19 July 2009

Suicides Notebook by Tinashe Muchuri

Susan’s letter arrived late Wednesday the 7th of May. It was addressed to mama. The letter read:

‘Mama, I have tried all the tricks you taught me to at least have Munya back to me. He seems to have been given a muti to forget all about me. The heat here is too strong that it is pushing me to the grave. Munya’s mother, of all the people wants me to leave this place. She wants me away from her son. She wants to enjoy her son’s money. She doesn’t like my presence here anymore. She hasn’t yet satisfied with what Munya did for her before his marriage to me. She is accusing me of disturbing her enjoyment to Munya’s money. Rudo, Munya’s niece has since joined hands with her grandmother. She writes secret letters to her uncle Munya telling him to boot me out of here. She accuses me of squandering Munya’s money by giving it to you my parents. She says I do this forgetting Munya’s mother. She further accuses me of depriving my mother-in-law’s right to enjoy her son’s money. But mama, to tell the truth, how much money did I gave you? I do not remember giving you any cent of his money apart from the $100, 00 he gave to you as tsvakirai kuno! Besides, I have no control of his money. His mother has. As I told you last time, every time Munya comes home for holidays, he beats me up almost everyday. He no longer has desire for me. He sleeps in his clothes every night and doesn’t touch me anymore. If I try to put my hand on his body he throws it away as if I am a crawling creature on his body. Every month end his mother goes to his school to collect money and buy groceries for us. She acts like she is Munya’s first wife. Indeed she is. Rudo, Munya’s niece is the second. I am the third in the row of Munya’s wives. We all look forward to Munya’s love. There is confusion here mama.

Listen carefully mama. On the 7th of May, I am going to take my life. I am going to die, here in my bedroom at 10 o'clock. Bury me at the entrance to Mai Munya’s bedroom. Tell Rudo, Munya’s niece to take care of my little angel, Chido. She should nurture my daughter the way I was supposed to do myself. I will be watching her. Instead she should marry Munya. If she decides otherwise, she will be asking for worse. On my burial, don’t take action against anyone here. I will do that on my own. Don’t take anyone’s wealth. I will fight the war on my own. When you arrive here to bury me, take a small black mote book under my pillow. The book has everything that you need to know and do.

Yours daughter,


Mother read Susana’s letter to me over the phone. She instructed me to go to Zaka and stop Susana from taking her life. I argued that she should go instead of me since she was nearer and Susana would listen to her. Mother insisted, citing her BP problem and threatening that if Susana was to die I would bear the curse as she will also kill herself. I had no plans for a journey. I had professional examinations and work deadlines to worry about. But mother did not heed my protestations so I gave in.

I asked for a day off from work. My manager, an African himself, understood my situation. Instead, he gave me all the remaining days of the week off. I borrowed money for bus fare from my workmates. What made the journey a matter of urgency was the date. The very date the letter arrived was the very day Susana was to hang herself.

I went to Mbare Musika without a bag. It was three in the afternoon that I boarded a Jerera bound kombi at Mbare terminus. It was seven hours before Susana would hang. I wanted to get to her before she killed herself at 10 PM. She wanted to die when everyone at their home was asleep. She wanted to do it secretly away from all the other people except her daughter Chido. This was wrong. How could she do that to in Chido’s eyes? Chido was not supposed to be exposed to such a haunting experience and it was now solely my duty to do so.

The kombi that I boarded was a scrapper. I had no choice though. I just wished it will deliver me in time to save my sister. The kombi coughed all the way to Mupandawana growth point and broke there once it gets there. I nearly hit the conductor of the kombi who kept on telling me the kombi will soon be back on the road. I left before I could be given back my bus fare and went to look for alternative transport to Jerera.

I ran from the terminus to the main road to hike a lift and found another kombi after waiting for sometime. The kombi was also going to Jerera. This kombi traveled fast up to Zaka and ran out of petrol. It was some kilometers to Jerera. The crew tried to look for petrol from the roadside fuel vendors but was not luck. We were told that the vendors were all rounded up by the police for illegally selling fuel. We were advised to wait till dawn.

It then became evident that I was not going to beat the deadline. There was no way I could reach Munjanja village where my sister resided before she hanged herself. It was now too late to save her. I prayed to God so he could reach out to Susana and save her life himself. I prayed very hard. The last time I had talked to God was when my father was admitted into the hospital for cancer. The whole family prayed very hard but it was too late. He passed on.

The thought of my prayers to save my father in hard times at the last minute told me that my hope was far from being fulfilled. I wanted God to change Susana’s mind. I remembered her last words to me about her marriage to Munya. I thought she was joking and did not take her seriously. “Brother, if my marriage is destined for failure, then you have to bear this in mind. The end of my marriage is the end to my life on earth.’

I suggested she consult other women outside our family for advice but she refused saying she would only try mother’s solutions.

The hour ten was quickly approaching. Tears filled my eyes. I thought of walking all the way from Zaka Township to Munjanja village in Jerera. The problem was that I had no knowledge of the directions to take in the dark. If it was during the day, I would have asked. I kept on praying to God to save Susana until whatever time I was to reach her place.

The sun was just emerging from the east in the morning when I boarded a private car from Zaka to Jerera. After disembarking I ran to Susana’s village. From a distance, I heard mourning voices. I saw a group of people gathered around Susana’s homestead. They were at the center of the home surrounded by granaries and houses. My fears were fulfilled when I saw a police car at the place.

‘Uchasara naniko nhai Chido? Warasikirwa kani Chido.’ A woman’s voice wailed loudly.

‘Why did you do this? Who is going to take care of the children?’ another voice shot into the dark air. I increased my pace. Chido was my niece. So Susana had fulfilled her word. I ran blindly, tears beginning flow down my cheeks unhindered.

Men folded their hands standing around the police aluminum coffin where I knew the body would be probably be. Women were crying throwing themselves violently on the ground at a distance from where the coffin was. Three women were busy resuscitating Mai Munya’s life.

‘Ingozika iyi? How did this happen in a home with elders? Why did you let this happen in your eyes?’ some people said as I made my way through the crowd. They made way for me as I went straight for the aluminium coffin. How could Susana surely do this? How could she hang for a husband? A human made of flesh like her. The police officers drew me away from the coffin. I tried to get back but two men stopped me, holding me by the arms.

‘Where is Susana’s bedroom?’

‘Who are you?’ one of those who were blocking my way to see what was in the coffin asked.

‘Mai Chido’s brother.’ I said to them. They freed me and pointed me to Susana’s bedroom. I went towards Susana’s bedroom, teary eyes following my staggering footsteps. I found Susana turning sheets and blankets on her bed up and down but alive.

‘Why do you make false alarms?’ I demanded.

‘Zviripapi nhai zvenyu bhudhi?’

‘What happened here?’

‘I was supposed to be dead by now. Rudo, Munya’s niece as always her habit read the note book that I wrote for you my relatives. I am looking for it right now and can't find it. After reading even parts of the letter I sent to mama which I also recorded in my note book she took her life last night in the kitchen at 8 o'clock.

Just when I was about to kill myself, Mai Munya came to my door screaming about Rudo. If you think I am lying look up there.' Susana pointed to a horizontal beam in the roof where a lasso still hung ready. My body shook, but she as if this was all simple dramas, continued narrating her tale. 'Rudo was afraid of what she had read so she decided to to free herself by taking her life'

'You see.' Susana almost whispered, 'Rudo left a note that reads, I will be dead by tomorrow. I did a lot of damage to sekuru Munya’s marriage and life. I wanted mbuya Mai Chido to leave her husband. It was not my fault. Grandmother influenced me to torture mbuya Mai Chido. I read her notebook and could not stand what she wanted me to do after she killed herself. To marry my uncle, the brother of my mother? It was not easy. Better to die than to be hounded by mbuya Mai Chido’s avenging spirit.’

Suicides Notebook was written by Tinashe Muchuri.

Copyright Tinashe Muchuri 2009.

Tinashe MuchuriTinashe Muchuri is a poet, performer, actor, and writer currently living in Harare. Many of his poems were published in online journals such as the Munyori Journal and Arts Initiates and print anthologies.

He performs regularly at arts festivals in Zimbabwe and currently features in a local historical soap called Tiriparwendo as the character Jecha. Muchuri has been a long-serving member of the Budding Writers Association of Zimbabwe, a young writers’ organisation in which he served as branch chairperson for the period 2005-2008 and also currently sits in the executive committee of Zimbabwe Readers Association.

Today, some of his poems have been accepted by an international poetry magazine called Illuminations (UK), Rattlesnake Review (USA) and his Shona poems appeared in an anthology called ‘Jakwara reNhetembo’ (2008,Mambo Press, Zimbabwe).


onyenezichika said...

Good story.I was expecting Susan to be the dead person, but instead i found another corpse: nice twist. I enjoyed it.

Nigel Jack said...

a powerful piece- reminds me of Muchadura- a shona novel that tells of the devastating effects of a curse (ngozi). I'm still wondering what could be mother's methods that Susana refers to- could it be that Susana is hoisted by own pertard in the sense that the clandestine mean means (love-portion) that she was ask by mother to use is also making husband to repel. If that is the case then providence is misled. Nevertheless this piece is well dramatised, making it easy to visualise whats taking place. And i myself being no stranger to that road that leads to Chiredzi know how much transport is a problem- that also tells a lot about Zimbabwe- there are some things that the government choose to ignore but they are very important- if not done they cost people's lives. I also like the way you used dates to bring fiction very close to factual life scenes. well done my brother, you are a jewel on the crown of African-literature. i like it.

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

such a short story with a brilliant ending. You would never expect this ending...interesting piece...thanks for sharing

sylva nze ifedigbo said...

Great story...Great read. Your ending was the icing on the cake. I did enjoy this.

Jude Dibia said...

Tinashe, I enjoyed this. You have transformed the English language by attempting to transliterate it with that of your native language.

Reading this, was like a race against time itself! Nice tension! The end was unexpected and a little comic (not sure if that was intentional).

There was a dark humor to the story!


onyenezichika said...

Good story.I was expecting Susan to be the dead person, but instead i found another corpse: nice twist. I enjoyed it.

Fortune Nkosilathi said...

Great read

I enjoyed it much....

Fortune Nkosilathi said...

Great read

I enjoyed it much....

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