The story so far is simple enough: a distraught father has come to Derby from his village of Waterside to find out why his son, the last of the Chinchis, has brought notoriety to the family name by murdering his wife, and killing himself. The British police have open – and shut – the case. If it stays that way, Big Charlie is committed to a hara kiri that will restore some dignity to the family name. The story is revealed in Big Charlie’s 5 emails home to his wife. Part one is rendered in italics, Part Two follows right afterwards. (A new email comes every weekday this week.)
It is good you have an email now. But why Yahoo?
There is no other way to say this so let me just say it with one mouth: what we heard was true. I have now seen him with my own two eyes (may God forgive my sins). Call the Aja age grade. Buy them two cartoons of Star beer and two nests of kolanuts (yes, I said TWO). Tell them to dig a new grave under the Ironwood tree. Let them dig it beside my father’s grave, because I’m bringing Small Charlie home this weekend.
They say he killed his wife – that same woman that the whole village warned him about – and then he killed himself. And they didn’t even leave us a grandchild! But we both know that we did not send a madman to Britain. We sent the flesh of our flesh, a boy whose mind was running water, whose eyes were stars, and whose tongue was sweet palm oil. But this is the madness I am reading in their papers, and seeing on their TV, everywhere I turn in this land. Therefore the name I borrowed from my father is ruined. And the dignity that he loaned from my grandfather is soiled forever. – Our only child from whom we expected such great things has ended the lineage of Chinchis so disgracefully.
Please, trust your husband, MaCharlie (and hold yourself well)! Something has happened here to drive our son mad and I will get to the bottom of it. Before I bring him home this weekend I will know the truth. Have I not told you to hold yourself? I know we are both too old for children and I will not ask miracles. But what I ask, you must do faithfully. You may not believe it, but what I am about to say is harder to hear than what I have said already. Do you remember how I stood against the riot police when the whole of Waterside ran for cover? Was it not me who chased after the agberos that snatched your handbag on our trip to Warri thirty years ago? So it is not Cowardice that speaks now, MaCharlie, it is your husband Big Charlie Chinchi, following the path of honour.
If what the papers are printing is what truly happened and our son did this abomination because he could not bear to see his wife leave him, then this weekend, you must return to your father’s name to remove the last Chinchi from this world without more bloodshed. And you must call the Aja age grade again. (Have I not said you should hold yourself?) You must remind them that you paid a double fee. And you must have them dig a second grave for me. For I shall bring my son home. But then I must follow him myself. I swear to this by the Staff of my fathers.
I am now going to see Small Charlie’s childhood friend, Solumu, to find out what he knows about this abomination. If you return to Utaka’s shop at this time tomorrow, I will email again to tell you know what I have found. I am not sure I like this your email address. Don’t you know the meaning of ‘yahoo-yahoo boys’? You have to be conscious of the family name. I hope that all is well at home, and that my bus driver is returning the correct money. You need to watch that man. He is a snake…
Is this not funny? My life is finished and I am still talking about bus money! May God forgive my sins!
Big Charlie Chinchi.
You have started again. Why should you add your stronghead to this cross that God has given me? Did I ask you to dig three graves? Please tell them to fill the third one immediately! That is a very bad omen. I said they should dig ONE grave and be ready for a second one, in case what I find is not good.
What I have found so far is not good. Solumu was too busy to talk to me yesterday, but he gave me the key to our son’s new flat. The neighbours said Small Charlie and Bene quarrelled every single night of the one week they lived there before they died. They kiss and neck on the way to their car in the morning but every night they break plates in their fights. (The walls here are thin. You can’t even be free in the toilet.) One neighbour said she heard Bene shouting that she was going to pack out that very night. Not long after that they found their bodies on the pavement outside. May God forgive my sins.
You and I know what it means to swear by the Staff of my fathers. It is done and it is finished. You know there is no cancelling it, so why are we still discussing it? And why should you compare Charlie’s disgraceful murder and suicide to my honourable sacrifice to redeem the family name? And why should you bring up the matter of the grandson we disowned a long time ago? Please hold yourself, MaCharlie. Where we are going is farther than where we are coming from.
Our son’s flat is beautiful. It is on the 10th floor and I have moved there from the hotel. I have not entered that cursed balcony yet. I spent most of the day standing in the wardrobe of our son, drinking in his smell. The smell of our son is the smell of yellow corn at harvest. Mixed with Aramis. Bene’s father came to take her things. You should have seen him, MaCharlie. May God forgive my sins! His earrings are bigger than anything in your raffia box. Behaving as if I was the one that killed his daughter! Anyway, he took almost everything in that house. If the TV was not attached to the wall he would have taken it as well. Did I quarrel with him? As if I am taking anything into the grave this weekend. (By the way you have to book Menafa ahead of time. He cannot tap enough palmwine for the funeral feasts if you don’t give him enough notice.) All I told our so-called in-law was that he should leave me the bed to sleep on, at least till weekend, and he started to abuse me. MaCharlie, maybe we are too quick to condemn our son. If I lived with this man I can’t swear that I won’t throw him over the balcony too, I have said my own.
Small Charlie has your picture on the wall of his study. You remember he brought his camera two years ago when he came to tell us of this cursed marriage. It is beautiful, MaCharlie… and bigger than anything I have seen before… you will also cry when you see it… that boy loved you pieces! Why God allowed something like this to happen is what I can’t understand.
So why did you dig three graves MaCharlie? Tell me the truth now. This is the worst time for lightning to strike the mobile phone mast in Waterside! This talk is not an email talk at all! I know how the sound of your voice can change the meaning of a word three or four times before the end of the sentence, yet this your email is just flat on the screen! Why did you dig three graves? Please open your whole mouth and talk to your husband. My in-law said he is burning his daughter’s corpse this weekend so we don’t need three graves, MaCharlie. What is going on in that stubborn head of yours?
Please don’t mention that grandson that we don’t have again. We disowned Sara and her son six years ago and we will not go back to our vomit just because Small Charlie is no longer there to give us real grandchildren. Where is your shame? Think of the family pride. Do you want us to be the laughingstock of Waterside? (By the way, do you know what eventually happened to that Sara? I am just asking out of curiosity, you understand.)
We did the right thing then, MaCharlie. Leave your conscience alone. She and our son had broken up and the young man was going abroad to start a new life. When she heard it, she must have run desperately around to get pregnant, to chain him down with a baby that wasn’t his own. That in-the-nick-of-time pregnancy is the sort of coincidence that makes Big Charlie suspicious! It was our duty to protect our son. Remember how many girls went around with red eyes for days after our son went abroad! That young man had choices! That is why I don’t believe this story going around Derbyshire. The son that we knew would never kill a woman just because she wants to leave him. Before she says ‘I am lea…’ Small Charlie would have left! Of that I am cocksure. We did the right thing with Sara, MaCharlie. I say leave your conscience alone! The ancestors won’t thank us for ‘extending’ their lineage with a bastard.
Tell the driver, who spent five good hours on the toilet seat instead of the driver’s seat yesterday, that I said ‘Sorry’ about his diarrhoea, but that I want my money complete before he touches my keys again. I am not the one that gave him rotten beans. You better learn how to handle that snake before weekend. That’s all I will say.
Finally, MaCharlie, I don’t have time to write much about Viagra. Internet here is very expensive. I have two graves to fill in Waterside by weekend and I’m not in the mood to be explaining that sort of thing. Your MamaSmallCharlie-at-yahoo-dot-com address is for me and for me alone, so any other emails that is hawking Viagra or things like that, just erase them. You hear? You can ask Utaka for assistance, but don’t allow those yahoo-yahoo boys to touch your keyboard. Otherwise those 419ners will sell both our house and our graves before I come back. Let me go and see Solumu now. Don’t forget to book Menafa. By the grace of God I will write again tomorrow.
Part 3 will be published tomorrow. If you want to get future blogs in your inbox, do sign up your email address in the right sidebar. My Memories of Stone will be mailed any reader who can figure out the endgame. It’s all a bit of fun, go on, join in!