Tag Archives: Africa

I’m Being Stalked! 

Be on the look out!

‘Hey, mambo?’ She said. Hey, how are you?  I didn’t see her coming. She must have sneaked up on me. I had been busy typing a reply to a text message and all my attention had been drawn to it. I was just leaving work, at around half past seven. When I looked up, she had her hands outstretched for a handshake. 

‘Oh, poa.’ I responded reaching for her hand. Oh, fine. Her palm was soft but her fingers tiny inside mine, felt like I was squeezing life out of them and I let go. 

‘Umetoka mapema sana leo,’ she pressed on,’ungetoka saa tatu.’ You closed work early today, you should have left at 9pm.  She seemed determined to extend the conversation to my dislike. 

‘Niko sawa.’ I scowled, trying to ignore her comment. I’m alright . She forced a plain laugh and then started walking away. 

‘Have a goodnight…Tony!’ She said in a raised voice. With the momental pause before saying my name, I’m sure she was trying to recall it. She wanted to let me know that she knew my name. I wasn’t  impressed by that, she was pushing too hard.

 
That was the first conversation we ever had. After that she developed a wont – passing in front of my shop several times a day. Whenever our eyes meet, she waves. When they don’t and there is no buyer, she comes to shake hands. Now, it’s not that I have never seen her, in fact her face for over a year now but she never did take notice of me or looked at me like she does now, we’ve always been strangers and just conducting our affairs like strangers do. She’s charcoal black – that’s the first thing I ever noticed, darker than I thought I was. And she’s one of the few ladies I would say, are proud to be really African, if you know what I mean. She is slightly above five feet tall, keeps her hair cut to almost an inch above her scalp, with the sides of the head trimmed shorter, mohwak kind of. Her face is… somehow… rectangular. Big white eyes, a small nose, and  brief mouth – with thin lips curled upwards at the ends in a sneer. She has a long neck, which isn’t so bad. Her body is lean, and then she walks her bossom is pushed up as if she were carrying a bucket of water on her head from the river, on a steep slope, and she’s supporting it with both her hands. Bottom line is, she’s not my kind of girl, she doesn’t tickle my fancy.

The other day, I confided in a friend of mine about her wierd and sudden friendliness. His answer was; she has a crush on you. I laughed out loud, really loud. That evening she came to my shop to buy some antihistimine tabs, she did the outstretching-hand thing again, and I took her hand reluctantly. I felt some fear grip my heart making it feel like a clenched fist in my chest. I let my hand slip away and then got her the drug. She was smiling and I was tempted to ask what she was smiling at but I couldn’t. She was about to begin a conversation when my phone began ringin, to my relief. She walked away. When I was done with the phone call, I noticed a piece of paper on the counter top, it hadn’t been there earlier, before she came. Out of curiosity, I picked it up and unfolded it -it was folded once,symmetrically. It was some kind of a note, surprisingly, with my name on it. 

Hello Tony, 

Please I am sorry but it’s really very bad to keep quiet with something that pains. You know what? I am almost even having a wound in my heart because of you. Yesterday was not my first time to see. Since the day I came, I saw you but there was no way of talking to you. 

I am Sharon. Originally I’m a Ugandan. 

Please help me, call 0711 949 ***, or I just come back for my reply. 

Note: I don’t have someone to love me or a fiance nor a child. 

I read the note twice, the more I read it the more comical it sounded. It was so full of errors but I got the message.  Then something made me freeze…originally I’m Ugandan. Now, there’s this belief that the land of  matoke has the most potent love potions. What if she had applied some of it on the note? Then I will be under her spell, following her everywhere like her shadow. If she says I bark like a dog, I would do it without second thoughts. If she says walk on fours like the dog, then I would be on it, I’ll be her puppet. That’s horrible. Just that mere thought got me shaking. I had to do something, real fast. The Bible. Yes, I had to undo it using the Holy Book. Neutralize the power of that potion, should there be any. I reached for the Bible that had been gathering dust inside a box of books. I held it on my palms, not knowing what I should do. The first impulse was to place the note inside the Bible, that’s where it had to be.

I had to keep her away from me. I wasn’t going to let her come back for her reply. What if she decided to chew some of those potions! I decided to give her some feedback through the number she had provided in the note. In the text message, I told her that I am happily married, with a kid. Her reply was: pliz not for sex. Who even talked of sex? I decided I’m not having a conversation on that. She calls when I don’t reply, then Truecaller app installed on my phone gives me one of the most genius suggestion, Block Spam Calls.  I go for it, sit back and try to relax. 

A Letter To My Brother Overseas.

Letter To My Brother Overseas

Dear Otis, 

It is with deep sorrow, mixed with enthusiasm, that I write you this letter from your village, Mlaha – do you even remember that name, your village’s name? Sorrow because I miss you so much my brother, and enthusiasm because this is the first letter I have written to you  and because I believe it will reconnect us. OK, how are you doing over there? It’s been 25 years since you left home for loka (overseas ), 25 long dreary years. I was your favorite… remember?… and you had promised to come back for me, I was only five then. Do you even remember me, Onyango?  I pray you still do, because just a mere thought that you might have forgotten my name, brings me down to tears. 

When you left for the white man’s land, mother told us( me and our two sisters) that you were going to become pastor, preaching the message to the whites. We got very proud and bragged all over the village about it, about how great you were going to become. Anytime an aeroplane flew over the village, I told my friends that it was carrying you, and they believed it, because I believed so, too. Mom became the envy of the village, her son had flown on a plane, to the land yonder. You instantly became an inspiration. I remember the letters you sent home occasionally, mom kept them under her mattress because they meant so much  to her. Once, I did still a letter to go and show it off to my friends, mom found out and I received a dog’s beating, but I didn’t mind, because you promised to come for me and the beating will be no more. 

When I clocked Seven years and began attending school, your letters reduced to one in a year, we couldn’t understand why, but mom always told us that you must be busy preaching the word of God. That consoled me but still I looked forward to the letters. Eventually, the letters abated. What ever made you stop? Still, my childish heart trusted and hoped and waited. The planes flew above occasionally, but they brought us no news of you. Were there no pens and papers? 

One day I found mom praying to God to take care of you, she begged God to tell her why you had stopped sending letters. I listened outside her bedroom hoping to hear what God would tell her, but no answer came. I heard her sobbing and I got scared, I found myself too letting down a free flow of tears wash my tender face. I was only ten years. From then, mom stopped talking about you. I took care not to broach the subject anytime she was around. Another day, our younger sister, Akech, mentioned your name and I could see nothing but marked dread in mama’s eyes. I could tell she was hurting inside, she just didn’t want us to know, or get worried. That day she went to bed early and when she woke up next day morning, she was sick. I retreated to that bush next to our home and cried my heart out, I cried for myself, and I cried for mama too. I prayed to God in those tears, those young tears. I begged Him to answer mama’s prayers, I implored him to, at least, send a message to you. I shouted to planes flying over the village to bring you back home, to let you know that we miss you terribly. 

By the way, when grandma passed away, why didn’t you come? Did she not send you dreams of her demise? We waited for you and even extended the burial date, just in case your flight had been delayed, but nothing. We were really optimistic that you wouldn’t miss grandma’s burial. You had promised to buy her a car, and even take her to Nairobi before she dies, what happened to that pledge? I’m sure she is so sad in her grave, she did fight death, a gruesome battle it had been. She lived every second holding tight to those promises, they kept her alive. Like mama, she was haunted by your silence. She lived in despair till her dying day. In her eyes she still clung to a thin thread of hope, that one day, someday you would show up at the gate. And all the silense would be like a mirage. Some kind of a weird dream she had been having. She grew frail each passing day, until finally death wrestled breathe out of her withered lungs. 

My brother, mum almost died that moment, when you didn’t show up for the burial. She got so depressed. It’s like she was trying to burry you with grandma, to ease her pain. She had a nervous breakdown, wish you had seen the anguish in her eyes. The agony of losing her eldest son. What pulled her out of it, was Okong’os return from… um… the U.K. He had gone there only five years earlier ,and drove back to the village receiving a king’s welcome. He had come home and gave mama some cash, saying  he saw you and you sent him with the money, and that you promised to come home soon. And that you apologised for the silence. He brought no letter though. Was it true? That you sent him? We began the wait with renewed energy. We pictured you coming home, driving your own car. Probably, with a white wife. Mom was alive again. 

Otis, do you have a heart?  Did we, your family members, wrong you in any way? You know that you had been like a father to us after dad’s death, we all looked up to you, even mama. Why did you have to desert us? Was it a sin so heavy that you can’t forgive us? Mama died four years ago. She collapsed one afternoon and that was the end of her. The doctors said she died of a heart attack. Mama missed you to death. Thinking of you is what did her in. If only you had written a letter to her, it might have made a difference. Maybe she still would have been alive. We buried her and I tried to burry you with her like she tried to do with grandma, but I couldn’t. I almost lost my mind, but I had to remain sane for our lastborn. 

Our other sister, Auma, got married, married to a man who is married to alcohol. She endures beatings and insults, and no matter how much I try to talk her out of the marriage, she remains adamant. All she says is: You don’t understand.  Maybe she is right, I don’t understand. I managed to send our lastborn to a Teachers Training College and she’s graduating next year. I don’t have a formal job here at home and that has made it a living hell for us. I have cut down most of the trees on our land, for sale and others I used to burn charcoal, just to make sure Akech completes her training. Recently, I started making mud building bricks behind grandma’s house. From it I hope to raise capital to start a business. I had to leave school in Form Three because mama couldn’t raise the money for school fees, I don’t blame her though. It wasn’t easy being a mother and a father, but she did her best. 

This letter, though stained with my tears and bloated in other parts, is all I could come up with. I couldn’t contain the emotions and I hope you’ll understand. Even if you won’t come back home, please try and write back. Just tell me that you hate me, even if you don’t explain why, I promise to understand. I won’t push any further. I do believe you are still alive, I can feel it. You don’t have to fulfill any promises, because I’m no longer a kid anymore, mama is dead and grandma is no more. I’m hurt because I love you. I’m hurt because I care. 

Yours sincerely, 

Onyango. 

Cooking Fat For Mandazi!

Maandazi

Photo by Merufm digital

Hello villagers! I bet the word maandazi sounds alien to some of you. You my fellow villagers are of different races, but I believe you are familiar with English, otherwise this sentence wouldn’t have made sense to you. For the sake of fairness and to avoid straining our lush camaraderie, allow me to explain what it means. Maandazi is a Swahili word for doughnuts or bread kind of – sweet bread. Forgive me, but I don’t know how to explain it better than that, it’s just maandazi. Are we good? As for cooking fat,  I believe you do have an idea. Let me just break it down for you, cooking fat is a semi solid cooking oil or thick paste if that makes it easier to comprehend. It’s common back here in my village, and it cheaper too. Most folks are able to enjoy a fried meal courtesy of the cooking fat. From as little as Kshs. 5 you are guaranteed a fried stew for lunch or supper. It has attracted a number of pseudo names with the most popular being nyakatuda (which I  can’t explain to be honest) and Mor Achodha.  The latter meaning scooped fat.

Now that you know, let me save you the megillah and get to my story…

A few days ago something happened in my the village that got everyone laughing. But I didn’t laugh at what happened, I laughed rather at what the villagers were laughing at. Is there any difference in what I just said?  I don’t even know what I’m saying. OK, the whole village was left nursing painful ribs after what seemed like a scene out of some Hollywood comedy movie, became the centre of attention one sunny afternoon. The scene was at a neighbouring homestead, and the main characters were two co-wives; Nyar Alego and Nyar Asembo ,both widows. The cause of conflict was a maandazi and cooking fat. How you ask?

And it occurred that…

Nyar Alego the eldest wife had been bedridden for what seemed like two months. She had grown lethargic and senile. She was somewhere around 78 years. Nyar Asembo on the other side was still strong. Since they both didn’t have their children staying with them, as they were either married or living in the city, she had to assist Nyar Alego.

On this eventful day, Nyar Asembo was going to the market to buy groceries, and what to prepare for lunch that day. She passed by Nyar Alego and inquired if there’s anything she felt like eating. ‘Maandazi’ she had said. On her way back from the market, Nyar Asembo had remembered to bring her co-wife the maandazi she had requested.  She had everything she had bought packed in a polythene bag. On reaching home she passed by Nyar Alego’s house to deliver the maandazi. Being in hurry she dipped her hand inside the bag and felt for whatever was wrapped in a piece of paper and handed it out to Nyar Alego in the bed where she lay half asleep then walked out of the house to her own kitchen to prepare lunch for both of them.

Water for Ugali( thick paste of maize, sorghum or millet flour) was set on the three-stoned fireplace to boil as she prepared onions and tomatoes she was to use in frying eggs that had been left unhatched by one of her chickens early that morning. She sang as women do while preparing a meal or doing a chore. I don’t know if it’s only my observation! At least, I have noticed my mother and sisters doing so, but I have never understood the logic behind it. If you haven’t, then take time today and pay attention to any lady or woman, most of them prefer Gospel music.  Done with the onion chopping and tomatoes, she beats the eggs and takes to preparing her ugali. When it’s ready she sets it on a plate beside the fireplace and puts another sufuria on the stones for the eggs. She reaches for theold polythene  bag she had brought from the market and takes out a wrapped piece of old Newspaper. On unwrapping she discovers it’s maandazi,  and not  cooking fat she had bought at the market. She scampers out to Nyar Alego’s house on realization that she must have given her the cooking fat.

‘Nyar Alego kara ne aweyoni mana nyakatuda kar mandas!’ (Nyar Alego I must have left you with cooking fat instead of maandazi) She had said apologetically.

‘Kara ema omiyo ne oyom kabisa!’ (So that is why it was so soft ) Nyar Alego responded  innocently.

‘Ichamo mora!'(You have eaten my cooking fat ) she exclaimed in shock. It couldn’t be true, Nyar Alego couldn’t possibly have eaten it, she was bluffing. She inched closer to where she lay and beside her noticed the fat stained piece of paper. A wave of fury overcame her and she almost threw herself on her with rage. She looked at the grotesque figure lying on that bed  and she got madder. She wanted to tear her apart. Storming out of the house, she threw away the maandazi.

A strong smell of something metallic burning hit her nostrils and she remembered the sufuria at the fireplace. Dashing inside, she found the cooking pot glowing hot red. The sight of this only added to her already rampaging rage, she pushed it off the fire, burning her fingers in the process. Now it was a mix of anger and pain. What a terrible combination. This gave her flaring temper a new boost and she came out of the house spitting insults to the helpless Nyar Alego, who was still in her house. It is this that attracted onlookers drawn, from within the neighbouring homes and those who had been passing through the village. 

One woman walked close to her to inquire what had transpired, a small crowed followed her and it became a small political  rally.  She was like an opposition leader delivering a  harangue to the rulling President, all attention was on her and she had her loyal supporters with her, she was the vox populi. When she narrated the earlier occurrence, her supporters laughed and others jeered. They started  filling out of the compoured leaving her behind, dampening her spirits. She lashed out at them, driving them out her homestead, they were ungrateful and disloyal to her, their leader. How could they dismiss her like that?

It was now her against the villagers. Words were exchanged, jibes flew laced  with mockery. The village came alive. They had something to talk about until another could come back- a comic relief. They  found a momentary break from problems bedeviling their lives and enjoyed some good laugh, though only for a brief period…the maandazi and cooking fat moment. A Luo would say : A mandas and nyakatuda moment!