Our Christmas Reunion by Edward Chinhanhu
In Our Christmas Reunion by Edward Chinhanhu we have the theme of love, respect, connection, friendship, innocence and AIDS. Narrated in the first person by a young boy called Tawanda the reader realises from the beginning of the story that Chinhanhu may be exploring the theme of love. Tawanda is preparing a goat for his brother’s arrival. He is excited to see Selby and he recalls many of their adventures. Some were good and some were not so good. What is interesting about the adventures both boys undertake is that Tawanda remains by his brother’s side. It is as though he idolises Selby and does not wish to be apart from him. Something that some readers with siblings might understand. Selby is Tawanda’s everything. He has the utmost of respect for him. If anything some critics might suggest that Tawanda and Selby are joined at the hip. Considering the amount of time Tawanda spends with Selby. There is a very strong connection between both boys.
Though Tawanda doesn’t say it Selby is his best friend and he is lost without him. He cannot imagine a world without Selby by his side. The reader also suspecting that Selby doesn’t mind Tawanda’s actions when it comes to their friendship. He doesn’t mind that Tawanda follows him everywhere. If anything Selby shows Tawanda true love and at no stage in the story does the reader suspect that Tawanda is a hindrance to Selby. Life also changes dramatically for Tawanda when Selby goes to London. He doesn’t know where London is but as he hasn’t seen Selby in such a long time he thinks that London must be very far. This could be significant as it suggests to the reader that Tawanda is relatively innocent and not familiar with the ways of the world. Life for Tawanda consists of his immediate surroundings. The world is too big a place for Tawanda to understand.
There may also be some symbolism in the story which might be important. The goat could symbolise prosperity and highlight to Tawanda just how well Selby is doing in work. It is also possible that the goat could symbolise Selby. Just as the dogs tear apart the goat so too does AIDS tear apart Selby’s body. The train can also be seen as foreshadowing. Particularly when Selby gets off. Tawanda does not recognise him at first and can’t believe the condition Selby is in. How innocent Tawanda (and society is) when it comes to AIDS is also noticeable by way of the fact that Tawanda doesn’t know what AIDS is. He is stuck for words when Selby asks him about AIDS. It is also a possibility that Selby is preparing Tawanda for the worst without necessarily telling Tawanda that he has come home to die. He knows how young and innocent his brother is and does not wish to upset him.
The end of the story is touching as Tawanda gets to hold Selby’s hand one more time before he dies. However Tawanda is still none the wiser as to what has happened Selby nor does he know what has happened his mother. Life is to change dramatically for Tawanda now that his brother is dead and his mother has disappeared. Which may be the point that Chinhanhu might be making. He may be suggesting that AIDS has the ability to tear families apart. At the time not very much would have been known about AIDS. Whereas today many people with AIDS can survive with the right medication. Clearly Selby had no medicine that he could take for his condition. Not only has Tawanda lost his mother and brother but he has lost his best friend too. The reader is also left hoping that Tawanda will grow up quickly so that he can look after himself and his families land but it will be some time before Tawanda fully recovers from what has happened to him. In the space of a day Tawanda has become an orphan with responsibilities he may or may not manage.