The Curse of Hakuna Matata

5 minute read

Jim Morrison sat in front of the bar, aimlessly stirring the glass of Amarula Cream liqueur in his hand. Its smooth texture and explosion of flavours brought no joy to his palate. The riotous conversation and peppy music brought no energy to his limbs. He simply sat there on the straw bar stool, alone and dejected. All he could think was - “Why am I not using this time to work?”

This gloomy attitude was the result of many things. Jim had been recently promoted to the post of Division Manager – Asia & Africa at his firm, a promotion he did not think he deserved, and a position he did not think he could handle. Beginning his first day with a severe case of Impostor Syndrome, Jim’s life only got worse.

He no longer found enjoyment in the things he once loved – dancing, basketball, politics. Play an energetic dance number and he would sit where he was, looking at the floor; switch on the latest match between the LA Lakers and the Boston Celtics and he would cringe, cursing himself for wasting time instead of working. His friends had tried hard to break this mood of his, but their endeavours had all failed.

Their latest attempt was the excursion to South Africa. Jim’s promotion came with the benefit of an extended tour to “survey” the area under his purview, but was really just an excuse to have some fun. Despite the luxurious hotel, the exotic sights, the delicious food and the daily partying, Jim had been unable to do so.

Jim looked over at the wild crowd, dancing their troubles away. “How lucky,” he thought, “to have no worries in the world.” He noticed his closest friend, Jane Foster, beckoning him over to a secluded shed. He stood up tiredly and shuffled over to her.

“Jim,” she whispered. “This is Arumbaye. She is a healer of great repute. I believe she can help you with your… problems.”

Jim gave no indication that he had heard, and silently sat in front of the dark-skinned old woman seated in the shed with them. She wordlessly instructed Jim to extend his hand.

“Twenty minutes wasted,” Jim thought, as he exited the shed with Jane. They held a scrap of paper the old woman had scribbled something onto before rushing out. The woman had written in Swahili, so they took the paper to the hotel receptionist to get it translated.

“Hakuna Matata,” he said with a frown. “It is an old ruin not far from here. Are you planning on going there?”

“Maybe,” Jane replied.

“I would advise you not to, ma’am. The place is said to be cursed. It is certainly not a safe place for tourists. Might I recommend a relaxing session with our masseuse instead?”

“Please just tell us where it is.” Jane replied with a hint of steel.

He reluctantly obliged, pointing out its location on the tourist map. “I still advise you not to go. The old curses are still strong in our land.”

They left in the morning.

A short jeep ride from the hotel, and they had reached the so-called “cursed” ruins of Hakuna Matata. They asked their driver, who was a local, to accompany them, but he flatly refused. “I want not to get cursed.”

Jane guided Jim into the dilapidated old ruins with some trepidation. Jim was morose as usual, stumbling along and cursing himself for not working, and wasting time on this fruitless endeavour. If his attitude continued, Jim would no longer be able to function at his job, and would probably get fired. Jane feared what would happen then.

As they made their way past the moss covered boulders and rotted tree stumps, Jane saw something that caught her eye – a narrow passageway hewn into a sloping rock face, its entrance free from moss; a sharp contrast to the bright green surrounding it. She eagerly led Jim through it.

The tunnel led them into a small room, almost a shrine. On what she presumed was the altar, she saw the statues of two grotesque figures, a small rat like creature with evil, beady eyes, and an enormous fat monster, with hellish horns sharper than a knife. She noticed some writing at the base of the altar, again in Swahili, but this time she was prepared.

Jane took out her pocket dictionary, Swahili to English, and began to translate. “Forget your problems…Forget your troubles….No worries” she managed. They were no instruction of any kind, so she told Jim to prostrate in front of the altar. Jim obliged.

As Jim knelt, his fingertips brushed the two stone statues. Immediately, he was filled with a strange sensation in the base of his stomach. It felt like was going to be sick, so he quickly rushed to the side of a boulder. He threw up.

“What happened!?” Jane inquired anxiously.

“I don’t know, I…” Jim stuttered in reply. He threw up again. Jane rushed him back to the jeep, worried that she had brought some untold curse upon her dear friend.

The doctor had advised bed rest, and the medicines had made Jim drowsy anyway. He slept deeply. When he woke up, he felt better than he had in a long time. A certain weight than had always been there, but one he had never noticed, was now gone. He felt unburdened, free. He cracked a wide smile.

“Jane!” he exclaimed jovially. “It worked! It actually worked!” Jane stirred from her troubled afternoon nap and opened the door to see Jim, grinning wide. She did not return the smile.

“Are you feeling all right? Is your health better? Are you throwing up again?” she asked rapidly.

“Yes, yes and no. Don’t worry Jane, I think you’ve done it. I’m feeling amazing, better than I have in forever. I need to make up for the time I spent moping, if you’ll excuse me.” he said cheerfully, and dashed off. Jane stared at him, worried about the effect the curse was taking.

Jim spent the night partying like he never had. His other friends and co-workers were amazed at this sudden change in his personality, and enjoyed every minute of it. Jim became the life of the party, downing glass upon glass, dancing crazily on stage, and making a fool of himself for general entertainment.

Even after the trip, Jim’s cheerfulness remained intact, perhaps even increased. He made side-splitting jokes, laughed breezily at any small event, and waved away all problems with the platitude “Don’t worry! It’ll all be okay.”

He laughed away the time an intern came late to work, saying “Wanted to have a bit of fun today, eh?” He laughed away the time his department came under fire for underperformance, “We’ll do better next time! Don’t worry!” He laughed away the time he lost a highly valuable contract, “We’ll get the next one that comes! Don’t worry!” He even laughed away the time he was fired.

He got a call the day his apartment was supposed to be seized, for non-payment of rent (“I’ll pay you next time! Don’t worry!”). Jane had committed suicide. Her room-mate had called, asking him to come to her funeral. “She was always so stressed after the trip. She kept wondering if something was wrong with you. She couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, worrying about you all the time.” her room-mate explained agitatedly. “I think it finally pushed her over the edge.”

Jim listened to all this with a wide grin. He started giggling, then laughing. The entire funeral hall turned towards the source of the commotion.

Jim lay there on the floor, clutching his stomach and laughing uncontrollably. “Don’t worry! It’ll all be okay. Don’t worry!”