BOOK REVIEW: By Fungayi Sox
Title: The Terrible Heartbreak
Author: Misheck Gondo
The cover design on Misheck Gondo’s book, The Terrible Heartbreak, can easily mislead you into believing that it’s predominantly a book filled with “political undertones” through the shape of the Zimbabwean map and the words “Terrible Heartbreak”, which are strategically written in red and appears to be melting and dropping onto the tea pot-shaped country. But alas, the book is rather a series of university romantic tales captured through political, economic and socio-cultural lens.
The Author of the book The Terrible Heartbreak, Misheck “Chairman” Gondo is the executive director of the National Association of Youth Organisations — an umbrella body for youth organisations working in Zimbabwe. His unwavering passion for young people is clearly captured in this book, whose message is still very pivotal in ending HIV and Aids.
Set at the University of Zimbabwe, The Terrible Heartbreak captures a series of romantic tales through social, economic and political events in Zimbabwe at the height of the 2007 to 2008 volatile political temperatures, a motivating factor, which pushed the author to pen the realities chronicled in the book.
In Chapter one, we are introduced to Collins and Nyasha — a young couple that appears to be madly in love. At the beginning of the text, the author successfully manages to capture Nyasha’s beauty in the eyes of the reader,
“Yet she was a strapping fine figure of a woman, with fine limbs and fine smooth curve to her throat, she had an almost classic beauty of which any woman might have been proud of… This lady was one of the most elegant, gorgeous, polite and amalgamated with a bunch of principles…”
The young couple pulls off their relationship and express words of unwavering affection towards each other. Unbeknown to Collins, the first terrible heartbreak happens when Nyasha dumps him in a heart tearing letter which partly reads.
To my boyfriend……I do not know why I had loved you so much. Strange, that was the greatest mistake. The truth of the matter is, I’m sorry for the time we both wasted. I know those sentiments will tear you apart. I beg you to remove your attention from me; you can as well find someone who deserves your love, care or whatever… It’s not a crime not to love someone, so do not ask me the reason why I reached such a brilliant decision. Please, do not come to my place; delete my phone number as soon as you finish reading this message. As for my photos, destroy them in your own style, please do not be disturbed or try to commit suicide for someone who has decided to move on with her life.
Wish you the best in your life. End of the road.
Former lover Nyasha Matibiri
What makes this heartbreak terrible for Collins is the fact that the break-up comes at a time when he was about to get engaged to her and had just been introduced to her parents leaving him in a state of disbelief, dilemma and above all hopelessness and solace.
The author strikes a balance between Collins rejection or heartbreak through humorously referring to him as someone who was now languishing from a “terrible social disease” and a “social pandemic” which drowns him into depression and almost gets him hit with a car while crossing the traffic lights in Harare’s central business district.
What Collins doesn’t know the moment he is dumped, is that the Universe had just spared him from future troubles.
The second chapter takes the reader down memory lane to the horrific memories of the 2008 harmonised elections and we are introduced to Eve and Alois, in a reunion of two love birds who meet at the University of Zimbabwe and appear to have escaped the violence that had gripped their village in Zvipani and the two reignites their childhood love.
Gondo is able to create suspense and portray Eve as a “suspicious character” since her UZ students residence. it is reported that her small room was flamboyantly decorated with fancy things. Her open wardrobe is reported to have had expensive dresses, trousers and shoes. It is apparent that a tense atmosphere is created and the reader senses a brewing “It will end in tears moment” for Alois.
In a twist of events that confirms such suspicions, Eve appears to be dating a cabinet minister and lies to Alois that it’s her uncle. when the truth comes out, Eve dumps Alois and it is Alois who pays the ultimate price. He is falsely framed for being a student activist threatening to cause upheaval at the university and is badly tortured by the Security minister and left unconscious, his only crime being to love Eve and such tragic ending to their love fairy-tale leaves him “terribly heartbroken”.
Gondo’s message on courtship, marriage and chastity is clearly articulated through Chapter Four, which takes the reader through the scene at Mufakose Catholic Church. While one can criticise the author for over-capturing most of the young women’s characters through sexual lens, I felt the purpose was to raise a red flag in as far as their vulnerability to being preyed on by selfish men is concerned.
The book thus becomes a championing voice raising awareness on the safety of young female students and young women in general.
For me, Gondo’s main message in The Terrible Heartbreak is the respect of women as a much needed virtue which is at the epicentre of love and that love shapes a responsible man and how recklessness can never be an option.
- Fungayi Sox is a Harare-based communications consultant specialising in book editing, education, personal development, digital media technologies and publishing. He can be contacted on +263 776 030 949 or follow him on Twitter @AntonySox.