Monday, April 02, 2012

150. SHORT STORY MONDAY: Happy Ending by Stanley Onjezani Kenani

After finding a love letter in his wife's handwriting with no name or address, Dama concluded that his wife of infidelity. He therefore sought the help of a spiritualist to deal with this offending man. The spiritualist, Simbazako, older than anyone in the village, listened to Dama's concerns and told him he had no problem. Simbazako is famous for the things he could do, though some were mere exaggerations. Before he proceeded he offered Dama the options available for him to make his choice.
There was one in which the man could die as if stung by a puff adder a few hours after the act. There was another in which the lover could be tortured slowly, feeling like a million needles were pricking his stomach. There was another in which the lover could go on for a month, every second, every minute, until death put the victim out of his misery. Dama, however, had decided not to be so cruel, so he'd settled for kuthamokondwa. The man should die in the act, he thought. [125]
Back home and Dama was still in between thoughts: should he or should he not. The spiritualist had told him that he could the food, after he had mixed it with the herbs he has provided, with her wife and nothing will happen to him but for his wife the moment he takes in the food, the medicine will starts its work. What he should realise was that if his wife doesn't cheat on him in a year he would be the one to die.

Now playing with the medicine it inadvertently fell from his hands into the food. So he removed it and stirred it. Dama had remained chaste and is afraid of any notion of sex outside marriage because of what happened to his father, which later shame the whole family. His father, a shameless womaniser who would follow anything female, was the first person in the whole of Malawi to be diagnosed of AIDS. After his and her wife's death, Dama became the item of gossips and a laughing stock to the people. People point hands at him as if he was the father and had committed the crime.

After the death of his parents, the young Dama was left to cater for his younger brother Abisalomu. To help him do all these, he married Tithelepo. But with time the two found that children will not be forthcoming and so adopted his brother as his son. But then the village folks began to gossip.

One day, coming from his daily rounds, Dama heard his wife shouting from behind the news. Rushing to the scene he found his brother, Abisalomu, dead.  Tithelepo ran away and Dama ran to the old Simbazako only to discover his decomposing body in his hut. Later Tithelepo will come back to her husband but between them lay an uneasy coldness. Dama had overheard a conversation between his wife and her friend as to how she forced Abisalomu to do what he did, that he was doing it to bring happiness to Dama. That month she got pregnant.

The first part of the short story was brilliantly told. But the denouement or the revelation in this case is artificial and too forced. The dialogue itself was constructed as if it were meant for Dama to hear and be convinced. Again, and this is personal, was this a happy ending because the woman became pregnant and the family had the child they had always wanted? Or was it a happy ending because the woman got the child that would erase the 'shame' of childlessness, even if in this case was the man's problem. Because sleeping with a man's brother is no justification for infidelity unless it has been agreed between the two. But then this is one of those moral issues whose answer is subjective.
About the author: Stanley Onjezani Kenani is a Malawian writer and poet. As a poet, Kenani has performed at the Arts Alive Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa, Poetry Africa in Durban, South Africa, Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA), Zimbabwe, and at the Struga Poetry Evenings in Macedonia. Kenani has won several awards in his country for his short story writing. In 2007, his short story, For Honour, won the third prize in an HSBC/SA PEN Competition. The same short story was shortlisted for the Caine Prize in 2008 and appeared in the anthology African Pens: New Writing from Southern Africa 2007 (Source). Read more about the author here.


  1. Usually when a story is forced it makes for an uninteresting reading in the end. However, I may want to try this sometime.

    1. Let me know what you think should you read this anthology.


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