DO NOT OPEN – Episode 8
© Brian Ngoma
Early in the morning as Nikiwe drove out of her compound, she saw Clarence and the boys heading to the other car. The family had woken up very early. During supper last night, she had told the boys that everyone was supposed to wake up early and help her prepare themselves. No one disagreed because they knew when she got like this, it was obvious she was dealing with an important case.
“Mummy you’re going to catch bad boys,” Zindaba had said excitedly whilst putting on a jersey.
Nikiwe had looked at the boy with so much admiration and proud. She looked at Jackson who was equally waiting for her response.
“Mommy has to go now,” Clarence had said and went on. “Go baby, you’re going to be late.”
Two hours later, Nikiwe looked at a piece of paper in her hands and counter checked the address. It was the same with the house she was staring at. She unstrapped the seatbelt and got off. As she walked to the tiny house with broken windows, she jumped plates scattered all over the place.
“Anybody home!” She shouted.
“Ndimwe bandani!” A young girl’s voice shouted from inside.
“Cokani mutione kaili!” Nikiwe shouted back.
Quickly, the young girl came out of the house wearing a school uniform. It was obvious she was preparing to go to school. She looked at Nikiwe and smiled.
“Bwanji?” Nikiwe said.
“Are you a police officer?” The young girl asked.
“How do you….??”
“I have seen that badge in movies,” she pointed at the badge on Niki’s waist.
Nikiwe could see curiosity in the girls eyes. She was really astound. When Nikiwe wanted to ask if there was an elder she could talk to, the door squealed and an old lady came out. She looked at Nikiwe suspiciously it made her nervous.
“I’m detective Nikiwe,” Nikiwe introduced herself.
The young girl chuckled.
“Go and prepare for school Tanashe!” The old lady commanded the girl.
“Wait,” Nikiwe said and looked at the young girl. “You’re Tanashe?”
Before the young girl could answer, the old lady interrupted, “Tanashe, inside!” She turned to Nikiwe, “What do you want Detective? I told you people everything I saw on that day!”
Nikiwe figured this woman was the surviving maid in the witness statement and that young girl was the daughter to Kara, the murderer. She was now a grown up girl compared to what the statements said. It’s been six years, Nikiwe thought to herself.
“Detective!” The old lady interrupted her thoughts. “Did you hear what I said.”
Carefully thinking about what to say next, Nikiwe cleared her throat. “That day was a tragedy. I cannot even imagine how it must have been for you.”
The old lady instantly relived six years ago and felt weak in her knees. She had concealed the trauma she had gone through all these years. She had endured what everyone said about her. She was accused of being a witch who conspired with Kara to murder the husband. Everyone had something to say but they didn’t know how it affected her. Countless times she had thought of suicide but it became a none starter when she was given the responsibility of raising Tanashe after her mother was incarcerated.
“I am just looking for a new perspective on these cases that’s all. I don’t want to hurt anybody at all,” Nikiwe assured her.
“It wasn’t her, I told them,” The old lady dropped a tear. “Madam boss would never hurt her husband. They loved each other. They had their share of problems but not to the extent of murdering one another, NO. That was something else in her but no one believed what I said.” She looked at Nikiwe. “I know you might think I’m mad but I’m not. Something made madam boss do what she did.”
“How did you and the young girl survive?”
“I heard the gunshot from the kitchen and rushed to the living room. To my dismay, I found madam boss cocking her gun and pointing it at Tanashe. Looking in her eyes, I couldn’t even recognize her. Her face and eyes,” she stopped and breathed in heavily and went on. “I had never seen her face like that. Urgently, I grabbed Tanashe as she kept shouting her mother’s name and ran with her to the other room and locked ourselves. The neighbors came to our aid and found madam boss passed out.”
“What do you mean when you say you had never seen your madam boss’s face and eyes like that on that day?”
“The simplest way I can put this is I think she was possessed by something. Tanashe always has nightmares and she wakes up shouting and crying for her parents. Poor girl.”
“Does she remember?”
“She’s never spoken to me about what happened that night. She was eight. I pray she forgot everything. She just draws weird stuff but I have never asked her about the drawings.”
Nikiwe knew it’s so difficult to forget such an ordeal but she also hoped the young girl forgot about it. “What else did you notice out of the ordinary during that day?” She asked cautiously. “I know it’s been a while but please try to think of anything you saw.”
“I can never forget that day no matter how much I try. There was also a white envelope that I saw.”
“Where did you see it?”
“On the table.”
“Was there something written on it?”
“Yes but I don’t remember what.”
Nikiwes heart pounded. “What happened to Kara?”
“You’re a detective you’re supposed to know.”
“I don’t. The files I have been given don’t have that information.”
“Well, she died mysteriously in prison.”
Nikiwe couldn’t manage to say a word. This was difficult for Tanashe. Not only did she witness the murder of her father, but also lost her mother under mysterious circumstances. One could only take so much especially a child like her.
“Why are you pursuing this?”
Nikiwe had no answer because she didn’t know what she was doing too other than trying to get to the bottom of it. “I’m a detective, I am just trying to solve this once and for all. You’re not the only ones something like this happened to.”
“What do you mean?”
“The envelope and women committing the murders. It’s happened prior to six years ago. As a matter of fact, I believe it started in 1989.”
“I thought it only happened to Tanashes parents.”
“I appreciate your assistance. I know it’s been hard but you’ve done a great job raising Tanashe as your own. Not many people do that.”
“Whatever this is, it’s beyond the normal detective. I told everyone the same things. I hope you find what you’re looking for.”
“Best believe I will.”
In her car, Nikiwe sighed deeply and felt pity for the old lady and Tanashe. She put the car in reverse. As she wanted to leave the compound, she saw Tanashe running to the car with her hands in the air. Nikiwe stopped and rolled down the passengers seat’s window.
“Officer, kindly drop me off by the ground,” Tanashe said politely.
Nikiwe smiled and opened the door. She got in and made herself comfortable. Nikiwe drove for a while without saying anything.
“So you want to find out what made my mother kill my father?”
Struck by the question, Nikiwe’s eyes were on the road. Her prayer was that the young girl had forgotten the ordeal. Apparently, she knew everything.
“What made you say that?”
“I knew what you wanted when you mentioned detective,” Tanashe reached for her bag and grabbed a piece of paper. “That’s what killed my father,” she passed it over to Nikiwe.
Grabbing the paper, Nikiwe saw a strange drawing of a woman seemingly screaming in terror. “I don’t understand,” she looked at Tanashe.
“I never saw my mother that day, that’s what I saw and I remember exactly, there were two voices coming out of my mother. The other one was of a man and the other, a woman. It seems like they were arguing not to do it but eventually, the man’s voice disappeared and the woman took over.”
“What do you mean?” Nikiwe had never been more confused in her life.
“I’m dropping off from here,” Tanashe said. She opened the door and stepped outside. “No one asked me what I saw since that day. When I saw you, I liked you and felt like I could tell you. I hope that drawing will help you detective. Bring justice to my mom, please,” she banged the door.
Nikiwe watched the young girl as she walked to a ground where other kids were playing from. Before she knew it, her eyes were filled with tears. She could never imagine the trauma the child had gone through. With the drawing in her hands and the new discovery of the conflicting voices Tanashe talked about, Nikiwe was now more than ever, determined to find out what the hell was happening.
To be continued