My Aunt Mohammed II by Mahluli VanBarbie Ndlovu

My Aunt Mohammed II
By Mahluli VanBarbie Ndlovu

After we tried to bury Auntie alive she
sort of calmed down. The verbal and
physical assaults stopped, her new
docile image was the envy of many a
Christian. All that lacked was a Bible
and a zinc dish to baptise any converts
she might make. Needless to say when
the champion was ousted a new tyrant
emerged.
Having claimed the title from Auntie,
Uncle decided to rubber stamp his
dominance. He was now brave enough
to keep his paycheque, buy himself
new shoes without having to file the
heels down as a validation of his claim
that he ‘always had them’. He drank a
lot more, was louder, and would
occasionally kick away platefuls of food
because the ‘vegetables were
overdone’.
The man was a menace, one night I
caught him relieving himself in the
kitchen sink. I didn’t have to ask what
he was doing, he just told me,
announced rather that it was his house
and he did what he wanted. I shook
my head and walked away to join
Auntie in the garden where she sat
reading a novel by EM Ndlovu.
‘Hey Auntie, what’s up?’
‘I was trying to finish up this book then
I got to thinking how sad it is that of all
you kids who claim to write none of
you wants to write in vernacular.’
‘Oh come on Auntie! Who reads that
stuff? Personally I read Ndebele six
time slower than English.’
‘And you are proud of that?’
‘Well…is that a trick question? You
should be proud of me, English came
by ship and I mastered it.’
‘Everyone writes in English. You can
write all you want but I will never read
anything you write in English.’
‘Auntie that’s mean!’ we had a good
laugh on that. We were now the best of
friends. I had found an opportune
moment to form an alliance when the
beast was wounded. Never doubting
her ability to return and reclaim her
rightful place as the head of the
household I wanted to be safe when
she did. Uncle could have been
wearing the pants in the meantime but
we all knew what he was hiding and it
wasn’t manhood. He had risen to the
pinnacle with a cheap shot on
someone who could take him to town
and back any day.
I got bored sitting there with her, so I
left and crept back into the house
trying to evade the other guy. It didn’t
help, I found him sitting on the floor
mumbling to himself. I made a quick
U-turn but he had already seen me. He
called out but I didn’t heed, returned
to Auntie and casually let her in on the
scene in the lounge.
‘He’s crying?’ I nodded. She left to
administer her wifely dues. I remained
with the Ndebele hieroglyphs to
decipher.
I had been sitting for close to a minute
when curses came flying through the
doorway closely followed by Auntie. I
decided I didn’t want to know what
was going on. She disappeared into
the dark while Uncle came to me
moments later still sobbing. I
maintained my calm by torturing my
mind with the complex syllables on the
page. I let them occupy it enough to
only register Uncle’s speech as a
drunken rant.
‘She is stubborn that one, too stubborn
for her own good. What woman goes
into the bar to fight men?’ is all I
caught.
‘She what?’ I gasped.
‘Now everyone is going to think I ratted
to my wife.’
‘What are you talking about?’
‘I got into a fight with someone. Oh it
was embarrassing, embarrassing…’ he
paused to find the courage to articulate
his plight. A sob, a sniff, he continued,
‘I was humiliated. He slapped me all
over the place and dragged me around
the bar with my necktie. After all that
he made me pray to him for
forgiveness.’
‘You prayed to a man?’
‘What could I do? He wouldn’t stop
until I did, so I got down on my knees,
put my hands together and prayed to
him. He said whenever I see him I
should call him God. Now your Aunt
has gone to challenge him and
everyone will think my wife fights my
battles.’ He shook his head, ‘That
Masimba needs some help, I don’t
think he is fine up there.’
‘Masimba the Belligerent?’ he nodded
in shame.
I raced through the dark hoping I was
not too late. It was good to have
Auntie’s guns out and roaring again
but I doubted her capacity against the
man who had mangled her husband
like that. I had only heard of Masimba
and nothing was good. Besides all that
uncle was not a small man by any
measure, Auntie who was a head
shorter stood no chance in a fist fight.
My only hope was that he would refuse
to fight a woman, but knowing her
there would be a fight if she didn’t
initiate it upon arrival. What the hell
would I do when I got there anyway?
The bright lights of the beer hall
loomed ahead. Within 200 metres the
melee was audible. It wasn’t the usual
beer hall noise, the fight had begun. I
dug my Bata clad feet harder into the
tarmac; I was already late.
I found my Aunt in a headlock. She
squinted beneath Masimba’s armpit.
Finally I had met the fabled giant and
he was rewriting the legend with my
Auntie. She winced as he tossed her
about in the crook of his elbow while
rapping the knuckles of his free hand
on her scalp. Her face was puffed up, I
can only imagine what was going
through her head beneath the
oppressive grip of the man who had
thumped her husband and ordered
him to pray to him. He yanked her
about while the other patrons
applauded.
‘Somebody help her!’ I begged running
from face to face hoping someone in
the bar was man enough to stand up
to the bully. Was there no man who
pitied the woman? There was none,
most of them had at one time or the
other said their prayers to the all
powerful Masimba, a man so fierce
Watchtower evangelists were warned
to stay away by those who had tried
converting him only to end up filing
peace orders against him. Those who
hadn’t prayed to this relentless god
were not too keen to help either, it was
up to me to do something.
I flung myself at him, he caught me by
the scruff of the neck with his left hand
and maintained his grip on Auntie with
his right.
‘We have a hero in the house.’ His
disciples howled in laughter. His
humungous palm squeezed half my
neck into his fist, I tried to wrestle
awhile, when I seemed on the verge of
escape he pressed me down and
rammed my head into Auntie’s, the
collision shook my brain and
blackened my sight, we both tried to
extricate ourselves but to no avail. He
was using me as a weapon to assault
my aunt! After banging heads three
times I was dizzy and on the edge of
unconsciousness. I dropped my hands
and let him have his way, let him
amuse his friends and fans with our
bodies frail as chicks in his falcon grip.
Eventually he let us drop to the
ground. I flopped around half
conscious and half senile. Auntie was
lying on the cold dirty cement floor
among cigarette stubs, sobbing. I
clawed the ground and dragged myself
to her.
‘Auntie, it’s over, let’s go home, we still
have our lives.’ I begged, occasionally
looking back at the towering giant
smirking down in godly satisfaction like
Shango after the rape of virgins.
‘No, no!’ she coughed choking on her
saliva, ‘No, I will not go, I will die here.’
‘Auntie!’ I gasped. My brain must have
been settling into its usual place as
things became clearer. ‘No, let’s go,
please, it’s not worth it.’
Slowly she sat up, tears streaming
down her fat cheeks. She just sat there
and wept. My aunt, the great
Mohammed had finally been broken,
silence abound.
‘Now, pray to me, pray that my wrath
may cease!’ bellowed the giant laying
down his calabash in front of Auntie’s
weeping form.
My aunt simply shook her head,
pierced his eyes with insolence. ‘I will
not beg for my life.’
‘What did you say woman?’ he roared.
‘Uzwile.’ Then turned aside and spat,
maintained her defiance with her head
slung to the side.
The giant was incensed. He bent down
and tore the night with the rage of his
clap against her cheek. She shook her
head and demanded more. Another
clap stung and triggered a nosebleed. I
had seen enough.
‘Wait!’ I barked and turned all heads in
my direction. ‘I’ll do it, I’ll pray to you.’
‘No! There will be no more praying. My
husband has not gone to church for
fifteen years but today you made him
pray to you? There will be no more of
that, no one else shall ever pray to you.
It stops today, over my dead body!’
she was frail and dizzy, her dress was
ruined in blood. What would it hurt to
pray to the man and live to fight
another day?
‘If I pray to you will you let us go?’ I
offered as a last resort.
‘Yes, if you pray well for both your
souls I will consider letting you be.’
then laughed and bore his teeth in
invitation to those who had applauded
him so far. They let him laugh alone.
Those who once laughed with him
were suddenly humourless. He
angered more and turned to me, I was
still on the floor. ‘Pray.’
I wobbled like Patrick without his
crutch.
‘Pray!’
I looked down and thought about what
I was about to do then turned to watch
Auntie. She shook her head, I ignored
her. I got onto my knees before the
great giant, the great god who had
tormented men so far, the god whose
wrath I had felt a little too well. I was
shaky so he allowed me to get a firm
grip on his knees with my face to his
crotch.
‘Now, pray to the god of your
household!’
I knelt there before him while Auntie
remained silent with everyone else, she
didn’t say anything. I knew I would
probably be disgusted by myself for
the rest of my life but I was certain
what I was going to do next was
necessary. I looked up at his fearsome
face bearing down at me. As I opened
my mouth wide he turned his gaze to
the heavens as though to taunt them,
that was enough a chance for me to
sink my teeth into his crotch. He
screamed like a four year old girl in the
dark, I locked my teeth and hung there
as vicious as a rabid bullterrier. He
tried to knock me off but to no avail, at
best I would circumcise him, at worst
mutilate. I bit my canines deeper until
blood dripped down my chin.
Auntie picked up the calabash in front
of her and flung its contents to his face
as she rose to her feet. She called me
to heel, I obeyed and fell back to find
myself lying between Mohammed and
her opponent, a perfect place to watch
that backswing forming in her
shoulder, the return of the kamikaze
knuckle wielding death crash into his
fat nose and flattening it into a stream
of blood. It didn’t drop him and she
was obviously upset. She leapt over me
to grab the staggering by the shirtfront.
He was stunned, bleeding from his
nose and crotch, beer in is eyes. He
was hardly an opponent but a sitting
duck for the able Mohammed. The
short woman bit her lower lip and
scrawled into the ugliest creature she
has ever been, cocked a head-butt and
shattered the giant’s teeth in his
mouth.
While he squirmed she stooped low
and took my hand. ‘Are you okay?’ I
nodded. ‘Now let’s go sort out that
uncle of yours.’

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4 thoughts on “My Aunt Mohammed II by Mahluli VanBarbie Ndlovu

    1. This was part of an interesting experimental short story initiative in which all the writers wrote a story, contributing to a main theme.

      This was Mahluli’s take… you can check through the blog. There is part 1.

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