By Lawrence Kadzitche
“If you thought you’d get rich from murdering my brother, you were terribly wrong,” Kangaude roared. “You’ll leave this house the way you came-with nothing!”
“But I didn’t kill him…”
“Didn’t kill him!” ejaculated Kangaude pacing the sitting room. “My brother was in excellent health. How could he die suddenly?” He turned and glared at her. “How?”
Nabanda sent an appealing glance at Kangaude’s wife, a thin tall young woman, curled in a sofa. “Maria…”
“Leave my wife out of this, witch,” snarled Kangaude, throwing her suitcase out of the house. ”Now get out!”
Kangaude pushed her out of the house and slammed the door shut. Then he threw himself beside Maria on the sofa.
“Mama Tinashe, you were right,” he said, running his eyes through the lavishly furnished room. “We’re now rich.”
“Not yet, my dear husband,” she cautioned. “Do you think your relatives will be happy when they hear that you’ve inherited all your brother’s wealth?”
Kangaude scratched his chin. “No, I don’t think so.”
“At best they’ll want you to share it with them but very likely they’ll just kill you and take over,” Maria said. “Go to the same witchdoctor that gave you the medicine to kill your brother. He should be able to give you charms that’ll protect you from your relatives.”
So the following day, Kangaude went to consult the witchdoctor.
“The magic charms I’ll give you works very simply,” said the witchdoctor. “I’ll create a double for you. If someone wants to harm you, it’ll be this replica they’ll be dealing with. A being that cannot be destroyed.”
Now confident that he was protected, Kangaude inherited all his late brother’s property. John had been a rich businessman. He had owned supermarkets and maize mills. Kangaude took over all these. He didn’t share anything even with his close relatives.
He moved from his dilapidated one bed roomed house in the overcrowded Chinsapo location to the elegant Area 3 suburb. He now forgot public conveyances, gallivanting in town in expensive BMW’s.
But he soon proved that his visit to the witchdoctor hadn’t been a wasted effort. Two months later, he escaped unhurt in a mysterious road accident. A lightning he believed his uncle had unleashed to kill him struck a tree outside his house four months later.
“What did I tell you?” an elated Maria asked him. “You would’ve been dead by now. But nothing can touch you now.”
Years went by. Kangaude now moved among the elite of Lilongwe City. He even forgot how he acquired his wealth. Maria had now grown into a fat woman, spending her time giving or attending parties.
One day he was in his office when his wife burst in, waving a newspaper at him. “Business Tycoon involved in a fight over a prostitute,” went the title on the front page of the popular City Dispatch.
Kangaude was shocked. The article said he had been involved in a fight over a prostitute in a cheap bar in Chigwirizano. There was even his picture with the prostitute sitting on his lap in the bar.
“This is not true!” he said angrily. “I’ll sue the Paper.”
“You better do that or you’ll have a lot of explaining to do,” Maria roared, getting out.
But the reporter who did the story maintained that it was him who had been involved in the fight. They even went to the bar together where the barman swore that he had indeed been in the bar.
Kangaude decided to leave it at that. Obviously, it had been someone that looked exactly like him. But he was totally unprepared for what happened the following weekend. A loan shark, accompanied by two muscular young men, came to his house.
“I’ve come to collect the money you borrowed from me,” the man said.
“What’s the meaning of this?” asked Kangaude, puzzled. “I never borrowed money from you.”
“Are you trying to be funny?” the man said dipping his hand into the pocket of his jacket and producing a piece of paper. “Whose signature is this?”
Kangaude was horrified to see his signature on the paper. He had borrowed MK500 000 and agreed to repay MK1 000 000.
He was about to protest when he remembered the incident in the bar. This meant there was somebody masquerading as him. He must do something about it or he would be ruined.
He paid the money and immediately reported to the police that someone was impersonating him. The police searched around the City but found no one resembling him.
Now strange and embarrassing incidents started occurring frequently. A girl who claimed that he had impregnated her visited him, looking for child support. A prostitute threatened to knife him, claiming that the cheque he had paid her for services rendered had bounced at the bank.
He quarreled almost everyday with his wife. Much as he would say it wasn’t him, she wouldn’t believe him. The result was that he became increasingly moody and morose. He was even excommunicated from the Church where he was a Church Elder when it was proved beyond any reasonable doubt that he had another wife in the slum location of Mtsiliza.
Constantly worried, he grew thin, his health poor. He walked with a stoop and looked much older. One evening, he returned home to find a person who looked exactly like himself sitting in a sofa in the sitting room. The man was even wearing similar clothes as the ones he was wearing. The only difference was that the man looked strong and healthy, the way he was before the double showed up.
Anger welled up in him. So this was the idiot who had been impersonating him. But what was he doing in the house? He immediately called his wife.
Maria appeared from the kitchen. She stared in bewilderment at him then at the man sitting in the sofa.
“Baba Tinashe, who’s this man?” she asked.
Kangaude noticed with horror that she wasn’t addressing him but the man sitting in the sofa.
“He’s the man who’s been impersonating me,” the double said calmly.
Kangaude’s eyes widened. How could his wife mistake the impostor for him? “Mama Tinashe, he’s the one who is the impostor!”
Again his wife’s eyes assessed him. “I know the body of my husband. He isn’t thin like you,” she said with a smile. “You know what, you fooled me these past few weeks.”
She went over to where the double sat and kissed him on the cheek.
“Darling, what should we do with this fool who has caused us so much trouble?” asked the impostor in Kangaude’s best tone.
“Report him to the police,” Maria replied promptly. “They know how to deal with such scum.”
Panic gripped Kangaude. The room seemed to spin. His knees felt weak. He sank into a chair.
He watched as the impostor called the police. Even when the police came, he allowed them to take him away like a lamb being led to slaughter. He was finished. There was no other way around it. If his own wife could not recognize him, who would? Not for a moment did he connect what was happening with the double the witchdoctor had created.