Friday, June 24, 2011

Vera's Story

[In this piece, first published in February 2003, Vera tells how her beloved Fleddie suddenly became a changed man]

Vera’s Story

I knocked on the front door of the little house in Twapia, and it flew open straight away. ‘Karaki!’ exclaimed Vera, throwing her arms around me. ‘I haven’t seen you since the days of the Gleen Libbon! Come in! With your beard and long shirt and fat belly, I thought it was the Archbishop of Canterbury! What’s been happening to you?’

‘I was impregnated by Milingo,’ I laughed, ‘so I had to join the church! But never mind me, I’ve come to talk to you about your ex, and his present troubles. How did he ever get himself into such a pickle?’

‘It’s a long story,’ she sighed. ‘Come and sit down and I’ll tell you everything.’

‘What puzzles me,’ I said, as we sat down together on the purple plastic sofa, ‘is how we voted for him to bring democracy and end corruption, but he did the opposite. He seemed so straightforward, but now it seems he had his fingers in every till. It’s almost like he turned into another man.’

‘You know, Karaki,’ she said, putting her hand on mine, ‘you seem to have a nose for things. I’ve always said you’re not as silly as you look. Let me tell you what actually happened.

‘It was soon after we first moved into the Presidential Palace. I can still remember that Thursday morning, as if it were yesterday. The place was so huge, and my little Fleddie was so small, and when lunch was ready we couldn’t find him.’

‘But you eventually found him?’

‘Yes, three hours later, in one of the upstairs toilets, reading a book. Do you know that place has thirty-four toilets?’

‘The ruling class need lots of toilets,’ I said. ‘What was he reading?’

‘Humanism Part One,’ laughed Vera. ‘Old Munshumfwa had taken all the other books with him, only Humanism remained, in all the lavatories.’

‘There was a terrible shortage of toilet paper in those days,’ I reminded her. ‘That’s how the Second Republic ended, with Humanism being flushed down the toilet. It was printed on lovely soft paper.’

‘I remember,’ she said wistfully. ‘It was the only thing we liked about Humanism.’

‘So is that what changed him, reading the toilet paper?’

‘No,’ she said, as tears welled into her eyes. ‘It was much worse than that. Two days later he disappeared again, and this time we couldn’t find him at all. We didn’t know what had happened, whether he had fallen into one of the tunnels, or had been blown up the chimney, or had accidentally flushed himself down a toilet. We looked everywhere! My Fleddie was gone! I was tellibly wollied that my lovely tiny littul Fleddie had been eaten by one of the peacocks!’

‘But this wasn’t reported in the papers!’

‘Of course not! Causing public alarm is a climinal offence. We had to keep it quiet!’

‘And was he never found?’

‘Two weeks later he turned up on the doorstep. I opened the door, and there he was! It was him, but at the same time it wasn’t him. Because he was wearing a shiny mafia suit, dark glasses, barbie doll high heels, and speaking with a weird American accent. He had changed tellibly!

‘But I was so pleased to see him, I didn’t even ask why he was dressed like a gangster. I gave him a big kiss and screamed Darling you’re back! Come and have a bounce on the purple plastic sofa! But he seemed to have forgotten everything. He jumped on the sofa and started to trampoline all by himself, until he made this hole with his high heel,’ she said, pointing to the punctured purple plastic right next to where I was sitting. ‘He seemed to have entirely forgotten how we used to bounce together on the purple plastic sofa.’ Tears rolls down her cheeks, as she rummaged in her handbag for a handkerchief. ‘He didn’t seem like the same man at all.’

‘My poor dear Vera,’ I said, as I helped to wipe away her tears.

‘And my Fleddie had always had this delicious littul mole on his lovely littul bum. But when we went to bed,’ she sobbed, ‘there was no spotty on his littul botty! It had gone. Instead the spotty had moved to his…’

‘Don’t upset yourself,’ I said, putting my arm around her, as she wept into my cup of tea. ‘But how could this have happened?’

‘My littul Fleddie Mpundu was a twin. Now the other one, Kafupi, had turned up to take his brother’s place. He has always been a rascal and ne’er-do-well. A former tomato seller and bus conductor! And now my husband!’

‘But why didn’t you refuse?’

‘In my tradition, the brother inherits the widow.’

‘But didn’t people in government notice that this was not the right man?’

‘They didn’t know about the spotty on his botty!’

‘But wasn’t Kafupi’s behaviour rather strange, compared to your lovely littul Fleddie?’

‘That wasn’t for them to question. Because of his high office, they just had to obey his instructions, however silly! It’s all explained in the Constootion.’

‘So can Kafupi be held responsible for all his mistakes?’

‘I’m sure he had no idea what he was doing, he was always in a cloud of smoke. He never had any idea where he was, or where the money went, or how many suits he bought.’

‘So how do we prove all this?’

‘He must be taken to court!’

‘For theft?’

‘No, to prove that this is not the real Fleddie!’

‘No spotty on his botty?’

‘Exactly,’ she sobbed, as I tried to console her.


‘What have you been doing today?’ asked Sara, when I finally got home.

‘I’ve just heard a fantastic story from Vera,’ I said, ‘about how her husband completely changed into somebody else!’

‘Huh!’ said Sara. ‘All women have that problem.’


  1. This is a great one. I could even believe it.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. WOMEN!! they all have that problem. Hope i wont change in my wife's eyes