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Photo Courtesy: Unknown

It Began With Death

I looked on
At the death of your
Laughter,
Watched as tears came down your face
Like angels of
Life,
Gleaming like silver-winged diamonds
Caught in the gold beams
Of the sun’s web.
One after the other
They carried your laughter down
To the surface,
Where the rest of the world
Received everything that
Your sky eyes let go.
There,
The wind brought forth
Loose fragments of the memories
You left behind…
The blushes…
The love…
The kisses…
And gathered it over the grave
Where broken hearts lay.
And I could only watch
As your world
Collapsed
Into yawning black holes
Filled with
Undying ghosts of the
Non-existent.

***

She watched the world in silence, letting the solace of the cold winter wind wash out dying embers of a once raging inferno that still charred the inner parts of her being, drowning any semblance of light inside with blackness as ancient as night itself. It has been days, and time still persistently dragged her back to empty avenues of memory lane where pain rained on the reminiscence, soaking her reality in gloom that doomed blooming colors to a grey hell.

“Hey! Hey Luna! Are you listening to me?”
Tiffany was at her side, her black eyes straining to find the open latches to the windows of her soul, finding only hollowness instead. They had been sitting at the restaurant for hours now, steam dancing between them like misguided ghosts from the heat of their coffee cups.

“Lu I know what he did to you was wrong, but you have to let me in, I want to help you. You have to let him go. I have to see you letting him go.”
“I want to, I really do T. But I don’t know what kind of person I’m supposed to be anymore. How can I let you in when I don’t even know myself anymore?”
“I know its not easy. It can’t be. But I know your pain won’t last forever. Don’t look back, there’s nothing there…”

She was right. As cruel as Tiffany’s words were she was still right. She always was.

Looking back felt like she was looking for things she could never find…light she could never see…the touch that she would never feel…a face she’d never wake up to again…

“I’m trying, but its hard letting go of someone who could love you like that!”
She could hear how soft the words fell from her wounded lips, torn by the endless nights she spent sobbing, as she watched the girl in the mirror crucify her lips upside down. Tears that dwelled from the seams of her ashened depths were now rounding the corner of her glass eyes, willing them to break one more time. She held her breath, hoping to suffocate the growing buzz of his voice…
His words…
His eyes…
His deceit…
“…I just don’t understand! I just don’t understand at all! Am I cursed to be this way?! Do I fall in love too hard every time just so karma can stab another knife through me deeper & deeper again?! What did I ever do to deserve this?!”

Familiar hands wrapped themselves around her own, as Tiffany moved her seat closer to Luna to comfort her. She hated it all. Hated how this angel she has always known to be the kindest girl in the world could never be given the love that she deserves. She was perfect to her, more perfect than she could have ever been, and had a beautiful soul. And today is the third time she’s seen it crushed, but the hardest she has ever seen her hurt. It made her angry…vengeful…almost like she could walk out there & kill him right now…
“He deserves to die.”

It was a surprise saying it out loud like that. And they both laughed at the thought. It was the first time she successfully made her laugh in a long while since the breakup 3 months ago.
“Damn right he does!” Luna added.
They laughed harder this time. For once, talking about death didn’t feel like a bad thing. It was just simple. Innocent. A release from the grip of an already dying reality. An escape from whatever fate time had conceived for her. And they laughed on, chiming out the gloom like church bells in the rain.
…That was how it all began.

If Monday had a low esteem then this is how he would look. But he doesn’t. In fact, he is very self-assured, assertive with several saltbae (I just had to mention him somewhere 😀 ) pinches of an ego.

Mr. Monday always had the ability to get your attention even when after you had sworn upon your own death to NOT even glance at him. He is irresistible. Maybe not the prince-charming kind of irresistible, but the You-can’t-ignore-me kind of irresistible. You can totally close your eyes with the heaviest , darkest blanket yet he would still appear in your nightmares.

Monday is a short, stout man in his mid-thirties. He is brown, a bit plump, with dark hair. He always wore his suits in such a magnificent manner. His attire was so neat, so well-pressed such that a housefly would die just upon his landing on such an attire. His shoes were always extremely polished. They were black, blacker than black because no shade of black was ever going to describe this kind of black. Would make you wonder what is he using? Because hell no, even kiwi is not that black. I mean, you could look at his shoes and see your ugly face reflecting right back. Even the shoes have a prettier look than you do 😀 Monday walked tall always, confidently putting his hands inside his side pockets. If you wear your heart on your sleeve, sweetheart, please meet this man who wears his ego on his sleeve. Despite very well knowing that most people didn’t like him (sometimes for no apparent reason), he would still carry himself with so much aura of awesomeness. So yes, you just. somehow.had to look at him. One way or another. Nonetheless, believe it or not, sometimes Monday was just but a victim of unfortunate coincidences and awful circumstances.

So on this morning, Monday walks up to the stage and meets a crowd of other neat men and women waiting for the bus to arrive. He decides to stands at the far end of the stage, a few steps from a young man drinking his coffee. The young man raises his eyebrows from his coffee cup and looks at Monday. He doesn’t just look, he stares at him as his eyes scrutinize him from head to toe. Monday stares back as his huge bulb eyes narrow as if squinting at the young man. All of a sudden, an old lady bumps into the young man and the good tasty coffee all ends up being swallowed by the plain, sparkling white t-shirt. The young man exclaims with anger. He curses. Then curses again. The old lady tries to apologize but the young man is busy wiping his shirt desperately. He then looks up at Monday with a glare. Giving him that ‘it is your fault’ scowl. Monday shrugs his shoulders and looks away at his watch. He is running late.

The bus finally arrives and everyone quickly rushes in. Monday takes the front seat next to the driver as he watches the young man rush away; probably going back home for a quick change. He adjusts himself in his seat and focuses ahead as the bus takes off. The driver strikes a conversation but it is rather a boring one. Who wants to talk about the weather on the beginning of a fresh week? Monday doesn’t respond to him. The old driver tries once again to bring another topic when a cat suddenly appears on the road. He desperately reaches for the brakes as the bus screeched to a halt. The back passengers start yelling at the old man. “I hit my head!” “Old man you need  spectacles now!” “Urgh! can’t we have a peaceful morning?!! Is that too much to ask for?!” The yells keep coming. The old man frowns before apologizing. He glares at Monday and he stares back without a word. He adjusts himself in his seat then drives off.

Monday walks steadily into the office. He doesn’t greet anyone because no one needs his ‘hi’ anyway. Except Positivity. Right when he passes by her desk, she’d always have a kind word to say or a greeting or just a bright smile. So as usual, Positivity enthusiastically extends her hand to greet him.

“Goodmorning Monday! I hope you had a lovely weekend!”

“Oh hey, goodmorning Pos. My weekend was fine. I hope so was yours,” Monday speaks for the first time.

“Oh yeah…I even got to make my favourite home-baked cookies. You wanna taste?”

“Why not?” He smiles as he takes the cookies from her. He then wishes her a good day before disappearing into his compartment.

Human noisily slides her chair to Pos’ desk.

“Ahem ahem…Pos huh?”

“What is it Human?” Pos laughs lightly without moving her eyes away from her computer screen.

“So now your new nickname is Pos huh?! Nice!”

Positivity laughs again.

“What is the issue anyway?”

“I just don’t get it! How on earth are you able to strike a conversation with Monday, make him talk back and even smile! God! How?!!”

“Because I don’t have an attitude like the one you have.”

“But everyone dislikes Monday. Except you.”

“Okay,” Pos turns around her seat and looks at Human, “So tell me, what wrong has Monday done to you?”

“Can’t you seeee it?!!! The guy is always frowning. Full of negative vibes. I don’t even want to look at him, he might just ruin my entire day. Bad omen…”

Pos laughs at Human’s expression and sits back comfortably.

“Okay, let’s do some profiling here. Have a look at Sunday and give me a short profile on her.”

Human laughs loudly as she looks at Sunday who is fast asleep, her head bowed down on her desk.

“Sunday is always tired and sleepy and lazy…but then…she always makes people happy. She is a nice soul.”

“Okay. What about Saturday?”

Human stretches her neck to peep at Saturday who is busy working on something while whistling.

“He is full of enthusiasm and energy. Always.”

“Friday?”

“Oh my good Lord! Friday is the happiest being on this earth!”

“Thursday?”

“He is not in yet…as usual. He doesn’t come to work much or in time but when he is here, he does his best to make it up. And you wouldn’t even have to complain about how good his work is.

“Okay…Wednesday?”

“Wednesday is a hardworking chap. Got no complaints for him.”

“Tuesday?”

“Tuesday is such an ambitious soul. She knows what she wants.”

“Owwkayy! Now Monday?”

“Urgh!! Told you! Monday is just Monday. No more no less. Or wait, there is a bit more 😀 Monday just brings the gloom to the office. Pos, just look at him! Look at his tight lips that almost never form a smile! He reminds of Trump you know. Gloomy; gloomy miserable chap. Or maybe I shouldn’t compare him with Trump, that would be extreme 😀 But then he.just.doesn’t.give a good feeling.”

“Well, he smiles at me!”

“Ah isn’t that a miracle already? But you are an open-minded soul; a kind one so maybe…or it could just be because of your delicious cookies that you keep bribing him with!”

They both start laughing.

“We both know it has nothing to do with cookies. He has his good side too. You just need to stop focusing too hard at his ugly side. Yes he has issues; maybe too rigid and angry, but maybe he’s got something that makes him this way, something from the past or present, something that makes his plate full always? We can’t ever know. Remember how long it took before he could ever say hi back to me. Yes he isn’t such a charming soul but we all have our off ugly sides too. He probably just needs more friends and he’ll change. If you could find something nice to say about everyone then you can never miss a nice thing to say about him too.”

“Owkaaaayyy Mrs. Mondaaayyy, I’ll think about it maybe! I said maybeeee,” she says as she laughs again; sliding her way back to her desk.

Positivity shakes her head with a sigh, “Attitude. Attitude everywhere.”

 

Photo Courtesy: http://www.andysavage.com/

Mr. Love was not only blind, he was bipolar too. Every other day I would see him take a morning walk around the park. On one day you would see him waving his hand enthusiastically to all the neighbours who called out to him on his way, grinning all the way from teeth A to Z, his head held high, his sunglasses worn in style and his dimples adding spice to his beautiful smile. But the next day? You would see him walking head down. His cheeks would be swollen like he just rubbed off some yeast on them. His forehead would have lines formed that wouldn’t disappear for the rest of the day. On such a day, you wouldn’t want to shout, “Hallo Mr. Love” like you’d always do. On such days, he was untouchable and very unpredictable. At the smallest thing he would create a scene, or cry or get so furious that his face would turn pepper red. So on these gloomy days, everyone in the neighbourhood would give him space. Ignore him, avoid him and sometimes totally run away from him.

As I grew up, I couldn’t help but wonder why Mr. Love was the way he was. My grandma would tell me his stories from time to time. He was an extreme person, we all knew that but despite all that, we also knew he had the purest soul ever. He loved children and whenever he was at the park, he would sit at his favourite spot on the bench right in front of the playing field. He would then call out to the children and hand them sweets. My friends never got tired of conning him. They would always come round two for more sweets and pretend to be other kids. He loved helping people despite his disability and was the most affectionate person in the neighbourhood.

“It is because of his blindness; that is what makes him so bitter to life,” my grandma would justify his behaviour from time to time.

“That doesn’t justify his hysterical behaviour you know mum?” My mother would debate, “God tests us in different ways. He should accept his condition and be happy with life.”

“But he IS happy!” Grandma would insist, “It is just sometimes he can’t control his emotions…”

Rumour had it that Mr. Love was once married to a lady called Pride. I wasn’t born yet but everyone talks of her dazzling beauty. She was too beautiful, they say. Elegant height, almond shaped eyes, thick lips, some said she was more beautiful than Angelina Jolie, some said she was a little bit less beautiful than her. The theories were many but no one could out-rightly reject that she was beyond pretty. Everyone wondered why she accepted Mr. Love’s proposal yet she could have been married by some Saudi prince or some tycoon somewhere. But as they say, the heart wants what it wants. Perhaps her beauty was somehow a threat to him because he was always too protective, too attached which ended up in them having a divorce. Pride no doubt loved her husband, he was handsome anyway, but she had a great impact on him that made him drift away from the people. She had set standards for her husband and herself. She chose whom Mr. Love should talk to and whom to not get involved with. Her classy and sassy personality pressured her to maintain an image, and for her to do so, she also had to control her husband excessively so that he doesn’t destroy her image. As such, Pride was not all that much liked in the neighbourhood. She had changed their lovely Mr. Love.

There was another rumour about Mr. Love although everyone who talked about it, would do it in whispers, with heads close together, with fingers on their lips. “Mr. Love almost killed a man with his cane once. He was messing up with Pride.” Mr. Love was too jealous, they say. He didn’t want any man getting too close to his muse.

“But isn’t that how all couples are? Jealous?” Grandma would justify again.

“Mum! He almost ki…”

“Shhhhh!!!! He might pass by and hear you!” Grandma would say in a low tone. “What is wrong with you anyway? Why are you always against Mr. Love?”

“Don’t act like you don’t know Ma. He broke Kind’s heart remember?” My mother replied.

“Who is Kind?!” I whispered quickly.

“Kind was Mr. Love’s second wife. After that incident of Mr. Love almost killing a man with his walking cane, Pride asked for a divorce. She thought it was healthier for Mr. Love to be away from her, and safer too. She claimed that Mr. Love was becoming insane with his emotions. Well, she made a right decision. Many of us wanted her out of the neighbourhood. So they parted ways. Then after about two years he met Kind. She was a short, curvy lady. She was her own kind of beautiful and she worked as a social worker at the children’s home. Nonetheless, no one stopped comparing her to Pride. How more beautiful she was, more classy, more elegant bla bla bla…” Grandma explained.

“She was from down-town. A very simple lady with a great heart unlike the town princess; Pride. Plus Mr. Love was way more handsome to suit her beauty. So everyone now thought Lady Pride suited him better. Nonetheless, Mr. Love had his own kind of attachment to her too. You know, they all forget how smart, intelligent and soft-hearted Kind was. AND, she was able to mend back Mr. Love’s relations with the community.” Mum said.

“So why did he break her heart?” I lower my neck closer to them and whisper again.

“Because his heart was already broken by Pride…Once your heart is broken dear, you can only patch your holes with rags but never to be fixed again. You can never be whole again.” Grandma said, shaking her head sadly.

“Still doesn’t justify what he did to her mummy!”

“What did he do to her?”

“He left her. Just one day he woke up and told Kind that he can’t live with her anymore, that his heart was too damaged, that he couldn’t totally love her like she deserves to be loved. He then asked her to leave before he was back from his morning walk.” Mum explained.

“But you previously said he was already getting attached to her! why would he do such a terrible thing to an angel like Kind?!”

“Well…no one can ever tell. Some say he liked her too much it made him afraid she would leave him too like Pride did. Some say he still loved Pride. Some say he was still hurting from his past…the theories are many…”

“I say, it all has to do with the inferiority complex he suffers from his blindness. Perhaps he believes he doesn’t deserve all that affection so he doubts all those that love him. I feel sorry for him. He is just a lonely man…” Grandma says.

“There he is!” I say as I climb on the coach to look out of the window. There he is; Mr. Love with his walking cane, head bowed down, his cheeks swollen. “Just one of his gloomy days,” I sigh.

Mum follows me to the window, stares at him for a moment before saying, “That poor disturbed man really needs divined intervention.” She sighs too and I sigh again, this time louder than before, “Oh poor Mr. Love!”

 

 

Mwandishi: Mtoto wa Katama

Mtaa mzima ulipata habari ya yale yaliyotokea na mamake Khamisi alikuwa mmoja kati ya waliokuwa wakimtafuta Khamisi. Maafisa wa usalama walifika kwenye eneo la tukio, wakauburuza mwili wa marehemu hadi katika gari walilokuja nalo na kuupakia mwili kama vile wamo boharini. Wakakaa kidogo na kujifanya kuuliza maswali wale waliokuwa katika eneo, huku wakitikisa vichwa vyao tu, kama kuonyesha kuwa wanajali sana majibu yaliyokuwa yakitolewa. Kisha hao wakatia gari moto na kuchomoka na maiti.

Mamake Khamisi baada ya kumtafuta kwa muda na kiza kikawa kinaingia bila ya mafanikio yeyote, hakujua afanye nini. Hakuweza kukubali matukio yaliyotokea siku ile, cha zaidi aliomba tu! Siku ingeanza upya, huku machozi yakimdondoka bila kilio chochote. Alikuwa amechoka sana lakini alijiburuta, akaingia jikoni na kujitengenezea kikombe cha chai, mdogo wake Khamisi alikuwa amelala asijue lilotokea. Aliporudi kukaa, alijiuliza Khamisi atakuwa ametokomea wapi. Na wakati ule ilimjia kuwa Khamisi alikimbia na panga mkononi, hivi atakuwa amemwaga damu zaidi huko alikokimbilia au na yeye kapata mbabe aliyemmalizia mbali. Akaanza kugeuka huku na huku, jasho likimtoka, alikumbuka kuwa Khamisi ndiye mwana aliyemtegemea wakumshusha mzigo wa kumlea mdogo wake. Lakini kwa jinsi mambo yalivyotokea, na picha iliyobaki ni aidha Khamisi atauwawa na wanakijiji au aishilie jela milele kwa mauaji ya ami yake. Ndoto zote alizokuwa nazo juu ya mtoto wako zilianza kufifia moja baada ya nyingine. Katika hali ile ya kufikiria na kujilaumu kwa masaibu yake, afua ya Maulana ilimjia na usingizi ukamchukua na kulala chali kama kitoto licha ya masaibu yote.

Mamake Khamisi alipofungua mlango alimwona Bi Sofia amesimama huku amefungata mdomo wake kwa kiganja chake. Maneno yakimtoka kwa kigugumizi “ Ah! Ahhh!, mwenzangu, Innalilahi… waina ilayhi rajiun, sote ni wa Mungu tunaelekea huko huko” alisema kwa masikitiko Bi Sofia. Lakini mamake Khamisi alikuwa kachanganyikiwa, kwa  kweli hakujua anamuongelea nani haswa. “ Hivi bibiye nikuulize, nani katuacha haswa?” aliuliza mamake Khamisi. “Hivi huna habari kabisa mwenzangu, mwanao Khamisi amepatikana pwani huko na wavuvi walioingia alfajiri ya kwanza, kajinyonga kwenye mti ufukweni” Bi Sofia akasema. Hata kabla ya kumaliza maneno yake, mamake Khamisi aliishiwa na nguvu, miguu yake ilishindwa kumueka tisti na akadondoka hadi sakafuni.

Fahamu zilimrudia mamake Khamisi na alikuwa tayari anafarijiwa na wenzake. Uani, majamvi yalikuwa teyari yametandikwa, ile hali ya ‘umatanga’ ilikuwa imeshafika katika nyumba ya mamake Khamisi. Watu walikuwa nao wanamiminika pole pole. Kuna wale waliokuja kutoa pole na kuenda zao na wale walioeka kambi mpaka shughuli nzima itakapomalizika.

Kati ya waombolezaji wale, alitokeo mvuvi mmoja na kumkabidhi Bi Sofia karatasi na kumpa maagizo ampe mamake Khamisi. Karatasi ile ilikuwa ni waraka uliokuwa umeandikwa na Khamisi kabla ya mauti yake, bila kusita mamake Khamisi alifungua na kusoma barua ile ya dhiki japokuwa alikuwa na hamu nayo…” Utakapo soma barua hii mamangu mpendwa itakuwa tayari nimekufa, na la zaidi ungetamani niwe hai ili upate majibu kwa yale niliyoyafanya. Lakini sijutii lolote kwa walimwengu, ila ninahofia Mola wangu atanipokea vipi?. Kukujibu na kukuondeshea makiwa nilifanya hayo yote ili mamangu mzazi uweze kurithi kile alichoacha babangu mzazi, Nishamuondoa nduli aliyezuia haya yote. Nataraji utapata nafasi katika moyo wako na kunisamehe na kama hamna nafasi hiyo, tafadhali niombe kwa Maulana ninapoanza hii safari yangu ya ‘mbinguni’…..

Mwandishi: Mtoto Wa Katama

Fujo ziliendelea mle ndani, kweli mapambano yalikuwa yamechacha vyombo vilisikika vikianguka. Watu nao nje hamu na hamumu ziliwazidi kila mayoye yalipozidi. Waliamua wasingeweza kukosa uhondo wote huo, maana milango na madirisha yalikuwa yamefungwa yote na hawakupata kuona lolote. Jagina moja likatokea ili ‘kutafuta suluhu’ na kusukuma watu nyuma, akaanza kuonesha madoido kwa kukaza misuli yake ya mikononi. Watu walimshangilia na kumtia mori, akajawa na ushujaa akaja mbio kwa fujo, na kupita na mlango wa nje kwa bega lake. Naye kweli alikuwa na nguvuze, ule mlango kuuvunja kwa kishindo kimoja ni jambo la kupewa kongole kwa kazi nzuri aliyoifanya. Naye ‘ushujaa’ ule ulikuja na gharama alianguka kwa kishindo ukumbini na kujipiga na meza. Maskini ya Mungu! Alilia kama kitoto kidogo, bega lilikuwa khalas! tayari lilikuwa limevunjika.

Watu wakaanza kumiminika kuingia mle ndani, hata hawakudiriki kumpa usaidizi wa kwanza ‘shujaa’ wao aliyewavunjia mlango. Walimuacha akigaragara chini na kumruka bila hata ya kumjali na lolote. Punde si punde kila mtu alionekana akikimbilia kutoka nje. Mlango ukageuka ‘mdogo’ watu waliparamiana na kusukumana ili wapate nafasi ya kuregea walipotokea. Vilio viliskika tu sana kwa wingi,na wale waliokuwa nje walishindwa kwa nini wenzi wao wanaregea tena kwa kishindo. “Anakuja tayari kashamaliza huko ndani!”

Kila mtu roho mkononi, kwa mda wa sekunde chache kimya kilitalawa sehemu yote, kama vile wakati ulikuwa umesimamishwa na hakuna kilichosonga. Mara ghafla! Bwanamkubwa Khamisi alichopoka na panga likiwa mkononi, nguo zake zilikuwa zimelowa damu ajabu. Lo! Lile panga lilivyokuwa likitiririka ngeu…..Mmmmhh! kweli asiyekuwa na macho haambiwi tazama. Kwani kuna la zaidi l kuambiwa! Kila mtu tayari alipata picha kamili ya tukio lilojiri. Na kilichobaki  ilikuwa mguu niponye, waliokuwa mbele ya tukio walianza kutawanyika na kusambaratika wakielekea kila upande. Walimpa Khamisi njia, utadhani rais keshaingia mjini, hakuna aliyedhubutu kujifanya shujaa….ili iweje? Kwa kasi ile aliyokuwa akikimbia nayo Khamisi, hakuna ambaye angeweza kumkamata au kudhubutu kumzuia.

Khamisi alitokomea baada ya kupiga vichochoro kadha na kuacha vilio nyuma! Mwili wa ami yake Khamisi alikuwa amelala kifudifudi katika ‘kidimbwi’ cha damu, mwili wake alikuwa amechanjwa chanjwa kwa panga. Teyari mtu keshaenda jongomeo, mwenye roho nyepesi asingeweza kumudu kuangalia mwili ule. Unyama ulioje ule, kila aliyetoka mle ndani alikuwa ameshika kichwa na kuonyesha hali ya kutamaushwa na tukio lile. Mamake Khamisi aligaragara chinina kupiga mayowe, alitoa leso yake na kuanza kuichanachana kwa uchungu. Jirani zake walijaribu kumuauni, lakini wapi waliambulia patupu. Hakuamini katu kisa alichokifanya mwanawe…”Laana gani umeniachia babake Khamisi? Mbona mimi tu” aliomboleza mamake Khamisi kwa fujo, huku machozi yakimdondoka kwa wingi. “ Mama utakufuru Mungu sasa! Ebu! Jitande kwanza na umuogope Mungu” mmoja wa jirani zake alijaribu kumsemesha apunguze maombolezo yake asije akavuka mipaka. Kwa kweli ya Mungu ni mengi, hakuna yeyote aliyedhania matukio kama haya yangetokea, siku ilianza kwa uzuri na utulivu, na jinsi ilivyopinduka kwa ghafla! Kwa muda wote ule watu wakiponda jinsi ya kufanya, kila mtu alijiuliza “ Je Khamisi yuko wapi?……………..

Mwandishi: Mtoto wa Katama

 

“Kesha pagawa! Wallahi ameshakuwa chizi, lakini ole wake akili zikimarudia atatulipa biashara zetu sote” nyuma sauti ziliskika zikilaani kwa hasira. Lakini Khamisi hakuwa na shida nao, ni umbea wao tu uliowachongea, yaani hivi ukiona mtu akija mbio na panga na nyinyi eti mnaamua kukimbia….eti ehh?  Swali hilo. Yaani mnakurupuka tu ovyoo! Na kujijeruhi na kusababisha hasara biashara zenu…kwani hamjawahi kuona wamasaai wakizunguka na sime zao viunoni? Na wala hamjawahi kukimbia, bivi leo mnamuonea ajabu Khamisi. Khamisi naye yeye alikuwa anakimbizwa na ajenda zake, mbio zote hizo alikuwa akielekea kwa ami zake.

 

“Mamake Zeituni hivi umemuona Khamisi!” mamake Khamisi aliuliza kwa mshangao, baada kuona mlango wa chumbani mwake uko wazi na sio jambo la kawaida. “Huyo fedhuli wako bangi zimemparamia! naskia anafukuza watu na mapanga huko nje” akajibu kwa jeuri, “uliskia watu wanazaa na wewe ukazaa! Utakoma this time!” Akazidi kuleta kejeli na kumsazaa mwenziwe “subiri kuitiwa mzoga, maana waja hawatambakisha”.

 

Maneno hayo yalizidi kumkang’anya na kumtia wasiwasi mamake Khamisi hata mwili ukamuisha nguvu na kushindwa kujibu, ila alisimama na kutafakari maneno yale, “hivi kweli anamuongelelea Khamisi ama naye keshapigwa puza”. Maana alimjua mwanawe Khamisi kijana mpole sana hivi leo alfu ulela za kuzunguka na mapanga wapi na wapi na Khamisi. Moja jumlisha moja haikuleta mbili kwake kabisa, aliingia chumbani na kuangalia taswira mle ndani, kile kimya kilichokuwa mle ndani kilikinzana na fikra zake, maana akili yake ilikuwa fikra za ghasi tu. Mboni zake ‘zikaangukia’ kwenye albamu lile, kurasa iliyokuwa wazi ni ya marehemu mumewe. Akasogea na kulichukua albamu lile, akatazama kwa uzuri na makini ile picha utadhani anajaribu kuleta kumbukumbu za kumfahamu aliyekuwa katika picha ile. Wajihi ulikuwa umebadilika teyari! Kiwingu cha majonzi kikampa kivuli, akajifikicha macho na kanga yake aliyokuwa amejitanda mabegani. Akavuta pumzi polepole ya kutuliza kichwa na akafunga albamu lile chap! chap! na kufungua kabati na kutoa kanga nyengine ya kujitanda kichwani, kanda mbili mguuni, akavuta mlango na kutia komeo. Fyuuuup! Na kutoka haraka, kutokomea.

 

Umati ulianza kufurika kwa haraka! Kila mtu aling’ang’ania kupata sehemu nzuri ya kusimama ili kujionea matokeo ya bure. Kweli limbukeni hana siri! kama ibada zingekuwa zinajazwa kwa mtindo huu! wala Mola asingetuletea maafa yeyote na riziki zingekuwa kwa wingi. Wenyewe wanasema uswahilini hakuna dogo, madogo hufanyika uzunguni. Kila anayefika pale alitaka kujua kilichokuwa kinajiri, ila majibu sasa yalitegemea na pahali ulipokuwa umesimamia. Habari zilizotoka kwa ‘wapambe’ waliokuwa mbele ya tukio hazikushahabiana na zile zilizokuwa zikipeperushwa kwa wale waliokuwa nyuma. Kila zilipowafikia waliokuwa nyuma zilikuwa tata zaidi kila mmoja ‘aliongeza chumvi’ kwa kiasi alichokipenda yeye. “Eti naskia kuna jini limeingia mle ndani” mmoja aliropokwa, mwengine akamkata juu kwa juu “sio jini babu ehh! ni joka kubwa limo humo ndani”. Sasa hio ndio ilikuwa hali halisi ya uswahilini, wanahabari wengi walishafutwa kazi kwa kuchukua habari za wanakijiji bila kuzihakikisha mchipuko wake. Mara kidogo kamsa zilisikika “usiniuwe mi toka nikutoke wa mzee wako, mbona watafuta laana mtoto wewe!”. “Kwani nitaanza kuzipata mimi, we bora nikupeleke jongomeo”. Umati ukazidi kupigwa na butwaa! Maana zile habari za awali za majini na nyoka hazikuonekana kuwa na ukweli wowote kutokana na magombano waliyoyaskia.

Fujo ziliendelea mle ndani, kweli mapambano yalikuwa yamechacha  vyombo vilisikika vikianguka. Watu nao nje hamu na hamumu ziliwazidi kila mayoye yalipozidi. Waliamua wasingeweza kukosa uhondo wote huo, maana milango na madirisha yalikuwa yamefungwa yote na hawakupata kuona lolote. Jagina moja likatokea ili ‘kutafuta suluhu’ na kusukuma watu nyuma, akaanza kuonesha madoido kwa kukaza misuli yake ya mikononi. Watu walimshangilia na kumtia mori, akajawa na ushujaa akaja mbio kwa fujo, na kupita na mlango wa nje kwa bega lake. Naye kweli alikuwa na nguvuze, ule mlango kuuvunja kwa kishindo kimoja ni jambo la kupewa kongole kwa kazi nzuri aliyoifanya.  Naye ‘ushujaa’ ule ulikuja na gharama alianguka kwa kishindo ukumbini na kujipiga na meza. Maskini ya Mungu! Alilia kama kitoto kidogo, bega lilikuwa khalas! tayari lilikuwa limevunjika. Watu wakaanza kumiminika kuingia mle ndani, hata hawakudiriki kumpa usaidizi wa kwanza ‘shujaa’ wao aliyewavunjia mlango. Walimuacha akigaragara chini na kumruka bila hata ya kumjali na lolote. Punde si punde kila mtu alionekana akikimbilia kutoka nje. Mlango ukageuka ‘mdogo’ watu waliparamiana na kusukumana ili wapate nafasi ya kuregea walipotokea. Vilio viliskika tu sana kwa wingi,na wale waliokuwa nje walishindwa kwa nini wenzi wao wanaregea tena kwa kishindo. “Anakuja tayari kashamaliza huko ndani”………………….

 

Mwandishi: Mtoto Wa Katama

Mara Khamisi alitulia kwa ghafla baada ya kufungua kurasa nyengine ya albamu lile, akasita kwa muda, macho yakawa mazito na machozi kuanza kumlengalenga. Akawa baridi na ukiwa ukamtawala kwa ghafla, akajiona mnyonge ajaabu na kufunga albamu na baadaye kulifungua tena. Picha iliyofuatia ilikuwa ni ya marehemu babake. Ni miaka kumi imepita tangu kumpoteza babake katika ajali ya barabarani iliyonaswa na vyombo vya habari karibia vyote. Taarifa za kifo cha babake zilimpa mshtuko zaidi nina yake aliyekuwa mtegemezi zaidi, hakujua angeanzia. Baba Khamisi ndiye alikuwa anatarazaki pekee yake. Tena Baba Khamisi shughli zake zilikuwa nadhif kabisa, alisifika kwa kufanya adala baina ya watu na zaidi kwenye shughuli zake za kila siku. Lakini kinaya kilikuwa ni madhila na unyanyasaji mamake Khamisi aliyopitia kutokana na nduguze mumewe. Haya yote Khamisi aliyaelewa kabisaa na alikuwa ameweka nadhiri kitambo ya kupanga kisasi.

Njia mbili za machozi zilibubujika kama mtoto mdogo, kile ambacho hakuelewa zaidi ni watu alowaita ami zake kuwageuka bila hata huruma na kuwaonyesha unyama wa aina ya mwisho, akajiuliza hivi kweli damu ina uzito wowote? Anaikumbuka vizuri ile siku aliposhuka eda mamake kulikuwa na timbwili la aina yake. Ami zake walikuja na kupiga wanawake kisaramgambo waliokuja kumfariji mamake Khamisi,  walijaza nyumba ya kina Khamisi na umati ili kushuhudia tafarani waliyoileta ya kugombea hati miliki za ardhi za marehemu babake. Mama kwa unyonge akaona yote ya nini haya alijionea aepukane na balaa zote na kuwaachia waondoke na stakabadhi hizo muhimu karatasi. Zegere lote hilo likitokea ndio mwanzo kuanza kubaleghe na angejiletea ‘laana’ tu! Bure kwa kuingililia mgogoro ule wa watu wazima, lake likawa ni jicho. Albamu lile lilizidi  kumkumbusha mavi ya kale, kweli hayaachi kunuka! Fikra mpya zikamjia “mimi nishakuwa rijali sasa, na nina haki ya kurithi alichoacha marehemu babangu” alijinong’oneza.

Ari ya kulipiza kisasi ikazidi kumtawala, machozi nayo yakazidi kumdondoka, roho nayo ikafungama na kujisokota na machungu ya miaka yote ile. Mwili nao ukawa unatetema na kusisimka, utasema kapigiwa ngoma za kula nyama mfu za wachawi kilingeni. Akaanza kuguna na kunguruma kama simba, sasa mwili ulizidi kutetemeka utasema zezeta yaani kiufupi mwili mzima ulikuwa chini ya ‘milki’ mpya, mara ghafla akaanza kupiga nduru “ Uwiiii Leo nauwa babu, natamani harufu ya damu sana” akapayuka payuka huku mate yakimdondoka. Yallahu yalamu, mizimu ya kwao ilikuwa ishaenuka, nani atakayemrudisha chini? Wenyewe husema yakwao yakienuka hata kwa lifti hayashuki. Aliinama na kuchochomeza mkono katika mojawapo ya tendegu la kitanda, baada ya kupapasa alichomoa sime Enhe! Kwa kweli kilikuwa kimeumana aisee! Pyuu! Aliponyoka tu utadhani panya aliyejinasua katika mtego baada ya mrefu wa kukata tamaa na maisha , hata mlango aliuacha wazi ng’waa wote alisahau mle ndani kulikuwa na ‘uhai’ wao wote, japo vitu vilivyokuwa ndani havikuwa na thamani sana lakini ndivyo vilivyowatunza na urathi waliobaki nao pekee. Haswa haswa dhahabu za mamake mara nyingi alishayeyusha vipande kwa sonara ili kukidhi mahitaji ya nyumbani. Mara nyingi aliepuka mialiko ya harusi za uswahilini kwa kukosa herini na bangili, aliogopa kuwa ‘topiki’ ya mtaani, sababu ya kuyeyusha vito vyake ni, wakati mwengine huja kipindi ikawa hana chochote kabsaa sasa na inambidi akate pua ili aunge wajihi. Wajihi ambao ni akina Khamisi na ndunguze, wajihi ambao Khamisi alikuwa anaenda kuuharibu licha ya matatizo aliyopitia mamake mzazi.

“ Uwiiii! Jamani huyo chungeni ana silaha. Atamwaga damu” kamsa zilisikika kutoka kila sehemu, kila mtu alikimbia njia yake kuokoa roho yake,barabara ikaleta taswira ya Rwanda watutsi wakiwakimbia wahutu, wazungu wenyewe wangesema ‘running for your dear life’. Wale waliokuwa barabarani wakiuza bidhaa zao waliziacha na kutokomea wasijulikane wanakokimbilia ililkuwa ni tafarani moja kwa mbili, wengine walijikung’waa na kuanguka, mmoja alijipata akiogelea katika sufuria la uji wa ngano moto, Lo! Alishaharibia watu kiburudisho chao cha muda wa baada ya alasiri bora hata angeangukia kwengine na kujifia. Hivi watu wote wakapati wapi sharubati ya kushukishia viazi vya karai. Ila mchezo kando yale matukio yaliyokuwa yakiendelea pale yalikuwa ni ya mguu niponye, utasema kila mtu anakimbilia hukumu yake ya siku ya kiyama baada ya parapanda kupigwa na malaika Israfil . Mara Khamisi akapita mbio katika barabara ile na kushika uchochoro mwengine, jambo hilo lilimtia wasiwasi zaidi huyo aliyemtangulia katika kichochoro hiko, kosa lake kubwa kuaachana na wenzake na kuamua kukimbia peke yake na wenziwe kuchukua njia nyengine. Sasa hapo ndio muda wa kujilaani na kujijutua kuachana na wenzio maana waswahili husema kifo cha wengi ni harusi, hivi yahkhe leo anajiona akitolewa roho pekee yake. “Kesha pagawa! Wallahi ameshakuwa chizi, lakini ole wake akili zikimarudia atatulipa biashara zetu sote” nyuma sauti ziliskika zikilaani kwa hasira. Lakini Khamisi hakuwa na shida nao, ni umbea wao tu uliowachongea, yaani hivi ukiona mtu akija mbio na panga na nyinyi eti mnaamua kukimbia….eti ehh?  Swali hilo. Yaani mnakurupuka tu ovyoo! Na kujijeruhi na kusababisha hasara biashara zenu…kwani hamjawahi kuona wamasaai wakizunguka na sime zao viunoni? Na wala hamjawahi kukimbia, hivi leo mnamuonea ajabu Khamisi. Khamisi naye yeye alikuwa anakimbizwa na ajenda zake, mbio zote hizo alikuwa akieleke akwa ami zake…………………

 

Photo Courtesy : Salem_Beliegraphy

 

“You are still poor. Why did you come back now? Today precisely?! Just when I was leaving to UK?! Do you know what it meant to me? That scholarship?!” He snapped.

“Please forgive me my son. I came back so that I can see you, see how you’ve grown and…apologize to both you and your mum. I have countable days remaining…”

Rashid staggered out of the hut. His mum was standing there, her forehead formed lines and her eyes were squinted. She was nervously playing with her hands as if it was her judgement day. Rashid looked at her for a while before pulling a stool from the side of the hut and made his mum sit down. There was a moment of dead silence. Then he started;

“How…” he looked at her in the eyes, “how did you survive after he left?”

She sighed loudly.

“Mwanangu (my son)…You know what they say? That when you truly love someone you let them go. You let them be happy…but it’s a lie. It means making a tough choice; a selfish one. It’s either they remain happy and you don’t, or you stay happy and they don’t. It’s a sacrifice no one wants to make especially when another woman is involved…and letting him go cost us our happiness. ..” Darkness had filled the compound and all that could be heard were random voices here and there from the neighbours. Rashid could see the tears forming in his mother’s eyes. He held her hand tightly and nodded at her to go on.

“For many years after your father left, I neglected my entire life. I neglected myself. I neglected you…I neglected you Rashid. I gave up on life. I was like a dead woman walking. Like a miserable zombie. I never worked and we survived on the money that your father left behind but also that came to an end. We had rent arrears and debts from shops. We had to shift here. We were too poor, too messed up. You grew up like an orphan child yet you had your mother with you,” she rised her hand and touched his face.

Rashid swallowed a bitter lump of bile that was now on his lips. How could he forget all those days he would beg his mum to take him to school and those nights he would cry out of fear yet she would turn on her bed like she was suddenly deaf. He would push her body back and forth vigorously calling out ‘mama’…all in vain.

“Perhaps you don’t remember everything…but came the day when I carelessly left hot ashes outside the house without warning you and you stepped on them. I still remember your shriek. It was like a wake up call for me. It was a reminder that I had a son. That I had a gift from God. That I had something worth living my life for….”

“Everything changed after that incident,” she gave him a weak smile. “Your feet were horribly burnt and you couldn’t walk for almost one month. I decided to re-start again. It was not too late. It never is. I got a job in the market to help a friend sell her vegetables while she went on with her other businesses. I took you to school and we had a new life altogether. It wasn’t the best kind of life but it was the best I could offer. I worked as a tailor after that, then a house maid, then sold viazi karai (fried potatoes), mahamri and mbaazi. After that I worked as a mchoraji wa piko na henna (henna tattoing) and finally was able to get my own kibanda (small stall)….You know it all from there…”

Rashid leaned forward and hugged her quickly, picked up his bag before disappearing out of the compound without a word. He stopped by a palm tree and leaned on it to support his weak knees. His eyes were wet when he heard some footsteps coming towards him. He quickly rubbed his eyes with his arms and disappeared once again. He didn’t come back until the next day.

 

Rashid walked into their home compound just to see his mother in the arms of their neighbour mama Fatuma. They were vividly in tears. He fastened his steps as his breathe got heavy.  They both turned around, their eyes red and tired.

“Rashid!!” Mama Fatuma said loudly, her eyes suddenly popped out like she had just seen a ghost.

“Mama…what happened?!” He said as his heart beat furiously…”did something happen to…dad?”

Rashid’s mother rushed into his arms and cried on his broad chest.

“We thought…I thought…you are gone…You have never slept outside before and you took your bag with you.”

“Rashid! I am so relieved you are back! We thought you had gone after the bus to go to UK…the bus crashed last night,” mama Fatuma said.

Rashid swallowed a rather huge lump of saliva.

“The bus crashed?!”

“Yes…we heard it on the radio this morning.  16 passengers passed away and the rest are all injured.”

“Whoa! That was a close shave!” He exclaimed as he stood still in his place; pertubed.

“Nyamaza kulia sasa mama Rashid (Stop crying now mama Rashid)…haven’t you already seen your son? He is fine Alhamdulilah,” mama Fatuma said as she dabbed her eyes with her leso and blew her nose loudly.

” I was at a friend’s place mum. I just needed…”

“It’s okay…I’m just grateful to have you back. Oh Rashid how would I live without you?!”

Rashid patted her back and led her inside the hut. She needed some rest.

 

Four days after, Rashid’s father passed on. Rashid sat next to his silently weeping mother throughout the funeral. He didn’t cry. Not a single tear. At least not for someone whom he considered a stranger. But there was that irresistible heart ache that was banging on his chest. Whatever the case, the deceased was still his father. Whether he liked the fact or not, he had to deal with it.

Right after burying him, an old limping man came towards him. He was leaning on his bakora as he took small but rather quick steps. His head was entirely grey which immediately gave Rashid the instinct that he could be one of his father’s associates.

“Assalam aleikum.  You must be Rashid right?”

Rashid looked at him in puzzlement before replying the greeting and saying yes.

“You have really grown my son mashallah…” he said as he gave him a broad smile.

“Pardon, I haven’t recognized you.”

“You can’t remember me. You were too young. Come, come my son. I have a message from your late father.” He led him into a more silent corner and they sat on large rocks. They were quiet for a moment, staring at the scattered bushes and green grass around.

“I couldn’t risk waiting any longer to talk to you. I am very old and my grave is calling me.” The old man smiled weakly. Rashid never said a word.

“My son,  once upon a time I was your father’s lawyer. I was in charge of all his dealings and his wealth. Those days your father had started building his own empire and your mother had his back always…well, that was until when Salma, his second wife appeared in his life. I believe you know about her by now?”

Rashid nodded.

“I’ll just try to cut this story short. After Salma left with all his wealth, what she didn’t know is that he had an offshore secret bank account. There was no much money in it but it was enough to make him live comfortably for a few more months or perhaps a year. But he decided that that money should be kept for you as a gift from him.”

“Strange…Why didn’t he mention that to me when we talked?”

“Because he didn’t want you to think he is buying you back. He just needed you and your mother to forgive him.”

Rashid was silent.

“Here,” the old man handed him the parcel. “This is exactly 500,000 shillings and God knows I didn’t deduct or add a single penny on it.”

“500,000?!”

“Yes.”

Rashid’s mouth was agape. He had never touched even a quarter of that amount.

“But why? He died so poor…he sold all his property to survive. Why didn’t he use this?”

“Because he regretted what he did to the only woman who sacrificed her entire life for his sake and to you…his only son. He cleared all his debts before he died and doesn’t have much left remaining, just a few clothes, shoes and such…but I will surely come to your home and deliver what is rightfully for you and your mother.”

Rashid was speechless. He stared once again at the horizon then at the skies. Perhaps trying to understand what was happening to his life.

“Son, I have done what was upon me…goodbye” he patted Rashid’s shoulder and started walking away.

“Excuse me…what is your name uncle?”

“Ibrahim…” he smiled again then continued, “I was not just your father’s lawyer,  he was my childhood friend and a brother to me. Perhaps you doubt this but your father…he was a kind man; a good man. He may have made his mistakes in his youth but he really loved you, and worried about you throughout.”

“Why didn’t he ever search for me then?”

“Because he was ashamed…I hope you find it in you to forgive him. Take care of yourself son. Meet you soon in shaa Allah. ”

 

Rashid watched the old man limp away. He looked at the parcel in his hand and sighed loudly.

“Oh God!” He thought to himself.

He recounted all the recent events in his life; mum’s phone call, his father, the lost scholarship, the bus crash, his father’s death and then this…He could have died in the bus crash. He wouldn’t have met his father. He wouldn’t have known the truth. He would have left his mother alone. He wouldn’t have gotten this fortune. He sighed again. His mother would be shocked about the money…but this would help them greatly.  Perhaps start his own business, work while he pays his own college fees. It is better to stay around with his mother. He needed her more than anything. For once, he remembered to thank God for the cancelled trip to UK. For sure better things were yet to come.

“Truly fate is full of surprises. ..” Rashid said to himself as he walked back home. He had a lot to tell her.

 

 

 

 

By: Imran Abdallah Said

Photo courtesy: http://blackgirllonghair.com/

 

A word of caution for non-Swahili speakers, the Swahili-English translations used in this writing are as primitive as they could get, both for comic reasons and because Swahili is awesome. Learn it so I wont have to translate next time.

 

Deal?

 

Proceed…

 

It’s supposed to be the wedding of the decade. The daughter of a chief marrying the son of a respected doctor. She’s an accountant and he’s a secondary school history teacher. She’s good with numbers, he’s good with dates and today’s is a date that’s been long time coming. She being a pedantic realist and he being a nostalgic dreamer means that they will complete the proverbial ying yang loop, form the perfect couple, and half the stars in the sky will go supernova and turn night into day. At the moment, however, heavy clouds crease the night sky which beams down with malcontent.

 

For the third time tonight it threatens to pour as the groom and his flock of minions walk into the mosque and make a beeline for the front, where the imam and the bride’s father await, the expressions on their faces radiating an unimpressed mien. Between him and his destination, a crazed sea of white and black and green and blue kanzus stretches the mosque’s capacity to its choking point. Kofia-donned heads literally turn as the man of the day passes by, dragging his wedding gear, from the over-size black robe laced with gold trimmings and the blunt ceremonial wooden sword tucked in his belt, to the massive turban on his head that precariously flirts with the physical principles of balance and gravity.

 

He deposits himself immediately opposite the imam and nods to his future father-in-law who is either too distracted by the groom’s excessive decorations or unhappy at his wanton disregard for punctuality, since he doesn’t nod back. The imam begins the ceremony with a short lecture about the highs and lows of marriage and quotes a few verses from the Quran.

 

Then he holds the groom’s right hand and asks him to repeat what seems, to the groom at least, like the recitation of a full twenty-page chapter of the Quran in a single breath. The groom’s heart does the tachycardia thing, a hamster racing a hamster wheel off its hinges. He mumbles and stutters. The imam sighs and repeats, enunciating each word carefully like a nursery school teacher. The groom does better this time, but only just.

 

“I…Matano bin Mashaka…accept…” a year-long pause, “…to marry…” a decade flits by, “…Zubeda.”

“Zulekha.” The imam corrects.

“Zulekha…bin…”

“Bint!” The imam corrects again.

“Bint…uh…” What was the father’s name again? He can’t for the love of everything lovable remember it and the fuming dragon that sits where future father-in-law was a minute ago doesn’t make matters easier either. A century has passed by, by the time the groom finishes his vow. The relieved imam does the Islamic rendition of the “By the powers vested in me…” bit and prays for everlasting blessings to be bestowed on the budding marriage. The father-in-law is now smiling broadly. It’s a smile that could mean anything, “I’ll kill you the next time you forget my name” or “Thank you for reducing the number of stubborn bubbleheads living in my house to fifteen. Now scram both of you, and don’t bring her back!”

 

Then its cheers all round as plates of halwa arrive. After that, the crowd of a thousand or so bludgeon the poor groom with affectionate embraces. His family is big. Half the city’s population is surely crammed within this tiny mosque and since his memory serves him well when recalling names of people who began revolutions or destroyed civilizations ages ago but fails him dramatically when trying the same with the people he called friends and family, the groom is meeting his extended relatives and friends for the first time all over again. Cousin Muhammad is actually cousin Mahmoud and uncle Ali is in fact uncle Alwi. In the end the groom resorts to the only nomenclature he’s always been comfortable with as he thanks Cousin 453 and his father, Uncle 78 as they smother him with musty-odor-sheathed bear hugs.

 

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A motorcade outside whisks the groom and his entourage away to his bride’s home. They arrive to what can only be described as a razzle dazzle peacock fashion show. It’s almost dizzying how many different colors the bride’s relatives have managed to cram into their dresses individually. But now the groom faces a tougher challenge than acclimatizing his eyes to the bewildering scene.

 

The tradition at this point goes so: the bride, having recited her own vow earlier that night, is ‘locked away’ in a room somewhere within the house and one of her relatives stands guard. The groom is presented with two options. He and his lackeys can either try to force their way in, or if he is of a more diplomatic persuasion the groom can bride the guard.

 

Today’s is the case where the groom’s only option is surely diplomacy, for the simple reason that his entourage is locked outside and that the bride’s aunt who has taken up guard duty makes the room’s door look small in comparison. She grins widely as he slips two thousand-shilling notes into her welcoming hand. The deal is officially sealed. He is allowed admission.

 

Inside, the bride sits at the edge of the room’s only bed, white dress pouring out all around her, her face and arms buried under layers of make-up and hinna tattoos, but if you are to believe the groom’s account, she is actually “bathed in delicate radiant light that would shame the sun on any summer’s day and an ethereal fragrance that would push roses and carnations into fits of suicidal fantasies”. He whispers a dua to her as per the norm, their first intimate moment, and wishes they could jump out the window if only to escape the photo session that awaits them outside the door.

 

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An hour or a day or a week later, they escape the incessant paparazzi and the motorcade whisks them away to the groom’s residence. It’s drizzling again outside. Well, no it’s actually pouring dreadfully now. Their driver, the groom’s older brother, focused on the now increasingly treacherous road, accountant and history teacher turn to each other. The groom had prepared a ton of poems for this moment, until the rose-shaming fragrance had wiped his memory clean, but twenty or so years of watching the occasional chick-flick movie have him covered…maybe. He blurts out, “I love you…sweet pump…kin”

 

She’s calm despite the excitement of the occasion as she stifles a laugh and replies in a cool voice, “Well, sweet potato, I love you more.”

 

The groom’s found his courage and confidence again but not the rehearsed poems, so he chides, “Really? How much more?”

 

Then the conversation picks up and they’re soon gone. They’re lost in their own world. The real world around them dissolves away and if the bus and truck ahead of them collided and burst into a million pieces in a shower of burning flames and human screams, they won’t be able to recount it to anyone tomorrow or ever. They’re so lost, they don’t even notice when the car finally pulls up to the groom’s home.

 

“Well I love you a gazillion multiplied by a gatrillion times more.” The groom smirks, impressed by his own ability to remember a very big number, fake or not.

 

She replies with the same calm voice, “And I love you Mugabellion to the power of Musevenillion times more.” In other words, infinity to the power of immortal forever. She’s good with numbers. The groom is stumped and sulks for a second after losing his first contest with his wife.

 

“And I would love it if this awkward conversation continued another time.” Their driver, an unwilling passive third-party to the exchange interrupts.“We’re here.” He announces unceremoniously.

 

Outside stands the groom’s family’s home. Two massive tents on either side, one for the men, the other for the ladies. And people. People everywhere you turn. The couple notice them for the first time and feel dizzy. Hundreds, maybe thousands have come to the wedding, to marvel at and envy the newlyweds.

 

The bride is chauffeured away to a temporary wooden stage under the ladies’ tent, where a thousand phosphorent lights and garlands of flowers festoon across the face of the makeshift stage. Then the ululations pick up and morph into a wedding song as the groom’s mother and aunts serenade their newest family member. There’s a phrase around this part of the world, “Bibi harusi wetu.” Our bride. She’s married a family, not just a husband.

 

The forgotten groom is paraded into the house by his brother who shouts to no one in particular, “Someone feed this oaf, he needs his energy up to prepare for his big performance.” The older men and teenagers hanging around laugh like maniacs.

 

With the groom inside and the bride on the other pole of the house, calm falls on the men’s tent. The topics of conversations that follow dart from football and politics and at some point the death of the groom’s younger brother a few months ago comes up. It’s inherently taboo to talk about funerals at weddings but for these people today, having been shocked by the nature and timing of the groom’s brother’s death, talking about it here is almost therapeutic.

 

The teenagers in attendance joke about marriage and other weddings they’ve attended. One of them waxes nostalgic to the click around him about a different wedding he went to where state-of-the-art amplifiers and 20-feet high speakers blasted the music of Ali Kiba and Diamond into the night sky. “What a dump of a wedding this is.” He complains. That it had stopped drizzling minutes ago doesn’t seem to improve the teenager’s mood.

 

The saving grace of any Swahili wedding, however, no matter how dislikeable to those invited, is of course the feast, or feasts.Tonight’s feast even has a name, Kombe la Bwanaharusi, the groom’s cup or something like that. You know Swahili people love food when they give fancy names to feasts. When the sinias (big plates) arrive and the guests behold their contents, all inhibitions and doubts and ill-will simply melt away.

 

Tonight, the guests are treated to a surprise. Upon inspection of the plates, they discover they’ve been served six different types of foods, from viazi vya nazi (potatoes of coconut), samaki wa kupaka(painted fish), nyama ya kukaanga (fried meat…?),mahamri (I doubt there’s an English equivalent word), kaimati (some round pastry thingy coated in sugar), mitai (another pastry thingy coated in sugar) and tambi (sugary noodles). Seven types it turns out, not six! But wait, upon further inspection, the guests realize the plates come in pairs. There are seven other different types of food in the accompanying plates, mikate ya tambi(sugary-noodle bread), katlesi (cut-less with each bite), viazi vitamu (sweet potatoes!), sambusa(samosas), mkate wa mayai (bread of the egg),mkate wa sinia (bread of the plate) and viazi karai(fried potatoes) You could call it the centenary gladiator match of the calories, a cholesterol and sugars bloodbath. The Swahili people won’t heed you, they’ll continue calling it Kombe La Bwanaharusi.

 

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It’s growing late, the tell-tale signs of the approaching morning begin to show. The groom is tired and sleepy and growing increasingly irritated. He chucks modesty down the drain, rushes up the makeshift stage while the songs and ululations crescendo to a climax, and before anyone can realize what’s happening scoops up the bride, who looks equal parts amused and relieved but not necessarily shocked, and takes off at a canter like a deranged kangaroo, the turban falling off his head. His mother finally jumps to her feet and gives chase shouting, ‘Bring our bride back,’ her singing partners flocking her sides and ululating without let-up.

 

“My bride, mine…” the groom shouts back, head growing giddy from his defiant shenanigans. He makes for one of the parked cars whose passenger door is thankfully held open by his brother, gently sets his wife down on the seat, jumps over the bonnet american-movie-cops-like, fishtails the car out of the parking spot and zooms off, executing a perfect drift around the corner that would send James Bond running for the bank. Cheers and whoops from the men’s side and ululations from women’s side and the groom’s mother’s child-like tantrum sing them off into the night.

 

“Wow,” the accountant laughs, “I didn’t know your family was so…”

 

“Clingy?” The history teacher says.

 

“Affectionate.” She finishes.

 

“They’re clingy. My family’s clingy. I should have warned you.” The dreamer reflects. There’s a long pause and then he adds, “We have might have to relocate to Russia or China or Antarctica where they can’t find us and shove chocolate cakes down your throat every morning and dress you up like Disney princesses every weekend.”

 

The realist wraps her arms around her husband’s free hand and rests her head on his shoulder as she thinks of the long tiring hours she spends at work every day.

 

“I don’t know,” she whispers with a broad smile, “I think am actually looking forward to being treated like a queen.”

 

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