Tag: Uncertainty

BOY IN THE CAMP LEARNS TO TELL A STORY_05

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 04)


TO TELL A STORY_05

The next time we met at the bench was Tuesday, and it was about to rain—and whenever it rained in Kakuma, it poured. This time Biel had not come, but he’d sent Ayen to submit his practice writing on his behalf. The previous day Ayen had asked me if I had any friends outside the country, to which I agreed. At first I had thought she wanted to leave the camp, and so intended to obtain a list of foster homes from me, or something like it; but I realized I was misguided. As we talked on yesterday, I learnt Ayen mentored some little girls in the camp, five in number, and she wanted to find pen pals for them, in other countries, so they could share stories through letters. We left the matter standing, at which point I promised to reach to anyone I knew in neighboring countries and even far away in other continents, and revert to her Wednesday, latest.

Why today she represented Biel, she said, “My brother,” referring to me, “my friend has gone to take his share of food, because it is about to rain, and if he misses today he will stay two weeks without. If he finishes early he will come here, if not, he will meet you tomorrow. That is why he sent me. How are you doing, my brother?”

I said I was doing well indeed, at which point I received Biel’s work from her, and read it as follows:

Image: photopin.com/ivan.zanolla
Image: photopin.com/ivan.zanolla

Chwaa chwaa the oars pushed the water; now left side, next right, next left, now right side of the boat; and on they moved; all quiet but the water, chwaa, chwaa. Gat and Deng sat on the back of the boat, and Adut and Luok in front, and the boat rider at the middle, rowing, chwaa, chwaa. The four, all from Malakal, were going to Lul, to look for Gat’s sister, who had escaped during the confusion in the war in Malakal; but now the war in the whole South Sudan had ended, including Malakal.

It was now late morning, and the sun had risen and faced them from the front, for they headed to the east, crossing the White Nile from the west. The four had intended to visit The Nile Queen restaurant, to drink breakfast there, before continuing with the journey northward. But all the four were silent, not because they lacked stories to share, but because Adut (a fine Dinka woman) disliked Deng who was Dinka, and Deng who I have just said was Dinka, hated Luok who was Nuer, and friend of Adut.

Chwaa chwaa the oars pushed the water; now left side, next right, next left, now right side of the boat; and on they moved; all quiet but the boat rider, who now cleared his voice as if he prepared to speak. On they moved, and now the boat rider said, midway the river, “I must ask you, you people, where are you going?” He must have noticed the four acted in manner indicating they had quarreled or fought, or that one, or two of them, was held under duress of some kind. This boat rider obtained an answer from Deng, who had sat behind him, which went like this:

“Mind your own rowing business.”

After a while however, Gat, who had sat next to Deng at the back of the boat, elbowed him on the ribs and now said to the boat rider, “We are going to Lul.”

Chwaa chwaa the oars pushed the water; now left side, next right, next left, now right side of the boat; the boat was long, the boat was wide, the boat was black—like the water, the boat was of oak, and the oars so. And on they moved; all quiet but the boat rider, who then asked Adut and Luok, who sat in front of him, their names. To this question Luok answered for himself and Adut, and the boat rider in turn said he was called Kamau, from Kenya.

Chwaa chwaa the boat rider rowed, without talking, then soon he said to all of them, “Are you all Nuer? Or all Dinka?”

Gat, who led the team, identified his comrades, to which Kamau from Kenya said, as he rowed, “My friends, let me say something. You see me…me I grew up in western Kenya, in some place called Kisumu, at the shores of Lake Victoria—”

“I know that place,” said Adut, the Dinka lady who had not spoken so far on the boat.

“Haiya,” said Kamau, the boat rider, “you have been there?” and chwaa chwaa he rowed, on and on.

“Yes. We went for university exchange program, in a university called Museno.”

“You mean, Maseno?” said Kamau.

“Eeh, yes! Yes,” said Adut.

“Aah, Maseno…Maseno, it is a very nice place. So,” said Kamau, “me I was saying, I grew and lived in Kisumu for many years. The Lord blessed me with a wife, a child and boats. Many boats. These boats, I used to rent them to fishermen, young people, of about your age. And they would pay me. I lived like that.” Chwaa chwaa, on and on, he rowed, sweating and talking: “one day, some years ago, clashes started, after a general election, and now everybody turned against everybody. Me I can tell you my friends, war is bad, very bad. Mgrh, mgrh!” said he, clearing his throat. Then on an on, kamau rowed, not speaking.

“What happened to your family?” said Adut, after some moment of silence.

“My friend, me I tell you, in short, they died in the clashes. Me I don’t like remembering it. I just say it to you my friends because I know peace is good. To cut the story short, me I came here, because there was a brother of mine living in Malakal. He bought for me this boat and gave me some money to start with. So my friends, we thank God for life.”

#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. Attempterof waggish things. Marveler of nature. Enjoyer of life. Lover of strangers. Taster of cultures. Author of Tom James. Editor. Snap-shooter. Storyteller. Future husband. Teacher. Learner. Soon a traveler]

CHRONICLES OF A NEW WRITER_24

They say a cat leads nine lives; a butterfly, several; and a true Christian, two: here and hereafter. I do not know about a drug peddler, whom I had become. Anyway, what I had become I didn’t know anymore, in the manner of understanding myself as before. And what Jane might say about my new tendency, I didn’t mind anymore. And what neighbors would think about my abrupt wealth, well…they could have written a gossip column about it, for all I minded.

I worked and walked more at night than day. I slept more during the day than night. I bought a sweatshirt with a hood to cover my head and face, and shades for my eyes too. I walked with my head stooped; and I became wary of new faces, which I often supposed detectives, or avengers, who might have prowled after me, in desire to locate my house, or place of work. These maneuvers I employed, partly out of my choice–for obscurity, and partly  out of a directive from Ken (my supervisor), who oversaw the distribution business.

At home, Jane had become livelier, as she neared the end of her pregnancy term. Three months had passed, since I discovered that  JLK Regional Suppliers Company, for which I had earlier worked as an accountant during the day, peddled cocaine during the night. One of the conditions Ken issued to me after the discovery, included: not sharing with anybody, related to me by blood or spirit (as he knew at one point I went to church once a while). So, when Jane asked where I got all the money, to furnish the house, and buy her a small car, all within two months, I said I had worked harder than any man in the city ever had.

The change in our station inspirited her, and she dropped the militant tendency, which she had acquired not long past.  One night, she said, “Taifa, Bae, what would you do, say…if, for example, ah—let me put it this way. Would you accept a kid that is not yours?”

I said children were innocent creatures of God, whose emergence shouldn’t instigate a dispute. She said I had dodged her question. I said again, that children were innocent creatures of God, whose emergence shouldn’t cause a party, to dodge a responsibility upon the other party. She said I had dodged her question the second time, but that it mattered little at the time. In this I read a possibility that the soon-to-be-born baby might be Fred’s, my former roommate. Anyway, we counted down the days, to a week or so.

By now I had acquired a muscle, what you may call ‘financial muscle’; and I did remit funds to my uncle in Maili Tisa, once a week. He would appreciate, and then castigate me for refusing to marry a good girl, whom he and his wife had hunted for me. I never revealed to him, that at the time, Jane had choked me so, that I had not a breathing room, nor decision making capacity, nor any freedom whatever.

About the lecturer, Caren’s husband; our friendship flourished. He gave me, for free, a book he had published, on writing styles. I found it (the book) engaging, and mind-opening. I never discontinued the routine (even in my change of fortune) of writing articles and submitting to the lecturer for review. These later times, I wrote about our drug operations at night: how we, Alex, Peter, Eric and I, and sometimes with Ken himself, drove to Dandora, or Eastleigh, to ferry coke. I wrote about the times policemen would stop us, and one of us, mostly Ken, would leave the car to talk to them. I wrote about the instance when a disagreement arose between us and the guys from whom we bought drugs down in Eastleigh, and Eric chose to burst the head of one of them with a bullet, before my eyes, to scare the rest of them into an understanding. I wrote about how I (using other characters of course) often feared for my life, as we had obtained intelligence, that rival gangs plotted a revenge against us. I also wrote about my domestic affairs; mainly about Jane, and how she had changed, and behaved more wifely. All these I wrote, and submitted to the lecturer myself, without Jane objecting, as she had done many weeks before; and the lecturer said, if I continued with the same fervor, I would make a  fine novelist someday.

The day of labor arrived, one Sunday morning, in the month of October. I drove Jane to a hospital in Nairobi, and admitted her. This being my first experience in childbirth, I called Jane’s mother, that she might apply her experience in this matter. I stayed with my mother-in-law in the hospital till evening. Meanwhile, many thoughts danced in my mind, and the lady noticed my agitation.

“Taifa, it will be fine,” said she.

“Yap,” said I.

“I know you will make an excellent father.”

“Yap.”

I never worried about the success of the procedure and all, to say the truth, but whether  the kid would be mine or no.

Jane became a mother, at 6:45 pm, and at once named the boy, Taifa Jr. And she maintained that that name would stay, even against the playful persuasions from her mother, who hoped the kid might be named after her own father (Jane’s grandfather). The nurse permitted us to see Mother Jane, sometime in the early night.

When I laid my eyes upon her, I felt a different level of reverence for her, that I had never felt before. I saw her as a mother, and not as a wife per se. I felt some form of triumph, and excitement, to have been attached to her.

Then the turn came to look at the baby.

She had covered it in a shawl, everywhere, but its face. I bent to observe its face, and noticed that half of its nose looked like Fred’s, and the other half, looked like mine. Then I scrutinized the lips, and accepted that the upper lip resembled Fred’s, and the lower, mine. I said, “Hello toto, hello toto,” so it might open its small eyes. When it did, I noticed it had a dark left eye, like Fred’s, and a brighter, right eye, like mine. I then searched for one of its hands within the shawl, and said, “Toto, say hi to daddy, say hi to daddy.”

Meanwhile, Jane looked at my face, and all the while said, “Bae, isn’t he cute. Taifa Jr., isn’t he cute?” and I would nod and say, “Yap, yap,” when in truth, a foreign feeling crept up my gut. I found the tiny hand, at last. I fished it out of the shawl, and said, as I looked at it, “Boy, aren’t  you cute?” I observed that its thumb resembled my thumb, and all the other fingers, resembled all the fingers that Fred, my former roommate, had.

I have never thought it possible that a man may at one time in his life need to betray two opposite and strong feelings at the same time. It would work, if a man could split his face into two, I think. In my case, I say, one side of my face, or of my brain, felt the reverence and pride for Mother Jane, and urged me to stay in her life; yet the other side of my face, where my left eye sees from, felt confusion, and betrayal, somewhat, as I found it easier to believe the beautiful boy wasn’t mine. I looked at Jane with both my eyes, and I could see that she received conflicting signals.

“Honey, are you very happy, or very scared?” she said, “Do you need to sit down?”

#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. Author of Tom James. Editor. Snap-shooter. Storyteller. Future husband. Teacher. Learner. Soon a traveler]

CHRONICLES OF A NEW WRITER_12

Stranded in the city. Expelled by your host, at night. And you possess little money. What would you do?

Would I were a magician; for then I’d have prophesied my host ejecting me, after eight months of stay at his place.

Would I were a seer; for so I’d have perceived that Jane would like me at length—and I’d have eluded her.

Would I were observant, I wouldn’t have caused myself this hassle.

But who am I? A young boy, a young graduate, a jobseeker from Maili Tisa. Who am I to foretell outcomes?

What transpired, I admit, qualified as disreputable. I betrayed my host. Whether, some day or year, I’d receive his mercy, this Fred’s mercy, I couldn’t tell. But what confronted my thoughts, at this instant, as I stood there at Fred’s door, that night, with the huge padlock mocking me, with all my property scattered about the door and along the corridor—what confronted my thoughts, exasperated me so. I’d begun work there at River Road few months ago. Hitherto, I hadn’t accumulated enough money to rent my own place. Where would I go? Matano, my long-time friend, lived with his parents in Buruburu Esate. I couldn’t request him to talk to his parents. For Peter, Eric, and Adam, I knew where they lived. Nevertheless, I couldn’t surprise them with my desire for refuge.

What about Jane Shish, the instigator of my distress? Still, she lived with her mother in Buruburu. What would she say, if I called her to report that Fred ejected me because she cheated on him, with me? No, I wouldn’t call her. And even if she stayed alone, I wouldn’t have considered staying at her place.

As I moved about the door (Fred’s locked door), racking my mind, neighbors descended (or ascended the stairs). Some saw me but continued their locomotion. Some saw me, stood, but continued their locomotion. Some saw me, stood, coughed, but continued their locomotion. Some saw me, stood, coughed, shook their heads, but continued their locomotion. I told you before, citizens in this Fred’s flat—and most flats in the city, seldom shared a smile, or a greeting from the land of decency. If any of them talked to me, as to express shock or empathy, I’d have implored her or him to host me for the night. And this fact, they knew, I think.

Stranded in the city. Expelled by your host, at night. And you possess little money. What would you do?

In my wallet, I possessed 3,000 shillings that evening. And in my bank account, 1,500 more. This amount totaled, would satisfy my stomach sustenance for the rest of that month of August, 2014. If I should rent my own place, in the zone of Kawangware Estate, I’d require 20,000, more or less. House owners stipulated that new tenants finance up to two months’ rent, prior. In that jumble of ideas and distress, I also contemplated migrating to Eastlands (east of Nairobi), where I could pay less rent, of course for commensurate service, as of the condition of the house, water supply, security, and so forth.

In this despondent shape, I remembered my uncle, back in Maili Tisa, with his wife and seven daughters. A long long time had elapsed, since I talked to him on phone. Anyway, at this moment, I couldn’t help it. By now I had leaned on the rail, overlooking the ground floor. I remembered how families existed back at home. How, if a wretched circumstance befell you, such as the one that overwhelmed me now, you turned to relatives to undergird you. How you never endured alone. And I felt I should go back home to farm, or engage myself in any other pursuit, so long as family surrounded me. I remembered Uncle’s wife. What a tenacious personality she presented, even when, and more so when Uncle battered her.

And in thinking about my folks in Maili Tisa, my mind, and my soul, by and by, de-stressed. At length, I don’t know what hour the night had recorded, I realized my tribulations paled in comparison to the sick in hospitals, the bereaved, the divorced, and the dead. And I allowed I’d breathe one day at a time. Concluding thus, I hauled my property, one after another, downstairs, and set them in a corner at the parking lot, and covered them with a black polythene paper I found there. How many trips it took me to finish this activity, I don’t remember. When I completed this transportation business, I went to the janitor’s cubicle on the ground floor, and requested him to secure my property. I induced him with 100 shillings, then left that flat.

I walked out, homeless. I walked out, chased. I walked out, uncertain of what tomorrow held. Outside, it was so cold, it was so lonely (though people thronged the paths), and it was so noisy. To Kawangware Stage, I trudged. I figured I’d secure a room there for the night. As I moved, imaginations flew in and out of my mind. How would I survive? Some thoughts walked with me. Some thoughts walked ahead of me, and beckoned. Some thoughts followed me from far. Let me share with you what I decided to do, in time. And what I decided to do in time, concerns one of the thoughts that followed me from far, behind. This particular thought, that preceded my decision, staggered to catch up with me. When it realized it wouldn’t get to me, it said:

“Taifa! Wait.”

I stopped. Two strides from me, that thought said:

“See, you don’t have to worry, you can ask your uncle to give you money.”

“Aha, I see,” said I.

“See, he must have harvested his sugarcane by now, it’s over eighteen months since he harvested last.”

“Aha, I see. I could borrow some 30,000 from him, then refun—”

“No! I have a better idea! Listen…”

That thought presented me with an idea that both conveyed my sense of need and urgency.

At Kawangware Stage, behind some bars and nightclubs, I secured a room for 500. This attendant who served me, asked if I’d need anything else. I said I wouldn’t eat a thing. She asked if I’d spend the night alone. I said I bore tribulations that no girl could unburden. The key (numbered 05) to my room, she handed me. Upstairs to my room, on the fifth floor, I hurried. As I ascended, I met or passed, girls and boys, in arms of harmony, with bottles, chatting, giggling, and kissing. Two times, I’d to flatten myself against the wall to allow for peaceful passage. Anyway, by and by, I got to my room and unlocked it and flicked on the light. It contained, this my house for the night: a basin, a pair of mismatched slippers, one blue, the other red; a bed of wire that sang when I sat on its tongue-thin mattress, one white bed sheet spotted with dark marks, one brown pillow, almost-finished tissue paper, a basin and a pail of water (a contingency measure against shower failure), a black bible on a stool and a dead cockroach beside it. The room had a window, but the panes couldn’t open, and so the smell that hung about the room would sleep with me tonight. This discomfort notwithstanding, I allowed I’d sleep well, without nightmares.

I bolted the door. I removed my shoes, then lay on the bed, on my back. Before I slept, I resolved I’d execute the idea that thought presented me with. On my phone, I dialed Uncle’s number, and when he received my call, I said:

“Heeey! Uncle? Hallo? Can you hear me?”

“Hallo? Ye—yes…I can hear you now. Surely, you have been quiet!” said Uncle.

“It is work. It is work, Uncle, I hav—”

“Even if it is work…my son, even if it is work, it is good to call, once in a while, so…so that…so tha—”

“Yap?”

 “I’m saying like this…listen son. I’m saying like this. Even if it is work, you should call us once in a while, you hear me?

“Yap.”

“Yesh. Anyway, I hear you got a job. Joan told me.”

“Yap.  It is some informal work in a shop. It—”

“It does not matter. You have to start somewhere. Yesh.”

“Yap. How, how is home?”

“We are good. Nothing bad to talk about. But you remember Thomas? Thomas. The eldest son of Makeke. He died a month ago,” said Uncle. Now, I began to lose control of the conversation. And my airtime kept dwindling.

“There is nothing bad to talk about. But you remember the cow I bought last? It died last week. It—”

“I’m sorry Unlc—”

“—it died when it ate a sponge. It—”

“I’m sorry Uncle. But why I called, why I called you, I wante—”

“—it ate the sponge that Joan uses to clean dishes. And it—”

“—I wanted you to loan me 50,000!”

He heard me, for he presently halted his tale of dead cow and sponges. An awkward silence then followed. And I waited for his response. From my room, you could hear vehicles hooting outside. When Uncle spoke, he said:

“Oh.”

“Yap,” said I.

“And…and 50,000, what do you want to do with 50,000?”

“Uncle, listen. I’ve been applying for scholarship to join a university in Eastern Europe. And today, they have just called me to inform me that I won a scholarship there. But they only want me to get air fare and passport and visa. Visa is like…it’s like a…”

“I know what it is.”

“Yap.”

“And this university, what is it called?”

I invented a name.

“Mn-hm. Good. Good. You mean, you mean you’re going to study in the land of white people?”

“Yap, Uncle. Yap.”

“Joan! Margaret! Come! Come talk to Taif—”

My call disconnected, on account of zero airtime. I’d expected that he’d call me back, before anything else; but a text message saying I’d received 70,000 from Uncle preceded his call.

#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. Author of Tom James. Editor. Snap-shooter. Storyteller. Future husband. Teacher. Learner. Soon a traveler]

CHRONICLES OF A NEW WRITER_11

Dear reader, wherever you sit or stand—as you interpret the following words, a boy says, “Hello.”

A boy, named Taifa Mkenya (who is me) reported on the recent recount that he secured a job there at Nairobi’s River Road. Under Supervisor Ken, the boy worked. That occupation, like he said, revolved around supplies and all: household items, stationery, and so on. Other workmates existed too; in the persons of Eric Kama, Peter, and Adam Mwala (who combined with us after two months).

This work engaged me so. Early in the morning, day after day (but Sundays), I awoke and left our Kawangware estate for work; then I’d return to the house late at night. Ken Onyango he rewarded me fifteen thousand Kenya shillings, with a promise of increment, should my service fascinate him. Assured thus, I toiled like a mule. When a boy submerges his mind and body in a consuming enterprise, his time flies. July of 2014 appeared and disappeared. When August began, the harvesting season, more farm produce dotted the city—at groceries and estate markets. And prices, of those farms produce, on the whole, lowered. One Sunday evening, the second week of August, I recall, Jane Shish, she asked me to accompany her to Muthurwa, a downtown common market, so she could buy some farm produce for her family.

Hitherto, I had grasped and embraced the peculiarities of them city walkers and dwellers. Even in that populous River Road Street, where our work premise located, I learnt to shove against oncoming bodies, scurry—whether in a hurry or none, and to secure my wallet and any valuable in my pockets—by a-wearing taut trousers.

Photo: google
Photo: google

So Muthurwa, a wilder spot than River Road, didn’t frighten me much.

That Sunday evening, I encountered Jane somewhere along Tom Mboya Street, then we descended towards Muthurwa.

“I see you’ve grown man. You look good!” she said.

“Thanks,” said I. If she meant I’d compounded weight, I believed her. Reader, before I joined Ken’s employ four months ago, I’d weighed 49 kilograms. Now, in this month of August of 2014, I hit 50 kilograms.

“Hey, you’ve been so quiet man,” she said, “Did I bore you?”

“Oh, no, no!” said I, as I turned to eye her. She looked tired, or burdened, I don’t know. A-figuring out the disposition of a girl is complex analysis, say I. Today she wore a pink top and a black trouser. And her locks of hair remained unsecured.

My hand touched her shoulder without my express permission. “No, how could a girl like you bore any boy?” continued I. Her customarily bright eyes remained dull today. “Are you OK?”

“Ish-ish,” said the girl.

“Look, if you need anything—”

“No, no I’m good.”

At length, we reached our destination. Jane she bought a volume of goods, including farm produce, all stuffed in nylon paper bags. Carry these things, I helped her, back to town. To her bus stage, we headed; to those matatus that ply CBD-Buruburu route, stationed along Tom Mboya Street.

“How is Buruburu?” said I.

“OK.”

“Everyone in your family?”

“Yes, thanks.”

“Look,” I began, “I haven’t been silent for any particular reason, just that—”

“I get it, Taifa. I do.”

Silence then prevailed awhile. The she continued, “Ken, Peter, Eric and the others—you are getting along well?”

“Yap.”

The luggage I carried for her drained my energy, and I sweated like a pig, and panted like a dog.

“What…what about you and Fred?” said I. Reader, I told you in the past recounts that Fred hosted me, since the first day I materialized in this city in the sun. I waited for her to report she related well with Fred. I didn’t wish to hear they fought or broke up—especially on account of my two-time stint with her, a secret I buried deep in my soul. And prayed she did likewise.

“Things haven’t been the same since,” said she. I swallowed hard, cleared my throat and said, “Aallright…”

“Are you scared?” she said.

“Yap. No! I mean, Fred is my friend—he has supported me all this time. What happened between you and me—happened, but he’s still my friend, and—”

“So you didn’t like it?”

“Oh God, Shish, loo—look here,” we stopped on a pavement, near where she’d board a matatu to Buruburu, “what I mean is…wha—what I mea—”

“You liked it or not? YES or NO?”

“Shish…listen—please listen, Fred, Fre—Fred is…Fre—”

“Fred my thigh! I’m talking to you now. Did you like it?”

“Of course you know I did, but—”

“Would you like to have it again?”

“No. Yap! Bu—”

“No buts! He knows.”

“Jesus! What?” said I, a-placing all her luggage there on the pavement. Passersby they started a-looking at us.

“I told him.”

“You just woke up and told him.”

“Yes.”

I grabbed her shoulders, shook them, and said, “Why? Why in the beautiful city would you do that? I thought this was a secret?”

“Me too.”

Imaginations of all proportions flooded my mind. Fred would kill me. He’d hosted me for many months. And gave me money and cloths and a phone and food. Then I preyed on her girl. But I never initiated it. Jane Shish she started it—there at Umoja housewarming party. That day I drank myself into unconsciousness and some girl worked on me (and Jane confessed it was she). Then she came another day when you Fred was not in the house and we did it again. I’m sorry Fred. I really am. I would explain myself to Fred when I got home, then blows would ensure, nonetheless. Murderous blows.

“Don’t worry Taifa,” she said.

“Don’t worry?”

“Taifa!” she said, I’d began a-walking away, a-leaving her with her luggage, “Please don’t go.”

I returned and hauled her goods into the bus. Meanwhile, onlookers had found a fascinating scene in our act. After moving her luggage, I walked away without a word.

A matatu back to our Kawangware estate, I boarded. I knew Fred would wrench me, or I would hurt him—in self-defense. Why did I do it? I asked myself. I didn’t do it, I told myself. Jane did it, she should blame herself. But I did the second act, I should blame myself.

Time flew. Darkness had coated the sky when I alighted. Why did I do it? Why did she do it? She asked me if I liked it. Did I like it? No. Yes. Did she like it? Yes. Would Fred like it? Are you kidding?

I opened that our main gate. I made sure that metallic gate never creaked or tinged. What if Fred lay in wait for me, as soon as I entered? That building lacked power, a faulty power line somewhere. Quiet prevailed.  Risky quiet. Dangerous darkness. My way, I knew. Up the stairs, I stepped. Like a cat. My right hand tracked the rail. My left hand touch my chest, where the heart beats. My mouth remained open. My breathing, noiseless.

By and by, I reached the landing on the third floor, stepped upon it. To our door, to Fred’s door, I groped. Why wouldn’t I use my phone’s flash light? Why would I want to betray my position—if Fred lay in wait? Before I could hold the door, I hit on an object, oh, two of them, then more of them, lumped at the door. Then the lights emerged, and I glimpsed all my belongings strewn all over—to the adjacent doors, along the corridor, and some had dropped to the ground floor, my towel and a sock hang on the rail. On Fred’s door, a mighty padlock stared back at me. So it happened.

#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. Author of Tom James. Editor. Snap-shooter. Storyteller. Future husband. Teacher. Learner. Soon a traveler]