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The Damned: Chapter 1
By
Vuto_MSK

The Damned: Chapter 1

I knew he loved me. He treated me better than most young men did their wives in our village. But I couldn't help but envy the admiration he had for Amaka. Sometimes I felt like he adored Amaka more than he did me.

Amaka was the most loved soldier in our village, and it didn't take a prophet to see it. As I heard screaming and clapping, I knew why my husband had left the room we often laid in together.

The little children in the village crowded the soldiers like dogs crowding the food dish. As expected, my husband Nsansa stood at the back of the crowd, singing praises of Amaka and the rest of the soldiers as well as encouraging the children to do the same.

I didn't need a prophet to see how plastic Nsansa's smile was. He loved me; he loved his mentor Amaka; he loved the village, but he hated everyone because he wasn't allowed to fight. There were times he would come home drunk, tired and defeated. He’d sit on his favourite stool outside the house, unable to look me in the eye.

“You’re still young Anami,” he’d say, “You can still marry another young man. You can still find a brave soldier to marry.”

His eyes were as dry as a bone but the tears in his words could have filled the sea. Even that day, I could see the tears as he stood behind the soldiers. Even as he smiled and sang praises with dry eyes, I could still see the tears. Even when he got back home, he gathered up every muscle in his body to put together the best smile he could.

“Anami my dear, did you see Amaka today? He was fantastic. I bet those clowns he defeated in the south were no match for him. Whenever he’s amongst us, you can feel his awesome presence. You see how tall and how proud he stands? What a magnificent warrior.”

“Yes, he is my love.”

Nsansa picked up his black cow leather rug and headed for the door.

“You have your rug, my love,” I asked. “Are you going to a meeting?”

“Yes.”

“What is the meeting about?” I asked.

“You know what the meeting is about.”

As soon as he left the hut, I fell to my knees. I didn't have what Nsnasa had. I could hide my tears behind a plastic smile. But I did wait to be alone, so my tears could flow and flow free.

* *

“This meeting is an inevitability, my son.”

Nsansa knelt on his rug leaving room for his sister-in-law. Nsansa’s mother died when he was only seven years old. With his father too busy with village responsibilities and his elder brother drinking from sunrise to sunset, his sister-in-law Tashani was the only mother he knew.

She held his upper back affectionately as she spoke to him for everyone in the room to hear.

“I know how much you love Anami,” she said. “She is a wonderful woman, but she’s let you down as a wife. You've been married for three years now, and she hasn't brought you a child.”

“My wife and I are still trying,” Nsansa pleaded. “If the family can extend my request until the end of the harvest.”

The village headman, Amaka, his uncle and his father sat in front of him. The village witch doctor stood behind him, silent and vigilant as always. Nsansa realised he had been ambushed. He had no choice in the matter. The meeting was a mere formality as the decision had already been made.

“Have you all considered taking the time to acknowledge the obvious?” Nsansa said, with his tone catching even the witch doctor off guard. “My situation is public knowledge, the entire village knows of my bloodline. What father in his right mind would marry off his daughter to a man of my bloodline.”

“What’s wrong with you boy,” Nsansa’s father said as he stood in infuriation. “What type of man refuses a second wife when his first wife is barren. Are you trying to hide something, maybe if you have a second wife we’ll know what you’re hiding, maybe the problem isn't her? ”

The situation immediately got out of hand. Nsansa jumped up from his seat and went straight for his father’s neck. The other people in the room were left as spectators as Nsansa gripped tightly to his father’s thick and bulky neck.

Tashani stood frantically beside the two of them, pointlessly begging Nsansa to let go of his father. There was only one voice in the room that could get Nsansa back to observing etiquette.

“Stop your nonsense boy,” shouted Amaka.

The fight came to a halt. Nsansa stepped away from his father, avoiding eye contact with anyone as he breathed deeply.

“Go home right now Nsansa,” Amaka demanded, “and when you come back, be prepared and be on your best behaviour. For when we have our next meeting, it will be for you to meet your second wife. Do you understand?”

“I understand.”

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