Friday, April 4, 2008
The Lady in Red
My husband and I had moved into a modern ground floor apartment in the Avenues section of Harare. The apartment had windows from floor to ceiling and a small glass door leading out onto a balcony and terrace. We kept the light and airy look by curtaining the rooms with heavy sheeting - an off white rough cotton often used as lining for curtains but ideal on its own. We added colour by using Persian rugs on the polished wooden floors.
As we looked out on the tree lined avenue we would close the curtains just before dusk to enable our privacy in the evening - unless we were sitting outside watching the sunset over the city. On this occasion - being a very bright and sunny day - we had closed the curtains early to block out the glare of the sun.
On the occasion that I write about we had done just this. It was dusk when I saw what appeared to be smoke or mist coming from the area around the small door leading to the terrace. I was about to get up from my seat on the sofa opposite the window when I realized that the smoke was turning into a figure. It was a figure of a woman seated, wearing a red dress - a Spanish dancer's dress. She had her hair swept back and tied in a bun at the base of her head. In her hand she held a black fan which she was slowly moving back and forth as if to cool herself.
She turned her head and smiled at me. I recognised the well cut features of a women I had known all my life - who had taught me the art of Spanish Dance. It was Consulo Carmona - the great Spanish dancer - there was no doubt about this. It was the young face I remember seeing as a child.
I turned to my husband to see if he was also seeing the vision and as I did so the figure dissolved into the floor.
My husband had indeed seen the figure - but only in black and white.
Why did she appear to us? The end of her life was tragic. Despite being a model for Russel Flint and being known as one of the greatest classical Spanish Dancers her last years were spent scrubbing floors in an American Hospital to make living. Alone she died in poverty.
Perhaps she just wanted to say hello and show me that she was now at peace and happy again.