By Vincent Nkhoma
“ANyongoro…! aNyongoro…! bambo…aChisomo!...bambo…aChiso…!...ndi chani kodi?” (what is it Chisomo’s father?), asked his wife as she was trying to wake her husband from the deadly slumber, for she saw his pillow soaked in an ocean of sweat and tears.
He flung the heavy Joni blanket away from him and mumbled, “Ha...ha!” as a stabled sleeping dog. After waking up he walked towards the window and peeped through it where he noticed that the night was pitch-black. Surprisingly, while he was still there, he heard a roaster crowing from a far distance that prompted him to check the time at the sliver watch that was hanging on the white milky wall about one and half meters above the carpeted floor of the room. Beside the clock, hanged a picture frame on which Mr. Nyongoro and Mrs. Nyongoro embraced each other romantically and just below their photos it was written ‘You can take everything but not my wife’ which vindicated Mr. Nyongoro’s love on his wife.
“Oh! So it is already 4 o’clock,” he said to himself while moving slowly to the bathroom to take a shower in readiness for work as usual since it was Tuesday one of the working days. The noise was heard from the morning birds which ululated for the beautiful day and from children who chased each other on their way to school. After taking the shower, he sat very serenely on the sofa, glued to the television to watch the morning world’s major events of the day. He stretched his hands across the head of the arm-chair and yawned a bit. This was after hard work he had the previous day. At this same time, his wife was busy in the kitchen smearing some strides of brown bread with jam while repeating the three line stanza of vernacular Pentecostal hymn: Mulungu angathe Angathe Salephera,…zoona…
This was indeed a happy family blessed with two daughters: Chimwemwe aged fifteen and Chisomo the one and half year old. Their fifteen year daughter was in form two at Nkholongo Heroes Academy. Mr Nyongoro was just promoted to the position of accountant general of Muthe Constructing Company a few months ago while his wife was working as a lecturer in the department of languages and literature at Muzumbi University.
There was a moment of taciturn in the house and Mrs. Nyongoro was still in the kitchen preoccupied in her womanly chores when a sudden sound ruptured to bury the existing silence. It was her cell phone which was ringing a peculiar sound while lying comfortably on the stool near the cupboard. When she heard the sound, she hurriedly jumped as if in draconian race from the kitchen to serve the innocent garget. Unfortunately, her husband had already reached the spot to rescue the ringing phone. Sadly, it was not a call but an SMS.
“That is a ‘please-call-me-back’. It might be Chimwemwe, please give the phone to me…let me call her myself,” she said while under panic because she knew for sure that everything that was once hidden would be brought to light; she started deterring her husband from reading the SMS.
“Don’t worry honey, just remain tranquil or go back to your duties and if it is Chimwemwe I will call her. Maybe you mean I cannot call her?” asked Mr. Nyongoro calmly, while hiding striated grooves on his face.
After receiving this gentle command, Mrs. Nyongoro returned to the kitchen in a flash like-a-lightening while her head was buried in her cold arms.
Mr Nyongoro walked back to his seat slowly while keenly gazing on the SMS. He started reading it:
‘Hi Panji!’ he read and stopped because he was shocked. This was after he realized that the name Panji in full Panjiro was his wife’s maiden name which was only known to him in the whole township of Zolozolo. Although he was surprised, he gathered momentum and jumped to the other remaining lines frenziedly:
‘I have missed you darling, sweetheart, you are going to leave that mbomi (unfertile bustard) as soon as possible because I’m planning of organizing a colourful and exotic wedding. You know what? I want to take care of my own children; it really pains me when I see my children being fed by another man whilst I have my own established business and I don’t want you to go on and on stealing his money. Honey, I cherish every second of your love. See you soon. I love you. Mboba.’
Mr. Nyongoro ran out of words as he failed to milk out the meaning from the SMS motif in his head. He rose from the chair, turned his head without horns and demanded his legs to take a step but they could not allow him because his whole body was succumbed in a sea of sadness. While he was trying to gather sense out of what was happening, his phone started buzzing signalling that it was someone calling. He neglected it for some seconds until the buzzing stopped. Few seconds later, the phone started buzzing again. Angrily, he picked it up and answered. “Hello!” After hearing the voice of the person on the other end of the line he realised that it was his brother Masuzu in the village. Before Mr. Nyongoro started uttering some words, his brother cut in and said without beating about the bush:
“Brother, our father is no more after being masticated into pieces by a poisonous snake in the mid of night while he was coming back from the lake and the doctors have said that the poison attacked his brain and heart. However, at this juncture, we are rushing to kachere hospital with mum, she had a stroke after receiving the news of the death of our father, so bro...” the line was cut abruptly.
“Ah...! No...!... Why God?” he cried seeking someone to comfort him but to no avail.
He dropped himself down on the sofa as if he was boneless. Suddenly, his phone buzzed again. He looked at it with a red eye. His hands oozed anger. He thought of manhandling it. Hesitantly, he picked the phone and answered:
“Hello!” he opened the conversation with lion’s voice. It was his brother again:
“Bro. Our...our...mother...is also...no...more. According to the claim by the doctors, she died of cardiac arrest before reaching the hospital and bro now...” the line was cut.
He tried to connect it through but his request proved futile since his brother’s phone could not be reached due to network problems as uttered by the computed voice on the other end of the phone. His eyes swam in the ocean of tears. He tried to add, subtract, multiply then divide the deaths’ news by the SMS’s memories but he could not harvest the meaning from what was happening. He stood up, tried to place his foot forward, this time it was possible. He headed to the cupboard where he picked a tumbler then to the fridge. He dropped some water drops until the drops reached the tumbler’s quarter height.
Nyongoro went back to resume his seat while fidgeting the tumbler from the right hand side to the left hand side then back again forgetting the purpose of the cold liquid in it. Suddenly, before he could resume the seat, there was a heavy nock at the door. He wanted to respond to the nock when he heard the sound of a gun. He started shivering then sweating. Tear drops built like a pregnant cloud gushed out from his eyes as a run way culvert in the upper mount Mulanje. He did not know what to. He wondered a bit with what was going on. He then gathered strength and gazed through the window where he noticed some strange energetic men peeping through his house’s window. He failed to count them because some seemed to have gone to the backside of the house. He walked to the store room to pick a panga but he was unsuccessful because all pangas were carried to the farm the previous day.
He dropped himself tirelessly on the sofa again as a feathered pillow and remembered that the armed persons outside his house might be the robbers who called on his phone in the middle of night and told him that early in the morning they will visit his house to get what was theirs. They frightened him not to report the matter to the police neither his neighbours. But as a matter of fact he did not know what belonged to them neither what they were up to nor their names. While he was thinking deeply of what to do if the robbers find their way in of which there was high probability he heard the sound of the door again. ‘phoo! Phoo!’ with this sound he knew for sure that this was the time for him to wave the earth goodbye but he was only sorry that he would not witness the deaths of his father and his mother and more sorry for his wife in the kitchen. “Is this not the bustard on the SMS so called Mboba?” he asked himself. His head was completely full of emptiness.
It was obvious that the masked men would trickle in the house because the gigantic bangs kept on and on. Some few seconds later, the door could no longer withstand their demands. What made him to shiver again and sweat was the sound of a gun that was pointed right at his head. He raised his hands to show obedience. He tried to stare at their masked faces to decipher their names but to no avail. “Where have you put the money, you damn fool? We know that there is ten million in this house that you are supposed to bank tomorrow, isn’t it you fool?” the short man asked who seemed to be the group leader.
Mr. Nyongoro plucked courage to respond to the question but before he could a slap accompanied by a kick landed on his body. There was blood that oozed from his mouth then from the nostrils and uncontrollably urine tricked on the carpet followed by tears like a kindergarten. “Give us the money you son of a b*%h or else you know what will before your soon-to-be-orphaned children?!” commanded the short man. He did not dare to move his gun away from Mr. Nyongoro’s face. Nyongoro remembered the painting titled tsoka likalimba in his departed parents’ house in the village. He went into a cold silence which made the short man’s anger to skyrocket. No sooner had the tall masked man pulled the trigger on the AK 47 pointing Nyongoro’s head than his wife emerged from the kitchen. Nyongoro bit his lips and closed his eyes with wrinkles written all over his face in anger of what has befallen him and what his destination which was in the man with the gun standing next to him. As he heard the clacking gun sound, then he head:
“ANyongoro…! aNyongoro…! bambo…aChisomo!...bambo…aChiso…!...ndi chani kodi?”
After waking up he mumbled: “Ah! So it was just a dream...Oh no!”