Fiction · Mythology

The Dead Don’t Speak

I saw many things. When a pig from Tepwa’s liter went missing and Daliso denied having a hand in the matter, I said nothing, but I saw him do it. At about dusk, when all the animals in the compound were led to the stables, he tip toed across the yard, opened the pig sty and sifted through to pick out the fattest one and handed it to Pwatu.

When Atate Zulu had traveled to the big city last Friday, I saw Amai Zulu meet with Atate Zondiwe at the river. The sun had just set and the sky was dimly lit in the color orange. All the children had left the banks of the river because it was dangerous to play at that time. I saw them walk far apart from each other, the way people who don’t want to be seen together pretend not to be together. Amai Zulu was way ahead and Atate Zondiwe was pacing behind her and turning his back several times to make sure no one was looking. I didn’t see their bodies, but I saw the shrubs shake and the leaves fall from where they had disappeared and I heard Amai Zulu moan. Something told me to pry, but at the same time, something within the confines of my soul begged me not to. But I pried anyway and for a second I saw the movement of buttocks and the digging of fingers into skin. I ran as far and as fast as my legs could carry me because I had seen too much. I should have listened when my inner voice told me not to, but I was stupid and curious.

Curiosity begs to be fed and so, again I saw what I shouldn’t have. The old man with no wife and children muttered something under his breath when Wenye and her friends walked by his hut from the river. He sat outside with another one of his old friends and they played a game of who could interpret the most difficult of riddles. He was the most feared person in our village because he was believed to have been as old as the earth. He was toothless and skinny and his clothes were worn out but he was not poor. In fact, he was the wealthiest man in all of Mawanda, owning herds of cattle and vast land. I never heard what he muttered, but Wenye never gave her husband any children and they became unhappy with each other. Wenye’s husband’s eye for Mukonde grew the same way a spark bursts into a wild uncontrollable fire and he soon packed his belongings. He settled into her home but they bared no children. Still he loved her deeply, but her urge to make him feel like a man deprived her of her happiness. The villagers talked and her urgency to bare children for the sake of her husband worsened. The attention of other men from the bar excited her. It made her feel wanted even though her husband satisfied her every night. Soon, it wasn’t enough to keep her at home and on one night after they finished, he drifted to his side of the bed and she met with Ngoma the blacksmith. He planted his seed in her belly but she did not realize it until much later when her clothes became ill fitting. I saw her when she sat herself on his lap. Beer in one hand and nsuko in another. She said it made her feel some type of way. Hot, she said. Ngoma laughed and they staggered their way out of the bar to his home. They pushed me out of their way and hurled insults at me. They thought they would never see me again but I was there at the river with the rest of the women filling our calabashes with water. Mukondo seemed uneasy wrapping her belly in a chitenge so as to shield it from my sight. I said nothing, but I knew something.

The old man, I think he tied Wenye’s stomach. The old man, I think he bet his own children for wealth because they died in their infancy, all ten of them. His wife died labouring for the tenth one. Nobody told me, but I know because I saw it happen fifteen years ago. I know because I heard screams from as far as our hut. Mama told me to mind my my own business, but curiosity begs to be fed and so I tip toed out of Mama’s site, walked to the old man’s hut and peered my eyes through the the crack in the wall. The old man’s wife was in anguish. There was an eerie feeling about prying into their lives, as should be, yet I enjoyed it. She pushed one last time and the baby came out screaming like all newly-borns do but the old man took the baby, swaddled him and left the hut. I stood still when he saw me peeking into the hut. What seemed like a private affair, a secret affair, had been shared with me and he muttered something. He didn’t threaten to tell Mama. He didn’t come after me. He muttered something. And from then on, I begun to see things. I had been seeing things for fifteen years now. There was nothing supernatural about my seeing things, but I just appeared when they happened. I owed it to the old man. Not in the sense of gratitude, but in the sense of regret. People were after me now. They were after my head. I saw too much. I heard too much. I knew too much. Daliso and Pwatu, Amai Zulu and Atate Zondiwe, Mukondo and Ngoma. And now, The Old Man. They knew that I knew their secrets and they wanted me be dead because the dead don’t speak.

6 thoughts on “The Dead Don’t Speak

    1. Aww, Esther, truly sorry for the delay in responding. I’ve just seen this. Thank you for reading.
      One day when I gather my thoughts and the creative juices flow, I’ll pen a short novel and you will be the first to read it. πŸ˜˜πŸ€—


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