Nothing beats the feeling of indulging in a read that you can easily relate with. Such has been my experience reading through The Judas Files “With a Kiss” by Robert (Bob) Mukondiwa. Fact; if you have been alive in Zimbabwe from the days of Robert Mugabe (may he continue resting in power), the book should leave you nostalgic.
I give the book the subtitle “With a Kiss” owing to the juxtaposition with the biblical Judas Iscariot. Just like the traitor sold his master with bloody coins, Bob’s stories confess to the pathetic corruption known to all. Not forgetting the sweet imprint of red juicy lips on the beautiful cover of the anthology.
Bob borrows from the dirt bag of realities of Zimbabwean lives that have become a natural discord. Although the anthology is a complete work of fiction, the word painter creates a vivid picture of the history lived and probably still at play.
Writing from a country down on it’s cracked knees, it is no surprise at all that death as a theme is tirelessly always. The first two stories namely, The Assistant and The Homecoming all end with a death note. Someone dies and Bob, like what he’s good at, leaves us hanging with a dozen and half questions. The deaths are not clearly narrated, but we know that someone dies and the people around are shocked.
To think of it, maybe poverty really drives people into infidelity. When one reads The Judas Files, they should close the book satisfied that “the love of money is the root of all evil,” Amen! Not just evil, but some unexplainable stupidity too.
In The Home Coming Cosmas resorts to dig in between his bosses thighs for extra cash to buy a second hand, but still brand new car from Japan. Whilst in Mother’s Day, Enesia leaves her Stallion for the filthy Buck Tooth just for the dollars.
However, it is not only the love of money that has forced people to open their legs for the wrong people. In The Assistant, Beatrice ends up sharing the Adam’s apple with the gardener. What could she do when her mother-in-law yearned to hold a young soul in her arms before sleeping forever. At least it was not with her young brother-in-law, but if he agreed would she?
Although a metaphor, the story is a true picture of the God-damned new normal. One person or the other is forced to do something wrong. All to get something right in the end.
In Chewa they have an old adage. It says; “chaona munzako chapita, mawa chili kwaiwe.” This lightly translates to say; ” what has befallen your neighbor will pass and tomorrow it shall be on you.”
The story Bar-b-que reminded me of this saying. In the story some spoiled Zimbabwean triplets mistreat an old Malawian chap, Ruwizhu, to death. This scene refreshes the pain of Zimbabweans that fell victim to Xenophobic attacks in Azania. Maybe it’s true, karma never misses an address. Today Zimbabweans hold a reputation of settling for any menial job, as long it pays some few cents. Isn’t that why we also used to treat the Achimwenes as second class citizens.
Before I write a book, I shall say this. The Judas Files is a well crafted anthology which deserves all the accolades possible. The book is an eye opener to the universe of dirty work going on behind closed doors. Even in the open streets. Bob writes for generations to come. With well researched content, love of the art and commitment he served us a delicacy of stories.
One cannot afford to not find pleasure in Bob’s handwriting. His diction is as sweet that one is forced to flip over and over again until there is no next page.