The Deal with the Devil
By Lawrence Kadzitche
A man without money is not a man, Dzubwa thought bitterly as the witchdoctor’s hut came into view. The hut, made of mud and shaped like a coffin, was set in a small clearing in the middle of a large graveyard. Although the place looked deserted, the sound of drums filled the air.
Dzubwa had always wanted to get rich very quickly. He was only twenty five but had already served a three year prison sentence for embezzling money from the company where he had worked as an Accounts Assistant. When he got out, he conned an Asian businessman and ended up with a cool half million kwacha with which he started a business.
However, in trying to get rich quickly, he got into a series of dubious business deals where he ended up losing all his ill-gotten gains. Not giving up, he started borrowing money from loan sharks to revive his business. This too, ended in disaster. His wife, tired of his never ending disastrous deals, was threatening to leave him.
He was now a man deep in financial problems. Some of the loan sharks, tired with his endless lies that he would repay them, were threatening to slit his throat to stop him from further lying. That is why, now so desperate, he was on his way to see the witch doctor. He was sure Bwanyanga would assist him. He personally knew a number of people that had been poorer than a church mouse but who were now filthy rich after consulting Bwanyanga.
Dzubwa could be foolish to enter into shady deals. But he was not so daft so as not to realize the dangers of consulting Bwanyanga. The witchdoctor was known not only to dabble in black magic but also to consult the devil himself. Dzubwa was fully aware of the dangers of dealing with the devil.
But a desperate man has few choices. Like a man swept by an angry river, he was so desperate that he was grabbing at every floating straw. His life depended on finding money quickly to repay the loan sharks.
As he neared Bwanyanga’s hut, the sound of the drums grew deafening. For a moment, he stopped, not knowing what to do. Suddenly, a monkey appeared in the doorway of the hut and motioned him in. Filled with superstitious awe, he followed the primate into the hut.
The hut had no windows and was eerily dark. The baboon waved him to sit on a magic gourd with a wave of its paw. When his eyes grew accustomed to the darkness, he saw before him, sitting cross-legged on top of an old coffin, a small old woman.
“Can I help you?” she asked in a strange voice that made Dzubwa’s skin crawl.
“I’m here to see Bwanyanga,” Dzubwa replied.
“I’m the one,” the little woman said.
Dzubwa was taken aback. Although he had never seen Bwanyanga, he had always assumed him to be a man. Could this small woman do all the things he had heard about the famous witchdoctor?
But the woman was speaking. “I know why you’re here. You want riches, to be very rich, not so?”
Dzubwa nodded, mouth open with trepidation. If the old woman could tell the reason he was there, he was sure she was capable of making him rich. The tension that had gripped him began to subside. He was now confident the witchdoctor would save him.
“To get rich you must be prepared to do things one would not normally do,” said the witchdoctor. “Are you prepared to do that?”
“I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t prepared,” Dzubwa said, his confidence rising.
“It is done,” the woman said grimly. “If you won’t do what I tell you, you’ll go mad. Is that clear?”
“Yes,” replied Dzubwa. If others had done it, how could he fail?
The witchdoctor took a sharp instrument that looked like a razor and cut him in several places and rubbed black soot on the cuts. Then she took a small pillow shaped thing with a string and hung it around his neck like a choker. Then she gave him a black magic gourd.
“Tomorrow, at noon, you and your wife should go into the market square naked and make love there,” she instructed him. “After you finish doing that, money you have never seen before will come to you.”
“But…but… that is not practical,” Dzubwa protested. “For one thing, there is no way my wife can agree to that. For the other, what will people think of us? It simply cannot be done.”
“It has been done before and will be done in the future. The spirits demand that. If you won’t do it, young man,” Bwanyanga paused for effect and continued with devilish relish, “You are a mad man. The magic gourd contains a malicious demon that will be more than happy to make you mad. Don’t pay me; you have already paid me with your soul. Now get out. ”
Dzubwa left the witchdoctor feeling exactly like a condemned man. He was sure his wife would not accept the witchdoctor’s crazy idea. What was he going to do?
An hour later, his worst fears were confirmed. Namadezo refused point blank to sleep with him in the market square.
“But if we don’t do it I’ll go mad,” Dzubwa pleaded.
“You’ll go mad? You’re already mad,” hissed Namadezo with distaste. “You and your crazy schemes. Next time you’ll be demanding that we kill one of our children to make magic charms. I’m through with you. Mother was right; you’re insane!”
Suddenly it occurred to Dzubwa that he had bargained for more than he could chew. Something snapped in his tormented brain. He momentarily disappeared into the storeroom and picked a hammer. Who was his wife to thwart his plans? He would show her.
He had only intended to intimidate her with the hammer. But something made him throw it at her. Husband and wife screamed in unison-one with horror and the other with fear. The hammer crushed the front of Namadezo’s head. She was dead before she hit the floor.
Dzubwa stood over her, staring foolishly around. You have murdered her, they will also kill you, a voice screamed in his brain. Dirty children came from nowhere shouting: Murderer! Murderer!
He escaped from his house, screaming at the top of his voice. The children followed him, tearing at him with their grimy long nails. He ran towards the market square, discarding his clothes to escape the children who were clinging to the garments.
People were surprised to see him stark naked, eyes wild with terror. “There. The children… they want to kill me. Help me, please!”
But there was no one following him. Dzubwa had gone mad. Back in the hut in the graveyard, sitting cross-legged on the old coffin, the little witchdoctor cackled with glee.