Tag Archives: Broom. Short story

Broom 4

 

Changu ran through Manda Hill mall, her torn blouse hanging loosely on her like shredded pieces of the Zambian national flag vandalised by a discontented political activist. She ran until she got on the main road and stopped by a bus stop to catch her breath. Commuters waiting for buses regarded her with suspicion. Her hair stood on edge as if she had been tortured by the Chinese with electric shocks. Some religious people at the bus stop made the sign of the cross and muttered silent prayers for her. The superstitious among them scurried away from her as if her insanity was a contagious disease. A small crowd began to gather around her as she started talking to herself oblivious to the people around her. She turned in different directions and spoke nonsense to the audience.
What are you looking at, a woman asked her husband who was attempting to move to the front of the crowd to get a better view of the woman. She grabbed his right hand and pulled him away. The man followed her reluctantly, looking back to catch a glimpse of the woman with the torn blouse.

The woman at the centre of the crowd stopped talking to herself and began to move her feet as if a thousand soldier ants were bitting at her heels. She staggered like a drunken sailor before kicking off the shoe on her right leg. It flew into the crowd like a bird which had lost its sense of direction. She tried kicking off the shoe on her left leg but it refused to come off. She raised her leg, yanked off the uncooperative shoe and threw it narrowly missing an oncoming car.
My feet…my feet….are burning. They are burning, she sang in a discordant tone filled with pain. She stamped her legs on the ground several times in an attempt to put out the imaginary fire which engulfed it.
A strange wind of silence blew over the crowd as it watched the half naked woman.

A short man made his way through to the front of the crowd. He stood watching the woman with a curious expression on his face. He brought out a string of beads from his pocket and ran it through his fingers. He muttered to himself, looked around the crowd and muttered again.
This is muti gone bad, he said as he caressed the beads with his fingers. Muti gone bad, he repeated.

He returned the beads to his pocket then started clapping for the woman, giving rhythm to the madness of her feet. A fat woman standing next to him dropped the basket of mangoes which she carried on her head. She took a moment to tie her wrapper properly then she joined him in clapping. Another woman joined her, then a man joined them, then the clapping spread through the gathering like wild fires burning through the Mazabuka sugar plantations in dry season. More commuters stopped and joined the gathering and the crowd grew.

Changu began jumping from one foot to another in wild frenzy like a hyena in mating season. She tore off the remaining pieces of her blouse that hung on her like a curse and threw it into the crowd. The crowd parted for the blouse to pass through and it fell on the ground. Changu began to move with mysterious dance steps only she could understand. Her strange dance steps threw the gathering into a clapping frenzy. Continue reading

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Broom 3

 

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

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Broom

 

She watched as he used his finger tips to mould the nshima into a small ball, scooped some vegetables, then it went into his mouth. He ate some stewed goat meat and reached for another hand of nshima. How is work, she asked. Things are good at work. I am going to Solwezi next week, he said with a mouthful of nshima.

I see, she said with disgust. Solwezi meant he was going to visit his mistress. He didn’t notice the dangerous look in her eyes. He was too engrossed with the goat meat stew before him. How long will you be there, she asked. He took his time to swallow some nshima and drank some water. She knew he was cooking up a lie. She expected nothing less from him. I will be gone for a few days, he managed to say, with eyes averted, conveniently buried in the bowl of goat meat stew.

She had considered various ways to clip his wings and keep him at home as a loving husband. She had tried the church which she attended for ten months praying that God would make her husband faithful to her. But the more she prayed the more wayward he became. She scratched out the church from her list of options. It seemed like God was conspiring with her husband to make her life miserable so she stopped attending the Catholic Church of The Risen Christ in Lusaka West. Continue reading

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