Fiction: In Search of a Face of a Man in a Dream

February 14, 2018 Fiction , Literature , POETRY / FICTION

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By

Nixon Mateulah

 

 

Sam is having a strange, recurring dream almost every night. He dreams that his wife is involved in polyandry. His dream-self does not object at all to her going to consort with her other husband. He condones it and approves of their relationship, and willingly encourages her to love her other husband as he loves him.

Come next morning, awakened from this strange and monotonous dream, Sam is incensed and looks at his wife disapprovingly. He believes God is telling him that his wife is cheating on him and that she is unfaithful and promiscuous.

“No! It can’t be!” he cries hammering his hand on the table in an unbridled rage, upsetting the tea things. His children: Chitsanzo (seven year old boy) and Happiness (nine year old girl), who are sitting opposite him, each engrossed in consuming their cereals are startled by the weird manners of their father. They look at each other in awe. Happiness gets up to clean the mess. His wife, who is in the kitchen, runs into the dining room, soapy water dripping from her wet hands, making a trail of little puddles on the tiled floor.

“What is it, Honey?” she asks as she dries her hands with her apron.

“Nothing, don’t worry,” he says, feigning a smile.

“Are you okay?”

“Am a bit late,” he says as he gets up and picks up his laptop bag, “I am seeing a client in Area 43. Chitsanzo and Happiness, your mother will drop you at school!”

He picks up his car keys from the table and kisses his wife on the forehead, and races out. His wife Ruth is left rooted to the floor dumbstruck and unable to decipher the meaning of her husband’s outburst: No! It can’t be!

Is he upset with me? What have I done? Bemoans Ruth as she rummages in her brain for a probable answer. Thus rooted to the floor, her eyes wonder onto the wall and stop at the wall clock. She notices that her time to depart for work has passed by some few minutes. She quickly unfastens her apron and runs to the bedroom to change her clothes.

A few minutes later, she storms out of the bedroom in her long floral dress and high-heeled shoes.

“Tadala! Tadala!” she calls out to her maid, who is busy cleaning the bathroom.

Abee!” responds Tadala as she runs to her madam. She kneels down and looks away shyly clasping her hands.

“Finish what I was doing in the kitchen, I’m late! Give the dog food! Chitsanzo and Happiness, let’s go!” cries Ruth as she scuttles to her car outside.

 

Sam has never missed his golf practices since the time he fell in love with the game. In the past, he was the kind of a guy who had looked at people playing golf as selfish and stupid. How can a man with five senses be obsessed with hitting a ball into a hole? His love for golf began when he had met his future wife, Ruth, at the City Golf Club. He was in the company of his best friend, Geraldo, who had been playing golf for some time. Sitting in a bar sipping his favourite whisky, he noticed a girl entering the club pulling a golf bag. Their eyes met at once and there was a magnetic field between them. She turned to the barman at the counter and ordered a cocktail. Sam was smitten with her beauty though it was shrouded in a Nike tracksuit, her firm breasts threatening to break free from the tight bra that peeked over the open zip. Her ponytail was sticking out of her cap. Her curvaceous figure was seductively accentuated in her tight-fitting grey tracksuit. She walked to an empty chair and sat down next to Sam. Sam was tempted. He made a few feigned coughs as a way of summoning his courage.

“Good day, madam,” said Sam.

“Good day,” she said smiling.

“I am Samuel Phiri, a lawyer by profession,” said Sam stretching his hand out to her.

“I am Ruth Banda, a high-school teacher,” said Ruth offering her hand to Sam.

“That’s great,” said Sam kissing her hand gingerly.

“Great?” repeated Ruth sipping her cocktail.

“Hmm!” croaked Geraldo, who had just walked in pulling his golf bag.

“Geraldo!” cried Sam, “meet my new friend, Ruth Banda.”

There was an immediate exchange of hateful glances between Geraldo and Ruth. Ruth got up quickly dragging her bag out behind her.

“Do you know that girl?” asked Sam getting up in an attempt to follow her. Geraldo grabbed Sam’s hand and pulled him to the table.

“I don’t like that girl!” said Geraldo shaking with recharged fury.

“I like that girl, man! In fact, I love her!”

“That girl?”

“Of course!”

“You don’t know that girl.”

“I love that girl, man! End of story!”

“Okay, if you say so.”

“Why did you finish your practice quickly today?” asks Sam.

“You must learn this game. Why can’t you buy yourself a golf kit?” asks Geraldo looking at the girl.

“I must indeed. That girl could teach me the ropes of the game,” said Sam getting up.

“I will teach you.”

“She will teach me,” said Sam walking out. Geraldo followed him dragging his golf bag. Since then Sam has never missed a practice though his wife had stopped playing the game after she had assumed family duties and given birth to their first child, Happiness. She just followed the game online and on TV, worshiping her favourite golfer, Stacy Lewis.

 

After leaving the office, Sam drives to Capital Hill to see his friend Geraldo who works as an accountant in the Ministry of Finance. He finds him chatting to a beautiful lady fondling her long artificial sleek hair that reaches down to her waist.

“Sam!” cries Geraldo as if in a trance.

“Hi!” says Sam to the lady.

“Hi,” she smiles, revealing her milk-white teeth.

“This is Jacqueline,” says Geraldo.

“What time are you knocking off?” asks Sam, looking at his wrist watch.

“Am about to leave,” says Geraldo getting up.

Sam walks out. Jacqueline and Geraldo remain inside for some minutes.  Sam, impatient at waiting for a considerable time in a parking lot goes back into the building and bangs on the door with his clenched fist. Geraldo comes out with his trousers’ fly open and his right hand encircling the girl’s hips.

“Hey!” cries Sam pointing his index finger at Sam’s opened zip.

“I see,” says Geraldo zipping up.

“I have something very important I would like to tell you,” says Sam.

“What is it?” asks Geraldo sitting on the bonnet of Jacqueline’s Opel Corsa. Jacqueline falls into Geraldo’s open hands giggling, her amorous eyes prying at Sam. In a flash, the wind billows up her short floral mini-skirt revealing her white Jockey panties. Sam quickly pulls the skirt down, Jacqueline in total oblivion of her exposed nakedness.

“I’ll tell you at the Three Baldheaded Men Bar,” says Sam walking to his car, a Golf 6. Geraldo and Jacqueline kiss each other passionately before disengaging themselves. Geraldo climbs into his Audi A4 and pulls away. Jacqueline drives behind Geraldo and Sam behind her.

It is now five P.M and the traffic is slow. There is an accident at City Centre roundabout near Capital Hotel.  A Minister’s black Mercedes Benz C200 Kompressor registration number MG 05 has ploughed a motorcyclist into a gutter. The paramedics are busy resuscitating the biker.

Jacqueline turns left into Presidential Highway driving down to her residence in Area 12. Sam and Geraldo cruise past the scene and at British Council Library pick up their speed.

Fifteen minutes later, they arrive at the Three Baldheaded Men Bar in down town, Old Town, opposite the Building Society Bank. Geraldo walks inside to buy the beers whilst Sam sits outside at the round table in the corner of an enclosure. He calls out to the man down the steps who is frying chicken pieces on a braai stand.

“Is the chicken ready?” asks Sam.

“In a minute, Sir,” replies the man fanning away the smoke with a piece of cardboard. Geraldo comes out with two opened Carlsberg beers in his hands. He gives Sam one beer and sits down on the chair.

“What is that you want to tell me?” asks Geraldo sipping his beer with relish.

“I’ve been dreaming the same dream every night,” says Sam.

“A dream?”

“Yes.”

“Who does not dream?”

“A strange dream, man!”

“I don’t take dreams seriously. In fact, I rarely remember my dreams come next morning,” says Geraldo sipping his beer and looking at the level of the beer inside the dark-brown bottle before he puts it down.

“Hey Man! Bring the chicken here!” calls out Sam.

“How many pieces?”

“Eight! Four drum-sticks and four breasts!”

“And barbecue sauce!”

“Look, Gerrie, I need your advice,” says Sam fumbling in his pocket for his wallet. The man has brought the brown grilled chicken on a plate and is waiting for the money. Sam pays him and the man walks away. Geraldo picks up one drum-stick, dabs it into the barbecue sauce and sinks his teeth into it.

“It’s very tasty,” says Geraldo, munching the meat.

“You know what, every night I dream my wife is also married to another man.

“Polyandry?”

“She goes to this man with my children.”

“What do you do?”

“Nothing!”

“Remember, this is a dream.”

“I willingly consent to her consorting with the man and have no problem with it,” says Sam licking his fingers.

“So, you allow another man to sleep with your wife?”

“Whoa! Whoa! It’s a dream remember,” says Sam beating the table with his open hands.

“I don’t like that dream,” says Geraldo.

“Neither do I. No one chooses what to dream.”

“But you say you allow your wife to sleep with the man.”

“Yes, in a dream – but come morning I am so angry with her.”

“It is just a dream,” laments Geraldo walking into the bar to buy more beers.

In a jiffy, he returns with four beers and puts them on the table.

“Now, Gerrie, what do I do?”

“I am not Joseph,” says Geraldo sipping his beer.

“Say something please; you know this dream is waiting for me again tonight.”

“Okay, if you dream again tonight, go to that man’s house and knock out his teeth. He won’t bother your wife again,” says Geraldo laughing.

“My friend, this is not a laughing matter! I am not having peace in my heart!” says Sam as he gets up to go to the loo inside the bar.

The twilight is fighting a losing battle to the quick advancing darkness. The place is now filling up with regulars. The noise inside is like that of soccer supporters at the stadium. There is a soccer match on the screen. Cameroon is playing against Chile in 2017 FIFA Confederation Cup.

Geraldo returns from the loo and throws himself onto the chair.

“I’ve been thinking,” says Gerrie.

“Thinking what?” says Sam looking at Gerrie intently.

“I think your wife is having an affair,” says Gerrie at point- blank.

“How could you say such a thing?”

Sam gets up violently, two empty bottles crushing onto the floor.

“If she is not having an affair, then there’s someone who is trying his luck on her,” says Gerrie.

“Gerrie stop it! I know my wife. She cannot do such a thing. I trust her!”

“You trust women, huh!”

“My wife, I say!”

“I know she declined your proposals long ago, but that does not make her a bad woman. We’ve been happily married for ten years; not a single day did we fight. We’ve lived these ten years in blissful peace and harmony. I love her wholeheartedly,” says Sam sitting down.

“Then keep on dreaming that dream,” says Gerrie finishing his last bottle.

“Damn it! I thought you would help me.”

“Ask her whether she’s having an affair or some man is bothering her,” says Geraldo getting up staggering, gripping the rail of the enclosure and staggering down to his car. Sam says nothing, and gets up too. He looks around the table as if he has forgotten something and walks out to his car. Geraldo is already sitting in his car.

“We shall meet tomorrow at the golf course,” says Geraldo starting the car.

“I don’t know – I will let you know,” says Sam getting into his car.

 

 

It is late at night; Sam is pretending to read his law books at his study table. His wife Ruth is sleeping soundly. A minute later, his wife tosses around on the bed and opens her eyes.

“Honey, are you still reading?” asks Ruth sleepily, pushing the duvet away. She gets up and walks to her husband and stands behind him. She stoops and starts massaging his bare shoulders.

“It is late, Honey, come to bed,” says Ruth.

Like an obedient dog to his master Sam follows her to bed. They make love and thereafter sleep seizes them.

Towards the morning hours, Sam dreams again the same monotonous dream. This time, he is stealthily following his wife from behind as she walks to the man’s house. The man’s car is parked outside and is idling. There is no one sitting on the driver’s seat nor are there passengers in the car. Ruth walks to the door and knocks twice. Sam is standing at a safe distance watching everything. His heart is pounding from excitement at the prospect of seeing the man’s face. The door swings open slowly. As the man is about to come out, Sam wakes up suddenly.

Furious that the dream has ended without seeing the man, he jumps out of the bed in anger.

“Nooooo!”

“What’s the matter, my dear?” asks his startled wife. “Are you okay?”

“I had a very bad dream.”

“Don’t worry Honey, it is just a dream.”

“Today, I am driving to my home village to see my mother.”

“Why?”

“I have this nasty dream every night.”

“What is it?”

“A damn dream.”

“Tell me; I am your wife,” says Ruth pulling him to her.

“Are you having an affair?” fires Sam at her point-blank, his face riddled with anger.

“How can you say such a thing, darling? You know I cannot do such a thing.”

“You must!” cries Sam walking out of the room. Ruth is crying. Sam walks back into the room, looks at his wife and opens the wardrobe.

“What are you doing?” asks Ruth.

“I am going away for a while. Until you come to your senses and start telling the truth, only then I will return to this haunting house,” says Sam packing his clothes into his bag.

“You can’t do this darling. I am not seeing any man and I have never slept with another man except you ever since we married,” says Ruth tearfully.

“That’s what every woman says to her husband,” says Sam dragging his bag out.

“OK, come,” says Ruth.

Sam makes a swift turn almost falling; his wife breaks his fall by hugging him. They sit down, Sam’s face glowing in anticipation of the probable revelation his wife is about to make that could put his mind at ease or his heart in its place at last.

“Do you trust me?” asks his wife.

“I do…but…”

“If you do, let us consult the famous witchdoctor to tell us if I am being unfaithful to you,” says Ruth.

Sam shakes his head.

“I don’t believe in witchcraft,” says Sam.

“Neither do I, but this witchdoctor is so powerful,” says Ruth.

“You mean Simba?”

“Yes. He does not see his client face to face. All that a client does is to write his or her problem on a piece of paper and throw it into the river,” says Ruth.

“So, what happens?”

“You wait for a day at the river bank. Then a package comes floating on the river and stops where you threw the letter,” says Ruth firmly.

“And payment?”

“You wrap the money in plastic bag and throw it into the river and it will reach him,” says Ruth.

“Where did you get all this information?”

“There was a programme on TV and people who consulted him were telling their amazing stories,” says Ruth eyeing her husband fondly.

“I don’t believe in works of darkness!” bellows Sam getting up. “This is the 21st Century and you want me to go back to the Stone Age, huh!”

“Don’t go my husband,” says Ruth pulling Sam by the hand.

“Leave me! I shall find the truth myself!”

“The truth shall set you free,” says Ruth laconically.

“Go and see that man!”

“Please, why don’t you believe me?” says Ruth tearfully.

“That you first flirted with Geraldo before we met,” says Sam infuriately.

“I did not; I declined his stupid advances on me. You are the only guy that bedded me after school, don’t you get it!” cried Ruth shaking with fury from a lacerated heart by the false accusation.

“I am out of here!” says Sam walking out, banging the door behind him. His footsteps making a tap, tap, tap sound on the tiled floor as he saunters out dragging the wheeled bag.

 

 

Being Saturday early morning, the streets in Old Town are deserted and there is not much traffic in sight. Sam cruises his Golf 6 through the Kamuzu Procession Street. He enjoys the morning breeze cooling his muddled head as it wafts through the half opened window. Something tells him to increase his speed and he branches off into Chilambula Road. He remembers that he might miss his mother if he continues driving under 100. His mother is a devout Seventh Day Adventist Church member. She has been a member of the church ever since she moved to her home village, Nambumba after retiring from her nursing job ten years ago at Kamuzu Central Hospital. At Area 18 roundabout he turns left and cruises his Golf 6 through Senti Village.

The huge blazing sun has just burst upon the land. A knot of women are at the borehole drawing water. He does not want to miss his mother. He believes his mother might know someone who could interpret the dream for him. Suddenly, a child pushing an old tyre crosses the road; Sam jams on the brake pedal in time. The car stops with screeching of tyres. In fright the child runs away crying, leaving behind his tyre. Sam gets out and calls to the boy to fetch his tyre.

Sam finds his mother about to leave for a church service and is fighting with a stubborn dog that is following her. She chases the dog inside the fence, as she is about to close the gate the dog runs swiftly out.

“Diesel, go inside!” cries Sam’s mother opening the gate wide. The stubborn dog is just looking at her, wagging his tail and at last sits on his haunches, his long pink tongue sticking out.

“Go inside!”

Sam’s mother, tired of the dog’s stubbornness, picks up a stone. The dog gets up quickly and runs inside. As she is about to close the gate, a car stops by.

Sam!” screams his mother running to him. Sam jumps out to hug his mother. It has been three months now since they had seen each other. It was three months ago that Sam came to pick up his mother, who was down with malaria, and took her to the Daeyang Luke Hospital.

“Go into the house and make yourself at home. I’ll come directly home after the service; I am running late,” says his mother.

“Mum, I only need two minutes of your time.”

“Is anything the matter?” asks Sam’s mother looking penetratingly into his eyes as if looking for the hidden answer.

“I am having a weird dream every night, Ma.”

“Is your father still coming into your dreams?”

“No Ma, every night I dream my wife is married to another man and I consent to it. Every day she goes to this man. In the dream I too escort her half way to the man. Come morning I am so incensed and look suspiciously at my wife. What does this mean for me?” asks Sam with a worried look on his face.

“You mean you dream that dream every night?”

“Yes mum.”

Sam’s mother looks up into the sky searchingly as if looking for the meaning of the dream behind the clouds. A flock of birds fly up high almost touching the clouds crisscrossing with another flock of birds flying in the opposite direction without the slightest touch of each other’s feathers.

“You need prayers.”

“Prayers?”

“We must see the pastor,” says Sam’s mother.

“Which pastor?”

“During our inter-faith meeting in Zambia, we met a very powerful pastor in Petauke. He interpreted dreams of many people and healed the sick,” says Sam’s mother looking into her son’s eyes.

“So, no one in this country can interpret my dream?”

Sam’s mother shakes her head.

“I think you should go there. Petauke is about four hundred kilometres from Lusaka – a very friendly and beautiful town that lies to the eastern part of Zambia.”

“What is this pastor’s name?”

“He is Pastor Peter Chisenga, the founder of One Gospel, One People and One God Ministries,” says her mother.

“I think I must go there.”

“You must my son.”

“Okay, let me drop you at the church,” says Sam jumping into the car, whilst his mother jumps into the passenger’s seat at the back.

“You must go,” says the mother.

“I must see that pastor.”

 

Sam arrives back in the city before noon. He finds his wife still in her sleeping gown.

“Sam!” exclaims Ruth, the moment he opens the bedroom door. Sam says nothing; he zooms out of the room and runs to his study. He switches on his laptop and books himself an air ticket to Lusaka, Zambia. He’ll leave tomorrow morning at eight A.M for Kamuzu International Airport. He spends the latter part of the afternoon surfing the internet – doing some research on the town, Petauke.

­Next morning, Sam arrives at Lusaka International Airport at around nine. He takes a cab to Lusaka CBD. The cab drops him at Lusaka Intercity Bus Terminus where he finds Kobs Coach to Petauke about to take off.

 

The bus arrives at Petauke at around four in the afternoon. He asks his way to Chimwemwe Lodge.

At Chimwemwe Lodge Sam is welcomed by the owner himself, Mr. Tembu, who speaks Chichewa language well.

Takulandirani ,” says Mr. Tembu, relieving him of his luggage.

Zikomo ,” says Sam following him.

During their conversations Mr. Tembu has informed Sam that Pastor Peter Chisenga lives in Chimutanda village. It t is about eighteen kilometres away.  He has promised him that he would take him there tomorrow morning.

Next morning, they arrive at Chimutanda village at around ten in the morning. The sun is out and blazing pitilessly upon the land. The village is rife with morning activities: a knot of women are gathered in a circle pounding maize in a mortar, a small boy of eight is driving a herd of cattle to the river. As the car ploughs into the tract that leads to the Pastor’s house, a tsunami of children, some without their shirts on burst out of their homes and run after the car. They follow it up to Pastor Chisenga’s house chanting: Galimoto! Galimoto! Galimoto!

They find Pastor Chisenga sitting on the veranda with two elders.

Takulandirani,” says Chisenga getting up. Sam is appalled when Chisenga introduces himself as the pastor. He was thinking he was one of the elders with a huge grey Afro like Don King wearing a long white robe.

Chisenga looks like a typical young man straight from university to the office of a very important government department. His pinstriped suit fits him well and his highly-polished black pointed patent leather shoes are shining in the morning sun.

“Come inside,” said Chisenga.

Mr. Tembu remains out.

A few minutes later, we hear the pastor chanting: In the name of Jesus! In the name of Jesus! In the name of Jesus! Then follows an interlude of silence for a while.

“I see!” cries Pastor Chisenga sweating.

“What is it, Pastor?” asks Sam.

“It’s a weird dream. It is simple. Your wife is a very good woman. She loves you more than she loves herself.”

“Really?”

“Now, this dream is about you. You’ll depart from this world before your wife and children, and the man you see in your dream is the man who would take care of your wife and children after you have gone. She’ll marry that man,” says the Pastor.

“I am finished,” says Sam crying.

“There’s one condition to this dream.”

“What is it?”

“You must make sure you meet this man in person and befriend him,” says Chisenga.

“But how will I meet him because in my dream he does not look at me, he looks away all the time?”

“It is your task to make him look at you straight in the eye.”

“How?”

“Don’t worry, you shall see him. You shall love his smile and ringing laughter.”

“Why me?”

“However, if you do not meet him and the dream keeps on haunting you, know that you shall see him at your deathbed.”

“Hey!”  snaps Sam clutching his head with both of his hands in fear.

“Now you can go and search for the face of this man in your dream,” says Pastor Chisenga getting up.

 

Two days later, Sam arrives back home from Petauke, Zambia, confident that he will see the face of the man if he dreams again tonight.

He dreams the same dream. This time he dreams he is at the office and his wife phones him, telling him that her other man is at home and she is having lunch with him. He leaves everything and rushes home to meet the man.

Arriving home, he finds his wife and children standing on the veranda waving at the car pulling away from his house, their faces glowing with happiness. He tries to flag down the driver but he does not stop.

Sam violently jumps into his car and at a break-neck speed follows the man’s car. Luckily, the car has stopped at traffic light. Sam is decelerating to a halt one car in front of him blocking him from seeing the fleeing man’s car clearly. Suddenly, green light flashes and the man’s car pull away in full speed.  Sam overtakes the car and decelerates so much so that he comes face to face with the driver but cannot see his face clearly.

“No…no… no!” exclaims Sam waking up from the nightmare, shaking his head in disbelief.

 

 

 

 

 

Nixon Mateulah

Nixon Mateulah was born in Lilongwe, Malawi. He moved to South Africa in 1996. His short stories have appeared in Storymoja, Jungle Jim Magazine and many of his poems have appeared in Munyori, Aerodrome, Kalahari Review, Stanzas Magazine under the pen name, Chichichapatile Mangochi. His debut novel, A Test of Time will be out sometime this year. His play, The Beggars Forum was longlisted for 2013 SCrIBE Scriptwriting Competition and is currently working on his second novel, The Death of the Sun, hopefully to be completed by end of this year.

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