Death of Kapsak
The big car pulls up slowly. Julie-Julie, smiling that special smile of hers, steps out gingerly. A stylish wave and she begins to swing up the short stairs. As the heavy machine zooms off, Kapsak lets go of the curtain and steps back.
“Who brought you home?” he says as Julie-Julie comes through.
“Oh, Kappy-Pappy dear,” Julie-Julie coos. “You’re home early.”
“I asked who brought you home?” Kapsak repeats, trying hard to keep his temper under control.
“That’s just Davie, my business partner,” Julie-Julie replies, pecking her husband lightly.
Backing away slightly, Kapsak points his thumb behind him. “Didn’t you introduce Ibrahim as your ‘business partner’ just the other day?”
“Oh Ibrahim!” Julie-Julie’s singsong voice usually thrills Kapsak. But right now he’s rather irritated by it.
“How many ‘business partners’ do you have?”
“Come on Kappy-Pappy! What is it with the Gestapo number?”
“You haven’t answered my question, Julie-Julie. And what is Gestapo?”
“Gestapo is – never mind. I’m going to shower and get ready else I’ll be late for my dinner engagement.”
With a swish of her luxuriant hair, Julie-Julie trots off. As the click-click-click sound of her high heels marching along the corridor travels back to Kapsak, the chewing stick he has been clutching slips to the ground.
Dejectedly, Kapsak slumps into an armchair. He still cannot bring himself to believing it. His wife walked away from him when he demanded an explanation from her! What an abomination! Eka Udo would never have done that. Eka Udo would never have allowed another man to bring her home except that man happened to be a close relative. Eka Udo would have been home when he got back from work. Eka Udo would have had water ready for him to bath with. Eka Udo would have given him a hot meal. Oh Eka Udo! Why did he ever leave Eka Udo ..?
The sharp blast of a car horn jerks Kapsak out of his reverie. Almost immediately, the click-click-click sound starts echoing through.
“Kappy-Pappy, I’m off. See you later.”
Startled, Kapsak dashes to the window. He espies his wife climbing into a car that is even bigger than the one that had brought her home earlier.
Jittery with rage, Kapsak drags himself back to his armchair. She always does this, he tells himself. Later she would say she had to go to the dinner so as to meet such-and-such an important personality who could help her secure a big contract.
Except at night, they hardly ever have time together. He often sits alone in the house waiting for Julie-Julie to come home. It would be nice to have kids to play with when one comes home from work. But – Oh, the house is too small, Kappy-Pappy dear. We need to save and move to a bigger place before we can start a family.
Kapsak never understands that. What does a big house have to do with having children? When he and Eka Udo had children, did they have a big house? But they died, didn’t they? And the doctor later said something about cramped living conditions making it easy for malaria to virtually wipe out his family. So maybe Julie-Julie has a point. All his children had died because of being cooped up in one room. All except Udo. Udo – Kapsak would not ordinarily admit it but the truth is he misses the boy so much. Udo’s full-faced smile. His quirky-chirpy ways. His innocent probing manner. Oh Udo! He’ll be approaching five now. Five! A big baby!
Sighing noisily, Kapsak tries to put thoughts of his son out of his mind. He has not seen the boy in over three years. And maybe he has gone the way his brother and sisters went. No. Not likely. Awadamoto would have told him. Awadamoto – it’s been a long time since Kapsak saw him.
Throwing on a shirt, Kapsak hurries off to the taxi rank in the business district.
“Kapsak, Kapsak!” Awadamoto cheers as his childhood friend approaches.
“Awadamoto! You have abandoned me!”
“Use that word lightly, Kapsak. You know who has done the most abandoning between me and you.”
“But Awad, we live here in town together.”
“Blame that wife of yours. I did not go to school and I don’t like going near people who make me remember that all the time.”
Kapsak has it in mind to say something good about his wife, but something else jumps to his mouth.
“Come Awad, what is Gestapo?”
“Man, I don’t know. Where did you hear it?”
“Eh, I heard it somewhere. How is the village?”
“Exactly as you left it.”
“Yes. How is she?”
“How does it concern you? Anyway, I heard some big chief from her mother’s village has taken her for his third wife.”
“What of my son? Is it well with him?”
“You would have known if you had bothered to go and check on him. Look, it’s my turn. I have to go else they’ll load the passengers in another person’s car. I’ll tell your mother I saw you. Or maybe I shouldn’t, since you did not even care to ask how she is doing.”
Bawling out to passengers to climb into his ramshackle taxi, Awadamoto ambles off …
It is pouring heavily when Julie-Julie returns. Outside, it is rain. Inside, it is confusion. Kapsak is at first happy to see her back safely. Then his happiness turns to anger as she carries on about what an exciting time she had. Finally his anger succumbs to her gentle caresses and passion rules their world …
Julie-Julie shoots out at first light.
“I’ve got to see someone urgently, Kappy-Pappy.”
Kappy-Pappy, that is my name now, Kapsak laughs to himself as he shuffles off to the construction site where he manages to earn a few bucks. On his way into the main yard, he ducks out of the way of a fast-moving four-wheel drive vehicle driven by an expatriate. Cursing lightly, he looks back to see the driver locked in a passionate kiss with a woman with luxuriant hair.
“No wonder he nearly killed me!” Kapsak spits out. “Early morning and he’s already–”
His mouth remains open but the words dry up like the water taps of the city. The woman with the expatriate turns momentarily, perhaps to pick up something from the backseat. In that instant, Kapsak sees clearly the woman for whom he had left his first wife and forsaken his family and people …
But he does not see the earthmover in front of him. Neither does he hear its powerful horns. And the driver of the earthmover does not see Kapsak …
By the time someone notices the crushed figure lying by the roadside, a blackening pool of blood has begun to seep into the earth.