Excerpt from Chairman of Fools (Provisionally title)
At the gate of the house, Dzimai floats out of the car like a wisp of smoke, into the night.
Thomas the gardener emerges from the gazebo, hands him some mail and vanishes into the shadows. He goes in through the French door and switches off the alarm. His mother calls him from the girls’ bedroom and he fetches water from the kitchen tap – refrigerated water hurts her throat -and he goes and sits with her, at the edge of the bed, while she takes cautious sips. There is no whiff of wasting flesh in the bedroom and no logos on the sheets and the bed is empty. But she is there. He hugs the pillows, pats the mattress, arranges the bottles of morphine on the side table and kisses her on the forehead. Next door, Thomas Mapfumo thunders away: Vane mudzimu havarove woo, heewo wo
Vane mudzimu havarove woo, hee wo**
In the lounge the French door is slightly open and the curtains are breathing like skirts. Outside the women are coming in groups of two’s and three’s and pausing at the gazebo, whispering. He goes out and takes one of them by the hand and leads her into the lounge and they all follow, one by one, and he waves them in. They sit on the sofas and on the carpet, waiting for him to speak. He fetches glasses and drinks and serves them; puts music on the turntable. “Shhh. Remember I am dead and the neighbours must not know. This will be our close secret and you can come here every night.”
The girls sit quietly, sipping their drinks. They are dead too, all of them, wiped out by the plague. They have come here to reminisce. They are dead and there are no more plagues here, in this cocoon of the dead. There are no bodies here. His brother Dzimai is dead too and the women are wailing at the cottage, where they laid him out in a cheap coffin. And his older brother Garai is in the study recovering from a gigantic epileptic fit. Their mother is wiping froth and blood from his mouth. His brother is ranting at him. “The trouble with you, Farai, is you have always been a materialist. All you talk about is money, money, money. You think you can win people over with your cheque book. You keep whining about the people you have assisted and how you looked after mother and Dzimai and all that. Yes, you can have back that paltry sum you gave me to help me build my house. Yes, you will have it back. Whenever I can get it. And look what this Casanova business has done to you. Who’s going to wash your body now? Who’s going to lay flowers on your grave? You are nobody without a wife. You have no conscience, no spine, or respect for yourself. You’ve never been a role model for anyone. Wait till I die and leave you to run this family. You’ll be a disaster.” Farai is sick of this tirade and he goes back to the lounge. All the girls have left in embarrassment and the curtains are fluttering at the French door. He peeps outside and sees the blue Corolla burning on the grass, smoldering into a pile of blue ash next to his 323 and he knows he must run from this place, run from this place of death and ashes.
**Spirit mediums are not forgotten even when they are dead; they will always come back to the world of the living.