-Eleven Years Ago –
Dan’s animosity towards the Ng’andu’s was one born out of an insatiable thirst for revenge.
He was only 23-years-old and in his final year at the University of Zambia studying Economics when he lost his brother Nsofwa. His brother’s words, spoken on his dying bed had conjured up memories of the day Dan had first discovered just how much trouble his brother had found himself.
Hoping to surprise his brother, Dan had left school one Friday evening and took a bus home. He was about to open the living room door when he heard voices coming from inside. He walked to the other side of the house and entered through the kitchen door instead. It was there that he overheard a conversation that would turn his simple quiet life upside down.
“What did you expect would happen when you ran away with all my money and turned yourself into a self-made millionaire?” Said the woman Dan would later come to learn was Yvonne, Arthur Ng’andu’s first wife.
“I promised to pay you back everything,” Nsofwa said. “I begged your husband to give me time to secure the money. You of all people know that I’m the breadwinner of my family. I have five siblings and an ailing mother. I can’t just come up with that kind of money at once.”
“What did you do with all that money you stole from me?” The woman asked.
“I was in a rush to get rid of it,” he said. “I made some bad investments here and there but there were good ones too. The hardware store and garage are doing very well. If you can just ask him to give me more time. I can’t pay him back his money if my shops are closed.”
“You should have thought of that before playing a fast one on me.”
Nsofwa went down on his knees and cried. “You have to help me out Yvonne,” the young man begged. “He has threatened to kill me if I don’t pay him back in ten days. Where am I going to find that kind of money in such a short time? My brother is going to be graduating soon. He only has one semester to go. If he can wait, my brother will get a job and between him and me, we will raise the money together in no time.”
Yvonne laughed. “You don’t know my husband you,” she said. “You’ll be lucky if your brother makes it through this very semester. Arthur has friends everywhere. Just find his money…which is technically mine but we both know it’s his because it came from him in the first place. He is just making you pay for it because you hurt his pride when you stole me from him.
“Do whatever you can to find the money, sell your kidneys if you must. Either way, Arthur will get his revenge. If you must know, I am no different from you. I am also paying for betraying him and pressuring you like this is one of the ways I can make up for the mistakes I made against him.”
“By selling me out?” Dan asked, looking up at her with teary eyes.
“You sold me out first when you ran away with all my settlement money and left me with nothing,” Yvonne said.
“You are just like him you know that?” Nsofwa spat at her feet and stood up. “Get out of my house.”
“Ah, that’s another thing I forgot to mention,” she said. “This house is in my name, remember? I want it back, or rather, he wants it back.”
“You gotto be kidding me,” Nsofwa said.
“Don’t hate the player baby, hate the game,” Yvonne chuckled.
Nsofwa grabbed her hand in anger, dragged her out of the house, and slammed the door behind her.
“Ten days lover boy!” Yvonne shouted from outside, laughing at the top of her voice.
“Bloody Jezebel,” Nsofwa cursed, both his hands clenched into fists.
“Who was that?” Dan appeared in the room.
Nsofwa was visibly taken aback by his young brother’s presence in the house. The last thing he needed was his little brother learning about the things he had to do to put a roof over their head and food on the table. It was not a lifestyle he was proud of. As far as his family was concerned, he was a hardworking businessman who labored day and night to take care of his family and send all his siblings to school.
“What are you doing here?” Nsofwa asked.
“Answer my question first,” Dan retorted.
“It’s none of your business. I get to ask the questions around here,” Nsofwa fired back and started walking towards his room.
Dan was right on his tail. “That woman made threats about me,” he said. “I deserve to know what this is about.” When his brother ignored him and kept walking, Dan added, “Or maybe am better off talking to mum about this, huh?”
The trick seemed to work. Nsofwa stopped dead in his tracks.
Dan walked back into the living room, knowing very well that his brother would follow him.
“I owe some people a lot of money,” Nsofwa finally confessed.
“Which people and how much?” Dan asked.
“Some very powerful people. Over 100 thousand.”
“Are you crazy!?”
“You’re the one that wanted to know, now you know,” Nsofwa said.
“Are you a gigolo?” Dan asked.
“Watch yourself Dan,” Nsofwa warned.
“I am sorry but I heard enough of that conversation to draw certain conclusions,” Dan said. “You slept with her and you stole money from her. Clearly, you were not with her for love. Now she and her husband, ex-husband…whatever he is are coming after you for the money. How am I doing so far?”
“If I didn’t steal that money, you wouldn’t be in school right now!” Nsofwa said.
“We didn’t ask you to go and steal or sleep around with rich women!”
“I didn’t sleep around! She was just one woman. I saw an opportunity and I took it. I am only 25 years old but I have been acting as both mother and father to five children. Do you think I have the luxury to uphold moral standards set by a God that has forsaken us for this long?”
Dan had no reply. His brother’s words tore at him because he had felt the same so many times since their father’s death. When things had started to brighten up thanks to Nsofwa, Dan had thought God had finally come through for them. Clearly he had been wrong, so how could he dare place judgement on a man who had sacrificed his soul for the sake of his family? He had no right whatsoever.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know things were this bad. I simply assumed-“
“You assumed you serve a living God didn’t you?” Nsofwa said sarcastically. “The truth is all those blessings you and mum celebrated had nothing to do with God. I had to sleep with a married woman, get her to trust me so she could lower her guard enough for me to steal her fortune. Oh yeah, I also convinced her to divorce her husband. I hear God hates that very much.”
“I understand your frustrations bro, but talking about God in such a manner isn’t-“
“Isn’t what?” Nsofwa asked. “It’s too late for me to care about what’s wrong or right.”
“No it’s not,” Dan said.
“What are you doing home anyway?”
“I came to see you.”
“Well, now that you have, I think it’s better if you went back to school.”
“What are you going to do about those people?”
“The rich bastards?” Nsofwa chuckled. “I’ll give them exactly what they’re after.”
“And what’s that?”
“My blood,” he said.
“What do you mean your blood?” Dan asked.
“I mean exactly that,” Nsofwa said, getting up from the couch. “Don’t look at me like that,” he said upon seeing the perturbed look on his kid brother’s face. “I’ll be fine. It’s okay for them to do to me whatever they want. But there’s no way in hell am letting them touch any of you.”
“What can I do?” Dan asked, forcing back his tears.
“Just stay in school and concentrate on graduating with honors,” his brother said.
Before saying goodbye, Dan lingered by the door and watched his brother pace to and from.
“Nsofwa,” he called out to him.
Nsofwa stopped pacing and looked at him. “You’re still here?” He asked.
“Just promise me one thing,” Dan said.
“Don’t do anything stupid.”
Nsofwa laughed. “I promise,” he said.
Those were the last words Dan was to hear from his brother. Three days later, he received a call from his mother informing him of his brother’s passing.
“He was attacked by a group of men and they beat him so badly he bled to death right in front of his shop,” his mother cried.
“They killed him!” Dan cried, banging his fist against the desk. “Those bastards killed him!”
“The police are saying they were robbers-“
“The police are wrong mum. I know exactly who killed my brother and I will make each one of them pay for this,” Dan said.
“I’m on my way home right now. Have you informed the others already?”
“No, I called you first.”
“I’ll call them,” Dan said. “I’ll see you shortly mum.”
Dan took in the scene before him like an addict getting his full dose of heroin without consequence. Three men sat hopelessly in each corner of the dark room he had specifically picked for such a gruesome experience. With their hands and feet bound, and with the only form of light in the room being the one candle Dan had placed in the center of the room, it was hard to miss the deafening air of death looming over them.
In one corner, an almost lifeless Andre whimpered in pain from the wounds dealt to him by fate. It had only been fifteen minutes since he had regained consciousness. In another corner was his father Arthur. There was neither fear nor anger in his eyes. Of the few things Andre could conjure up from the little light in the room and whatever power was left of his mind, he was sure he could see glints of regret in the eyes of the man he had come to hate with such passion. On the far side of the room was Sam the driver, shaking in fear like a leaf on the verge of collapse.
“Let me at least put a cloth over my son’s injury before-“
Before Arthur could finish his sentence, Dan kicked him hard in the side. “Worry about yourself because whether you like it or not, none of you is walking out of here alive,” he said. “Besides, why do you care about a man that’s been chowing your wife right under your nose, for years?”
Both Andre and Arthur looked at him in shock.
Dan laughed. “Do you think that I just woke up this morning and decided oh, am going to avenge my brother this fine day? Do you think I am here by coincidence, right when all your lives are tumbling down like a house of cards? No, I’ve always had a helper. And it is someone that will shock the both of you.”
“Is it Mubita?” Andre asked.
“I know about your errand boy Mubita, but he is not my guy,” Dan said.
“Jenna?” Arthur asked.
Dan turned to Sam. “Would you also like to give it a guess?” He asked the driver.
Arthur and Andre gave each other knowing looks.
“No! It’s not me, I swear to you!” The driver cried.
Dan cackled out of control. “You should see yourselves, like fools,” he said, pointing his gun from one to the other. “Let me tell you a bit about my brother before he became a gigolo,” Dan added. “He was in-love with this pretty little number that once came to this warehouse where he worked. Back then my brother was a nobody, just a dirty mechanic manning other people’s fancy vehicles. But this girl, this girl treated him like a human being. She was like an angel in everything she did.
“One day my brother billed her father extra because he was trying to raise money to take my mother to the hospital. Her father found out and came to the store blazing fire and had my brother fired. The girl must have heard about the incident because one day she appeared at our doorstep. Even though she had this innocence about her, she was also brazen in her actions. My mother was around but she went straight to my brother and asked him why he stole the money. Nsofwa naturally said, why do you care? She looked at him in his eyes and said; because people don’t just become bad. I want to know your reason so I can know if you’re worth helping or not.
“How can you help me? My brother asked her. She said, tell me the truth first and then I’ll tell you. So he tells her and she says, I knew you were not a bad one. She reached into her pocket, removed this tiny-tiny purse and took out some notes and handed them to my brother. Of course Nsofwa threw the money back at her. We might have been poor but we were not a charity case.”
“But you were okay with stealing huh?” Arthur murmured under his breath.
Dan sent a reprobative look his direction. “I’m going to pretend that I didn’t hear you,” he said and continued his story as if he had not been disturbed. “That girl said she was hiring my brother to do some field work at her school for her. Turned out she had gotten herself in trouble at school and she was punished to clear a whole field for the term. Before my brother could accept, she picked up the money from the ground, placed it in his hands and left. It was hard to return the money after that point because whether we liked it or not, we needed every bit of it.
“Soon enough, my brother and the girl were hanging out. It was love at first sight for my brother but it took a while for her to realize her feelings until it was too late. Our situation at home became dire and to take care of us, my brother started to change. He thought falling in-love was a luxury he could not afford. He wanted to work hard until he became the type of man she could present to her parents as her boyfriend…and that’s how he ended up getting entangled with your family. When she heard that Nsofwa had ran away with a married woman, she was devastated. She only came to know the truth when Nsofwa finally returned, after stealing money from your wife. Not long after, you sent your goons to murder him.”
“I told you, I had nothing to do with your brother’s murder,” Arthur said. “You might succeed in killing me today but rest assured, the real culprit is free out there.”
Dan walked over to Arthur and pointed his gun at Arthur’s forehead. “Not that I believe you, but give me a name anyway,” he said.
“I will if you tell me the name of the person that’s been helping you,” Arthur said.
“What makes you think you have the right to negotiate with me right now?”
“I have nothing to lose,” Arthur said. “Whether I die or live, I have already lost everything I care about. You can kill me right now if you like. I don’t care.”
“Katrina,” Dan offered the name without further prompting.
“What!?” Father and son chorused.
“Don’t you dare bring Katrina into this wicked plan of yours,” Andre said.
Dan laughed. “You really fell in-love with her didn’t you?”
“Katrina has nothing to do with this,” Arthur said. “I am the one that went to her to begin with. I found her and things just happened after that. I know what you’re trying to do right now by bringing her into all this but-“
“They say hell hath no fury than a woman scorned,” Dan cut him off. “What they don’t know is that hell hath no fury than a women deprived of the love of her life right when she had only learnt she was truly in-love. More than me, Katrina wanted blood. She orchestrated the whole thing. You should know her both of you,” he looked from Arthur to Andre. “She is the most vindictive woman you’ll ever meet. She is an angel when not provoked. Touch her and she will drag you down with her to the very narrow end of the abyss in her wrath. She hates just as much as she loves, and perhaps that’s her biggest flaw.”
“I know Katrina,” Andre said. “I don’t care what you say because I believe beyond reasonable doubt that she loves me.”
“How does it feel to be betrayed by the woman that came to you to heal from your own father’s betrayal?” Dan asked Andre.
“Shut the fuck up!” Andre almost drove himself into shock from his aggressiveness.
Dan relished in his victory. He had them right where he wanted them.
“I have both bad news and good news for you,” Dan said to Andre. “The bad news is that Katrina came into your family to wreak havoc and avenge her boyfriend’s death. She made your father fall in-love with her and later she made you fall in-love with her. It was a game from the beginning. Your mother stole her man from her and because of her actions he was killed. The good news for you is that somewhere along the way, Katrina changed the script and truly fell in-love with you. I trusted her to exert revenge on our behalf but she betrayed me. And when that happened, I had to take matters in my own hands. So here we are.”
I am only using you!
Katrina’s words echoed through Andre’s head. How many times had she told him that every time he confronted her about their relationship? There was not a day he had begged for her affection that she did not use those words. All this while Andre had thought her words were mere threats to keep him at bay, but that was her being as truthful to him as she could possibly be. She had kept her love at bay all those years, not because of fear of what people would say, but because it was the only way of protecting him from the dangerous game she had so articulately orchestrated.
“I can tell that we’re on the same page finally,” Dan said, visibly busking in his triumph.
“Isn’t it pitiful?” Arthur said. “Going through all this trouble for nothing. You must feel like the biggest fool in the whole world.”
“Give me the name now!” Dan yelled and shot into the wall next to Arthur.
Right then, someone kicked in the door and sent it flying off its hinges. It was Mubita, and right behind him was Katrina, both with their guns ready.
“Katrina?” Andre said and attracted the attention of Dan who quickly ran to him and forced him up as his hostage.
“Let him go Danny or I swear to you this will end badly for the people you hold dearly,” Katrina said.
“Are you threatening my family? You, Katrina?” Dan asked.
“You threatened mine first,” Katrina said.
“What do you think Nsofwa would say if he saw you pointing a gun at me right now?” Dan asked.
“I loved your brother and I did what I could to make them pay for his death,” Katrina said. “But I am done Dan. I am tired of living my life like that. I just want to love and rest. I deserve that. I never thought I could ever love anyone as much as I loved your brother but I was naïve. I am in love with Andre more than I love myself or anyone else in this world.”
“Who gave you permission to forget about my brother just like that?” Dan cried. “Don’t you know that you’re partly to blame for him wanting to succeed so badly and so dangerously?”
“I never asked him to be anything more than what he was,” Katrina said. “It was him that wanted to prove himself to me and to his family. I did everything I could to lessen his burden but in the end he chose the path he took on his own.”
“I did not have Nsofwa killed,” Arthur said.
“If it wasn’t you, then who killed him?” Katrina asked.
“Nsofwa owed money to a lot of people,” Arthur explained. “I wasn’t the only one he owed. If anything, I should have been the least of his worries. Yvonne exaggerated things when she spoke to him about owing me. I wasn’t even interested in the money. I simply wanted to scare him a little.”
“So else did he owe?” Katrina asked.
“Yvonne’s parents, Andre’s grandparents,” Arthur said.
“What?” Katrina said.
“The two had been facing some financial problems and struggling to save their business for a long time. It was my money that kept their business afloat but once I was out of the picture, there was nothing more to hold on to. Fearing that it might be the end of them, my in-laws looked for a few way to raise money to save their business and somehow ended up at the mercy of Nsofwa. He knew about their troubles so he set a trap for them. He wanted to use their money to pay off his debts and he succeeded. When the in-laws discovered the truth, they sent people after him, but only to scare him into paying them back their money.
“Unfortunately, the guys they sent got too excited…and the worst happened. The funny part is, my in-laws didn’t know anything about his death until the police came knocking at the door. Of course they denied any association to the murder and with the reputation that your brother had, the police quickly wrapped the case up. If you don’t believe me, you can call them and ask, especially my former father in-law. He’s been hanging by a thread lately and all he wants is to come clean about this heavy burden he has carried for so many years.”
Dan broke down in tears. Mubita took advantage of his moment of weakness and grabbed the gun from him. Dan easily surrendered himself to the ground, sobbing. “What have I done?” I kept hitting his head.
Katrina went to him and pulled him into her arms while Mubita rushed to attend to his bleeding boss.
“It’s okay Dee, it’s all over now. It’s over.” Katrina said.
Dan stopped crying and looked up at her. “It’s not over,” he said, shaking his head. “You don’t understand. I already did something terrible.”
“What did you do Dee?” Katrina asked.
“I shot her,” Dan cried. “I killed that woman Yvonne.”
“You did what!?” Arthur lunged at him. “Get these off me!” He shouted at Mubita who was still attending to Andre.
“Go to him. I’ll look after Andre myself,” Katrina instructed Mubita as she went over to Andre’s side.
“I do not like you very much right now,” Andre said to her.
“I know,” she said. “I promise to make it up to you for the rest of my life…how ever long that will be,” she added as she looked at the potential threats around her.
The moment Arthur was untied, he grabbed the gun from Mubita and pointed it at Dan. “Give me one dame good reason why I shouldn’t pop your head right now?” He said.
“I don’t care, just do it,” Dan cried.
Arthur placed his hand on the trigger and looked about ready to fire. Everyone and everything in the room froze in time except for Arthur’s shaking hand itching to pull the trigger.
“Dad, don’t,” Andre was the first to dare to speak.
“What makes you think I would listen to you of all people?” Arthur asked his son.
“Because I think I got you wrong all these years,” Arthur said. He motioned for Katrina to help him to his feet and against her advice, she helped him limp his way towards his father. “I know it’s too late to say this but, I was wrong. This is all my fault. I shouldn’t have expected you to have acted like a perfect man when I was busy being all-out imperfect towards you, towards mum, and even towards Katrina. I thought I was making you pay for the things you did and said in anger, but I was only depriving myself of a chance to get to know you. You might be a ruthless business man, and maybe even a reckless lover and father, but you are not a killer.”
“I don’t even know who I am anymore,” Arthur said. “I have lived all these years trying to be someone I thought I needed to be that I missed all the important things that were happening right under my nose. Maybe I deserve everything that’s happened to me. Maybe I should just kill all of us in this room and bring an end to all our misery ah?”
The moment Mubita heard the words kill all of us, he pointed the gun at the back of Arthur’s head.
“Why’s your gun down?” Arthur asked Katrina.
“Because I think I’ve caused you enough harm already,” she said. “I have no right to get in your way of revenge. If I were to ask for one thing, it would be that you take me instead of Andre. We might be foolish parents, all of us, but our kids deserve a chance at a better life. More than me or you, they stand a better chance with Andre.” She then moved to stand in front of Andre who tried to push her away but was no match for her determination in his state.
Watching the two, Arthur laughed. “I have all the money in the world,” he said. “I have more than what I can spend in this lifetime, and maybe even the next. So why do I feel like I have lost everything?”
To everyone’s surprise, Arthur held the gun up to his head and pulled the trigger before any of them could react. Despite her horror, Katrina had enough sense to throw cautioned to the wind about her own safety and threw her body where Arthur’s was to land. Everything happened so fast that it took a few more minutes for everyone in the room to grasp what had just transpired.
Despite Katrina cushioning his fall, there was no hope for Arthur.
Two hours later, Katrina was in an ambulance accompanying Andre to the hospital while Mubita and Sam sat in the back of a police van with Arthur’s body at their center. On the other side, two police men stood on either side of a handcuffed Dan.
“Do you think we’ll ever be happy after everything that’s happened?” Katrina asked Andre.
“I would hope so, otherwise all these mistakes and sacrifices would be for nothing,” Andre answered.
“My parents, how do I face them?” She said.
“I think we’re alive today because of their prayers,” Andre said. “Just give them some time. If I have learnt anything today, it is that parents love their children no matter how undeserving of their love they might be.”
“What are we going to tell the kids Andre?” Katrina cried.
“You’re worrying too much babe. Let’s take one day at a time, okay?” He took her hand.
“One day at a time,” she repeated his words, more to herself than to him.
“I love you my crazy woman,” Andre said, lifting her hand and kissing it.
“And I love you too trouble maker,” she said.