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False msafiri fiction 134 stepped on, a match being struck, and, a minute or so later, my father- in- law walked out. I apologised for waking him up in the night, but I asked if my wife was there. ‘ Yes, she is,’ he said, much to my relief. ‘ Let me ask her mother to go and wake her up, she is sleeping in the small house.’ Ten or so minutes later, she walked to where I sat shivering in the biting June cold, made worse by the even colder breeze being breathed by the Mkaladzi River on the shores of which the houses of my parents- in-law were situated. ‘ Why are you doing this to me?’ was the only question I asked as my teeth rattled due to the cold air slapping my body. ‘ We already discussed this last night,’ she said. ‘ We never discussed that you would be coming here today,’ I pointed out. ‘ I told you I would be ending the marriage if you don’t agree to …’ ‘ Lower your voice,’ I told her. I didn’t want her parents to hear this. ‘… if you don’t agree to hire a fisi. I want to have a child,’ she continued. ‘ This is a very serious issue to me, and I mean every single word I say.’ ‘ But we haven’t finished discussing this issue yet,’ I protested. ‘ And even if you were to end the marriage, surely there are appropriate channels to follow, no? You don’t just walk out of the house, even without telling me, and go back to your parents. Let us be civilised in what we do.’ After arguing for some time, she agreed to come home. We set off that very dawn. ‘ Who shall be our fisi?’ I asked in a weak voice. We were holding each other very close under the blankets on a mat. Another day was gone. We had argued about it all day long, since coming back from my parents- in-law. Clearly I was the vanquished, and some faceless guy had prevailed. ‘ Let us pick him out together,’ said Eranive. ‘ It is as much your responsibility as it is mine. How about Mlingoti?’ He had nine children at the age of thirty. His wife was well- known in the neighbourhood as a ‘ Child Factory’. People said Mlingoti and his wife bore children at such an alarming speed as if the mission to fill the earth was theirs alone. But the man had other manners – he drank like a fish, and when he was drunk, he hid no secret. Even salient details about how he made love with his wife were common knowledge. Children on the village’s playground sometimes imitated how he did it: shame! ‘ Not that one,’ I said. ‘ Yes, he can make you pregnant in no time, but he won’t keep it a secret. The whole village will know about it within a week.’ ‘ Maybe Kamchere will do,’ Eranive suggested. ‘ Not that one!’ I objected. ‘ We have always dreamed to have a handsome son, but I have strong reservations about Kamchere’s facial outlook. He can’t give us a handsome son. Try someone else.’ After a lot of haggling, we settled for a man called Langi: tall, well-built, nice- looking face, handsome in all respects. He was married and had two children. He had been to school and had read up to the last class of primary school. In fact, he was selected to go for Form One at the famous Robert Blake Secondary School, but his parents could not afford the fees. Reluctantly, he accepted his fate and settled down to