Herbert Wants To Come Home
Masimba Musodza
A blend of two mythologies, two fears; the African fear of an ancestral spirit aggrieved at being ... Show More
Horror, Literary
vampire, Musodza, Zimbabwe, ngozi myth,

Chapter 1

There is a huge colony of Zimbabweans in the same country which helped to destroy Dambudzo Marechera and too many of them cannot find their way "home"- Dr Tafataona Mahoso, Ngozi and the struggle to revalue African life, Sunday Mail, February, 2012
"It's my boy; it's Herbert!" she cried, struggling mechanically. "I forgot it was two miles away. What are you holding me for? Let go. I must open the door."
"For God's sake, don't let it in," cried the old man trembling.
"You're afraid of your own son," she cried, struggling
. – W.W. Jacobs, The Monkey’s Paw

Murehwa, Zimbabwe

Police in Murehwa have confirmed that the body of a man found dead in a hotel room is that of Father Antonescu, a priest of the Romanian Orthdox Church, which recently established a mission in the area. 

In a telephone interview to a journalist from this paper, the police provincial spokesperson, Sgt. Florence Mupindi said that to all appearances the priest was the victim of a violent robbery. “As you know, these orthodox churches have a lot of ceremonial objects, like elaborate gold crosses with encrusted jewels which would prove very tempting in these days of diamond-mania,” Sgt Mupindi said.

The community is said to be deeply shaken by the incident. The spokeswoman admitted that the police were convinced that the killer is someone from outside the community and are appealing to members of the public who may have seen the priest around the time of his death to come forward as any information may be useful.

The spokeswoman denied emphatically questions put to her by our journalist about the state of Fr Antonescu’s body when it was found, and refuted “strongly” rumours that the murder was a “ritual” one. “As a police force, we are becoming increasingly concerned with you media guys’ penchant for superstitious sensationalism.” This might have been an allusion to the spate of reports of “satanism” that have appeared in even the broadsheets. She also refused to speculate on why the killer appears to have had to lure the priest to a hotel, when visiting him at his house, where he lived alone, would have seemed an easier option.  

A spokesperson from the Romanian Embassy told our journalist that Father Antonescu was born in Budapest 65 years ago and graduated with an honours degree in Ecclesatical History from the Budapest Metropolitan University. Despite being an ordained priest, he has spent much of his career as an academic with a special interest in the history of exorcism and the Church's confrontation with folk beliefs.

The embassy spokesperson said he could not explain why the Romanian Orthodox Church had established a mission in Zimbabwe, and why the Murehwa area was chosen. “Fr Antonescu only called on this embassy once, although we have visited him twice last year. We had practically forgotten about his presence here. I hope that the police will be able to bring the killers to justice. From what I gathered, Fr Antonescu got on well with the locals, many of whom attended Mass with sincerity even if they did not understand the language. I cannot imagine any of them even thinking of harming him. This is so terrible.”

It had been a long flight, stopping over at Rome, Cairo, Kampala, Nairobi, Lusaka and then, Harare International Airport. More important, it had been an affordable flight, and, with the payment of many bills back in London deferred indefinitely, this single fact was comforting.

As the Egyptian Airways Boeing began to descend towards the expansive sea of lights below, Yemurai Mutsepeshi sank back in her seat with the sort of tired sigh that she thought encapsulated the feelings of her generation.

Living in the United Kingdom was supposed to have been the clear skies and right wind to sail her across oceans of possibilities and opportunities that Zimbabwe could no longer offer. Instead, over the space of a little over a decade, Yemurai had known only barriers ahead of her and felt the chains of the land she had left behind drag at her ankles. She wasn’t sure which would have been easier to deal with were it not for the ominous and relentless presence of the other.

Yemurai had left Zimbabwe after the 2002 Presidential Elections, the one her generation had decided signalled an exodus from a land that offered little future for them. Arriving in Gatwick on a bleak, wintry Monday morning, she had convinced an immigration officer that she was planning to stay for only a month while she visited her aunt. The next day, she had reported for work at a care home in south-east London. A week after, she had sent back to her parents £10, which they had converted to ZW$10000. 

In two years, she had managed to pay for the plane fares and deposits at a college on Borough High Street (for the student visas) for the two brothers who came after her, Herbert and Tofara. The younger siblings, Ngoni and Siphathisiwe opted for Botswana and South Africa respectively when they came of age. With the family in a position to not only help their parents ride out the economic and political crisis which engulfed Zimbabwe, but also all the siblings to better themselves, Yemurai had felt she had plenty to be proud of.

But now, as the plane descended, Yemurai realised that she would never feel that she was returning home victorious. So much had happened since that morning in November of 2002 when a dour looking official had stamped a six-month visa on her passport and wished her a pleasant stay in the UK.

She had lost her virginity to Jeffrey, a Zimbabwean man she met at a party in Harrow. One way of looking back at this event was to keep in mind that she had been too drunk to think straight and one thing had led to another. Of course, a more lucid, shameful reflection would reveal that she had in fact been taken advantage of. If she wanted to be brutally honest, she could even say she was raped.

She could not fairly describe the men that had come in to her life since then as rapists, but they had all certainly taken advantage of her. She had let them use her body, her food and accommodation and the modest savings she had set aside when the work was good. Good for her, a Nigerian columnist had coined a term that aptly described the situation she was left in: Relationship Debt. If she ever found the courage to talk about it to someone, at least she would have the words.

The boys had not fared much better either. Herbert had soon found steady work in West London, doing council jobs. But his heart had been in creative writing. Still, he had worked around the clock picking up rubbish and chucking it in to a truck in the morning, swept the streets in the afternoon and sorted mail at night for most of ten years. He found a computer someone had chucked out, and resumed writing.

And then, last year, he had sold his first screenplay to a British producer. Over the phone, Herbert had summarised the plot to her and she had realised with a smile that he had written that story some time at boarding school in the 90s and read it to her during the holidays. Only the locations and names had changed.

She smiled to herself as she remembered the light in herbert’s eyes as he charted a new trajectory for his life. He had travelled across London to tell her of his planned trip to Romania with Delia, the producer who had bought his screenplay. With what she could describe as a big sister’s knack for discernment, she had inferred that Herbert was sleeping with this Delia.
A week later, a day after he returned from Romania, Herbert had died in a West London hospital. The diagnosis had been anaemia.

The week that Herbert died…Yemu could not remember much of what really happened that week. She remembered their incredulity, hers and Tofara’s, and that of everyone back home who knew for a fact that Herbert had never had anaemia. The doctor surmised that the onset of this condition so suddenly could have been triggered by a change to a vegan diet, denying the deceased his regular supply of iron.

But Herbert had been a vegan for nearly a decade, Yemu had pointed out.
“Ah, yes, well, you see, it is just possible that there was something in his traditional diet that you have in your own country that replenished his iron,” the doctor had explained. Yemu had formed an image of the doctor trying to pick out the racist or at least politically incorrect bits of his theory from a bowl with a pair of chopsticks. They did that sometimes, these doctors who chose to see immigrants as anatomical oddities. Yemu recalled her first pap smear test. Staff at the surgery had never seen the elongated inner labia, a genetic present of the Khoisan people, that many Southern African women are quite proud of and decided they were proof of the Female Genital Mutilation they had heard so much about in the news. 

The Boeing had touched the ground. The land of Zimbabwe. The land under which her brother now lay, waiting. 

Yemu sat up. Now why did she think of him as waiting? It was the impending kurova guva, she told herself quickly. The ceremony during which Herbert's spirit would be evoked and invited to join the pantheon of ancestors. The reason why she was flying back to Zimbabwe to join her relatives for a night of singing, drinking and dancing, during which Herbert would choose the person to possess. 

Yemu could not recall the last time the Mutsepeshis had had a kurova guva ceremony. Like the majority of urbanised Zimbabweans, they were mostly Charismatic-Pentecostal-Evangelicals, a movement that denounced traditional rituals as satanic. Even so, it was known that many families presented themselves to the world as Christian, while conducting the same ancestral spirit evocation ceremonies they denounced as retrogressive and demonic in the privacy of their homes. 

There was another reason why the announcement that a kurova guva was to be held for Herbert had taken everyone, even the ardent traditionalists in the family, by surprise. By virtue of the deceased being elevated to the status of a mudzimu, an ancestral spirit, only members of the family who had left issue were accorded this status. Herbert had been buried with a rat, as was customary for men who had left no progeny. 

A nine-year old daughter had emerged. It would appear that Herbert and the girl he had been seeing at the time he left for England had been very passionate about their goodbyes. He had also loved rather well during a later visit to Zimbabwe; there was a boy of three who was his spitting image, the son of a girl who worked in a bank in Chitungwiza. 

Yemu had been to Zimbabwe several times since 2002, she had lived with Herbert in the UK for close to half a decade and they had seen each other at least once a week, yet she only first heard about those children when the uncle who called her to tell her about the kurova guva. Certainly, none of her other siblings had heard about them. 

She was here now, Yemu told herself. All would be revealed. 

She sailed through immigration and customs, the officers glancing at her British passport as if it outlined a criminal history. In way, it did. It proclaimed to the officers, who were underpaid but had no choice in an economy of 90% unemployed, that here was one of the lucky ones who had gotten away. Still, they were polite enough, and she felt their appreciative eyes on her posterior as she left Customs, dragging her suitcase behind her. 

"Miss Mutsepeshi!"

Yemu whirled round sharply.  Moving crowds parted on either side to allow her a better view of the man who had called out her name. He began to move closer, a smile on his thin lips. He was tall and lanky, with a thin moustache and a clean-shaven head. His smooth chin fostered an initial impression of youthfulness, but she saw the lines around his eyes and the flecks of grey even in that smooth head. He was casually dressed in jeans, a plain grey T-shirt, and a brown suit jacket. She noticed that he wore brown sneakers.  

"Miss Yemurai Mutsepeshi," he said. "I was wondering if we could go somewhere for a chat, there is a lovely coffee bar on the ground floor. My name is James Muramba, I am a detective with the Missing Persons Unit of the Zimbabwe Republic Police." 

He flashed his I.D. Yemu felt a rising panic. Before she knew it, James Muramba had placed a hand on her shoulder and was propelling her gently towards the stairs. 

Log in to add a comment or review for this chapter Chapter updated on: 10/12/2014 9:41:18 AM
  • annah brown commented on :
    4/1/2016 2:42:10 AM
    Hello good day, i will like to meet you in person, am miss Anna, am from France and am leaving in London, please contact me on my email id at (annh1brown@hotmail.com), ... Show More
  • Lucy Lea commented on :
    2/7/2016 5:07:11 PM
    Lovely! I'm in, want to read the rest of it
  • k l commented on :
    1/20/2016 8:23:24 PM
    This is a truly astonishing novel, very well written, fantastic characterizations and beautiful descriptions. I am absolutely hooked for the long haul with this one. ... Show More
  • Trenee Grant commented on :
    12/3/2015 5:18:42 PM
    Definitely intrigued. I only wished I'd read it as you posted it each week. Now I'll have to play catch up. While my mind drifted during the read of the article in the ... Show More
  • Angi Shearstone commented on :
    8/15/2015 4:22:50 AM
    Good writing, great set-up, looking forward to seeing how this unfolds!
  • Robert Winter commented on :
    5/15/2015 5:31:30 PM
    Very serious tone, great prose, excellent themes. I like this a lot. It's dark, but something that can also be taken seriously.
  • Warrington G. commented on :
    2/26/2015 5:56:49 PM
    Interesting start. I will for sure read more. I have to say you probably have the creepiest book title on this site. It makes you think of a scary image.
    • Masimba Musodza Thanks, Warrington G.
      3/1/2015 1:01:18 AM
    • Anonymous My name is Miss Dominika i saw your profile now and pick interest as friend to share important discussion with you so contact me my email (dominikaenos15@hotmail.com) or send me your own email for picture and other discussion ok
      3/28/2015 6:21:30 PM
    • Masimba Musodza Miss Dominika, chances are you did not even bother to read my story. Still, you are the first 419 Scammer to make contact, and I suppose that places you in the annals of history.
      3/28/2015 6:29:17 PM
  • Mary Holden commented on :
    9/14/2013 5:06:01 PM
    I enjoyed this first chapter and can't wait to see what happens next!
  • Clench Muverengi commented on :
    10/28/2014 2:32:26 PM
    This looks a brilliant read. I like the connection between Bram Stoker's "Dracula", which was about reverse-colonialism, and this one which is about reverse-immigration.
  • Kevin A.M. Lewis commented on :
    10/13/2014 8:58:08 PM
    Oh no! I haven't read this story yet, but I really liked the original cover art. What happened to it?
    • Masimba Musodza The new one is the work of the same talented artist, but is more relative to the story. If you read it to its conclusion, you will see why. Thanks in advance for reading!!!
      10/13/2014 9:45:50 PM
  • Tendo Tapiwa commented on :
    10/8/2014 12:26:28 PM
    Have read this up til some chapter close to the end but because I have been away from it for so long, I am starting again from the beginning and I am still captivated. (I ... Show More
  • Lisa Normz commented on :
    10/5/2014 2:08:45 PM
    I need to print this and read at home
  • Hannah Tarindwa commented on :
    6/22/2014 10:15:32 AM
    Impressive start. definitely hooked
  • Helen Sibanda commented on :
    4/19/2014 6:33:47 AM
    quick read that grabbed my attention,amazing story line. Well-done
  • tracy allott commented on :
    4/8/2014 10:43:57 AM
    good analysis of religions and political tensions, and on situation in Zimbabwe - hope you can vote, review my Catch as Catch Can newish on site thanks
  • Pious Matimati commented on :
    3/26/2014 6:29:29 AM
    This to me represents a far true and solid detailing of a period in time many of us lost to politics and economic mismanagement. Many people became a economic refugees ... Show More
  • Rachel Sekgoma commented on :
    3/25/2014 6:52:34 PM
    Read about this in Bulawayo 24 News. I never imagined vampires in Zimbabwe
  • K. R. Kampion commented on :
    3/24/2014 1:13:12 AM
    As a fellow writer of vampire fiction and fusion literature you have got me so hooked! I absolutely love how this story is progressing and how you have melded two ... Show More
  • Frances Pauli commented on :
    2/18/2014 11:58:19 PM
    Very sharp writing! I'm hooked and ready to read on. Nicely done.
  • Tendo Tapiwa commented on :
    10/29/2013 6:33:50 AM
    I am gripped. Torn between voting now or going to the next chapter. If I go to the next chapter, do I miss my chance to vote? Oh well, at least i would have ... Show More
  • Archford Musodza commented on :
    10/28/2013 2:30:39 AM
    Master piece in toto. Serious and original Zimbabwean fiction written by a serious indigene of Zimbabwe. Keep it up Nyamuziwa
  • Emmanuel Sigauke commented on :
    10/27/2013 11:28:06 AM
    Nice beginning. Now moving on to Chapter 2.
  • Robyn Temples commented on :
    10/27/2013 11:03:58 AM
    Pleas indent the paragraphs, it gives the reader a chance to reflect on the paragraph they just read. Otherwise, interesting story plot beginning.
    • Masimba Musodza Thanks, Robyn. However, I think there is an issue with the formatting options on this platform.
      10/27/2013 11:25:02 AM
  • Faro Musodza commented on :
    10/24/2013 8:08:45 PM
    Proud of you such a good read and page turner x
  • Iyah Humblelioness commented on :
    10/17/2013 8:56:58 PM
    Excellent...... waiting for the rest! Wonderfully written!
  • Queen Elizabeth commented on :
    10/11/2013 6:39:33 PM
    ...Everything lies in the hands of the Ancestors...
  • Laura Maria Grierson commented on :
    10/11/2013 7:53:12 AM
    I was initially hoping that the priest was murdered by a possessed person as a result of a failed exorcism, but I can see that it's going to be something more complex than that. Good job!
  • Fadzai Ruzengwe commented on :
    10/10/2013 1:20:45 PM
    Great start...can't wait for more..doing things backwards!
  • Sista Ophir commented on :
    9/19/2013 1:28:48 PM
    Please, keep them coming. A part of me says I know what is going to happen, but I can see several directions the story can take.