On Steve Chimombo’s story “Taken”

Our discussion this past Tuesday helped me to understand that, through studying narrative chronotopic choices, we are expanding our understanding of time and space beyond micro-units that move with ease between “now” and “now” or “here” and “here” to a “now.” “Here” that contains both the “before” and “after.”  A story’s chronotope allows us insight into the retrospective, reconstructing and reliving the bygone, as well as prospective, anticipating the “about to be.”  The way I understood it, the chronotope of a story is a manifestation of the tensions between memory, actuality, and anticipatory. 

In studying the chronotope of Steve Chimombo’s story “Taken” we are given insight into notion of the relative time and space through which the narrator, Alekeni, tells his tale.  The narrative is primarily in past tense although there are many instances of dialogue, obviously enacted in the present.  But, further than the important tense shifts throughout, Alekeni toys with Einstein’s theory of relatively and its subsequent non-linear interweaving of time and space.  He notes that, “in Mtalika, rumor diffused at the speed of sound: word or mouth, telephone, letter, even telepathy.  It was said that before you decided to seduce your friend’s wife, people would already know about it and actively make sure it came about” (262).  Time and space are no longer sequential and instead moves in a mysteriously obfuscate but powerful manner. 

Another instance of the imaginative characteristic related to time and space is in chapter three, when Alekeni informs the parish priest that he “was at home and in bed the whole of last night” and that, at Ndasauka’s house he found Ndasauka “finally bundled into the police Land Rover to be heard of no more”  (265).  Immediately, the reader learns that the above mentioned time and space, now somewhat tangible in the priest’s mind, is fictive.  Yet, this very chronotope created makes possible Alekeni’s future actions.    

Lastly, I call attention to what Alekeni calls “the longest night [of his] life” (266).  If we assume time is consistent this phrase might seem impossible.  However upon reading the story it becomes apparent that, yes, because of the circumstances, for Alekeni, time stretched into what became “the longest night.”

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