My Yellow Dress with Big Black Buttons
By Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda*
It was a full length dress in bright yellow. It had big round black buttons in front. It was of criplene material. Its that kind of material that melts when it catches fire and does not burn like normal cotton cloth. It was my Easter and Sunday best for many many years as a young girl.
This dress lasted forever ~ chiramba kusakara. It was also wash and wear, so no need for ironing and all that. It was easy to dry and the yellow colour never faded out. It was just bright yellow for a long time!
One could identify me from afar. My friend Vero, would say Ï saw you from far and said there is Nyara!" ~ ndakuona uchiri kumhiri uko, ndikati Nyara Uyoo!! Yes, it was easy to be identified from afar with this special colour which dazed the eyes, and made one to stand out in the crowd.
My brother bought me this dress, and brought it home one Easter. When my brother was home the previous Christmas, mother had simply said, "if you manage some savings, could you buy your sister a dress because she has nothing decent for public wear ~ mutengere mwana hembe haasisina chekupfeka pane vamwe". He simply stopped at Mapereke stores and picked the nearest garment which could fit my size and his pocket, and all done with love, understanding and consideration. My mother, a hard working widow was happy, I was happiest and my brother was content.
For years, my yellow dress was the only and the special one. When it started to run out there were many ways to keep it going. Having a patch on the hole was one sure way to keep it going. Unfortunately with this yellow colour it was very hard to find an appropriate patch, matching in colour, type of cloth, and matching sewing thread!
Aaah, my yellow dress shifted places, from being my Sunday best to that dress one uses when watering the garden. And even then, it was no longer functional enough, the black buttons had dropped, I could not find the right size of buttons, and yet could not throw it away. it was so much part of me. I held on and could not give up on it. It found its way into my pillow.
It was many years later when I was to wash this pillow, and removed all mamvemve inside, that my eyes went wide open when I had this reunion with my very special yellow dress. It now had only 3 buttons. I held it with love, a hug and an extra hug. A little thank you, for all the times we could not be literally separated.
I woke up this morning, this Easter Friday, thinking of all the special people that have come into our lives. People who gave meaning to our lives, clothed us in dignity and brightened our paths. Along the way they seem to fall by the wayside, and some into seeming oblivion. Yet they are there in our hearts, they are part of our lives and will always be there.
To all my family, my siblings, my in-laws, friends and mentors, I love you just so much, like my beautiful yellow dress. We all grow up and move on, yet, you should know , that you are in my pillow. You continue to cushion and comfort every day. You are in my heart. Treasured!
Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda is the Founder of Rozaria Memorial Trust and current General Secretary of the World YWCA. She writes in her her personal capacity.