WHAT LEGACY WILL YOU LEAVE?

Cool read from LILIES

The Universe is calling on you to wake up now.

Oh my!

How fast that year flew.

One minute it was January, the next I hear Christmas carols , and that sarafina tuned song for ‘Wasee wasee tuchome nyama’ and the Christmas melodies finally fall into place.

If you’ve listened to Mary’s born child around June or July, you would understand how these carols perfectly fit this season.

You literally can’t stand them.

Yet here it is.

The season of tidings.

Now about this year, I don’t know about yours but mine was a great year. I know I said this again last year, but it’s the truth.

This year has been very enlightening for me.

It’s the year I got to really evaluate my values. My reason for being, why I do what I do, my purpose and even why I write.

Last year for me was amazing in terms of blogging for hitting over 5000 views.

That in…

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Christmas Eve (by Blessing Abu, 13, Nigeria)

IT was a very busy day. Our compound was filled with people engaged in different activities. A group of men were setting up canopies at the front of the compound. Some women were at the back of the house, cooking. The youths were decorating the house with Christmas lights and setting up Christmas trees. Some children were playing in the compound while others made themselves useful by running errands for their parents who were working.

It was Christmas Eve and all preparations were being made for the Annual Christmas Feast that takes place on Christmas day, the 25th of December. The Annual Christmas Feast, is a ceremony that everyone in my community looks forward to. Indigenes of my community, that live abroad or in other parts of the country, would travel the long distance just to attend the ceremony. Families took turns in hosting the ceremony. This year, it was my family’s turn to host it and we were really prepared for it. We had renovated our house. It was a well structured and lavishly built, three bedroom flat. It stood out from other houses like a lump of glass amidst blunt stones.The rooms were spacious and beautiful. We had a store by the side of our house where we kept unused furniture and broken utensils. We had trimmed the flowers and grasses around the house and placed a banner outside our house to inform everyone, that we were the ones hosting the ACF (as it was usually called). We couldn’t afford to give the impression, that we were not capable of hosting the event. In my community, it was more like a competition, every host wanted to do better than the previous host.

As I walked through the compound that evening, greeting everyone, they all had smiles on their faces. I assumed it was the spirit of Christmas.  I could hear the women chatting and laughing as they cooked. And I could see the smoke rising from the backyard. In no time, a truck arrived carrying crates of assorted drinks. And a group of young boys took the drinks to the store.

I walked straight to the front of the house where the youths were and joined them in decorating the house. My mother was cooking with the women at the backyard, my little brother was playing with other children in the compound and my father had gone to pick up the clothes we had ordered for the occasion.  I was still working with the youths, when Mum called out to me.  I left what I was doing and ran to the back yard to meet her.

“Your Dad has returned with the clothes. He’s in the living room,” she told me.

“Ok Mum,” I replied.

I went to the living room. I met my Dad and he handed me a dress. It was very beautiful. More beautiful than all the dresses I ever had. It was even more beautiful than the dresses my friends had. I ran to mother’s room changed into the new clothes, stared at my changed image in the mirror and stepped out coyly with a smile on my face. My dad couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw me. ” You are very beautiful, ” he said still looking at the dress on me. “Thank you daddy,” I coyly responded.

I admired the dress as I looked into the human size mirror . It was a foreign dress. A pink flare short gown.  I didn’t want to take it off.

“Thank you very much Daddy. I really love this dress,” I said, excitedly as I knelt beside him.

“You’re welcome dear,” he said with a broad smile on his face.

 “Take it off now. I think they still need your help, outside,” he replied, sternly.

“Alright Daddy. Thanks again,” I said. As I carefully pulled it off and took it to my room. I went outside to continue with the decoration. They were almost done with it when I arrived. I just helped to do the finishing. In a short while, we were through with it. And they left leaving behind only the women cooking at the backyard and their children were left in the compound. I could perceive the aroma of the numerous meals they had prepared and the ones still steaming on fire.

My thoughts strolled back to my dress. I smiled as I remembered it. I couldn’t wait to wear it. I imagined how the event would look like.  My mother’s voice cut through my thoughts sharply like a dagger.  I ran to the backyard to meet her.

“Please, lead the women to the store. So that they can keep the food there,” she said. As she walked to the front of the house and into the living room. I led the women to the store, where they carefully placed the pots of the  different meals they had cooked. I could hear them chatting and laughing as they went back to the backyard to share the jollof rice that was left in the pot. Meanwhile, the children were still running and playing around the compound.

My Christmas dress was the only thing on my mind. I rushed to my room, took  the dress and wore it. The mirror in my room was a small one. So I couldn’t see the dress completely. I wasn’t satisfied.  I wanted to have a full view of the dress. There was a large mirror in the living room but I couldn’t go there. Because my Mum was there and she would scold me for wearing the dress before time. Then I remembered that there was a mirror with a faulty frame in the store. I sneaked into the store, turned on the light, dusted the mirror and raised it up. Supporting it with my hand.

I looked into the mirror, admiring my dress and smiling to myself. Suddenly I heard a noise from the door. Someone was trying to open it. I got scared. Wondering who it was. Could it be my Mum? If she sees me in the store, she would really scold me. I could still hear my Mum discussing with my Dad, in the living room. It couldn’t be her. Who was it then?

Jumping over several obstacles, I tried to make my way through to back of the store, where unused furniture were kept. But before I could get there, the lights suddenly went out. Revealing the blinding darkness. I got confused. Really confused.I didn’t know whether to stand still or keep moving.  I stood there, wondering what to do next. Suddenly the door opened wide. My heart pounded uncontrollably.  I made up my mind, forcing my way through the direction of the unused furniture. My dress was caught by an old furniture. I tried to pull it off. But it was stuck. I pulled it with all my might. And I fell massively to the ground. Landing heavily on my hind end. For a while I felt paralyzed. I wanted to cry out as the pain spread throughout my system. But, attracted everyone in the compound. I heard several footsteps approaching the store. My senses were quickened. As I realized the big trouble I would be in, if my mother should find out that I was in the store.

Quickly, I tried to stand up to my feet. Holding the nearest object for support. Unfortunately I held the stew pot. Pulling it towards me. It lost balance spilling its hot and peppery contents on me and on my Christmas dress.  I couldn’t bear the pain anymore. I screamed at the top of my voice. The footsteps quickened. This time I heard the voice of my parents, outside. My Dad asked the women,  what was going on while my Mum was screaming my name. As they all  rushed into the store with torch lights.

There I sat covered in stew. My dress, completely ruined. And there stood my Mum, my Dad, the women who had just finished cooking, their children and my little brother who had opened the door initially. Everyone, wearing a confused look on their faces. I raised my hand, to cover my face from the rays of light that came from the torchlight.

I had beaten the drums too loud.  And I was definitely going to face the music.  “It was a memorable Christmas Eve. One that I would never forget,” I concluded.

*

“Wow! This is the most interesting story I have heard about Christmas Eve,” Nelly, my six year old daughter, said.

“Well, that’s how I remember it my dear,” I replied.

“I’m sure you were really spanked,” she said, jokingly.

“You can’t begin to imagine. All right, go to bed now. We have a big day, tomorrow,” I said, patting her on the back.

“All right, Mum,” she said, settling into her bed.

“Merry Christmas in advance,” I said, with a big smile on my face.

“Merry Christmas, Mum,” she replied, smiling back at me. I stood up from the bed and walked out of the room.

*

It was exactly twenty years after the night of that unfortunate incident.  It was Christmas Eve. The moon was in the sky like a giant diamond ball. In the distant I could hear the sound of explosives in the midnight air.


Happy holidays!

A holiday read

And so this girl got herself mixed in some gang business. This is the kind past that tracks you wherever you go. While living as a protected witness, an inciting event shapes her life, through which she struggles between her new self, and the former self. It is an absorbing, fast-paced read–have a seat:

PLOWED OVER

PO

 

Happy holidays!

The ballot box has a hole

“Mweshimiwa, Mweshimiwa—listen, listen to me,” said A., “you have not lost! I—”

“Aa-aa, I am sorry to say…” said B., glancing at Mheshimiwa’s face, and looking away straightaway, ‘I am sorry to say, Mheshimiwa—I think you lost.”

It was the night after the election, it was 10 o’clock on B.’s watch, it was 9:55 on A.’s watch; it was raining outside, it was hot in Mheshimiwa’s house—and he had locked himself in his spare room, and his chief agents, mentioned as A. and B., flanked him.

A. stood on the left side of Mheshimiwa, who sank in a sofa, and reposed his head upon his right-hand palm—by the cheek, of which hand he elbowed upon his knee, of the leg which tapped the floor—tap, tap, tap, over and over. He, Mheshimiwa, who’d contested the MCA seat, stared at the table in front of him, and he permitted his head to sway, up and down, with the tapping of his foot, as he wondered, and wondered, and wondered—and his mind flew back into the campaign season…and the funds he had spent—10 million and more…and the loans he owed, 5 million and more—and next his mind flew forth, into the future—the next five years, during which time he’d wither in the cold, and a sound issued from the eye of his heart, and travelled out of his mouth, not to A. who stood on his left, nor B., who sat on the table, on his right—but shrank into inaudibility.

“Mgr-mgr!” said B, clearing his throat. “Mheshimiwa, did…did you say something?”

Mheshimiwa did not answer, but said, more to himself, “A, a, a!”

“Mheshimiwa, you lost this one square. I know. Call Mshindi (the competitor whom the R.O. declared winner, by 20 votes), and congratulate him. It is—”

“You, B., wait—” said A.

“—aa-aa. You listen, A.—”

“No! You worked for Mheshimiwa,” said A to B, “you work for Mheshimiwa, ya? ya—?”

“Of—of course. Of course I do—”

“—then you defend his candidacy! You—”

“—aa-aa. This one we have lost square. Mheshimiwa—Mheshimiwa,” said B., touching Mheshimiwa on the shoulder nearer him, “this one…this one we have lost. Asiye…asiye kubali kushindwa si nini? Eh, si nini—?”

And between their altercation, Mheshimiwa only but said, more to himself, “A, a, a!”

                                                                                ***

Then at once, reader, A.’s phone rang. Away from the table he stepped, to one corner of this spare room (the political room). Therefrom, he received his call, cupping his right-hand palm about his mouth, and speaking in the lowest voice, as not to agitate Mheshimiwa.

His conversation, went as follows, as his voice rose, by and by:

Yes? Who is this? Yes—yes, I know you. Things have not worked well…

Yes? What, 992? Or 929? Yes? Are you sure? Yes? I know—I know.

I understand. I will. I will not. I will. I will not, I promise…thank you—haya, bye. Haya, bye—thank you. Bye.

When he concluded the call, to Mheshimiwa, back at the couch, he dashed. “Mheshimiwa, Mheshimiwa,” said A., joggling Mheshimiwa’s knee, to rouse him out of his breakdown, “Mheshimiwa, look, we have a problem—you did not lose! Look at me—” and Mheshimiwa raised his head for the first time, and looked into A.’s eyes, his own eyes, teary and dark and deep “—trust me, Sir, something was done—” yet Mheshimiwa did not utter a word, but B., who jerked at A.’s arm, and straightened him up by it, so that they looked at each other full in the face, and next, B. said, in a hiss, “You know Mheshimiwa has ulcers! Why are you trying to mess with his mind—you work for him, right—?”

“I am his chief agent—why wouldn’t I—?” said A. in a loud voice, which disposed B. to pull him away from Mheshimiwa, to the same corner, wherefrom A. received a call earlier. And there B. said, “Look, don’t stress him more—”

And A. said, “Don’t be silly! Truth has nothing to do with ulcers—or—or stress—if—if he won, he won! Period!”

“He did not win!” said B., suppressing his voice under a whisper.

“He did!” from A.

“He did not!”

“He did,” said A., “polling station 12—polling station 12—this, this was under your supervision—what did Meshimiwa get there? How many?”

“Station 12 or 21?” said B.

“I said 12—how many votes?”

“900—and something…”

“Confirm, confirm, call. Call the person who was there—” said A.

“…it was 900—and twenties, yes. And twenties—”

“—confirm!”

Thus agent B. pulled his phone from his pocket, and called someone. When he made as if to walk away, so as to speak at the other corner, A. restrained him, by the arm. From his conversation on the phone, B. said the following:

Ya? Can you hear me? Hallo! Yes. What was the number? Yes—yes, 919? 929…919? Ah, yes. Yes. Ok.

And then he deposited the phone into his breast pocket.

“929,” he said.

“Ya!” said A., “there’s the problem! It was not 929—it was 992! Tulicheswo! He did not lose,” he said, pointing away at Mheshimiwa.

“What did you say?” said from Mheshimiwa, leaping from the couch to the two, at the corner.

“Mheshimiwa,” said B., “it is nothing, please go sit—”

“His votes were reduced and you tell him to sit down!” said A., snatching B. by the collar, “were you working for Mshindi—?”

“Leave me! I will hit you—leave me—” said B., liberating himself from A.’s grab. And Mheshimiwa, who now planted himself between them, as to avert a brawl, said to A. again, “what did you say?”

Before A. answered his boss, B., who clicked his tongue and mumbled to himself, rushed out of the room in protest, “People have decided!”

And now A. said to Mheshimiwa, in a whisper, “Sir, tulicheswo. Station 12. In station 12, you had 992—”

“Ah?” said Mheshimiwa, covering his mouth with a palm.

“—but in form 36B—”

“36A, you mean, 36A,” said Mheshimiwa, widening his mouth and eyes.

“—yes, yes. Instead of 992, they wrote 929…my source told me—you defeated him, Sir—”

“—yes?” said Mheshimiwa, clenching his fists, preparing for a reaction.

“You defeated Mshindi!”

“Yes!”

“Yes!” said A., hugging Mheshimiwa, who did not embrace back. “We will file a petition, Sir. This win is yours!”

“Is this,” said Mheshimiwa, holding A. from him, so he could observe his face, “is this source reliable?”

“Yes! I trust her, Sir. I will give you the full details tomorrow. But one thing you should know, Sir, mgr-mgr! Agent B., though he is your nephew, Sir…I think he betrayed you. He was working for Mshindi all this time, he was a mole!”


 

BOY IN THE CAMP LEARNS TO TELL A STORY_07

Anybody could write, if he understood how to sort his thoughts, select the verbs and nouns most fitting.

Anybody, anywhere—in Africa or America South, in Syria or Singapore, in Korea North or Kenya, Karen or Kakuma—could write, a poem or story, if it blazed in him, and the smoke smoldered his heart and incited his thoughts.

He could tell a story.

These sentiments, more or less, a boy, of sixteen or seventeen at the time—an estimation I reached given the vibration of his voice and the density of his beard and the texture of his face and the style of his conduct—infused in me one evening, in the accent of his former country, while he and I sat on a bench, at the edge of Napata grounds, Kakuma Refugee Camp. He was a boy of tall stature, and dark complexion, out of South Sudan, in search of safety; I was a young man of twenty-and-seven, on a mission for my media company, in search of news. He was a boy who had encountered this and that and all, as happens in a zone of conflict; I was a young man who possessed views of life as can be absorbed by kids who live in places devoid of conflict . He was called Biel, and I, then, and even now, Taifa Mkenya.

“My Friend, your work is finished?” said he, on that bench upon which we sat side by side that evening, the third sitting since we met. And the sun was still hot, and the rain was still missing, and little boys were still playing on this ground.

“No, no. I am here for three months more,” I said.

“You say to me yesterday you write for newspaper?”

“Mh-hm.”

“Which one? Me, I hear Nation¸ Standard…and even of outside, like Guardian and New York Times. Which one is—?”

“I don’t work for any of those. Mine is small—it is a startup company. One that is just beginning.”

“Me, I understand. You say you write story of life in this camp, but let me tell you—”

“Wait—” said I; he never allowed me to expound what I did there.

“—no, you wait, my Friend. Me, I read stories on this—” said he, lifting his smart phone and tapping it “—I read stories here. Many is not correct—”

“What is not correct?” I said.

“The stories I read here,” said he, tapping his phone still.

“How so?”

“My Friend. You come here, and talk to one, two, three people. Then write story. But me I live here, many years, since I was like this—” he estimated the height of an infant with his palm, off the ground “—you see. So me I understand. But you come here, talk to small people, and write story which has many wrong. Maybe you only write story of Somalis, or Congolese, or Rwandese, or even of Dinka only. So the story is true on small side and wrong on big side. I—”

“Ok. So, in your view—” said I.

“No, it is not to do with my view. And don’t feel bad, my Friend,” said he, tapping my shoulder, “me, I don’t say you are bad person. I don’t say your work is bad. Me, I know ni kutafuta unga. In Kiswahili you say like that, sindio? You understand? Me, I want to write stories of here, because me I live here. I understand what happen. So I have one beg. Can you help me?”

(we have so far covered 01 to 06)


TO TELL A STORY_07

That evening, after I discovered that Ayen helped Biel with his practice writing, I admonished the former. Then we agreed to skip a day and meet Friday of the same week. When we met again at the bench, the following happened.

Biel arrived first and a few minutes on, Ayen appeared. This time she wore a black trouser and a white blouse, and she came along with a small girl. The small girl whom Ayen came with had a white flower stuck into her hair, at the top of her head, and Ayen had her own hair bound by a white band. The two sat on my right, and Biel on my left.

As far as I noticed, the small girl knew Ayen, and the small girl knew Biel, but the small girl had not seen me, of course. She glanced at my face at one moment, and the next glanced at the ground. The next she checked my nose or chin, and the other my shoe. So she engaged herself, and meanwhile, Biel, Ayen and I, exchanged pleasantries. It then got to the turn where Ayen should introduce the small girl.

“Nana,” said Ayen, holding her by the shoulder, “greet my friend [me]. Tell him your name. Tell him.” But the girl submerged herself in shyness.

Ayen then prompted her to stand before us. “Nana, don’t be shy. Speak. What is your name?”

“Nana,” said the girl. She, the girl, was tall when she stood, she was slender, and she was introverted, or so she seemed.

Now I recalled what Ayen mentioned prior Wednesday when she read to me the names of her girls. I remembered she said Nana hailed from Burundi, she the girl who wrote. “Hallo,” I said to the girl, stretching my hand for a handshake, “hallo, Nana?”

“Hallo to you,” she said in a little voice, with a tinge of an accent, and looking at my shoes. Those days I wore these shoes with pointed and curved tips. Now Ayen continued the conversation from here. “Ask him his name,” she said to Nana the little girl.

“What is your name?” said Nana, fidgeting her fingers before her dress. I told her, Taifa. And she said, “Taifa who?” I told her, Taifa Mkenya. Then she said, “Are you from Kenya?” I said, Yes. Then she looked at Ayen, as though to secure permission to say a word. Ayen nodded, and Nana next said to me, “Do you know Anne?”

“Which Anne..?” I said, “Ah, Anne from Nairobi? Yes, yes, I do.” Then I waited for her to speak next. Few seconds passed and then she said, “I wrote her a poem titled Hear my Voice.

I then asked her if she could recite it. And she looked at Ayen again, who nodded, and Nana continued thus, I remember.

Girls were scattered across the world

By Him who created soul, flesh, and blood

Some girls fell in the desert, of Syria and Arabia

Others fell in cities, in Berlin, Tokyo, and Brasilia

Wherever she is, she needs care and schooling

This she gets in some places, elsewhere, fooling

Here at Kakuma we get the former, mostly

Though the latter erupts sometimes unexpectedly

I am Nana, hello to you, Anne

Your friendship I wish to earn

Nairobi, for me

For me, greet Nairobi

I followed her poem from beginning to end, and told her to repeat it, which she did, with more gusto. Nana sat down after her second recitation, and Ayen hugged her and brushed her hair in commendation. “Has Anne replied to your email?” said Ayen, and Nana shook her head, upon which Ayen advised her to allow Anne more time to respond, and expect the response over the weekend latest.

Ayen and Nana having stopped conversing now, I turned to Biel and asked him how things fared. “My Friend,” he said, “me I have been fine. My brother in the house was sick of malaria, but he is good now. Me I got drugs for him from the clinic and give him to swallow, though he vomit most of the tablets but I force him to take. I block his nose and put the last tablet in his throat and pour a jug of water inside. He cough but he swallow finally. Thank God. But me myself I am very good, and I have written more pages, see—”

“Ah, let me see,” I said, receiving his practice book, from which I read the following narration.

When the four South Sudanese came from the mud of the White Nile they walk faster-faster to the restaurant of The Nile Queen. The lady Adut walk with the young man Luok, in front; while, the two young men—Gat and Deng, follow them tudup tudup. They pass through lines of shopping structures on both sides of the path they walk. And some of these shops and buildings, the war charred dark, and left broken, because of the arson and looting that fly on the wings of war. Along the path they see boulders, and tires—some burnt, some planted on the road as barriers. These were the remnants of the war, because at this time, today, nobody stopped them. On the steps of the shops they see people seated. Some old, some young; some female, some male; some curious, some relaxed. “Those people look at us funny. They think we are refugees,” said Gat to Deng, whom he walked by, behind the pair of Adut and Luok.

They covered one corner of the path and then the restaurant revealed itself. And they hurried there. In, they entered, and sat around one table, Deng and Gat on one side, Adut and Luok on the other. At once Deng said, “Waiter! Waiter, bring ‘Kisra’.”

Against this, Adut said, “Kisra makes me vomit. No Kisra on this table. Or I will move.”

#To be continued…

A week goes and languages grow; my stories so.

[The typer of these words is a breaker of English. Creator of words. Attempter of waggish things. Marveler of nature. Enjoyer of life. Lover of strangers. Taster of cultures. Writer of Tom James. Editor. Snap-shooter. Storyteller. Future husband. Teacher. Learner. Soon a traveler. And he wants to entertain you]