My morning papers got the scores
The human interest stories
And the obituary
The subject of today’s 2 or 3 lines is a human-interest story that I saw in a recent Washington Post – not an obituary.
You’ve heard the old adage, “Truth is stranger than fiction,” a million times.
Surely the current presidential campaign is enough to establish beyond a reasonable doubt the absolute truth of that old adage.
But if you still have any doubts about truth being stranger than fiction, wait until you hear the story of Noela Rukundo and her husband, Balenga Kalala.
Rukundo met Kalala 11 years ago at an Australian resettlement agency, shortly after she arrived in Australia from Burundi. He was a refugee from Congo who had fled a rebel army that had looted his village and killed his wife and young son.
They fell in love, moved in together in a Melbourne suburb, and had three children. (Rukundo also had five kids from a previous relationship).
About a year ago, Rukundo and Kalala flew from Australia to Burundi to attend her stepmother’s funeral. She was despondent after the service, so she went back to their hotel room and lay down in bed.
Kalala called her and suggested that she might feel better if she went outside for some fresh air. But the minute she left her hotel, a man with a gun confronted her.
From the Post:
“Don’t scream,” she recalled him saying. “If you start screaming, I will shoot you. They’re going to catch me, but you? You will already be dead.”
Rukundo, terrified, did as she was told. She was ushered into a car and blindfolded so she couldn’t see where she was being taken. After 30 or 40 minutes, the car came to a stop, and Rukundo was pushed into a building and tied to a chair.
She could hear male voices . . . . One asked her, “You woman, what did you do for this man to pay us to kill you?”
“What are you talking about?” Rukundo demanded.
“Balenga sent us to kill you.”
They were lying. She told them so. And they laughed.
“You’re a fool,” they told her.
There was the sound of a dial tone, and a male voice coming through a speakerphone. It was her husband’s voice.
“Kill her,” he said.
And Rukundo fainted.
When Rukundo came to her kidnappers told her they weren’t going to kill her — they didn’t believe in killing women, and they knew her family. But they would keep her husband’s money and tell him that they had murdered her.
After the men set her free, Rukundo began plotting her revenge. She called the pastor of her church back in Melbourne and told him what had happened. Without alerting Kalala, the pastor helped her get back home.
Malala, who believed she was dead, told their friends and families that Rukundo had died in an accident. There was a large turnout for her funeral, which took place at the couple’s home. As the presumed widower said goodbye to some of the neighbors who had come to comfort him, Rukundo watched from a car parked on her street.
As the last few mourners filed out, Rukundo stepped out of her car and confronted her husband.
From the Post:
“Is it my eyes?” she recalled him saying. “Is it a ghost?”
“Surprise! I’m still alive!” she replied.
Far from being elated, the man looked terrified. . . . [H]e touched her shoulder to find it unnervingly solid. He jumped. Then he started screaming.
“I’m sorry for everything,” he wailed. . . .
“Sometimes Devil can come into someone, to do something, but after they do it they start thinking, ‘Why I did that thing?’ later,” he said, as he begged her to forgive him.
But it was a little late for apologies.
Rukundo called the police, who arrested Kalala. He ultimately pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine years in prison.
Why did Kalala put out a hit on his wife? Rukundo said that her husband tried to have her killed because he thought she was going to leave him for another man — an accusation she denies.
When Rukundo lies in bed at night, her mind replays the hours she spent with her kidnappers. She hears her husband saying, “Kill her” on the telephone.
But despite all that, she is determined to start a new life. “I will stand up like a strong woman,” she said. “My situation, my past life? That is gone. I’m starting a new life now.”
Bad Religion is a Los Angeles punk band that formed in 1979 but didn’t achieve mainstream success until 1994, when their Stranger Than Fiction album sold over half a million copies. That album’s title song was released as a single, and made it to #28 on the Billboard alternative rock chart.
Here’s “Stranger Than Fiction”:
Click below to buy the song from Amazon: