Tropical Magic: Here was a dead stranger in her house and on her bed

Taking fiction writing to new levels in the Sunday Express with Nhamo Muchagumisa


By Nhamo Muchagumisa


The police had not found Mrs Nyumwa’s finger prints on the medicine bottle, but somebody else had touched it. The medical experts who had carried out the post mortem on the unidentified man’s body had confirmed that the man had died of an aphrodisiac poisoning.

It was no longer necessary or justifiable for the police to keep on detaining Mrs Nyumwa.

What had looked like a simple murder case in which Mrs Nyumwa had apparently poisoned her lover and cleaned his pockets of his identity particulars had turned out to be a murder mystery.

As she walked out of the police camp, a whole new world confronted her. Yes, she was free, but the image of the dead stranger in her spare bedroom and on her bed appalled her, making her stomach dance.

She had been running her business like a social club, stashing tax free cash into her fat bank account. Most of her clients were personally known to her. They were men and women who were in pursuit of fun, men and women who had found marital life too insipid to endure and wait passively for its expiry as spelt in the pedantic till death do us part vows.

She was a childless widow of 36, and seemed to get all that she wanted out of life. She had managed to extend her Sakubva Township house single handedly, transforming it from a four roomed house to a nine roomed house.

She seldom prepared her own meals. They were delivered to her doorstep from one of the most reputed food outlets in the high density suburb. Her business commitments left her no time to prepare her own food, even to do her own laundry.

Her clients only needed accommodation. Some paid for all night accommodation while others paid for as brief as thirty minute escapades. Yes, they needed shelter, not from bitterly cold winter nights or rainy summer nights, but from the eyes of the public and of course from their suspecting spouses.

One day she nearly turned away a couple she had never seen before. “You have come to the wrong place. I do not engage in such business. Don’t you know that it is illegal? she said, waving the couple away. But the female partner ingeniously dipped her hand into her handbag and brought out a wad of banknotes.

“We are talking business here and we are willing to pay for it, ” a plastic smile dancing on her face.

Mrs Nyumwa’s heart palpitated. A big client had fallen into her orbit. “Okay, US 100 dollars for a thirty minute stay, ” she said with pretentious reluctance.

“Now show us our room,” the female partner said walking towards the main door.

Mrs Nyumwa received her payment and led the love birds into an elegantly furnished room.

After reminding the couple that it had to be strictly 30 minutes and no more, she left the room to do her timekeeping in the verandah porch. After twenty-five minutes, the woman emerged alone from the bedroom.

A breath of fresh air

“Your time is almost up. Where do you think you are going, leaving your man behind? Mrs Nyumwa asked.

“I want a breath of fresh air. I will pay for the extension of my stay if that is what you are worried about,” the woman said with the confidence of one who knew the value of the service she was receiving.

She walked to the back of the house, Mrs Nyumwa’s eyes following her with the satisfaction of a business woman whose business acumen had never failed her.

Five minutes, ten minutes, twenty minutes, the young woman did not return.

Mrs Nyumwa went round the mansion to check, but there was no sign of the woman. She had sneaked out through the hedge. Seething with fury she went back into the house to dismiss the man. He was fast asleep.

“Your time is up man,” she shouted, but the stranger was as deaf as the walls of the bedroom.

She gently shook the pillow on which his head rested, but the man would not stir. Mrs Nyumwa knew a dead person when she saw one. She had served as a nurse for nearly a decade before resigning in order to run her unregistered business.

Here was a dead stranger in her house and on her bed. She walked out of the house, trying to decide what to do, but she collapsed on her doorstep and did not know what happened next.

When she regained her consciousness, she did not remember what had happened. She decided she was not feeling well and went into her bedroom for a bed rest. She was feeling fatigued and hoped she would recover after a brief rest.

Then there was a loud knock at the main door. She rose from the bed and went out to greet the visitor. She opened the main door to be confronted by four uniformed police officers. She remembered with horror that there was a dead man in her house.

“I am Sergeant Madiro,” said one of the officers. “We are here to search your house.” He presented Mrs Nyumwa with the search warrant.

“No, no, no please, I did not kill him! Will anyone understand?”

The officers turned away from her and began the search. She followed them into every room, as if she did know which room housed the dead man. The men of law finally entered the room where the corpse was.

“Who is he?” Sergeant Madiro demanded, pointing at the corpse.

“I don’t know,” Mrs Nyumwa answered, avoiding the corp’s inquisitive eyes.

“You cannot be serious, ” said the officer with a note of exasperation. “He is in your house and on your bed and yet you pretend not to know him.”

“It is as I say. I don’t know him.” The dead man’s remains were loaded into the police van and ferried to Mutare Provincial Hospital for a post mortem. Mrs Nyumwa was taken to Chisamba Police Station where she was kept in custody, assisting the police with investigations, but the police were not able to extract any coherent statement from her.

Tropical magic

One of the items the police had collected from Mrs Nyumwa’s house was an almost empty 200 millilitre bottle labelled “Tropical Magic”. They had found it on the dressing table in the room where they found the dead man.

Their investigations established that Mrs Nyumwa had never touched the bottle. The contents of the bottle were taken to Mutare Provincial Hospital for laboratory tests and the doctors found that tropical magic was a male potency drug which could be harmful if taken to excess.

Mrs Nyumwa had never touched the bottle of tropical magic, but the man found dead in Mrs Nyumwa’s house and one other person had touched it.

That person was probably the one who had phoned the police alerting them that there was a dead man in Mrs Nyumwa’s house. The person had used a public phone, and so her numbers could never be known.

Meanwhile, Mrs Nyumwa returned to her Sakubva house to experience a dearth of clients. She was very angry with the young woman who had brought the unidentified man into her house. She decided to find her. She wanted to personally deal with her. She still remembered what she looked like.

Mrs Nyumwa decided to visit all public drinking places and fun houses of Sakubva in her efforts to find the young lady. Every day she returned home with swollen legs.

Every day she went out to look for the woman. Finally she stopped taking her baths as she woke up to the task at hand, searching for that harlot.

Then she forgot her way back home and started spending her nights on the streets, waking up at dawn every day to resume her search. Her body started showing through her worn out clothes as she diligently combed the suburb for the woman who had caused her great misfortune.

She began to eat food collected from rubbish bins and garbage hills. She had turned black as the tarmac roads of the city as she had long stopped taking her baths. The woman who had poisoned the hapless man remained elusive, and neither did Mrs Nyumwa rediscover her way back home.

Nhamo Muchagumisa is an English Language and Literature teacher, and he writes from Odzi. He writes in his own capacity and can be contacted on +263777460162. Email him at:


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