By Ashley Dube

Gossip had begun long before Doctor Mafukidze’s moving truck arrived in the high-density suburb of Chikanga in the Mountain Rise. It started when he bought a house there anonymously and had it renovated in no time, raising many eyebrows in the hood. His imminent move was greatly anticipated by the community and bloody hell, the Doctor did not disappoint.
Arriving in a charcoal grey Toyota Hilux, Doctor Mafukidze finally put a face to the talk that had preceded him. He was 42-year old retired educator at the Midlands State University, though he could easily pass for 32—a fact which titillated the juices of the ladies in the neighbourhood. Specializing in Biotechnology with a PhD in Molecular Biology, he was financially stable, though not affluent. He wore skinny jeans, tweed jackets with well-known elbow patches, no socks and rarely ties. His demeanour was laidback and cool. That liberal-chic-academic look! However, his laid-back demeanour fueled the gossip, and solidified his position as the talk of town.
‘Hamuzvizive akachekeresa mukadzi here uyu?’ I overheard a couple of elderly vendors at the local market place, implying he might have used some sort of juju or dark magic, involving blood scarification of his ‘wife’, to achieve his success.
The more common chat among the youth was that he was a member of the CIO on an undercover mission in Mutare. As for me, I took a more realistic stance. I simply thought Doctor Mafukidze was looking for a change of scenery and had decided to move cities. He himself never attempted to quell those rumours, nor did his actions help him.
From time to time, Doctor Mafukidze was seen doing errands at night in a rickety blue Mazda B1800. It had a windowless black canopy and drummed the curiosity of the locals even further. The media cashed in on these rumours as well. ‘The Blabbermouth,’ a local weekly gossip column, ran a piece trying to establish which of the rumours was accurate. Although ‘Blabbermouth’ did not overtly mention him, every man and his dog could draw the parallels easily and figure out who the piece was about.
Many had warned me on the dangers of walking solo at night, but I found it soothing and refreshing. Walking back from church gracefully one night, my little Gideon’s bible clutched in my left hand, humming one of my favourite hymnals, ‘how great thou art’, I saw the silhouette of a car in the distance. As I came closer, I recognized the Doc’s favourite blue Mazda. He must have had a break-down I thought to myself.
‘Everything okay here?’ I inquired.
‘Yeah, no. Just a tire puncture,’ Doctor Mafukidze replied clumsily.
I put my bible in my pocket and moved on to assist. ‘I’m good, don’t worry,’ he interjected.
‘Certainly an extra pair of hands won’t hurt.’ He couldn’t counter that and we had his tyre changed in a few minutes.
‘Thank you, young man. But with all the rumours about me, aren’t you afraid you’ll be the next sacrifice to my sekuru?’ he asked.
‘Nah. My conscience won’t allow me to leave someone in need, especially if I can lend a hand.’
Doctor Mafukidze looked at me, smiling faintly.
‘I know how naïve it sounds…’
‘You’re a rare breed. Would you mind if I gave you a ride home?’
‘No problem,’ I said, hopping into the passenger seat.
We sat in silence as the Doc focused on the road ahead for a while, then out of the blue, he asked, ‘Do you think consciousness has any influence on our actions?’ It was a peculiar question for sure.
‘I think everything is connected,’ I said.
His face lit up as I have found some long-lost treasure, ‘Where’d you hear that, young man?’
To be honest I was astounded. My response was just an offhand comment to pass some time, yet it seemed to resonate deeply with him.
‘During my PhD studies in molecular biology,’ Doctor Mafukidze said, not waiting for my reply. ‘I started on working more on the consciousness and how it influences physical events. Initially I thought it was a wild goose chase. From a scientific perspective, there are established laws in the world that you simply can’t override. But as I delved deeper into my life, and considered that my life seemed to have been directed by what appear to be random events, I began to think that everything might be connected in far more complex ways than the scientific method can capture. Have you heard about IONS?’
I shook my head.
‘I want to show you something. If you don’t mind.’ I nodded, no problem. In all honesty I felt the conversation had grown weird really quickly, borderline scary. And at the same I was intrigued, it’s probably why I agreed. Doc took the next exit and drove towards Dangamvura, arguably the largest residential area in the city, halting at an old abandoned NATVEST building. We disembarked from the vehicle simultaneously and headed to the building in silence. You could hear a pin drop.
Doctor Mafukidze placed his eyeball in a small machine attached next to one of the entrances and the door suddenly swung open. Retina sensors, what a cool security system, I thought to myself. My heart was pounding as I stepped foot into the room. A laboratory of sorts, a board that said ‘NOESIS: the highest form of knowledge’, and all sorts of other writing that seemed gibberish to me. ‘Science of consciousness and world of inner experience’, is the one statement I can still recall as my mind was in awe with my present environment.
‘My work on pre-recognition attracted the IONS. The Institute of Noetic Sciences which is in California, have been working on the science of consciousness for some decades. When I published my work on Pre-recognition science they contacted me in order to assist in my research.’ Doctor Mafukidze was in full teaching mode now. ‘Have you wondered where the ‘gut feeling’ comes from? It’s one form of pre-recognition evidence. Some things cannot just happen. That was the crux of my research and I believe there is a possibility the nervous system might react prior to the stimulus. This is what I would like to call pre-sentiment, a phenomenon which suggests that at times our perceptions may transcend the familiar boundaries of time as we know it’ At this point I was dumbfounded, it was a lot to take in.
‘You may think this is all waffles, I used to think the same, but there is an element of accuracy and also experiments to back it up. Would you mind being a willing participant?’ I looked around the laboratory, a swivel chair and virtual-reality-esque headset on it, connected by a bunch of cables to a desktop that I assumed ran the experiments and displayed results.
‘Hmm. Maybe another time, Doc.’ I declined the offer. ‘Yeah definitely. It’s getting late anyway.’

11 September, 2023