Silence of Darkness

Silence of Darkness

A Story by Fatsani Chione

it is about culture in some parts of Africa..a family has just lost a father and a husband..the relatives of the late husband are making arrangements on who is to inherit the wife


Silence of Darkness 

It was a cry of agony. That sorrowful cry pierced through the silence and innocence of the night. My eyes were closed tight as I forced my mind to believe it was all but a dream. In the first place it was my mother alone, then I heard both my sisters joining the same tune. I felt my heart melting in the eyes of fear. Suddenly I shuddered with horror when the door to my room was flung open. It was Lusungu, my elder sister, she came carrying a koloboyi in her hands. She seem to be taken aback as she stared at the fear that was enthroned on my visage.

Tadala” she called my name. If she could say no more, the sorrow in her voice was enough. “...Ababa atisiya...Father is gone…” I could feel tears running down my cheeks as my heart sank so deep in sorrow. I felt numb and empty , I was rendered speechless. I just sat on my mat,my back against the wall,completely lost in thicket of empty thoughts. Lusungu took me in her embrace.

Another cry shook me from my slumber. I must have fallen asleep in the warmth of Lusungu's embrace. She was no longer there with me when I woke up. I walked out of my room and was surprised to find the house filled with people, women from the neighborhood mostly. I walked past them .

When the sun was up, a good number of relatives from afar started showing up. In no time our compound was filled with people.

Mwakulatu aTadala,n'kale lija eti?” my father's relatives would say to me when mother was introducing me to them. I could not help it but to wonder where were these people, the so called relatives of my father, when he was still breathing.

I felt like laughing at how some people were crying. You would be made to believe that my father was so dear to them yet when he was sick they did not even bother to visit him neither did they in the days of his good health. Funny enough, it was his uncle from town who had bought him a coffin. Imagine, just months ago it was the very same man who had refused to help my father when he needed some money for his farming activities. “Was it really necessary that he had to be branded a good man for buying a coffin ?” I wondered.

It has only been four days since my father’s burial. It is late in the night but sleep has already left me. I decided to go out to pass water . There is a small hut just out side our house ,that is where my two uncles have been spending their nights since the day of my father's demise. Uncle Jafitala's house is not far from where our house is yet he has chosen to be here all these days. Lazy bones, how I dislike him!

Achimwene ..” came a voice from the hut .“..we have to act now or never, m'lamu has to abide by the laws of the land, she is no exceptional.” It was uncle Limbikani speaking.

You are right,matter of fact the arrangement might as well suffice to take away her present sorrow” Uncle Jafitala agreed.

Who will it be then? As for me you know well I already have two” said uncle Limbikani. A moment passed before uncle Jafitala responded.

Titani nanga?”(what shall we do then). Though I already have three but for the sake of honouring my brother I am ready to do it. Or should should we intrust her to Maikolo?” the question was left to roam freely in the silence of the night. Minutes later the conversation resumed but this time it was carried out in whispers I could not clearly hear what was being discussed. I wanted to turn back into the house when I noticed there stood,close to the hut , a figure of a man or was it a woman ? I could not help it but to scream as loud as my lungs could let me. The barking from a dog in a distance joined me. I rushed back into the house banging the door behind me.

My mother came rushing in my room ,she found me shaking as a tree branch in a heavy storm.

Shush, it's okay” she said. Not long after my two sisters joined her they must have been awakened by my scream.

M'lamu is everything okay?” came uncle Jafitala's voice.

All is well m'lamu, Tadala had a nightmare” mother lied. I wanted to protest but she signaled me to keep quite.

We sat there on my mat just looking at each other. We could hear uncle's footsteps fading as he got back to the house. Mother said it was her I had seen outside. She said in a whisper that she had to eavesdrop my uncles conversation. With tears in her eyes , she said she would rather die than marry one of my late father's brothers. The thought of being a second or third wife was unbearable for her. “Customs, of what importance are some customs and culture like this? Do they for a moment ever pause and ponder on the issue of the disease? How about my own needs,my take on the issue?” She hugged me and both my sisters. I felt like she was a hen and we were her chicks.

About an hour after , here we are walking in silence of the darkness. We slipped out of the house with light steps as a cat walking towards its prey. My sisters went out first then mother and I followed. She closed the door slowly behind her. She searched about to see in case there was someone in sight. With long strides, her luggage on her head, holding my hand with the other hand, she gave trust to her legs to take us away as fast as possible. Soon we got swallowed in the dark of the night. We found my sisters standing by a tree a stone's throw from home. Mother says she has a cousin in town who might help us though she is not aware of where he stays. I turn back and wonder what will become of uncle Jafitala and his brother when the dawn breaks.

© 2019 Fatsani Chione

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Added on August 8, 2019
Last Updated on August 8, 2019


Fatsani Chione
Fatsani Chione

Lilongwe, Malawi

I am a writer from Malawi, male , aged 23. I write poetry , short stories and articles. more..