The pastor nodded as Changu narrated her story. The last time he saw her in church was two years ago when she asked for help for her wayward husband. Apparently she wasn’t happy with his advice because she stopped coming to church. As she spoke he studied her eyes and body language. She seemed to be hiding something but he waited for her to finish her tale.
He left on thursday and hasn’t been back home for two days, Changu clasped her hands in front of her face. Pastor, I know I haven’t been to church for sometime but I have nowhere else to go. Please help me, Changu cried.
He waited for her sobs to subside before he spoke.
Mrs Banda, why did your husband leave home, he leaned forward in his chair. Was there a quarrel before he left home, he asked.
Changu was silent.
She wasn’t going to tell the pastor the circumstances surrounding her present crisis. How could she tell him that an ng’anga gave her a broom with a powerful muti to bring her husband under her control, the muti worked as promised but now the broom was missing and so was her husband. Would this pastor understand her predicament, would he be able to relate with the fear she had to contend with, the fear that drove her to consult with an ng’anga in the first place. He would never understand her, how could he, she asked herself. She regarded him with disdain sitting on his revolving chair, clothed in his black robe and white collar, looking pious, like a man who had conquered his desire to sin, a man who could do no wrong. She looked at the floor and shook her head in bitterness. If she hadn’t followed her friend to consult the ng’anga she wouldn’t find herself in this position.
Why did your husband leave home, the pastor asked again.
Changu lifted her face. The rays of the sun bounced off the window on her face forming a soft glow. She exhaled deeply. The pastor moved closer to the woman before him looking contrite, expecting a confession from her.
I don’t know why he left home. Our marriage has never been better, Changu said.
The pastor reached for a glass of water before him.
Changu thought she caught a slight smirk on his face as he drank from the glass. He couldn’t possibly be mocking her, eating up her misery like a hungry motor-park tout downing mouthfuls of hot nshima, Changu thought. It was probably her guilt making her read negative meaning to his facial expression.
I don’t know why he left home, Changu said.
Let us pray, the pastor bowed his head.
Twenty minutes after Mrs Banda had left the church, the pastor was still in deep thought. He sensed a darkness surrounding Changu. It seemed like her husband was bound by some wicked entity. He couldn’t shake off the feeling that Changu was lying to him. For all he knew she could be responsible for her husband’s disappearance. He got down on his knees and yielded to the strong urge within him pushing him to pray for Mulenga Banda.
Changu regarded the phone ringing beside her. It was her friend Lucy. She ignored it, walked towards the open window and gazed aimlessly into the sky. Her visit to the parish priest had been a disaster. The man seemed to look through her soul. Somehow he knew she was lying but she couldn’t bring herself to tell him the truth about her husband and the broom. He prayed with her and adviced her to inform the police.
She picked up the phone and dialled her mom.
Changu, is everything okay, the older woman asked.
Mom, everything is not okay. Mulenga has not returned home since Thursday. I called his office, called all his friends but no one seems to know where he is. This has never happened before. I don’t know what to do, Changu said.
You know your husband likes visiting some bars in Olympia. Have you made inquiries in any of those places, her mother asked.
Changu exhaled. Mom, I don’t know all the bars he visits. Since we got married the only place I’ve been with him is club One at Arcades.
This is such a mystery. Have you considered the possibility that he went out of town to visit a lover, mama asked.
Changu was silent. Mulenga couldn’t do that. The power in the broom blinded him to the beauty of other women. Surely this couldn’t happen, or could it, she wondered.
She ended the call to her mother and sat down thinking. Something bothered her about the way her mom spoke on the phone. She seemed detached and unwilling to help. Was her mother hiding something from her, she wondered. There was only one way to find out. She got up and called the house help. The girl came and stood by the door.
We are going to see my mother. You and the baby are coming with me, Changu said.
Yes ma, the girl said with trepidation on her face. Continue reading