Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Saturday, January 5, 2013

"The Lament of Hester Muponda" by Petina Gappah Zimbabwe Project 196

"The Lament of Hester Muponda" by Petina Gappah (2008, 3 Pages)

Project 196

Country 16 of 196
Petina Gappah

  1. Georgia 
  2. Canada
  3. U. S. A.
  4. The Republic of Korea
  5. Antigua and Barbuda 
  6. Haiti
  7. Trinidad and Tobago 
  8. Ukraine
  9. Cameroon
  10. Botswana
  11. Sudan
  12. Dominica 
  13. Israel
  14. Syria
  15. Ethiopia
  16. Zimbabwe

After Hester Muponda lost her first child and she turned her face to the heavens to pour out her grief, her church people said to her, find your strength in God, they said to her. After the second child followed where the first had led, she bent her face into the folds of her Zambia wrapping cloth. The Lord gives and He takes away, blessed be His name today, Hester Muponda said. But when the fifth followed the fourth who had followed the third, she kept him in her second bedroom until he began to decay and smell and they forced the door open and still she refused to bury him. Her closest neighbour and best friend MaiNgwerume whispered something about Hester Muponda’s midnight ways to her closest neighbour and best friend MaiMutero and MaiMutero said to MaiNgwerume, it is a mad chicken that eats its own eggs, but shush now

If you are a publisher that has an anthology that is done in the 196 spirit, please contact me as I will be spotlighting appropriate collections.  

At first I thought I was setting myself an impossible task but a bit of research has made me optimistic  that I can find a short story from all 196 countries in the world.  

If you are a short story writer from Zimbabwe, I would like to publish your  story on my blog.  If you are interested in this please contact me.

One of the very best things about Project 196 for me has been discovering great new to me writers.  Some of these new to me writers are giants on the world literary stage and some are just starting their writing careers.    

Petina Gappah (Zibababwe, 1971) has degrees in law from the University of Zibababwe and Cambridge.  Her first book, An Elegy for Easterly,  a collection of short stories set in Zambabwe, was short listed for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award.  It won The Guardian First Book Award in 2009.  Her stories are about people from many segments of Zimbabwe, from the elite to street children.  She was called the "Voice of Zambabwe" by her publisher Faber and Faber and Amazon.  She rejects this label, saying she writes about the country not for it.  

"The Lament of Hester Muponda" (There will be a link where you can read the story at the end of this post) is a heartbreaking story of a woman driven mad after having five children in a row die right after being born.  She already had grown children who had given her grandchildren.   Her husband moved into a room in their house where one of the grown children used to stay and she locked him out of her room.  Her friends tell her to trust in God and give your attention to your grandchildren, then they begin to die one by one.  Her husband says she is cursed and he takes up with another woman.  Hester takes her pots, the ones she had used for years to cook for her family, and sets up a cooking stand by the side of the road.  It is all she has left.  I do not wish to tell too much of the plot of this wonderful story and strongly urge you to take the few minutes required to read it.  Perhaps it will disturb you enough to make you unable to read anything else for a while.  I hope to read An Elegy for Easterly in 2013.  

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in Southern Africa with a population of 12 Million.  Great Britain granted them independence in 1980.  It was formerly known as Southern Rhodesia.   It is a terribly poor hard place for the average person to live.  Wealth is concentrated in a few families.  

This beautiful very wise story is way worth the few minutes it will take you to read it.  Among other things, it is a story about the great power of faith to give us strength to deal with what seems impossible to bear.

Mel u

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