ALL FOR BEAUTY’S SAKE

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ONLOOKERS were treated to a thrilling spectacle one Friday afternoon when two men, one a “slim fit” and the other a heavyweight, traded blows outside a shop in Lusaka’s Cairo Road as excited street vendors and street kids clapped and cheered without making any attempt to separate them.

Initially, it appeared that the burly fellow had an edge over the smaller man as he had started with hard and fast punches that nearly sent his opponent to the ground. But once the smaller man had managed to rise to his feet, the odds were suddenly to turn against the hefty man.

Apparently applying karate tactics, the smaller man was soon to send the giant reeling to the ground, causing wild applause from the onlookers.

The fight invariably reminded one of the biblical story of David and Goliath in which the smaller man eventually emerged victorious despite a bad start.

None of the people in the crowd of onlookers could explain how the fight started. All they knew was that the smaller man had been walking along the pavement when he heard somebody calling him from behind in Bemba, “Iwe ufwele shati lya buta isa kuno!” (You in a white shirt, come here!).

On recognising him, the smaller man asked the giant to be more respectful next time, saying, “You don’t shout at somebody in public like that. What’s your problem?”

GIANT: “Who told you I had a problem? I have no problem. It’s you who has a problem. Why don’t you come home and collect your children? You want me to be feeding them for you, er?”

SMALLER MAN (SCORNFULLY): “Are you realising that now? That’s your funeral. I have nothing to do with it.”

Not unexpectedly, these remarks annoyed the giant who reacted by grabbing the smaller man by the collar of his shirt and then shaking him roughly. “Look here, young man,” he roared. “I’m not a man to play with. If I mean to kill you, I can kill you. Do you hear?”

And before the swpectators knew what was happening, the two men had started exchanging blows….

The two were actually old-time rivals in love, the smaller man being Bwalya Kashoti and the heavyweight Daniel Chidumbo. At the centre of their rivalry was Kashoti’s pretty but unfaithful wife, Cathy, who was then living with the giant in an illicit love affair.

Some five years before, Kashoti and Cathy had a colourful wedding ceremony to which hundreds of Lusaka residents were invited. In fact, a photograph of their wedding won a pride of place in the popular “Bride of the Week” slot run by the Zambia Daily Mail on its entertainment page. A well-known politician officiated at the wedding.

Meanwhile, Kashoti started receiving disturbing reports that his wife was flirting around with other men, who included the giant. The love affair especially between her and the giant reportedly had reached such a stage that they decided to “finish off” the husband by luring him to accompany them to a nightclub where he was made to drink Mosi lager laced with a dangerous drug.

When the drug started working on his brain, the unsuspecting Kashoti felt dizzy with the result that he was unable to see clearly in the dimly lit room. It was under this stupor that the giant allegedly hit his rival on the head with a blunt instrument, rendering him unconscious.

Kashoti was rushed to the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) where he was to remain in a coma for 16 days. When he regained consciousness, he was unable to remember his name and where he came from until some days later.

While he lay in the UTH, his parents and relatives frantically looked for him everywhere, including the mortuary, but in vain. He was only traced when he managed to remember his unfaithful wife’s name and her place of work.

The news that the husband had not died after all naturally disappointed the giant and his lover, because they thought that their eventual dream of getting married might be frustrated with his re-appearance.

Incidentally, Chidumbo and Cathy were workmates at one of the local banks in Lusaka. In fact, their love affair originated from there.

And so it was that when Kashoti was discharged from the hospital, his wife refused to rejoin him and sought for a divorce. Meanwhile, she discovered that she was pregnant, a situation which surprised her because she could not remember sharing a bed with the giant without using a condom.

What she did not know, however, was that on one occasion, the giant had made love to her after he had stupefied her with a Fanta laced with a dangerous drug in almost the same way he was to do with her husband later.

There was no doubt that Cathy loved Chidumbo but having married under the Marriage Ordinance Act, she decided to play it “safe” until it was proved beyond all reasonable doubt that her husband had actually died, hence she always used condoms.

But then the giant had other ideas. He was determined to have the woman as his permanent lover at all cost even if it meant using unorthodox means of achieving his objective.

Thus, when his married sweetheart informed him that she was pregnant and wondered how it happened because she had not shared a bed with any other man in recent months apart from him, the giant feigned surprise but reminded her that condoms were not always 100 percent reliable.

She tried to end her marriage through the local courts but her bid failed when she was told that only the High Court had powers to dissolve marriages consummated under the Marriage Ordinance Act.

But since she knew that she was pregnant, she found herself with no alternative but to start living with the giant illegally. Meanwhile, she gave birth to a baby boy who turned out to be a replica of the giant. Since Kashoti was not employed then, she took over the responsibility of looking after the children she had with him as well.

However, Chidumbo was not happy that Cathy had moved in with Kashoti’s children as well. Apparently, he was only interested in the woman and the baby he had with her. Thus, when Chidumbo stumbled upon Kashoti in Cairo Road that morning, he found it a golden opportunity to tell him off.

But Kashoti was in no hurry to collect his children. “I am taking my time. I will meet you in court,” he told the giant, leaving him to attend to his wounds…..

The author is a Lusaka-based media consultant, recipient of the 1978 Best News Reporter of the Year Award and a former diplomat in South Africa and Botswana. For comments: sms 0977425827/0967146585

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