all the way from the laced balcony of Sir Willoughby’s Douslin House (he was among the first pioneers with the British South African Company), or from the Selborne Hotel (built 1897) adjacent to it, or even from Thomas Meikle’s Department Store. Selborne takes you to Ascot Shopping Centre and Ascot Race Course, where the horses bristle and canter past the Matsheumhiophe River, out of the city limits to the neat suburbs of Riverside, Hillside, Burnside. On your way to one of these fine suburbs, you may choose to turn into Catherine Berry Drive, or Phillips Way, which brings you past the Bulawayo City Golf Club green, to the smaller streets, secluded. Named after English poets — Kipling, Tennyson, Byron, Keats and Coleridge. [...]
This is an excerpt from the novel The Stone Virgins, by Yvonne Vera.
Title: The stone virgins
Author: Yvonne Vera
Publisher: Oshun Books
Cape Town, South Africa 2005
ISBN 9781770070400 / ISBN 978-1-77007-040-0
Softcover, 13 x 20 cm, 176 pages
Vera, Yvonne im Namibiana-Buchangebot
The Stone Virgins is a gentle but fearless novel that allows the reader to glimpse the depths of unspoken wars in Zimbabwe.