DO NOT OPEN – Episode 1
© Brian Ngoma
That feeling one get after something has happened where they blame a series of actions or a specific action for it. If only that action could not have been done, whatever happened wouldn’t have happened. For Nikiwe, that action was waking up on 11th February, 2025. If there was an option for not waking up on her table, she would have stayed in bed all day. She would have spent her day with her loving husband, Clarence together with her beautiful sons, Jackson and Zindaba. Her husband could have spoiled her with a home made lunch. He was a brilliant cook and knew how to spoil her. Her two sons who were 5 and 8 respectively would have showered her with all the love a mother could wish for. But damn, life and fate as you would later call it, she had to wake up.
“Babe get up, you’ll be late for work!” Clarence shouted from the bathroom.
She heard him but covered herself with the sheets. He was calling her name for the 100th time. Can’t he let me sleep? She complained under the sheets. She heard footsteps coming towards the bed.
“Don’t you dare!” She giggled.
Before she could finish her sentence, Clarence pulled the sheets off her and stood motionless staring at her bare body. 13 years in marriage and every time he saw her like this, his heart raced and blood boiled. For a moment, he had teenage fever.
She knew what effect she had on him. “Join me,” she said trying to seduce him.
“No no no no,” he laughed. “Just get up,” he turned around and walked to the bathroom.
“Clarence!” She shouted his name. “Are you no longer sexually attracted to me,” she chuckled.
“Is there someone else?”
They both laughed.
“I have prepared the boys for school. They must be getting done now. The driver will be here in a few and I am done too. I have a meeting with my boss at 8 am.”
“Uuurrrrgh,” she complained as she got out of bed. “Work work work, when does life ever get easy? I am tired. I need a break.”
Clarence walked out of the bathroom and helped her out of bed. “We work for the boys,” his smile, infectious. “I told you, you can stop working but you love what you do, that has always been your dream.”
She rolled her eyes. “It’s hectic.”
“But it’s your life.”
“You, Jackson and Zindaba are my life,” she wrapped her hands around his neck. “I Love you boys.”
“We Love you too, Nikiwe. Now let me go I’ll be late.”
“Come on!” She groaned. “Can’t you even spare 5 minuets to …..” She paused looking at him. “Morning sex is very important ka.”
“No,” he leaned over and kissed her. “Bye Niki,” he laughed. “Wish me well.”
“Get out of here,” she pushed him. “I don’t love you.”
“I love you too,” he laughed as he left the bedroom. “The boys are waiting for you to say bye & by the way, I bought Jackson that book you told me about.”
Jackson loved to read. Unlike Zindaba, he never talked much but loved reading stories. “Alice In Wonderland?”
“Thanks. I’m sure he’s excited.”
“Very excited. Bye now!”
Nikiwe quickly went into the bathroom and covered herself with a lobe. She found Jackson and Zindaba waiting for her. Looking at them, she felt proud to be their mother. They were the copycats of her and Clarence. There was nothing she would not do for the boys. They said goodbye to her and left with their father.
An hour later, Nikiwe finished preparing. She walked to the boys bedrooms and found their beds all made. She smiled and was grateful for Clarence. She went back to the bedroom and stood in front of the mirror. She was clad in utilitarian tailored pants ,cut low on the waist and displaying just the right amount of taut torso. Her top was a low v-neck coloured sweater, worn with a plain white scoop-neck t-shirt underneath. Sexy but covered. Practical layering. She stared at her makeup kit again but felt lazy. It was useless applying makeup, her work had taught her that. Working in an environment mostly dominated by men, one tends to start acting like one. She checked her waist for something and turned around. She moved about in the bedroom but couldn’t find whatever she was looking for. She decided it was time to leave.
Getting into her car, she saw the badge on the other seat and puffed. She pulled the compartment and saw the handgun inside a waist band holster. Looking at the badge and the gun, Clarence was right, this was her life. Been a detective meant everything to her. She stepped on the gas.
Standing in a parade at New Kasama police station were all officers surrounding the flag observing a moment of silence. A minute passed and a flamboyant middle aged man walked in front of all the officers to brief them.
“Today marks 4 years since K.B and the other officers lost their lives whilst serving and protecting. Like always, I say we should all try to do our jobs by following these great men’s example,” He stopped and held his chest. “Let’s get back to work now.”
All the officers rushed back to their posts. As he walked behind them, he heard footsteps behind him. He turned around and found the office orderly. “Ba yama you scared me,” he whined.
“Sorry bwana Ngoma. I didn’t mean to,” Ba Yama said. “That was a nice speech.”
“Don’t be silly,” Ngoma responded. “I’m getting tired of doing this every year but i have to be doing it.”
“It was heroic what Detective K.B did. Risking his life for others,” Ba Yama added.
Ngoma got uncomfortable. For some reasons, he saw no reason of continuing to remember K.B for doing what he was supposed to do. That was his job, he thought. He had no option but to continue doing what the president had passed as a memorial to remember the men and women who lost their lives when HQ was under attack.
“Bwana Ngoma!” A male voice called behind the two men.
They both turned around and saw Detective Senzo walking towards them. Senzo was a huge man of about six feet tall with muscles of a wrestler. His defect though as many people termed it, was his voice. It was of high pitch and teenage like but that didn’t stop him from been one of the best detectives the country has ever produced. He solved all cases he ever handled. The only person who tallied him at the station was Nikiwe and the two never got along.
“Excuse us,” Senzo looked at Ba Yama.
Ngoma looked at Ba Yama and asked before he left. “Did you clean the storage as instructed?”
“Yes bwana,” with that, Ba Yama left.
Senzo pitifully looked at Ba Yama and nodded his head. Turning his attention to Ngoma, he said, “She’s not yet here.”
“She’s probably on her way, it just clocked 8 am Senzo,” Ngoma said as he started walking.
“Why do you always have her back?” Senzo asked furiously.
“I don’t. I think you should also learn that this is not a competition but work.”
“The case she solved yesterday was mine not hers. I started it and just because i missed a day, you decided to give it to her. I spent days in trying to solve the case.”
“And she solved it in a day.”
Senzo was silenced. “That doesn’t excuse the fact that you went behind my back sir.”
“What do you want Senzo?”
“I want the files, it’s my case.”
“Okay, go and talk her.”
“I just told you she’s not yet here.”
“There she comes,” Ngoma pointed at the parking lot. “Go Senzo.”
Ngoma left Senzo standing as he waved at Nikiwe heading their way. Senzo stood as Nikiwe reached where he was.
“Morning,” he said.
Nikiwe knew what he wanted. “How are you Detective Senzo?”
“I want the files.”
“Well, that was direct. I’ll have them ready for you by afternoon.”
Senzo left without uttering anything. Nikiwe shook her head and headed for the entrance. She found some officers at the reception. After briefly greeting them, she walked to her shared office with three other detectives including Senzo. There was no one in the office. She placed her bag on the table and sat relaxing. There was a pile of files on her table she had never seen before. She looked around but saw no one. Who had put them there? She thought. She stood up to take a look and saw a very big question mark written on the cover. Strange, she thought. As she wanted to open the file, she heard someone standing at the door. She turned around but saw no one. She walked to the door and saw Ba Yama in the corridor wiping the floor. She smiled at him and so did he. She went back into the office and sat staring at the file. She thought of Senzo and decided to put his files together. She pushed the Question mark file away
To be continued