Alternative Love (3)

CHAPTER THREE

Patience

PART VII

Mid-morning, the following day, we took a drive in Bartholomew’s car. We reached the edge of a forest. He stepped out of the car, opened the passenger door and waited for me to get out. Fear engulfed me. ‘What if I got lost and was kidnapped again?’ I thought.

“I do not want to be here,” my voice trembled, “Let us go back,”

I tried to stay on the path….
The wild flowers enticed me…
I laughed and chased butterflies….
Became entangled by a spider’s web….
Behind a thicket I rested….
Overlooking a cascading waterfall….
There are some people who would have killed the deer….
But I only stared….
I saw his magnificence….

~ Janet Marie Bingham ~

“Why?” Bartholomew turned and looked at me. There was sadness in his eyes. I felt sorry for him, but I knew it was a waste of time; I would not be happy. My eyes dropped. I wrung my hands. “Okay,” he said softly. “I am sorry I brought you here without asking. I have missed the forest.” We went back to the house.

It was four weeks since we visited the forest. My leg was better.

“Do not be afraid.” Bartholomew said. “There are guards placed every few meters of the forest, but you cannot see them. No one will hurt you…. besides you are a strong woman.”

I agreed to visit the forest. Bartholomew carried his bow and arrow, a fishing rod and a bag. ‘I will not be afraid.’ I told myself a thousand times during the drive. ‘No one will come for me, Bartholomew is here.’ We arrived at the forest. We walked down a narrow track that branched off the main path. Surprisingly, I was calm.

Romance is the glamour which turns the dust of everyday life into a golden haze.

~ Elinor Glyn ~

It is when we are lost in life, that we begin to appreciate the little things. I loved the trees. I loved the different sounds in the forest. The rustling of leaves, the birds singing. My steps on the dry leaves. The air smelled of trees, the cypress especially, it smelled of rotting branches and leaves. The butterflies were beautiful. The unique wild fruits, strange taste, but interesting. I was there, then…. This was a different world. I would have enjoyed myself fully If I wasn’t in sandals. Crawling insects were not something I wanted to see or feel, and I was glad I did not see any. One thing was missing though, the sunshine behind the trees that did not penetrate the forest….

“What is the name of this forest?” I turned 45 degrees towards Bartholomew who walked a metre behind me and only moved closer when he removed cobwebs from my path. Dogs barked on the other side of the forest.  

Chinko forest. They call it Chinko…. The dogs you hear barking, belong to the security firm that guards the forest.” Bartholomew said. “They are well trained and will not attack you unless, you are a crime suspect, like visitors that stay in the forest past closing hours, or if you steal my arrows, attempt to shoot me and run,” I suppressed the urge to laugh, “they also search for missing persons, and those that run away from people who love them deeply.” Bartholomew bent and said that to my ear. They catch poachers, and criminals who hide in the forest,” he paused, then laughed. “I almost forgot, they also attack ladies who are healing from a wound on their foot.” I smiled and turned to look at him. The corners of his mouth twitched and the laugh lines from his nose to both sides of the lips began to form, then disappeared as fast as they had appeared.

Humour and Nourishment

Bartholomew opened his bag and took out a bottle of lemon juice and a handful of groundnuts. He handed them to me. I tried to scan his eyes, but he had this look that did not allow me to read his heart. I munched on the groundnuts.

“River Nguvo is on the other side of the forest, not far from here.” Bartholomew said.

 “Are there any boats on the river?” I was curious. “Can we see them?”

“No, the river is not big and deep enough for boats,” Bartholomew was amused, “but there are many fishermen and other villagers who bring cows to drink water and graze at the banks of the river.”

“Is that where we are going for fishing?” I asked.

“Yes,” Bartholomew nodded.

There was a patch in the forest where some trees had been felled. We sat on one of the trunks… I took a sip of the lemon juice…. Bartholomew took a sip too. I was surprised that we were drinking from the same bottle.

“You said you were in a hospital?” he began. Every time this subject came up, my head felt heavy and my heart sank. “Why were you on the side of the road when I found you?”

Living

A twig snapped behind us, leaves crackled. We turned. “Stay here,” Bartholomew whispered. He walked swiftly and quietly to the direction of the sound. He took out his bow and arrow, aimed…. He looked good, in a black, long sleeved T-shirt, with buttons from the neckline to the chest, an army green trouser with side pockets at the thigh and black hiking shoes. His hands were large and strong, and bore the evidence of hard manual labour. His body upright, he aimed and released the arrow….  missed.

The beautiful deer vanished into the woods. I was not sure I wanted him to hit it. Was I relieved it escaped…? I tried very hard not to show. Bartholomew walked to my side and sat. “It is long since I came here to hunt,” He spoke with disappointment. “We are out of deer meat…. and soup,”

“That was deer soup?” I was surprised.

He nodded, smiling. “I am sure you did not see any goats in the compound, did you?” Bartholomew responded. I shook my head.

“People never get out of that place,” I began where we had left, “from what I grasped, I think they harvest human organs and blood,” Bartholomew stared at me mouth agape. “They let me go because they were afraid they might be caught. Your search for me…. saved my life,” Bartholomew was sad. “Thank you for everything.” ….

“Not at all” Bartholomew said quickly. I told him every detail of the kidnap that I could remember.

“I don’t know where to start looking.” Bartholomew began. “Maybe, from where they got you or….”

“No!” I interrupted. “You can’t. They are dangerous people. They kill and make people disappear.”

“What do you mean?” Bartholomew asked…. “Disappear? How?”

“They burn the bodies, nobody can find them,” I realized I liked Bartholomew, he was my best friend. I met someone who gave me the attention I needed. I did not want him to get hurt. “Let’s forget about it,” I urged him. “I think it would be safer for both of us.”.

Without saying anything, Bartholomew picked up the bow and arrows, and walked towards the car. I picked up the fishing rod and followed him slowly. My wounded leg was swollen and heavier, but without pain. We were quiet on our way back. It was drizzling. The grass was slippery. I tried to keep up with Bartholomew’s pace. I slipped. “Ah!” Bartholomew turned around and caught me before I hit the ground. The fishing rod broke. He looked at it for a second, then took my hand and held it till we reached the car. We were wet.

We entered the gate. Someone sat on my bathing stool.  Bartholomew had brought it out to dry, that morning. ‘Maybe the doctor had come to check on me….’ I thought… ’Maybe the gentleman that brought me the blanket on my first night decided to report early today.’ We got closer.

Heart shattered by deceptive words….
Tandem lies, misconceptions….
A sharp tongue and a vague mind, tear apart what was once sanity….
Reality lost in a wave of denial….
Anger, rage and explanations fall into the hollows of a shattered heart….
Watered by tears of sorrow and regret…

~ T.James Becker ~

It was Zagorody! “Oooooh!” I whispered. I felt sick. He stood up and almost fell backwards. He got his balance. “They are back!” he shouted. “The king of village and his limping bride.” He staggered towards us. I stepped behind Bartholomew. “You are going with me.” he pointed at me swaying on his feet. “I am not leaving you here.” He tried to go round Bartholomew, but Bartholomew shielded me. Zagorody stopped. He looked at Bartholomew for a minute….

Protection

“Do you know your bride is a prostitute?” he asked sneering, “or you think she is a virgin?” he said pointing at me again. “Let’s go into the house, I’ll show you…” Bartholomew threw a punch that landed on the side of Zagorody’s face. I thought his head was going to rotate. He fell on his back, and passed out. Someone opened the gate.

“Musa,” Bartholomew turned. I turned too, and realized it was the gentleman who brought the blanket to me that night. I did not know how much he had seen. He walked to where Zagorody lay, took hold of his left arm and dragged him towards the gate, he regained consciousness. Hurt from the punch Bartholomew rubbed his hand as he watched.

“You are mine!” Zagorody shouted from the gate, trying to stand. Musa struggled to hold him back. “You are mine! No one will take you away from me!”.

“No! I shouted. I limbed towards the gate. My leg hurt. Bartholomew followed. “I don’t love you anymore, you lied to me…. you lied to me! You never came.” Tears flowed down my face. Don’t ever come back. Leave me alone!”

Bartholomew placed his hands on my shoulders, turned me to face him, put his hand around my waist and walked me to the house. More tears flowed. He sat on one stool and I the other… He took my hands in his. He was silent for the longest time.

“Don’t worry,” he was concerned. “What happened will not change anything. Don’t be upset. Nothing bad will happen to you. I will always be here,” I wiped the tears with the back of my hand. I was not crying because I thought I was going to lose Bartholomew, I cried because Zagorody had not realized how much he had hurt me. I regretted wasting my time with him. Bartholomew left and came back with dry clothes and a mug of coffee, Kahawa No 1… “Things will get better.” He said as he handed it over to me…

While taking a shower that night, I noticed that there were two soaps. The one I had accidentally thrown out and the one we used every day. Bartholomew found the other soap. I was embarrassed. The cat was always around, but never again on the bathroom window.

One day Musa found my suitcase near the fence. Zagorody had thrown it over. Seemed it had been there for quite some time. It was still wet from the rain. My dresses were a mess, some with mildew. I was sad, but tried very hard not to let it ruin my day.

PART VIII

Love like a river, will cut a new path wherever it meets an obstacle….

~ Love quotes very romantic ~

After completing the house chores, one morning, we walked to the shamba. It was big. There were beautiful rows of green. Three different types of plants. Some with flowers. The smell of the soil was refreshing. The drizzle and recent weeding made it more beautiful. I wanted to run from one end of the shamba to the other, barefoot, with my arms raised in the air. It took all my strength not to do that. I was afraid of hurting my leg and him, thinking I am mad. It was only a few days since the pain disappeared completely.

Bartholomew tried to hold my hand, every time we went for a walk, but I’d pull it back. ‘Why should I hold his hand? He had never told me how he felt about me. He had not told me he loved me. How could I let him touch me like that, to only hurt me later, like Zagorody? I would not fall for it. Many people I knew stayed in their marriages without love and it worked, somehow. If I would never get another place to go to, that is the kind of relationship I would have with Bartholomew, I would be married, my heart would be shut to emotion, and love locked out. The key thrown away. Buried, with all my feelings.

Today, when he took my hand, I did not resist. I had been hard on him enough times. I looked up at him. There was a pleasant expression on his face. He smiled and swung our arms back and forth. He even smiled at a yellow and grey bird that flew by with a piece of grass in its beak. It settled on a tree. Bartholomew let go of my hand, picked a small stone and tried to hit it. The bird flew away for a few seconds then back. He held my hand again. “That’s a weaver bird,” he said as we sat under a tree. I smiled.

I sometimes wonder if there’s something inside each of us….
that longs to carry out God’s original instruction to humans…
God explicitly commanded the first man to till the soil….
and to care for the earth:
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden….
to work it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15).
We’re never closer to the heart of that command….
than when we’re up to our elbows in dirt, planting, pruning, tending.

~ Tim Challies ~
Contentment

“This is how I live,” he looked around, I followed his eyes. ‘It is simple; I have done this for many years.” Bartholomew said proudly. “This shamba,” he spread his hands, “is my life. I also fish, and hunt a lot… Nothing will change that.” He looked at me. I frowned. “You will get used to it,” he took a handful of soil and let it run through his fingers to the ground.

“This is not the life I want,” I retorted, “I cannot live like this, touching soil every day, full of dust, scaling smelly fish and slaughtering deer. This is slavery!”

“It will not be every day.” Bartholomew explained. “Besides, there will be workers to help you, and nobody will order you around, when you are here.”

“You are lying,” I cried. “There are no workers here, except for the guard.”

“I sent them away, I wanted have some time alone, with you.” Bartholomew explained.

“No! I want to go home!” I insisted. “Look at me! See what I have become since I came here!”

The look on Bartholomew’s face made me wish I’d take back my words. He stood and paced up and down between the rows of plants, for a long time, he stopped briefly to uproot a weed here, a weed there. I sat under the tree, almost frozen. I stared at him. We did not talk. We did not have lunch, he forgot…. or ignored?

“As you are aware,” he began before we left the shamba. “No one cares about you, has anyone looked for you since you came here?” he continued after an awkward pause. “Zagorody, the confused man, is the only one who tried and I am sure he will not come back…. If I wanted to, I would have tied you to the bed and mistreated you as much as I wanted, as long as I wished, because I know no none would come looking for you…. but I haven’t,” In dismay, he turned and looked at the bird that was still building its nest, “because, force is not what relationships are built upon.”

There were no words to express how I felt at that moment. I wanted to hug him and tell him that one day he would get the kind of woman he wanted, but after I saw the disgust on his face, I did not move.

“The first time I saw you, I loved you. I enquired about you and learnt that your parents had brought you up fine. I was surprised and glad to know that your Baba was my longtime friend, I thought it would be easy.” With a face full of sorrow, he gazed into my eyes. “I have risked my life for you, risked losing my workers for you, sacrificed my daily adventures for you, done things I never thought I would do for a woman…. and still, you resist….” He shrugged, “I give up.”

The bird’s nest fell to the ground. We turned to look.

Bartholomew walked away from me. I followed him to the house. He did not look at me at all. He did not talk to me.

The key with girls is just acting like you don’t care….
It drives them nuts….
Some girls, they want you to be aggressive….
You know, strong, hot and heavy, like a lion….
But others, you gotta be slow, you gotta be stealthy, like a ninja….
Some girls are different than others….
the one you love is usually more special….
Sometimes even the special ones break your heart….

~ Stranger things ~

I woke up early, the next day and made chapati. I wanted to make up for upsetting Bartholomew. I had seen him climb up a ladder into a hole in the wooden ceiling to get ingredients. I climbed and looked for some dried meat to make stew, there was none. I sat on the ceiling for some time wondering what to cook. I thought of getting some spinach from the shamba, but I was not sure if it was ready to be picked. I got some carrots, onion and tomatoes. I fried them. I laid the table, and hoped that would bring a smile on Bartholomew’s face.

Bartholomew came in, with milk. “Hallo,” his voice was as cold as a rock in the north pole. He looked straight ahead as he walked to the kitchen.

“Breakfast is ready” I said following him.

He paused for a moment, without turning, then walked on. I was uneasy. A meal tastes better when eaten in company. Bartholomew did not eat. I no longer had the appetite. Thank goodness, I had eaten the first chapati while cooking…. I went to my room, packed my new suitcase and walked out.  I waited for Bartholomew to call me back like they do in the movies…. He did not…. Baba had hurt me, Zagorody had hurt me and now Bartholomew! I felt a knot in my throat.

‘He does not love me,’ My steps were slow.  ‘He never did,’ My heart was heavy. I dragged the suitcase slowly through the drizzle, towards the gate. I turned to look at the compound for the last time. Bartholomew was standing at the door, his hands in the pocket. His face expressionless. I wanted to rush back, hug him, and beg him to forgive me, but I walked on. ‘It would not have worked….’ I thought, ‘never!’

It was Sunday. It rained. The bus station was empty, except for one person. I sat a few feet away from him. He waved at me. I stared ahead. Travelers went away, others arrived. I wanted to go back to Baba, but could not. What would I tell him? That I did not want to get dirty. Bartholomew had not chased me away. I thought of going back to Zagorody, but the thought of Zagorody made my stomach churn.

There are millions of people out there…. 
But in the end, it all comes down to one….

~ Crazy/Beautiful ~

Bartholomew was kind, but my rebellious heart wanted to go back to the city. I was torn apart. I knew it would be hard to find another man like him. I tried to think of a way I could convince him to start a new life in the city with me…. my thoughts hit a wall. He had made that very clear to me.

I felt sorry for him. He had been disappointed before. One time, during our walks, he told me, in the past, he had been afraid he would be too old to marry. He rushed. His first woman had many demands. He realized he had tried too hard to please her, hoping that one day she would agree to stay in the village. He took her to clubs, he bought her nice clothes, and took her to expensive hotels, drove her everywhere she wanted, but she never stopped. When Bartholomew knew she was not the one, most of his money was gone. He did not blame her totally, because he knew he had been bribing her to stay with him, and bribery is immoral.

“Why have you never done those things for me?” I had asked him.

“Because I realized,” Bartholomew explained. “That is not how things are done. Love cannot be bought. It is natured, it grows. Everything else comes afterwards.”

I am not sure if Bartholomew would have mentioned the lady to me, if she had not tried to come back. Musa had stopped her at the gate, and called Bartholomew to speak to her, before she caused trouble. I was curious and watched them through the kitchen window. The lady was shouting at the top of her voice, a little drunk. She tried to destroy the lock on the gate with a big piece of wood, it was too strong for her. I did not hear what Bartholomew told her. She went away crying.

The heart of the jealous knows the best and most satisfying love….
that of the other’s bed….
Where the rival perfects the lover’s imperfections.

~ Djuna Barnes ~

I tried not to think of how jealous the idea of another woman made me. What was making me jealous when I had no reason to be? I guess love changed everything. I wanted to own Bartholomew. I felt a tight knot around my heart. I was helpless. My emotions were in turmoil. It was insane. He had already given his all to me. What else did I want?

He had made me love him. Would he make my life better and I his? Would he help me discover qualities that I did not know I had? He had taught me many lessons, one of them being, never to give up easily. He lifted me up every time I fell. He was calm and easy, and it warmed my heart.

Sorrow

PART IX

The rain had reduced to a gentle drizzle that soothed my broken heart.

“Did you miss your bus?” the gentleman I found at the station in the morning asked, bringing me back to the present. He sat. “Are you not the one I left here in the morning?”

“I am okay,” I murmured.

“You do not look okay,” the gentleman insisted. “Can I help?”

“No, you can’t” I shook my head, the tears I had held back the whole day rolled down my cheeks.

“Try me.” he said sitting next to me.

“I left a man this morning,” My voice trembled. “I do not want to get married in the village,” He shifted on the seat to face me. “This man,” he frowned, “is a good man; but- but- I don’t think I can live in the village.”

The gentleman coughed, then cleared his throat. “The human being will always seek something complete….” he said, “something perfect… We find it difficult to make sacrifices, difficult to make changes in our lives, but without change…. without sacrifice life cannot go on, and we miss out on many good things,” he paused. I wiped the tears off my cheeks with the back of my hand, raised my head and turned to look at him. I nodded.

“I know you have read many fairy tales,” he went on, “and many romantic western books, where love explodes out of fireworks. It is the same on the screens. The perfect love stories…. We find true love, but throw it away, then, we suffer forever, without knowing that every romantic relationship starts differently… and grows differently…”  he was thoughtful. His eyes grew moist with tears of sympathy.

Sometimes we are selfish. We fight to bend everything to our side. Remember he is also human; you must meet him halfway. I am sure he has gone out of his way to do things for you.” I nodded. “He must be a good man, otherwise…. you would not still be here trying to figure out your next step. Think about it carefully, will you?” He smiled. I nodded, sniffed and swallowed hard. “If we had met under different circumstances, I would marry you.” That sounded familiar and those words….

He stood and walked, stopped and turned, “Is he more handsome than I?” I laughed amidst tears, “Yes, be happy.” he waved goodbye and left.

Where had I met this gentleman? …….. My kidnapper! The realization almost made me jump out of my skin. Was he stalking me all this time? Would I choose him over Bartholomew? He was another kind, loving man, but there was no doubt in my mind that Bartholomew, it was. My mind jolted back to the present.

 ‘We cannot have everything,’ I sighed. I missed Bartholomew…. Every time someone appeared from the corner of the stage, I thought Bartholomew had come for me…. Seconds turned into minutes, minutes turned into hours. I watched the sun go down. It was night. I was afraid. He did not come. I was alone.  Tears stung my eyes and spilled down my cheeks. I was so overwhelmed with grief, I could die. For the first time in many days I wept.

I will return….
I will find you…
Love you…
Marry you…
And live without shame….

~ Atonement ~  
Determination

The sun had been down for some hours. I opened the side pocket of my suitcase, took out a hairband and held my hair up. I wheeled my suitcase onto the path. The night was quiet, except for the suitcase that made the loudest, dragging noise. The drizzle had stopped. The sky was clear. The moon was brighter than any night before. I pushed all the fear out of my overloaded heart. ‘I will not be afraid of the dark,’ I walked confidently. I was not ashamed to go back. I walked in the dark, reliving what had happened to me since I left my parents’ house. “This is where I should be,” I whispered. The trees on the path seemed to bow in the darkness. I reached the wooden gate….

“Helah,” Musa said with a slight bow that could hardly be seen. I smiled. “Musa,” He opened the gate. Bartholomew had not drawn the curtains. ‘Maybe he was not around,’ I entered the house. I wheeled the suitcase slowly to my room… and tiptoed to Bartholomew’s door. I stood, listening, for about a minute, wondering whether to knock, open or go back to my room.

“Are you coming in or not?” Bartholomew sounded tired.

Come sleep with me: we won’t make love;
love will make us.

~ Julo Cortazar ~  

I opened the door, the moon cast its pale glow through the window onto Bartholomew’s bed. Bartholomew opened his eyes and raised his head. I walked slowly towards the bed, pulled back the covers and slid into his arms. I looked at him, tears in my eyes, begging for forgiveness…. then love.  

His breath was warm on my forehead…. I felt the rhythm of his heartbeat. My heart was beating too. I knew then, that sometimes it is not love at first sight…. it is not the flowers, chocolates and drinks…. not a trip to Mombasa or Zanzibar…. but invisible waves, from one heart to another, getting stronger, one day at a time.

Moments like this……
I can feel your heart beating as clearly as I feel my own…. 
And I know that separation is an illusion…
My life extends far beyond limitations of me….

~ Cloud Atlas ~
Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm,
for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD. Many waters cannot quench love; neither can floods drown it.
If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, \
he would be utterly despised.”

Song of Solomon 8:6-7  

THE END

Art by Berina Ogega

Editor by: behance.com/KenOmollo

GUEST POSTS

BEAUTY OF THE SUN

She loved the sunrise….
All the light and warmth it brought along….
She loved the sunset too….
And all the beauty it magnified….
But all that gradually changed….

See, it got in her head that every sunrise….
would forever represent another boring beginning….
And each sunset would always….
Find her all cold and alone….
With Scars that stripped her wordless….

A hopeless romantic she was….
Kissing temporary lips with permanence….
Hoping that she could train them to stay….
She loved temporary people with permanence….
Hoping she could train them not to leave….

But tired she was from too many heartbreaks….
And so with the broken pieces of her heart….
She built a wall around whatever was left of it….
With the memories as reminders….
No one would bring down that wall….

She taught her heart restraint too….
Out of fear or wisdom it cannot be said….
She knew not to look directly into eyes….
For they can be blinding…
That way she believed she would be safe….

Till he came along….
Turned her world upside down….
Willing to climb any mountain for her….
And ride any wave with her….
Extending his arms like roots to always hold her down….
Remolding her broken heart, piece by piece….

He restored her belief in the beauty of the sun….

By: Stephanie Kwamboka

Poet

LOVE (1)

Love is an intense feeling of deep affection

Love is a sacred emotion. Stories have been told of married couples where, when one of them dies, their partner passes on too. This is proof that not just love, but true love exists and it has a huge effect on our thoughts, feelings and actions. When people are truly in love with each other, they dedicate themselves to a life-long journey. They gauge their love based on its quality rather than being independent on each other.  

Most people want to experience love. This is because it is believed to give purpose and meaning to life as we know it. We feel more alive when in love as well as inspired to complete tasks. This inspiration comes from having a companion at our side who pushes us into action especially where there is a difficult situation at hand. Being loved also increases the worth we attach to ourselves and reduces the fears we may experience concerning loneliness.

In modern day, people are encouraged to show independence from relationships and in relationships. However, there is a certain joy to be found in knowing that we have a companion and we can rely on someone when we are troubled. This is not to say that we should be clingy. We should try to respect boundaries set by our partners, as well as set reasonable boundaries.

Humans are imperfect beings and as such there is no perfect relationship…. but if we do not consider what is important in love, we may end up learning from our mistakes in a painful lesson.

WHY PEOPLE FALL IN LOVE

  • Similarities in personality traits, beliefs and ways of thinking.
  • Desirable characteristics especially in the case physical attributes as well as personality traits.
  • Being liked by someone that we are attracted to or also like.
  • Love has a greater likelihood of developing between people, that are familiar with each other, than in individuals who are strangers.
  • Social influences lead to development of love, where a union between people satisfies social norms and expectations.
  • Uncertainty surrounding a person can lead to feelings of attraction, as one seeks to solve the mystery surrounding that person, and also inability to predict their actions.
  • Isolation, where a person spends time with a certain person in particular, can lead to the development of feelings of love.
  • Readiness to be in a relationship increases chances of falling in love, as one is open to the idea of meeting someone new, or starting a relationship with someone that they are already familiar with.
  • If a person can fulfill needs for companionship, love, sex or mating, there is a greater chance that someone desiring these qualities in a partner will fall in love with them.

WHY PEOPLE DO NOT BELIEVE IN TRUE LOVE

  • There is unwillingness to agree in issues, which leads to arguments that may cause break-up. The inability of people to put their partner’s wants above their own leads people to doubt the existence of true love.
  • Attachment to wealth, leads people to wonder if true love really exists. People have been known to put more value on possessions they can gain, than on really loving their partner.
  • People avoid the responsibilities that come with serious relationships preferring casual relationships where they do not feel tied down by the duties expected by their loved ones leading these partners to doubt that true love really exists.
  • People are becoming increasingly selfish and competitive of each other in the modern world. This creates the image that one cannot be trusted for companionship and support in a relationship, because they only care about themselves.
  • The need for perfection creates doubts concerning true love. People are so obsessed with perfection that they cannot tolerate imperfections in their partners. The flawed individuals that are rejected end up believing that true love does not exist since no one will accept them along with their flaws.
  • Partners in relationships put a lot of high expectations on each other, which may be unrealistic and cannot be met. This leads to disappointment and feeling of not being valued if the expectations are not met. In turn, those who expectations are placed on, end up being resentful and with the opinion that true love does not exist if they need to meet certain expectations for it.

There are four common types of Love: –

  • Eros
  • Ludus
  • Mania
  • Pragma

Eros refers to romantic love or passionate love. It is a passionate, physical and emotional state of wanting to satisfy, bring sexual fulfillment, security and enjoying beautiful moments with each other. Romantic love is guided by intuition (a knowing that cannot be explained by fact or thought} or common feeling between two people. At times, this kind of love may become unrealistic where one thinks their partner is perfect, and criticism from them results in hurt or psychological pain. The advantage of erotic love is that it creates a strong bond between partners, as well as a feeling of security in a relationship. Its disadvantage is that it may fade with the passage of time.

Ludus is a form of love where there is a desire to have fun, rather than to be serious and committed to each other such as in a stable relationship.

Mania is an obsessive type of love where one holds their actual or perceived partner in high regard and wish for their feelings to be reciprocated by this partner. This type of love features possessiveness and unrealistic expectations. It can result in stalking, causing harm or even end in the murder of the object of obsession if advances are unreciprocated.

Pragma refers to love that is practical. It may not necessarily be romantic in nature rather it is based on convenience. It tends to be realistic as well as wise or reasonable. Partners have expectations that they expect to be met. They seek compatible traits that will increase the chances of a successful relationship. These kinds of partners usually work towards a common goal. However, the relationship can end up being toxic if one partner views the other as a burden.

Sometimes a person is not loved back. This may be as a result of simple dislike of one’s traits or because the one who is loved, loves someone else. It may result in feelings of despair or agony for the one having the experience.

Biologically, we are designed to fall in love. This is as a result of hormones and chemical messengers present in our bodies which influence our emotions positively or negatively. These chemicals create feeling of lust, attraction and attachment in human beings. Dopamine is responsible for the ‘high’ feeling associated with being in love while oxytocin is responsible for the bond that exists between individuals that love each other.

Lima Syndrome

This is a condition where abductors develop sympathy for their captives. This may be as a result of the kidnapper(s) not agreeing with the plan or not willing to harm innocents. They may not have the heart to keep their victims in captivity, or may feel guilty for being forced to act in such a manner, due to unavoidable circumstances.

The bond may be as a result of constant contact between the abductor(s) and captive(s) leading to genuine want to care for the captive(s). It may also be because the prisoner inspires sympathy.

Stockholm Syndrome

This is a condition that occurs when hostages develop positive feelings towards their captors. This occurs due to the time spent with each other.

It is an instinct that develops with the need for survival. The bond is established when the captor shows kindness to the victim or when threats of harm or death are not carried out. The victim sees these unfulfilled threats as acts of mercy or kindness, leading to a sense of gratitude towards the captors.

Article by: Tracy Moraa

Bachelor of Arts (Psychology)

LOVE (2)

When someone first falls in love, their attraction is driven by changes in the brain chemicals, such as: –

  • Increases in dopamine a chemical messenger involved in seeking and keeping a relationship with a preferred romantic partner. It -provides a natural high and ecstatic feelings that can be as addictive as cocaine
  • When the level of norepinephrine in the body is higher. It gives us a rush of excitement, nervousness, energy and motivation to pursue our romantic partner. This also produces physical symptoms like a racing heart, flushed skin and sweaty palms.

We are made to love and our brains have been wired to fall in love, to feel the euphoria of romance, to enjoy pleasure, to bond and procreate. Feel-good neurochemicals flood the brain at each stage of lust, attraction, and attachment

and they feel that it will last for the long term, they are said to have reached the attachment stage. A longer-lasting commitment that we can also call companionate love. Attachments are strengthened due to the release of a hormone called oxytocin and vasopressin during intimacy and other affectionate behaviors. Oxytocin is also associated with the assisting of deeper feelings, and therefore is directly linked to bonding and increasing trust and loyalty in romantic attachments.

If you have just met your partner, you do not expect them to do any wrong and you tend to ignore his or her flaws or negative traits. In that sense, we can see why people say “love is blind.”

We confuse love and lust quite easily:

Lust – results in our sexual attraction and our need for sexual fulfillment. Our sex hormones kick in as soon as we are teenagers, thus our biological drives to reproduce, are driven by the need for sexual gratification (lust).

In a relationship, one may be “lusting,” while the other mistakes this attraction, for the desire to form and commit to a relationship. Even though at first we may be driven by our sex drive (the libido or lust), simply being sexually attracted to someone doesn’t mean that a romance or relationship will last very long.

Intimacy

Initially, we admire our beloved, are willing to explore our partner’s interests, and accept his or her ideas and opinions. Love may also bring out some parts of our personality that we didn’t know we had. We might feel more masculine or more feminine, more empathic, generous, hopeful, and more willing to try out new things.

When we are in love, we feel more alive, because we have access to another side of our ordinary personality. Additionally, in early dating, we tend to be more honest than later on in the relationship, where both parties usually have invested a lot in the relationship and fear that speaking the truth may lead to a breakup.

After the initial stage, take for instance after six months we learn more things about our partner that displease us. We notice habits and flaws we dislike and some ideas or beliefs that we may find unpleasant. As a matter of fact, some of the traits that attracted us then, could annoy us now.

We gradually start to go back to our ordinary personality, and so does our partner. Now that we’re attached, and fear losing, or upsetting our partner, we hold back feelings, wants, and needs. This restricts us from being intimate.

In order for a relationship to overcome major obstacles it requires: –

  • Self-esteem
  • Courage
  • Acceptance
  • Confidence.

It necessitates the ability to honestly speak up about our needs and wants, to share feelings, agree, and resolve conflict. As opposed to trying to change our partner we should put effort into learning to accept him or her.

Stockholm Syndrome

Stockholm syndrome develops when one is placed in a situation where they feel intense fear of physical harm, and believe all control is in the hands of the person who makes them suffer. The psychological response follows after a period of time and is a survival strategy for the victims.

It also includes sympathy and support for their captor’s unfortunate situation, and may eventually manifest in negative feelings toward authorities who are trying to help the victims. People exhibiting Stockholm syndrome become protective of their captors, even to the point of frustrating the efforts of their rescuers.

The syndrome is not classified as a disease but rather a description of people’s behaviors who’ve been traumatized over a period of time. While hostages and kidnapping victims can exhibit these behaviors, so can people in abusive relationships or members of cults.

Lima Syndrome

Lima syndrome can be said to be the opposite of Stockholm syndrome. This is because it is a condition in which the tormentor (a person who inflicts severe mental or physical suffering on someone) develops an emotional bond with their victims. They begin to empathize with their victim. At some point, they even begin to worry about the needs and well-being of the hostages. Lima syndrome can be manifested in the following ways:

-The kidnapper avoids hurting the victim.

-They give the victim certain freedoms or even releases them.

-The kidnapper worries about the victim’s physical and emotional state.

-They have conversations with the victim.

-In some cases, the kidnapper goes ahead to share personal information with the victim.

-They can even make promises to the victim.

-In other cases, the kidnapper may even be attracted to the victim.

Article by: Gail Mwaniki

Bachelor of Arts (Psychology)

References: –

https://Slate.com, https://PsychCentral.com, https://www.psychologytoday.com, https://en.m.wikipedia.org – Quora

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Alternative Love (2)

CHAPTER TWO

COMPASSION

PART V

Bartholomew opened the door. He looked at my foot again. “Everything will be alright,” he said and I realized he was not immune to sadness. I was physically calm, but in my heart, I wanted to shout at him to hurry up. The pain on my back and leg was killing me, but his sadness stopped me. Instead, I wanted to tell him I would be fine. I wanted to make things easier for him, he looked for me and came for me…

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength….
while loving someone deeply gives you courage.

~ Lao Tzu ~  

He carried me gently into his compound, careful in each step. ‘It was beautiful,’ I thought for a moment, before the pain on my back stung again. The house was different from what I expected…. It was a not-so-big wooden house, with a palm thatched roof. It was clean with a lovely scent. He placed me gently on a bed.

He started walking away. “My back! My back!” I said weakly. He turned, helped me up into a sitting position, and looked….

“What the…! He exclaimed. “Hold still!” He lay me on my side and left in a hurry. He came back with a big pair of scissors and snipped something on my back. He did it again and again. I was impatient.

“What are you doing?” I could not turn my head.

“You have porcupine quills,” he continued to snip. I wanted to scream and run, and get away from all these. I remembered seeing it crossing the road, but did not know it waited on the side to finish me, to kill me!

“Why are you snipping them, don’t you think it is easier to remove them when they are longer?”

He pulled one out and threw it onto the floor. “Snipping them relaxes the barbs, preventing them from getting deeper into your flesh.”

“Why are you twisting before removing,” I was angry, “Are you enjoying this?” I tried to raise my head.

“Twisting makes it easier to pull them out of your skin.” He bent my head and held it down using his elbow. “Can you keep still?”

It was over. I longed to rest. Bartholomew cut the back of my gown open, got a warm wet cloth, massaged my back, got an aloe vera leaf and applied the gel to the injury.…

“I wish I checked your back immediately you told me it hurt,” Bartholomew said sadly. “I am sorry.”

“It is alright” I said. The coolness of the syrup was soothing.

“You have bruises on your shoulder and arm, did someone beat you?” Bartholomew was concerned. He cleaned the area.

“They left me in the middle of the road. I fell, then a lorry drove over me,” Bartholomew frowned, was about to say something, but stopped. He took off the torn gown. He did not seem to be bothered by my nakedness.  With a straight face he dressed me in another. I fell into deep slumber as soon as my head hit the pillow.

SAFE

“You are not dead, you can’t be!” Bartholomew’s face was a few inches from mine. He shook me gently.

“No! I am not dead.” I whispered. “You startled me! Why don’t you try placing the back of your hand near my nose next time, or feel my pulse.”

He wiped the sweat off his face with the back of his hand, and stepped back. I slept. It was the best sleep I’d had in a long time…. Somewhere during my sleep, he changed my diaper, then touched my forehead….

We can cure physical disease with medicine……  
But the only cure for loneliness, despair and hopelessness is love….

~ Love quotes very romantic ~

“You are heating up” the doctor said as he bent over me and touched my forehead. He placed a thermometer under my armpit. “The wounded leg is darker than the rest of the body. You have an infection,” the doctor shifted, he had a worried expression on his face. “I hope it is not too severe, to force us to take extreme measures.” I knew what that meant, but did not want to confirm…. I prayed it would not happen.

Bartholomew stood at the door, hands in the pocket, leaning on the doorpost. I avoided looking into his eyes.

The doctor read the thermometer. “I will give you something for the infection and the pain,” He opened his briefcase. “I’ll be back tomorrow.” Bartholomew followed him out of the room. He was back after a few minutes with a mug of warm cocoa. My heart warmed up to Bartholomew. Pleasant thoughts were creeping into my mind…. I blocked them. Droplets of sweat ran down my face, some into the cocoa.

You don’t love a woman because she is beautiful……
But she is beautiful because you love her….  

~ Love quotes very Romantic ~

Bartholomew sat on the bedside. He looked into my eyes, then at the cup. “The day you left, I went out looking for you. You were not at your Baba’s house. He told me, you might have gone to one of your friends’ houses, but I did not find you. I continued searching. I wanted to make sure you were fine. Ten days passed and no one had seen you, eleven, twelve, fifteen….” He paused…. “I was worried,” then went on…

“Today, around mid-day, my brother got a call from a stranger, who asked him to tell me to pick you up on that road, on the other side of town…. What happened? Where were you?” he inquired….

I shook my head “Not now….” I told him. “Where is the ladies’ room?” I asked handing the cup over to him.

“You have a diaper,” Bartholomew pointed below my waistline.

“I don’t want it,” I shook my head.

 “Over there, down the corridor….” he said pointing to the left.

I lifted my feet off the bed and placed them on the floor. I tried to stand, but went back down. Bartholomew carried me out of the house and walked towards the pit latrine. “That is the ladies’ room.” He looked down at me, smiled, then stopped. “I wanted to see your reaction.” He said turning back towards the house.

I was mentally worn out. “I can see you are getting some amusement from my misfortune.” This was not funny. I knew wasps liked to fly around in pit latrines. We entered the washroom.

“Can you look away,” I tried to balance on one foot.

I saw the smile on Bartholomew’s eyes. “How will I support you while facing away? Stretching my hands backwards will be very uncomfortable for both of us.”

I wrapped my arms around his neck. He lifted my dress up to the waistline, removed the diaper and helped me sit on the basin. I was bloated.

“Go now,” I tried to steady myself with the wounded leg lifted off the ground. I was falling into the basin when I got hold of Bartholomew’s trouser waist.

He got hold of my arms. He raised his eyebrows. “You see.”

He helped me up after urinating. He did not seem to hear me passing wind. I had held it back all the time he was near me. I had had a stomach upset since I took that cocoa.

“There is no ladies’ room here,” he smiled. “you will share this with me.”

He carried me back to bed, walked out and came back with a picture magazine and bottle of water that he placed on a stool beside my bed. “Do not forget to take your medicine” he reminded me before he walked out. I slept.

I heard Bartholomew’s footsteps in the middle of the night. The lights came on, a hand checked if I had wet the bed, a hand on my forehead for about three seconds, a sigh, strong hands turned me to sleep on my side, the lights went off and footsteps faded away.

I call you but you never even answer….
I tell myself I’m done with wicked games….
But then I get so numb with all the laughter….
That I forget about the pain….
you stress me out, you kill me….
You drag me down; you fuck me up….
We’re on the ground, we’re screaming….
I don’t know how to make it stop…

~ Back to you ~
~ Louis Tomlinson ~  

PART VI

“Where is she?” A harsh voice woke me up. I knew that voice. I gasped! My heart leaped! Zagorody came in, drunk and very angry. Behind him was an agitated Bartholomew. “What have you done to her?” he asked looking at Bartholomew.

Silence.

He turned to me, “What has he done to you? Has he beaten you? Has he raped you?” I was speechless, shocked, angry…. “I heard you dragged her from her home, like a goat!”

“He has done nothing,” I answered wishing he would go away. He threw the covers back, then saw my leg, and turned to Bartholomew, “You!” he took a few steps towards Bartholomew, “What have you done to her?” he turned to me, “What happened?” he picked up my suitcase.

To Bartholomew. “You…. kidnapper! You will pay for this.”

“Come on Sweetheart!” he said walking out the door. “Let’s go!”.

Bartholomew was shocked. He looked at me, raised his hands a little, “Who is that?” ….

Zagorody heard, and came back…. “I am Zagorody, her boyfriend!” he answered, dropping the suitcase on the floor and thumping his chest.  He turned to me. “What is taking you so long?

“She cannot walk,” I looked at Bartholomew confused.

“You will have to carry her.”, Bartholomew said folding his hands across his chest. His eyebrows raised.

RELUCTANCE

“Carry her?” he asked, frowning, sneering. “You don’t have a walking stick?” he looked at me for a few seconds and said, in a very deep and threatening voice, “I’ll be back!” He left, with my clothes…. in my suitcase. Bartholomew’s eyes followed Zagorody to the door, then turned to me… I shook my head; I did not want to go. I still hurt. My heart was aching.

“Give him some time.” Bartholomew said, “he will stop”. He took a step towards the door, “and do not worry about what you will wear, some of your clothes are drying on the line.”

You were the shadow to my light….
Afraid our aim is out of sight….
Where are you now….
Was it all in my fantasy….
Under the sea….
Where are you now….
Another dream….
The monster’s running wild inside of me….
So lost, I’m faded….
These shallow waters never met what I needed….
I’m letting go, a deeper dive….
Eternal silence of the sea.

~ Faded ~
~ Alan Walker ~

Zagorody was my boyfriend before the black shiny car stopped outside our house and Baba forced me out…. Baba… I thought of the many times he asked me when I’d get married. I was engulfed by anger. I wanted to shoot through the roof and disappear into the clouds.

Zagorody knew I did not want to get married, so he never talked about it. Seems he was not ready too. When I got word that Baba was going to marry me off, I visited Zagorody for help….

“Can I come to hide at your house for some time, until Baba forgets?” I begged.

“Let me first inform my family, I’ll come to get you, go pack up your things and wait at home.” He said. “I’ll come for you tomorrow.”

I packed my suitcase and stood at the window for hours on end, waiting for Zagorody. I would soon realize that his tomorrow was different from mine.

“I am sure he is tied up somewhere, he will come for me.” Seconds turned into minutes, minutes turned into hours…

At four o’clock I called him, but his phone was off. It was easier to think there was a power blackout at his place, than think he had stood me up. Six o’clock, there was no sign of Zagorody. I closed the curtain, and curled up in the corner. I did not cry. I don’t cry, I never cry, but I hurt, I hurt so bad.

On this day, I had no feelings for him. Nothing mattered.

Bartholomew’s fading footsteps brought my thoughts back to the room.

PART VII

For the first time, since I came to this house, I noticed I was sleeping on very clean cyan bed sheets. They smelt nice, they felt good. I picked one of the corners and rubbed it on my cheek. I closed my eyes, and thanked God. “I almost forgot you, God” I said aloud, placing my other hand on my chest. I looked up to the roof. “I love you still.”

The next morning, Bartholomew brought me some new knickers. No greetings. “I am fine, thank you,” I said as he walked out. With one hand on the bed stand, I tried the knickers on. They were oversize. Bartholomew needed to change the formula he used, to come up with my knicker size.

“Do you have a safety pin?” I shouted from my room.

“No! he walked into the room. I quickly pulled the hem of my dress down and prevented the knicker from falling by holding it tight over my dress at the waistline. I almost fell, he rushed and caught me. “Is it a jigger?” he was worried.

I shook my head. He looked at my clutching hand and lifted my dress. He pulled the waistline of the knicker to the side and tied a knot which he tightened with his teeth. I was uneasy.

“I will buy you the right size tomorrow,” there was a faint smile on his face. “Or…. Would you like me to take those to a tailor?” the edges of his mouth quivered.

He brought me a slipper and carried me out of the house to a wooden chair, that was carefully cautioned with two pillows. The sun was out, it was pleasant. He went back to the house, got an umbrella and placed it next to my chair.

CONTENTMENT

“Are you thirsty?”, he asked. I shook my head. He brought a stool, on which he placed some sweet potatoes on a yellow iron plate and goat stew in an avocado green iron cup. I took my breakfast slowly and watched as he weeded the flowers and swept the compound.

After he finished, he moved me to the shade of a mango tree. He brought a wooden chair and sat a few feet away from me. He showed me a book. The title on the book – How to Keep Peace with Your God – I shook my head; I did not want to read. I was surprised to know that he owned such a book. I never saw him at the Church. I never saw or heard him pray.

He opened a newspaper. “Newspapers of long ago were interesting and still are. These days, same boring stories, with exaggeration,” he smiled. I nodded. I looked around and discovered that he had a dairy cow. It was a quiet compound, no sound of cars, no kids playing. There were a few birds on the trees and sky.

Suddenly I felt a sharp pain on my leg…. Before I could look down, there it was again. I pulled my dress up to touch the painful spot, I screamed. Bartholomew threw the newspaper on the ground, got up quickly, picked the umbrella, and walked hurriedly towards me.

Siafu (Safari ants)” I cried, trying to get up. “They are crawling up my legs.” He dropped the umbrella, put his arm around my waist and helped me hop to a safe place, we brushed the insects off my legs and dress. He rushed into the house and came back with a Jeri can of paraffin, which he sprinkled on the grass. I was shaken. “I always keep this around for emergency,” he said as he took the Jeri can back to the house.

One day I caught myself smiling for no reason….
Then I realized I was thinking of you….

~ My message for someone special ~

“I thought it was a snake,” he began, walking towards me with a glass of lemon juice. “They got to my cow the other day. It was night. I heard the cow mooing just when I was about to sleep. I said to myself, ‘ah, it will stop,’ and tried to sleep. The cow did not stop. I decided to check on it, and there they were, having supper,” he paused, then frowned, “I do not know why these ants eat good people and animals. They should have sensors that direct them to the bad ones.”

NOURISHMENT

 I smiled….

“I had a very hard time driving them away.”, he concluded. “That is how I bought the liquid paraffin. If they are planning to set a colony here to feed on your healing foot…. speaking of which, their jaws are extremely strong. Though their bites hurt badly, they can be used to stitch the wounds by getting the ants to bite on both sides. A soldier ant can be pulled out, leaving its jaws holding tight into the skin.” I lifted my feet off the ground. “They attack those who are not fast enough to get away, but I am here, they will not kill you and…. they rarely overcome humans.”

The liquid paraffin was effective. The ants left and some died.

At sundown, Bartholomew took me to a room I had never been. In one wall, there was a chimney above the fireplace and a stack of wood in one corner. He picked a few logs, squatted by the fireplace and started a fire, which leaped to life very fast. Sparks erupted around it. A little smoke filled the room, the rest, swirling up the chimney. I stifled a cough and rubbed my teary eyes. “The smoke will clear in a few minutes,” Bartholomew said as he picked a magazine from a stool in a corner and placed it on my lap. He walked out.

I looked around. The palms on the roof were beautifully arranged. In another corner were a set of arrows, a bow and fishing rod. I missed fish. On the right wall hang a skin, a goat skin. There was a gourd in another corner, fermented milk, maybe? In the middle of the room was a small, wooden, coffee table and four three legged stools.

Bartholomew came in quickly, placed a small radio and a kerosene lamp on the table, added more wood to the fire and left. Mud floor! I noticed the wall was made of mud too. I almost said that aloud. The radio was playing music from the 80s, which brought back fond childhood memories. I went back to looking at the pictures in the magazine, thinking how fast life had changed. I looked at the mud floor again and thought….

AMAZEMENT

Bartholomew brought a towel and helped me up. “You need to take a bath… A good bath.” He spoke with difficulty as he carried me. There was a wooden stool in the bathroom.

‘By the time my leg will be okay, this stool will be wet, rotten with mold… and my naked self will still be sitting on the mess.’ I closed my eyes to block the image.

“If there is any trouble, I’ll be in the kitchen.” Bartholomew said as he left.

There was a black cat staring at me through the bathroom window. I wondered if Zagorody had visited a witch doctor who turned him into a cat, so he could spy on me. I placed one hand over the windowsill, stood on one leg and turned on the shower, it was refreshing, compared to the other days when the nurse cleaned me in my bed. I lifted my head so that the warm water ran down my face. I gasped for air and blew the water away from my mouth….

I sat, picked the soap and applied it slowly onto my body. It smelled of fresh lemon leaves. I closed my eyes and breathed in deeply. It lathered well. I rubbed the foam between my palms and blew bubbles out of it. My pleasure was short-lived by a movement on the window. It was the cat again. Without thinking twice, I picked the soap and hit it. It fell outside, the soap with it. I placed my hands on my knees, embarrassed and called out….

Some say love it is a river….
That drowns the tender reed….
Some say love it is a razor….
That leaves your soul to bleed….
Some say love it is a hunger….
An endless aching need….
t’s the heart afraid of breaking….
That never learns to dance….

It’s the dream afraid of waking that never takes the chance….
It’s the one who won’t be taken….
Who cannot seem to give….
And the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live….

~ The Rose ~
~ Westlife ~  

“Bartholomew! Bartholomew!” I shouted. I fetched the towel from the hook and covered myself. Bartholomew opened the door. I smiled, or is it grinned? “May I have soap please….?” Bartholomew looked me up and down, obviously noticing the foam on my body, then looked around. He seemed confused…. Silence…. He came back with new soap, the same fresh, sweet perfume. I enjoyed the shower… I was clean. Bartholomew carried me to the living room. I was cold and shivering. He helped me hop to the fireplace. The tongues of fire were still beautiful. The sparks made everything alive.

“We are not going to cut your leg off after all,” he was relieved. “The colour is coming back.” He danced a little to the song – Escape (The Pina Colada Song) by Rupert Holmes – that was playing on the radio. I smiled.

He walked out, came back with a dress, a jacket and two plates of steaming matoke (cooked bananas) and Nsaga (spider flower), then, a calabash of hot millet porridge. He helped me dress up. As we ate, he looked at me…

LOVE

“What happened to your leg?” he took a bite of his food. “Where were you?” I almost choked on my food… I coughed twice.

“I stepped on a nail,” I answered through a strangled voice. Bartholomew was rubbing my back. ‘Zagorody is a bad man,’ I thought, tears welling up my eyes. `If he had come that day, I would be fine now…. or would I?’ I wondered.

Zagorody and I took a lot of beer together, and ate a lot of roasted meat. We went out all night. We listened to loud music. We ate fast food. We drove fast cars. Society complained. We were not bothered. We didn’t care. How long would it have been? Would Zagorody have settled down eventually? I looked at Bartholomew.

“Someone found me on the roadside. He took me to a hospital,” …. I corrected “kidnapped” Bartholomew listened keenly, chewing his food slowly….

“Eat your food,” he said. I took a bite, then sipped the porridge. The thoughts made it hard to swallow, but I tried. “They let me go because they were afraid of being caught… they were disappointed they did not have more time to do more tests, I don’t know what for or what it meant,” I pushed the food away, “I will finish this in the morning,” I said … “I wish to go to bed now.” I wanted this conversation to stop. I took the last sip of the porridge. Bartholomew placed me carefully on the bed, squeezed my hand, kissed my forehead and left. I stared at the roof for a long time before I fell asleep.

After several injections and pills for about two weeks, I realized I could take a light step on my healing leg. It itched, but I knew if I scratched the wound, I would cause more harm. Bartholomew never forgot to massage my sitting muscles with warm salty water. “The injected flesh will heal well,” he said. “You will not have any complications in your old age.” He applied petroleum jelly on the wounded foot.

He was a lovely gentleman, the best I ever met. I pushed the thought to the back of my mind. I had not forgotten that he had brought me here without asking me first. Would I have agreed? No.

For the first time since I was kidnapped, I sprung out of bed without help, and stretched. Blood rushed down to the wounded foot.  I was able to dress myself. I loved my new fitting knickers. I could limp…. I supported myself by placing one hand on the wall and limped slowly to the toilet. Bartholomew was in the kitchen, he saw me, looked at my foot and smiled. I came out, stopped at the kitchen doorway and watched him fry eggs, two others were boiling in a sufuria. My plate of matoke, left over from the previous night was on the wooden counter. I uncovered it and was about to take a bite, when Bartholomew held back my hand.

“Let me warm that for you,” he said softly. “Go and rest in the living room; do not overwork that leg” After a short while, I was eating my matoke, boiled eggs and milk. I didn’t know how my stomach was going to handle this food, but I finished it.

Art by Berina Ogega

Art Teacher and Editor – behance.net/KenOmollo

Alternative Love (1)

CHAPTER ONE

THE BEGINNING

Alone

Footsteps approached my door, stopped for a few seconds, then faded away. I heard them again then…. a sound, a knock, maybe? It did not matter, nothing mattered at the time. I wanted to be alone. It was my life, to do what I pleased with it. I heard the steps again. A knock, then….

Silence….

I was curled up in a corner. My heart was a bag of cement. The floor was ice, causing a cold chill to creep up my spine every few seconds. I shuddered. My feet and sitting muscles were numb. My teeth chattered. My heart was a drumbeat. The floor swayed under me. I felt so alone, no one wanted me….

“Helah! Helah!” Baba whispered, “we cannot keep doing this….”

I was mute; I was motionless. I buried my head deeper between my knees, I held them tighter. I knew why he had come. The door slid open. I did not look up…. Baba’s footsteps approached slowly and stopped a foot away from me. He placed his hand beneath my chin and tried to force my head up, but I held it down with all my strength… He took my hands in an attempt to pull me off the floor, my wrists hurt, but I stayed put.

“Time is running out for you Helah,” I heard the disappointment in his voice. I did not care. He walked out.

Two months earlier, a man so much older than me, had asked Baba if he could marry me as his fourth wife. When I saw his huge belly and long beard, I prayed for my future like never before. Those were signs of an old tree that could not be bent anymore. I refused to go with him. I had heard a man loved to spend a lot of time in his last wife’s house. I could not imagine this man in my hut everyday….

“This man has a lot of money” Baba tried to convince me to go. “He will give you everything you want.” Now what was Baba talking about? I had everything I wanted. The whole idea of marrying for money was distasteful to me. A woman must marry to love and be loved.

“No” I shook my head. “Is that it Baba? Riches only? If that is why I should get married to this man, then I don’t want to.”

I rushed towards my room, stopped at the door and turned, gave the man a harsh look, entered, shut the door and stood behind it. I was irritated. “Thank you for your time.” I overheard. “and for hearing what I had to say. She seems to be quiet and polite, but she is not. A woman who shouts in the presence of her elders is a headache. I can’t marry that.” The voice faded away.

Good riddance old man. I was happy he left. He looked like the kind of man who would throw himself on my bed, rub his big belly, look at me like some roasted chicken on a plate and say,

“I want sex now or bring those things here,” without a care if I was in the mood or not.

If I said I did not feel like it, he would walk out and go to his other wife, without discussion. I knew how they talked, without respect sometimes, looking me up and down and asking if I was taking good care of their goods. As if my private parts were nothing more than property for trade.

A family of many wives was a pleasure for the man, but there was no unity among the family members. I had never heard of any polygamous man who tried to bring his family members together. I would never let my children suffer. I also knew he would never take me out on a date. He would never drive around town, or along lonely roads for wild excitement. My life would be, cooking, cleaning and having children.

I overheard Baba telling Mama that he had tried to pay the bride price two days before, but Baba advised him to do it after marriage. I thought Baba would force me into this marriage for the money, but he didn’t. I felt a little weight off my heart. 

I looked around the room. My clothes were strewn on the bedside table, on the chair, on the floor and the bed. Plates I had eaten from for several days were still piled up on the table. Some with mould. I threw myself on the bed and stared at the ceiling. It was quiet for me here, it was peaceful.

My dreams are the single unpredictable factor…… 
In my zoned days and nights….
Nobody allots them or censors them….
Dreams are all I have ever truly owned…

~ Cloud Atlas ~

“All your age mates are married,” Baba kept reminding me, “Time was ripe,” he said.

I knew society thought that women who were over thirty and still single, were unmarried because they could not get anyone to marry them, that is why all sorts of people came, thinking I was desperate and would not hesitate. I would take anybody, anything…. but I did not want to jump into marriage with Men I hardly knew. Marriage was not for convenience; it was for love. One day I would need a mature man for company, a man to confide in, they told me and I knew that… but did good men exist anymore? Were they not all taken?

I steered my thoughts back to the present. I did not have the desire to get married, I loved my life. I had everything, food and clothes. Everything was done for me. We had wonderful house helps. I did what I wanted and when I wanted. I slept a lot…. when I was not asleep, I was glued to the screen, when I was not glued to the screen, I was out at a club. I did not want to leave. My married friends had told me….  in marriage, my princess life would be over…

Force

“My God! Detention and slavery…. here I come!” My sitting muscles were numb. I shifted them a little, and raised my head. I was very hungry, but did not dare come out of my room. Baba talked about marriage every time he saw me. I yawned not caring to cover my mouth. An engine revved outside. Minutes passed before a hand touched the handle of my door, then a knock….

Silence….

The door slid open. A gentle wind drifted in from the corridor into the room freshening the air. Baba walked in, I raised my head. Behind Baba was a gentleman, taller and darker than him. He seemed anxious, a little nervous. Did I see sadness in his eyes?

Baba held out his hand, I looked away. He moved to my left and the gentleman on my right. Each placed a hand under my arm pit and the other under my knee. They carried me towards the door, I had one last look at my room and away I was taken. I wanted to punch and kick, but could not, this was Baba, I never opposed him, never rude to him and I wore a skirt, it would have been mannerless.

It was drizzling and cold outside. The droplets fell on my face and arms. I thought they would turn and take me back to the house, but the bad weather did not bother them. The grass was wet. I was afraid. What if one of them slipped and fell backwards with me, killing me on impact? I did not want to die. I almost said that aloud. They decreased their pace. I sighed in relief.

 On the path leading to our house was a beautiful shiny black car, with big powerful tires. A crowd was gathering. I did not know if they were staring at the car, or confirming if the rumour of my being forcefully married off on that day, was true. Mama opened the back door of the car and I was carefully placed in the back seat. Shivering, I stared straight ahead. We drove off. Normally I would have loved looking out the window during the drive, but on this day, it did not matter.

PART II

We arrived at what was going to be my new home…, which I was going to make sure would not be….

There was a wide path, leading to the house, on each side were huge trees. I smelt the fresh air through a small opening in the window. My dream was to live in a place like this, but not as a wife…. or slave. I shivered. The gentleman spoke.

“Are you coming out or do I call the guard to help me carry you?” he asked in our mother tongue, as he opened the door and stepped out…. “I am sorry we do not have a wheelchair.”

‘He does not speak English?’ I was disappointed…

Silence…….

Just because someone does not love you the way you want them to…. 
Does not mean they don’t love you with all they have……

~ Love quotes very romantic ~

He got back into the car, knelt on the front seat and faced me. He raised his hand and moved it from side to side, in front of my face, to see if my brain was functioning well…. The edges of my mouth trembled. I wanted to laugh, but sadness overwhelmed the humor.

“Your lips are dry,” he said, did I see concern in his eyes? “You are not eating well, are you?” I looked away… He left the door open and walked along the path. ‘Good riddance,’ The drizzle stopped. I yawned and stepped out of the car. I shivered. My nose was running. I sniffed. The wet soft velvet grass was cold, but freshly manicured. The blades felt good between my toes.

I yawned again and stretched. I wriggled my toes. Did this kind of grass habour crawling insects? I flinched and scratched. I almost rushed back into the car. I took a deep breath…. The green around me was lovely. The cool air was filled with the earthy scent after rain. The trees were still, except for the particles of drizzle that were dripping from the leaves. It was calm.

The gentleman appeared, with a calabash in his hand… Whatever it was, was steaming hot… He handed it over to me, the aroma of stew wafted towards my nose. My appetite returned. I took it from his hands, sat on the back seat of the car and sipped slowly…. It was goat soup, with pieces of meat. The spices were well selected and measured. It was delicious. I loved it from the bottom of my heart, but made sure, none of that showed on my face… I finished and lifted my legs into the car and closed the door. That was the last time, that day, that I saw the gentleman ….

Kindness

Daylight was fading. The trees were turning into shadows that seemed to move in the dark. I was tired, cold, and dozing. I lifted the hem of my dress and wiped my nose. I was afraid, imagined something suddenly appearing from the trees to harm me. The car door opened, I was startled and almost screamed, but noticed the stranger’s kind face. He picked the calabash and placed a blanket on my lap, a hallo to my face, and left. I unfolded the blanket and covered myself well.

‘I will never get married to this man,’ I closed my eyes. ‘Never’… I slept. I was at home. I heard a sound! I opened my eyes! I had dozed off while watching TV… Someone was in the house! I gasped! A burglar! I could not see. The burglar had switched off the lights. I tried to hold my bowl of crisps close to me to prevent it from falling, but it was not there, he had taken it. He flashed a light on my face. I tried to cover my face. I opened my mouth to scream, I woke up…

There was a face on the window and a torchlight in the car. I recognized him. The blanket man. He walked away when I opened the door. My bladder was full. I stepped out of the car. I was afraid of crawling insects, I did not squat, so I urinated standing ‘Ah. No tissue.’ I shook myself dry and went back to sleep. I woke up to a beautiful morning. The gentleman was standing a few feet away, watching the sunrise whose beauty was breathtaking, from this side of the town.

Is it breakfast that he had brought? No. His hands were empty.

Your name makes no matter to me…….  
As long as I call you my own….

~ A Knights Tale ~

I hoped he had given up and was planning to take me back home. A car drew up the drive, it was Baba’s. I hurriedly got out of the car and walked towards him. The gentleman was close behind.… I turned and frowned at him. Baba got out of the car…. ‘He has come to get me’ I thought excitedly….

“Hallo, Helah,” he smiled…  

“Hallo Baba,” I replied with the widest grin…

“Good morning my friend, Bartholomew,” Baba stretched his hand….

Oh no! My mother tongue again. I wanted to cry.

“Good morning Sir!” Bartholomew replied, shaking Baba’s hand. 

My goodness! What kind of name was that? Mrs. Bartholomew! Over my dead body! Never!

Men from my tribe were ill-tempered and believed that a woman’s place was in the kitchen. A woman should never speak when other men were around.  A woman was a slave. A woman who got pregnant before marriage did not deserve to get married. A woman who did not give birth to a boy was not wife enough. I heard that the continuity of an ethnic group was through the same tribe marriages, but I would never sacrifice my happiness for a tribe.

Friendship

Baba walked to the back of the car, opened the boot, got my suitcase, and handed it over to Bartholomew. Bartholomew took it and stood aside. Baba waved goodbye to both of us, smiled and left.

I froze until the reflection of the sun in the rare windshield of Baba’s car disappeared. My heart sank painfully when it became apparent to me that I was alone in this fight. The dejection I felt was sharp and heavy as lead. I wished to turn into a tree, and grow my roots deep into the ground, beside the road, then, nobody would have me.… I could feel Bartholomew’s intense gaze fixed on me… I lowered my eyes and stared at the muddy path….

“Come with me,” Bartholomew’s voice was gentle.… He tried to grab my arm, I pulled it away, shaking my head.

My eyes full of tears I couldn’t remove….
And my heart beating hard as if it is about to blow….
I am dead physically but fighting emotionally….
I wonder if you are a living creature or a horror explanation….
You planted a continuous pain in me….
A pain which seems longer than time….
My life turns out to be a comma on a journey….

~ Quinton L-Qreezy ~

I walked towards the direction of Baba’s car. I had walked for many minutes… then…. I stepped on a rusty nail. It stuck out of a piece of wood. A sharp pain short through my leg to my hipbone. I cried out. The pain on my foot was unbearable. I hopped on my right leg to the right side of the path and sat on the rough grass. It pricked my sitting muscles, but that, did not matter at that moment.

Hurt

I looked at my foot for a few seconds. I expected to see blood gushing out from it. It was not bleeding. I bent it, and got hold of the piece of wood and tried to pull the nail out. AaaarchI That was a mistake. It stung. I let go. I was going to die a slow death, I thought. I knew the bacteria that causes tetanus was commonly found in the soil and dust. In panic, I looked around for water, some liquid, anything. I had to clean the wound.

PART III

The leaves in the small bush behind me rustled. Before I could turn, a hand covered my mouth and pulled me into the bushes. For a moment, I forgot about the pain on my foot. My heart beat fast; it would have shot right out of my chest. I fought to get free. I wanted to give Bartholomew a piece of my mind. There was a better way of taking me home than this. How cruel could he be? I tried to bite his hand.

“Shhhhhh…. Do not move and do not make a sound!” It was not Bartholomew…. My heart leaped. I did not resist anymore; the pain on my foot was excruciating…. He tied my hands behind my back and was about to tie my legs….

“No need,” he paused. “You will not escape anyway,” he frowned as he looked at my leg. He untied my hands, blindfolded me and carried me to the back seat of a car. With the pain on my leg the drive was the longest I ever had. I was angry at Bartholomew. He got me into this. I hated him more and swore to give him the worst time ever.

I managed to untie my hands along the way. Finally, the car stopped. I quickly removed the blindfold, opened the door and got out. I looked around, there was a large building and a forest. I hopped very fast towards the trees…. I had no idea where I was hoping to; I just wanted to get away. The kidnapper followed me, walking. I lost balance and fell.

“Oh my Lord! Where are you when I need you?”

The kidnapper helped me up, “Silly woman,” he was amused. “You, running with that thing in your leg?” He pulled me up and put his hand around my waist. “Why are you running, no… hopping, should I add, crawling?” He turned to look at me. “Have I done any harm to you?”  He blindfolded me again, carried me through a corridor into a room and placed me on a stretcher. I was weak. I trembled with fear….

“Did you notice that she is wounded?” A man’s deep voice asked.

“The piece of wood is bigger than her foot,” My kidnapper answered, “Yes I noticed, but she was the only one I could get today.” I felt like a deer.

“Her blood is tainted,” the voice complained.

“The wound is only a few hours old,” my kidnapper tied my hands to the side of the stretcher. “The organs and blood could still be clean.” they left the room…

My foot was hot, in fact, my whole body was hot. I wished they would remove my clothes. Someone entered the room cleaned a section on my thigh, the smell of the methylated spirit filled the room. There was a pause, then he injected me. The second injection was in a vein in my arm. I was drowsy. I slept.

I was woken up by someone who took my blood pressure and temperature, drew some blood from my hand, then injected me on my sitting muscles. I slept…. I do not know for how long I woke up and slept, but I remember someone wiping my body and cleaning my wound, someone saying my drip was over and my clothes should be changed. Trolleys being wheeled in and others out. For what seemed a long time, I alternated between sleep and half wakefulness.…

No matter what life’s ventures….
No matter where I’ll be….
I know I’ll always remember….
How luck did shine on me….

~ Barbara Snook ~

After what seemed like eternity, I was woken up by someone rushing through the door, shouting at the top of his voice. ‘Finally! The police had come to rescue me….’

“No! No!” I heard footsteps rushing towards me. Someone knocked the stretcher jolting it to the wall. The impact shook every muscle of my being. Pain radiated from the wound on my foot and every injection spot, to the rest of my body. I heard a syringe drop to the ground.

“This one leaves here alive,” he said panting. “Someone has noticed she is missing, a man…. a man is looking for her!” His deep voice trembled with fear…. “It might get us into trouble” ‘Oh Zagorody missed me after all,’ I was relieved. I had a reason to live. “How is the wound?”, he sounded concerned.

“Getting better,” the other replied. That…. was a lie, because the foot was emitting a vile stench and a tingling sensation. “Did you find out how the man is related to her?”

“No…. remove the blindfold” With all the drugs, she is good as dead. I tried to open my eyes, but the fluorescent light hurt. I dozed off. I slept…. I do not know for how long.

“Did you get his cell phone number?” the stranger asked, I woke up and tried to open my eyes.…

“He does not own a cellphone.” My kidnapper replied. “One of our men contacted his younger brother who stays outside the town”

“I hope he was careful not to reveal anything,” the stranger was worried.

“All our men are smart,” my kidnapper assured him. 

“Release her hands,” the voice ordered. “We will not keep her here any longer, it is risky. Sad, all the tests failed,” he sounded disappointed. “We lose nothing though; the organs would not have been useful…. with that wound,” it was a resigned voice.

I was carried to a wheelchair. My neck was weak, my head hang low, my eyelids were heavy, I could only open them for a second at a time. I was wheeled through a corridor. My head shook with every bump. I was out the door and onto the grass. The fresh air caressed my face, how I had missed it; the sun was gentle; I could tell it was mid-morning.… I wanted to stand and stretch, but the drugs had taken a toll on me. I was undressed. The warm rays of the sun soaked through my skin. My body came alive. I did not give much thought to my nudity. How I wanted to stretch.

Rejected

“Can someone bring her gown?” my kidnapper shouted.

“Here!” a new voice said, after a few minutes. “Phhhheeeewuuuuueeee!” he whistled, I opened my eyes, “that’s a beautiful body…. The bre….” He was about to touch them.

“Do not even think about it,” my kidnapper interrupted. My eyelids were heavy, I closed my eyes. “She is not troublesome; like many girls we bring here.”

“How do you know?” whistle man stepped back. “She was sedated most of the time.”

“What you are doing is against the rules.” my kidnapper dressed me. “We are not supposed to live any prints on these girls.”

“We burn the bodies well.” whistle man was disappointed. “Ashes don’t leave prints.”

“Does it look like I am preparing her for roasting?” 

“Okay, okay, I hear you Mummy,” whistle man mocked.

“If we had met under different circumstances,” my kidnapper whispered into my ear, “I would date you.” Was that supposed to make me feel better? The symptoms of Lima syndrome that he exhibited scared me. I did not want to spend another day here.

“I heard that,” there was concern in whistle man’s voice. “I saw how you treated her in the lab…. special. You know you can’t have her, now that she knows what you do. You would be putting everyone here at risk and you know you can’t leave, right?”

My kidnapper mumbled something, as he fastened the buttons on my gown.

I opened my eyes again, for a few seconds. A few metres from where I was, were bodies on stretchers covered in white cloths waiting to be loaded onto a black, pickup truck. I would have been there, if the stranger had not come on time. I was too tired to be afraid, or even think much, I was thirsty too. I wanted to get out of here. I did not know to where, but not here. The man bent forward and adjusted my feet on the wheelchair footrest. I gathered some strength and managed to whisper “Water…. Water…. Water….” He stepped back and left.

The wheelchair moved. It moved again. I knew no one was pushing it. I wanted to scream. The speed increased. It ran into one of the stretchers, knocking me and one of the bodies on the stretcher, down. I was face to face with the body, foreheads touching. If I was a mortuary attendant, I would have smiled and said, “well, haaaalllooo!” …. but I was not. I was weak, with a painful wound….

“Goodness!” I heard someone say under his breath, “What happened?”, he asked picking up the wheelchair. “If you wanted to say hallo to these poor girls, you should just have asked. We are not bad people.”

He placed a bottle of water he was holding on the ground and pulled an injection out from his pocket. I felt a prick in my right sitting muscle. “That will take care of your pain for a few hours.” He lifted me up to the wheelchair, then put the bottle of water on my lips. I sipped the water slowly… maybe five, six, nine times, I don’t know. The water was sweet.

I looked at my wound, my leg was cleaner than when I was brought in, but terrible to look at. It was not enough though; the tetanus bacteria were resistant to antiseptic.

“Tetanus,” I whispered.

“What?” the gentleman bent.

“Tetanus,” I tried to raise my head.

He placed his hands under my chin, pushed my face up, gazed at me for a few seconds. “You got the shot,” then looked away. “Gangrene is what you should worry about.”

Did this man not know how to deliver bad news? I tried to wriggle my toes…. no feelings, nothing. Blood rushed to my head. ‘I am going to lose my leg,’ I thought…. A sharp pain shot from my foot to my inner thigh. Yes, there was blood supply to my leg and my nerves were functioning. I had a serious bacterial infection, judging from the stench, but the tissues were not dead. I was calm.

My eyes closed. He wheeled me to the car and placed me on the back seat. Something flashed through my memory, the time before last, that I was carried to the back seat of a car, I was married!

My parents threw me out of the house, Zagorody deserted me, now kidnappers rejected me. Nobody wanted me.

“Hey!” my kidnapper walked towards the bodies, “Let’s go.” I was able to keep my eyes open a little longer.

The whistle man appeared and followed my kidnapper. They placed the corpse that I met unofficially, on the stretcher….

“Phew!” Nothing spilled out of the stomach, my kidnapper was relieved. “Seems they stitch them up well, that,” he pointed to the corpse, “would have been a mess.

They got into the car and drove. The road back was different, it had a million bumps and potholes that were jarring to my bones amplifying the pain in my body. The vehicle came to a halt, the back door opened. The whistle man lifted me off the car and placed me on my foot, on the dusty road. I was dizzy. I was weak.

PART IV

I slammed onto the road…. and hurt my left shoulder. The ground was hot. This did not bother the whistle man, he took out his phone and dialed as he strode to the passenger side of the car. My kidnapper got out and walked towards me, but the whistle man rushed after him and pulled him back into the car. The car spun round spraying dust into the air and drove off. The dust choked me, I tried to draw in a deep breath. I gasped for fresh air and coughed, my throat was dry. I opened my teary eyes. I looked around. The surroundings were unfamiliar.  

Whatever struggles and triumphs….
However, we may suffer them….
All too soon they bleed into a wash….
Just like watery ink on paper….

~ Memoirs of a Geisha ~      

A porcupine crossed the road slowly. I wanted to close my eyes and sleep, but fought to keep awake. Then…. I heard the sound of heavy engine. Through my half open eyelids, a heavy load truck approached. I did not know what to pray for at the time. Prayers did not seem to work lately…. but I knew I did not want to die. The truck was a few metres away. I tried very hard to roll off the road, but in vain. The truck drove over me, some of its parts brushing my arm. I thought it would never end.

It stopped a few feet ahead. Two men got out and walked towards me. I closed my eyes. One of the men placed two fingers on the side of my throat.  

“There is a pulse. Can you smell methylated spirit?” The other nodded. “Should we call the police?” he asked.

“No”, the other answered. “You know the story. We will be the first suspects, go to court for a case that has no end and rot in jail. That will be the end of our precious lives. You know how cases like these end.”

They carried me to a grass patch on the side of the road.  Like a thousand pins, a sharp pain shot through my back to the centre of my brain. Suddenly my bladder was full. That is when I realized I had a diaper. I urinated, then passed out….

I was in the kitchen, at the fridge, checking if there was any cold water. I picked the last bottle and placed it on my upper arm, it was cool against my skin. The ice was melting, the water got warmer, the moisture on the bottle dripped down my upper arm…. Then the bottle cracked and the liquid spilled. My arm was wet… I came to…. I opened my eyes. A dog was licking my bruises. I tried to get up, nothing moved.

 A vulture was resting on top of a nearby tree, for a moment, I thought I was dead. I blinked several times. If the scavenger was waiting to gnaw on my flesh, there was disappointment ahead. The drugs were wearing off, but the hot sun, dizziness and fatigue rendered me motionless.

“Sssssss…. ssssss….” I managed to hiss. “Kwenda (go)” I whispered moving my hand lightly. The dog moved back a few feet…. In a fraction of a second a speeding vehicle hit it hard. The impact lifted it high up in the air. It came down and landed on me. Blood oozed out of its mouth onto my cheek. I pressed my lips tight. Dying here alone, was one thing that maybe, I would have been comfortable with, but going to hell because I drunk a dog’s blood, did not settle down well with me….

I tried to push the dog off of me, but it was too heavy.

I was woken up by a familiar voice.  I needed more drugs for the pain. I had the worst pain ever. My foot, my shoulders, my arms, my eyes, my throat and the strange needles on my back…. I was baked by the sun; the dust did not spare me… I was thirsty.

Compassion

“Helah…. Helah….” Someone shook me. “Look at me,” He whispered, shaking me again. He slapped me lightly on the cheek.

I opened my eyes…. Bartholomew’s eyes were puffy and bloodshot; like he had not slept for a long time. “There are needles on my back…” I whispered…

“We will look at your back when we get home,” Bartholomew said taking off his shirt. He squatted and used it to wipe the dust off my face and blood from my arm. He looked at my leg, frowned and lifted me off the ground. The sweat from my body and methylated spirit produced an unpleasant pungent odour. He pushed the dog aside with his leg and placed me in the car. I was beginning to get tired of cars. They came with a bad story. The pain on my back was getting worse and unbearable. The car stopped after a long agonizing time. I saw the familiar beautiful path, and knew we had arrived.

Art by Berina Ogega

My Art Teacher and Editor behance.net/KenOmollo

Rejection? – A New Beginning

ALONE – Art by: Berina Ogega

PART I

The day Guadentia decided to keep her pregnancy, was the day her world turned upside down. Her boyfriend, Goliath, was not ready for it.

“How do I know it is mine?” he asked. “You want to use that pregnancy to trap me.” Guadentia was quiet. What would she have told a man who claimed that she was untrustworthy?

“Furthermore,” Goliath started to walk away. “Could you not get some herbs to prevent that?” he pointed at Guadentia’s tummy. “I thought the medicine man was your family friend.”

“How would I have started the conversation?” Guadentia sobbed.

“You have many friends who have done that,” Goliath turned to face her. “They would have advised you on how to prevent or get rid of that thing,” tears flowed down Guadentia’s face. “You are careless, at your age, you would have taken care of yourself. Even if I was sure the baby was mine, I would never marry a woman who does not use her brain.”

She wished she had not told him that she was carrying this baby. Maybe they would have had more time together, but she knew if she did not say, he would still have accused her of something else. Her wish was to hear the man say he loved her, she had never planned to force him to marry her. She did not want to get married like that, by mistake.

Her Mama had told her about other village girls who got married not out of love, but forced by circumstances. Some had been sent away from home because they were pregnant, others married because the men were rich, some quarreled with their parents, others escaped from the very difficult house chores, others were afraid that time was running out, some copied their friends, others got pregnant unexpectedly, the list was endless. What these marriages had in common was, misery.

Goliath lived with his parents and Guadentia knew that if she moved in with Goliath, she would be the servant of that household. That is what happens to couples that are not independent, she knew. If she refused to be treated as a slave, then everyone would turn against her and send her away. She did not want to imagine how her life had turned out, just because she had fallen in love.

She prayed all the time, she knew all of God’s commandments, but now, she had sinned, she had committed fornication, it was a shame. Why did this happen? Why had God not held her back? She thought the man had been chosen by God and as long as she was faithful and obedient to this man, then God’s law was fulfilled.

PART II

She wiped her tears as she walked to her friend’s hut.

“The secret is already out,” her friend, Clementina was deep in thought. “We cannot get rid of it now.”

“I am not planning to get rid of it,” Guadentia sighed, “I am only asking for the best advice.”

“I know a girl,” Clementina tried to help, “who went to the man’s house and sat at the doorstep every day. She threatened to go to his place of work and sit at the gate, the man finally married her.”

“Are they happily married?” Guadentia asked.

“No!” Clementina shook her head. “But in such situations, happiness does not matter. Keeping your name clean is most important. The villagers believe you are a respectable woman; you must keep it that way. No one should know that you had sex before marriage. Go to his home, and force yourself in.”

“He stays with his parents,” Guadentia was afraid. “and it does not look like he is going to move out soon.”

“That is even better,” Clementina was excited. “You know his parents are staunch believers of God. They go to church all the time; they would not want shame to come upon their house.”

Guadentia was hopeful.

In small towns and villages rumours travel like wind. Whispers from one person to another, and finally the whole village. Being a quiet person, Guadentia observed, listened and learned… and at the age of forty-three, she knew much. When she noticed heads turning every time she passed by the huts and shopping center, she was aware that Clementina had let the hyena out of the sack.

PART III

She loved farming and did not mind fetching water for her neighbour, Mzee. She watered his plants, for pay. On this day, Mzee’s face was as hard as a cold stone. Guadentia knew her sad news would spread, but did not know it was with the speed of an arrow.

“Follow me!” His voice was unpleasant. Guadentia followed. “Whose pregnancy is it?” She wondered why it was his concern.

…… Silence ….

“What do you wish to do?” Mzee sat down on his special wooden chair and rubbed his belly. “Can I talk to a medicine woman to help you get rid of it? You know…. I cannot work with you with that thing,” he pointed at Guadentia’s stomach. “Once it becomes visible, the villagers will think I am a cruel, overworking a pregnant woman.”

“I will keep it.” Guadentia said as she remembered the stories of how risky and painful the process was.

The following day, the security guard did not allow her into the compound. Tears welled up Guadentia’s eyes. She wanted to cry out loud, but thought of God’s word that asked us to leave all the battles to Him. Her feet, heavy as led, she walked to Clementina’s home.

“I thought babies were a blessing,” she entered the house and threw herself on her friends bed. “Life has turned upside down, just like that.” she snapped her fingers. “They want me to hate this baby, they want me to suffer for my sins. God asks us not to judge, but they judge with a passion, with hatred.”

“Don’t say that,” Clementina handed a calabash of goat soup to her.

“Mzee does not want me to work for her anymore,” she buried her head in the clothes on the bed.

Phyllis, their friend saw her and followed her into the hut. “What is that I hear?” she sat on the bed. “Wah!” she exclaimed, hands akimbo. “And how your parents are strict, locking you in the house like a goat. Who thought you would get pregnant in sin, no, no, no, wait…. you would even look at a man? I wonder how they are feeling now. “Oh! May be they are rejoicing. You know Goliath’s family has many cows and a big shamba.”

Guadentia did not say anything. “Did you go to the medicine man for examination? You know there are very many bad diseases nowadays. You might die before you see what your baby looks like.”

Guadentia’s heart dropped to her toes like a bag of mud. She wanted to hurl every insult that she knew, at Phyllis, but didn’t. God would keep her strong, and also avenge for her, she thought. Neither of them wanted to hold any conversation with Phillis, so she left.

“Do you know that woman has had an interest in Goliath since time immemorial?” Clementina dipped a calabash into the pot at the fireplace and fetched some soup. She sat on the bed. “Yesterday I asked her if we should accompany you to Goliath’s house, I did not know I was poking a honey comb. She refused and told me she was in love with Goliath and today I woke up to find everybody talking about you. I made a mistake. I did not know she was a parrot; she hid it so well.”

PART IV

BROKEN – Art by: Berina Ogega

Guadentia sad and broken, broke the news to her parents.

“Do not be sad,” Mama said politely. “You have been a good child. You are forty-three, it is not so bad. The older you are, the better you handle misfortunes.”

“It still hurts so bad.” Guadentia’s voice was heavy with sorrow.

“We will accompany you to Goliath’s tomorrow,” Mama tried to make her feel better. Baba nodded. Guadentia was glad. She wanted to cry out of happiness. “You have always made our lives easy, it is our turn now, to help you carry this burden.”

They went to Goliath’s house the next day. Goliath’s Baba opened the door. The look on his face said it all. “Mama Goliath,” He shouted. “The fishing net is here.”

Baba Guadentia stepped forward and stretched his hand. Baba Goliath did not take it, he stared. Mama appeared behind him.

“We are not delivering fishing nets,” Baba Guadentia began. “We are here to…”

“We know,” interrupted Baba Goliath. “You have brought that fishing net,” his lips pointed towards Guadentia, ‘to come and trap my son properly, because last time, she missed. If you have never known, women are very good trappers, only they trap the wrong things.” Mama Guadentia knocked his thigh from behind with her knee. “Now she wants to throw the finishing net again into the lake,” he waved his hand towards his house, “the wrong lake. If you want to become a fisher woman, go fish in another lake. I know it is the property you want. It is mine, not my son’s”

Mama put her arms around Guadentia.

“A white man would call you a Gold digger, but I call you a cattle digger, or is it chicken digger, what really made you want to trap my son?” Baba was displeased.

Mama stood still trying to be polite, with a smile. Goliath stood behind her.

“Goliath,” Guadentia walked from her Mama’s arms towards the house.

‘It is not mine,” Goliath’s face was expressionless. “Don’t you dare cast that fishing net. Saying hallo to you at the shopping center and market did not mean I wanted to be your husband.” Several knives slashed Guadentia’s heart, her mother was heartbroken. A younger woman who seemed to be in her mid-twenties appeared beside Goliath. He put his arm around her, kissed her on the cheek and closed the door.

“I did not know,” Guadentia sobbed. Mama rubbed her back. “It is alright,” Baba was resigned.

“I knew he did not want us to be seen in public, but I thought it was because he respected the villagers and did not want them to keep reminding us that we were living in sin. Now I am in trouble, there are no witnesses,” Guadentia lifted the edge of her leso and wiped her eyes and cheeks. “Where is God now that I am in this pit? I know I am wrong, but does God not forgive sins and open paths for the ones who realize they have fallen? What was the point of staying pure until now?” Her body was numb, her mind at a standstill.

“One day at a time,” Mama held her hand. “One day at a time, you never know what tomorrow brings. God asks us to be patient, He has good plans for all of us.”

PART V

Nothing gave Guadentia comfort. She entered her mother’s hut, sat near the fireplace and stared into it. The flames warmed her heart, a little. She watched the fire, each new firewood that came alight and the smoke winding its way up into the chimney. The bananas were boiling. Soon they were ready. She served her parents, but did not herself, she had no appetite.

“You need to feed,” Mama encouraged her. Guadentia did not care anymore. Life had no meaning to her. She had lost the only love of her life. She had dreams…. She wanted to be married in love, she wished to be a housewife, with nice little children, she had imagined serving her husband fully, she prayed to make him happy. That was crashed.

A tear dropped down her cheek, she wiped it with the back of her hand.

“Have we said that we do not want you?” Mama asked from her bedroom door, Guadentia shook her head. “Don’t cry then.” Guadentia wiped again. “Worry will not be good for the baby and remember life must go on.”

“I don’t want it,” Guadentia sobbed. Mama picked a stool from one end of the hut and sat beside her. “I am a shame to the family.”

Mama placed her hand on Guadentia’s thigh. “Do not say that Guadentia, you are past the age where parents feel ashamed of their children’s mistakes. I know you have heard of parents who say bad things when their daughters get pregnant, others have sent their daughters away, others have forcefully married their daughters to men they do not love, to avoid shame. We will not do any of that. This one mistake, does not make you a bad person.”

“What about the child?” Guadentia looked at her mother with teary eyes. “How can I love a child whose father I already hate? What will people say every time they look at my child? Who will marry me with this child? I don’t want it. I will go to the medicine man tomorrow.” Mama frowned. She was silent. Girls who were desperate never cared about safety. Many were known to pick a leave from every tree in the forest, boil them and drink the concoction. If they got to the medicine man on time, they were saved, the ones who did not, died. Mama knew Guadentia would try this, so….

“We will visit the medicine man tomorrow.” Mama said as she got up. “Try to get some sleep.” Guadentia fetched some water from the pot and washed her face. She walked out of the hut feeling lighter than she walked in. She opened the door to her hut. Something moved on the path. She turned and saw the gate open.

“You!” a drunken voice called. She peered into the darkness. “You thought you and your family were going to make me the son your mother never had,” Goliath staggered towards Guadentia. Guadentia was shocked; she had never seen him drunk. She entered the house and picked a broom. She held the lighter end of the broom and hit Goliath several times with the heavier side. He shielded his face and looked around frantically for something he could fight back with. It was too dark; he could not find any. Mama heard the commotion, and rushed towards them.

“Guadentia!” Mama screamed. “Stop that, stop,” she pushed Goliath back. He was falling, but was saved by holding tight onto Mama’s dress. Mama turned, “Ah! Stop touching me,” she pulled his hand off her dress and snatched the broom away from Guadentia. Wooden windows were now open with villagers holding lamps out of them. Baba approached.

Goliath tried to steady himself. “I have come to warn Guadentia, never to come near our home,” he wiped his nose, then sniffed. “I have also come to tell her that I am married.”

“She knows.” Mama responded as Baba held Goliath’s arm and led him to the gate.

He turned, “and get rid of that thing,” he waved his hand in the air. “I do not want you to come when I am ageing gracefully to….

“She is getting rid of it tomorrow,” Mama shouted, “she will not want your property.” Goliath opened his mouth to say something, but words failed. “Oh!” is all he could say as he walked away, backwards.

“Guadentia…” Mama was worried.

“I am okay,” she said as she took the broom from Mama and entered the hut.

She got into bed, covered herself, curled up and cried.

PART VI

DESPAIR – Art by: Berina Ogega

The following day, with swollen eyes, she walked slowly beside Mama, to the medicine man’s hut. She went in alone.

“Guadentia, the village torch,” he gestured to her to sit, “What brings you here?” She sat, dropped her head and wrung her hands.

Angry and tired, she replied, “I am pregnant, nobody wants this baby.”

“Are you sure?” he moved closer looking into her swollen eyes.

Guadentia looked up, impatient, that this was going too slow. “I am sure. Goliath does not want it, his parents don’t want me.” she wiped her sore, wet eyes.

“Are they the only people who are important to you?”

Silence….

“Would Mama be standing outside that door if she did not care?” Guadentia shook her head and sobbed. “What did Baba say?” she shook her head.

The medicine man stood, poured a cup of tea from a kettle and handed it to her. There was something familiar about the kettle, but Guadentia’s mind was a swarm of bees, she did not think much about it. She sipped the tea slowly. With the tightening knot in her throat, it was difficult to swallow, but she tried.

“Everybody talks bad when a woman gets pregnant before marriage,” he sat. “The woman is always on the wrong. They don’t remember that the man is also wrong, but that does not mean that the man does not suffer too. Even though they evade responsibility, they are mentally disturbed too…. and…. the people around you, wait for misfortune, so that they can shout the loudest, because they want to cover their own failures. If you are afraid to be rejected because of fulfilling your wishes, you will never live.” Silence….

“I have known your parents for a long time.” he poured himself a cup of tea. “They have taught you how to choose between right and wrong. You have been disciplined, and kind to all of us. Why do you think the being in your womb does not deserve your kindness?” she placed the cup of tea on the floor.

“It has brought me shame,” she covered her face. “and rejection.”

“How?” The medicine man removed her hands from her face. “You have not given the baby a chance to prove otherwise. Remember you got that baby out of love. The ones who have gotten rid of their pregnancies, are they less ashamed? Are their marriages better than the ones who are married with children born out of wedlock?”

She shook her head.

“Drink your tea,” he sipped his.

“Before you got pregnant, did anybody care to know how you got the clothes and food you ate?” No, she said. “Did anybody bother to know the kind of problems you had and tried to solve them?” No, she said. “Did anybody care to get you a good man even with the years that have passed by?’ No, she said. “You have had many friends, friends who were there when things were okay, but now that you are in trouble, nobody wants to help. Only your parents have loved you and they still love you. What makes you think you will not be able to take care of the child with your parent’s help?”

“I lost my job,” a tear escaped from her eye. She wiped it off, “everybody laughs at me, they say bad things.”

“Do I hate you?” She shook her head, “then it is not everybody.”

“There is something else you can do,” he took the last sip of his tea. “You may give out the baby. See me every month, and I will tell you how many women are willing to have that child.”

A bag of sand had been lifted off Guadentia’s shoulders. She smiled, finished her tea and walked out slowly. Her mother shook the medicine man’s hand and mouthed a “Thank you.”

Guadentia turned. “Yesterday I took a cup of concentrated tea leaves, Neem and lemon. Will the baby….”

“That was a dangerous thing you did, you could have died,” The medicine man interrupted. Mama’s lower jaw dropped.

“I wanted to die,” Guadentia said bitterly.

 “Life is precious. It is more precious than friends, you will see,” he was worried. “If you see any spot of blood from your womb, come immediately.” Pause…. “God is amazing though, the children in the womb are very safe and protected. Many times the concoction never works, but the baby might be deformed. Do not try that again,” Guadentia touched her stomach. “Eat healthy.”

Guadentia was hungry when she entered the gate. “Let me cook some porridge,” she said as she walked to her hut. I will come to say hallo to Baba later.”

Mama smiled. “You know, Baba and I could not get a child for several years after marriage. We almost became outcasts because the villagers thought we were cursed by the spirits. Then we had you, and all was well. We tried to get another child, it did not happen. People gossiped and the rumour of the curse spread like wild fire. You get pregnant…. you do not get pregnant, they will talk. Have that child, we will take care of it.”

Mama looked at her for a long time, after they parted, then entered the hut.

Baba, with his hands behind his head, was staring at the grass thatched roof. He turned when the door opened. “Is everything okay?”

“Yes and no,” Mama walked to the fireplace. “Do you know she tried to get rid of it last night?”

“How?” he was curious.

“Herbs,” she picked pieces of wood.

“Oh my good soul” Baba sat up and placed his feet on the floor. “At what age? Is she alright?”

“Yes,” she lit the firewood.

“And the baby?” he put on his shirt.

“I think so! Everything went well during the meeting. The medicine man told her exactly what I had asked him too. I was afraid our daughter might recognize the kettle, when he decided to take tea while talking to her.”

Baba sighed.

PART VII

HOPE – Art by: Berina Ogega

Two months passed. Guadentia visited the medicine man again and was informed that four women were interested in the baby. Nine months passed, the women were still interested, confirmed the medicine man. The Baby came, it was a beautiful baby boy. Guadentia loved him. Goliath’s Mama came to see. Yes, the baby had Goliath’s eyebrows, ears, hands and feet.

“Don’t even think of trying to bring your ugly legs to my house, you, property digger!” she left.

 Guadentia tightened her grip on the beautiful boy. She did not care about getting married anymore.

The medicine man came, she held her boy tighter. “You will suffocate the baby,” he sat on a stool.

“I think I will keep the baby,” she loosened the grip.

“Think?” he frowned.

“I want my baby,” she begged.

“That is better,” he smiled.

She was shaking.

“I knew you would love him,” he went away.

Mama fed Guadentia well. The baby grew into a bright intelligent boy, who always walked beside his mother. Guadentia did not have friends anymore. Nobody wanted a woman who did not have anything extra to give. The boy was her companion; the boy was her little friend…. And when friends visited, it was….

“Ha, who would think that you would ever have sex with anybody?” some woman would ask. “Your parents were very strict…. even goats get out to graze.”

Other women… “Sometimes it does not pay, to keep yourself clean, a virgin,” they laughed mockingly. “It has no rewards. See, you are still single, you are burdened, taking care of a child, whose father does not care….”

If Guadentia never loved her son, she would have been so heartbroken. Her wonderful son gave her hope.

She had grown up thinking that she would change the village and make it a better place. She would unite them and discourage gossip. She would go around, talking to people who were sad, who had lost hope. She would preach kindness, love and respect. She wanted people to know that in the end, things would be alright.

She later realized that she could not change the world, instead, the world had changed her. She did not smile to people anymore, each time she tried, there was a rumour that she was pretending to be happy, or wanted to borrow food or clothes for her son. If she smiled to a couple, she was trying to snatch the men. The villagers saw her as a failure, they would never take her advice.

She kept to herself. With time, she discovered that she found joy in staying alone. Her thoughts were pure. She did what she wanted, anytime she wanted, she was free. She had time to look into her heart, to connect with her son and love him more. There was peace, in being alone.

She enjoyed the attention her parents gave her. Baba and Mama visited her every morning and evening, brought beans, maize floor, bananas, sweet potatoes, arrow roots, kunde (leaves of cowpeas), managu (nightshade), terere (Amaranth) and nsaga (spider flower). They also checked if she was fine. Her son, was her best friend. They went to the river together, cooked together, played together, went to their small garden together and told imaginary stories. She had always wanted to have her own little garden, for vegetables, and she had. Her life was very quiet, until….

PART VIII

“Your hut is slightly leaning to one side,” he pointed at it as she weed her garden.

“I know,” without looking up, she pulled her son closer and continued weeding.

“I love farming too,” he took a few steps closer to her.

Silence….

“I Know where I can get some manure for you,”

“Mama,” the son shook her thinking she had not heard. She sighed, paused with her hand in the soil. Looking for something nasty to say….

He saw the unpleasant expression on her face and walked away quickly. She watched him walk away until he turned, she lowered her eyes quickly.

The men in the village thought she was desperate for a man’s love. They came with many stories. Some promised to build a new hut for her, others promised to take care of her son as their own, some promised to give her cows, others promised to help her in her garden, but after several weeks of trying to have sex with her and not succeeding, they stopped coming.

“Your son needs a little brother, he is lonely,” they manipulated her into having sex. “That boy should have a man around to call Baba.”

“You are getting older every day and your eggs will finish,” she did not worry. “If Goliath does not want to give you a second child, I will.”

Some were willing to marry her if she agreed to leave her son behind, but she loved her son so much, that she did not mind being single. She was also glad, nobody told her how to raise her son.

“And another comes in the name of manure,” she laughed out loud. Her son laughed too, even if he had no idea why his mother was laughing. The next day she found a small sack of manure beside her shamba, she appreciated the gesture. She put her hand over her mouth and tried not to laugh as she spread the dung over the garden.

“How are you?” he startled her. “Huuu!” she almost fell backward.

Mama heard and rushed out. She stopped and turned back when she realized there was no danger.

“I am Patrobas, I know you, Guadentia.”

“Patrobas!” Guadentia straightened up. She knew his story very well. He had lost his job; he had been employed in the neighbouring village. He fell sick on the job. When he recovered, he had already been replaced, he had been sick for too long, (it was only a week) his boss said, he should have recovered sooner. His parents were too old to accommodate him for so long, he had no other source of income, so he started working in the villagers’ little shambas, until he was able to take care of himself and parents again.

He had been rejected too, for being poor and helpless, Mama had told her. Mama wanted Guadentia to know she was not alone. Men were also rejected when they had nothing.

God has a guardian angel for everyone, all we need to do is be patient.

“I got a job in this big shamba, at Mzee Tumbo’s” he spread out his hands wide. “It is too much for me to work alone; can you help me? I know you can dig” I will share my pay with you.” Guadentia looked at her son. “You may bring your son with you.”

“I will think about it,” she looked away.

PART IX

LOVE – Art by: Berina Ogega

The next day, she left for the shamba. In her kiondo was Githeri and tea in a kettle.

He was already there. “Where is your son?” he was surprised.

“He is with my parents,” she placed the kiondo beside Patrobas bag. She joined him. They were quiet, even when they ate. Patrobas ate millet ugali and soup. “I know you have not done any hard labour for some time, you may rest.” He said after some hours.

When they were almost done, she rested under a tree…. “I have heard a lot about you,” after he thought the silence was too loud.

“And I, about you,” she covered her legs carefully.

“Sometimes living alone, without people’s negativity and useless talk,” he hit the ground hard with the jembe, “is the best thing.”

“As I have discovered.” She was happy that someone shared the same sentiments.

He looked up and smiled. “People in this world can feed you with so much information that you get confused sometimes,” he stopped to rest. “Alone, can be wonderful, most people do not know that.”

“Alone can be wonderful?” Guadentia laughed. “I never thought anyone else would think that. I would rather have one or two friends who are true to me, than a thousand friends who think they are smart, like the ones who bring me manure as a way of starting friendship.”

Patrobas stopped digging and looked at her frowning. “I am joking,” she laughed, stood, picked her jembe and dug beside him. “Thank you for the manure, I needed it.”

“You are welcome, I thought of sharing it with someone who had not rejected me yet,” he hit the ground. “Mr Tumbo has a lot of it in the cowshed. When he said I could have it, I immediately knew where to take it. I had noticed that your plants’ growth was stunted.”

“So you are the one who has been walking outside my house at night, interviewing my plants?”

“Someone has been walking outside your house at night?”

“No!” she uprooted some weeds and threw them aside. Silence…. “The soup…. it was delicious.”

“That was deer soup, boiled with onion. I hunt, when I am free. I will take you to the forest one day.”

She looked at him. “Are you asking me out?”

“Yes.”

She dug. “But we are already outside, or do you mean outside the village?”

He was speechless. He dug.

“I want to take you out for a walk, in the forest. I want you to see how I hunt. You can bring your son along.”

“To watch you kill beautiful animals?”

“Don’t you kill chicken? Are they not beautiful?” He smiled secretly.

“It is different.” Guadentia replied.

The next day, in Patrobas’ bag, was cooked chicken, wrapped in banana leaves.

“I will eat this animal that I killed, alone,” he unwrapped it.

She looked up from her calabash of Githeri (maize and beans) and laughed. He laughed too as he stretched his hand to give her, her wrapped share. “I will keep this for my son, I hope it is not head and legs” she took it.

“It is intestine,” they laughed.

“There is some for your son,” he got more from the basket, “and this,” he gave her chapati wrapped in a piece of cloth.

“Thank you,” she placed both packages in her basket. “Did you make the chapati?” he nodded. “I love to cook and eat them, but the flour is expensive.”

“Yes it is,” he watched her. He loved her.

‘No rush’… he warned his heart.

…. Of course, they visited the forest a few days later. Patrobas did not hunt that day. He wanted Guadentia to have an easy time.

“I don’t think you failed in life,” he said, “you are a good woman,” she was pleased.

“And I don’t hate you,” he paused in his step.

“I know,” she smiled and cracked her knuckles. “I know.”

“You know you can still follow your dream,” he kicked a leaf. “you can start with the young ones.” she nodded. “The young ones are not very biased.”

“I will try.” She was deep in thought.

At the end of the week, he gave her half of his pay. Guadentia loved him. For the first time in her life, she got to spend her money the way she wanted, without her friends in the village hovering, begging her to buy them nice things.

PART X

One day at the gate…. They heard Mama shouting. “Leave him alone.” Mother pulled the left hand of her grandson, father pulled the right hand of his son. “He is mine!” Goliath shouted.

Guadentia ran into the house and came out with the broom. She hit Goliath several times on the head like she had done several years ago. He let go of his son and turned to face her. “You!” She hit him again and again. Patrobas held her by the waist and pulled her back.

“Do you want to spill this man’s brains out and bring a curse to our compound?” Mama was shocked.

“Yes,” Guadentia’s face was expressionless, her voice, plain.

“Oh my soul!” Mama exclaimed. “What happened to you?”

“The world happened to me, it made me who I am, Mama,” She struggled to get free of Patrobas’ hold, he was strong. She lifted the broom.

“Bring that broom!” Mama tried to take it away, but Guadentia held it tightly, freed herself and hit Goliath with it.

“No one will ever love you!” Goliath tried to reach for her face. “Your face will never be beautiful,” he tried to scratch it. Guadentia struck him.

“Do you want us to have a stinking, naked mad man walking around the village because you destroyed his brain?” Mama placed her hands on her head.

“Yes,” as Patrobas pulled her away.

“I am not leaving without my son,” Goliath staggered to Guadentia’s doorstep and threw himself to the ground and blacked out.

“Come,” Mama gestured to Patrobas. “Come help me get him up.”

“No!” Guadentia carried her son and stepped over Goliath, as she entered the house. “Let him rot,” she spat at him.

She stood at the doorway and thanked Patrobas. He nodded, “Are you sure you will be okay?” Guadentia lifted the broom and showed him. “Yes.”

“Alright,” he left.

Mama shook her head in wonder and walked away.

Baba came home after sunset. Mama talked and talked. He walked to his daughter’s house and knocked.

She opened the door. “Are you alright?”

“Yes,”

“And my Grandson,” he pinched the grandson lovingly on the cheek, then looked at Goliath, bent and shook him. “Even an elephant’s stampede cannot wake him up.” Baba smiled. “You are safe.

The compound was quiet, except for a drunken murmur from Goliath. The night was peaceful.

PART XI

The rays of the sun peeped through the clouds and fell upon Goliath’s back. He woke and sat up, confused. He was shivering from the morning dew and his head was aching. He looked around, squinting. Guadentia stared at him from the hut. She held the broom.

“The fish throws itself onto the shore,” she sneered. “After throwing my ‘net’ away, burning it and deciding that I will never fish again, because I was afraid all the fish in the river were rotten.” He stood unsteadily.

“Do you know why I do not fish anymore?” she pointed the broom at him. “I got the fish I wanted, a fish that fills my cooking pot.”

“I want my son!” he demanded. She knew why, she had heard the rumour.

“How are you today, Dentia?” Patrobas was a few meters away. “Thought I would pass by to check if you are okay.”

“Is this the fish?” Goliath asked.

“Yes,” Guadentia walked out of the hut, broom high in the air, ready to strike. Patrobas snatched it.

Goliath’s mother rushed in through the gate, angry. “You bewitched my son,” she cried “My son has never had another child. It is that medicine man I saw you visit often. You!” she rushed towards Guadentia. Patrobas jumped and stood between them.

Mama and Baba came. “I am sorry; we do not have any more nets left, we would have donated some to your son’s wife.” Mama was calm. “My daughter stopped fishing.”

Goliath’s mother turned to hit Mama. Baba held her arms back. “I think you have never had a thorough beating. I will give you one you will never forget,” Goliath pulled his mother away. Baba looked at Goliath. “We only wanted you to love our daughter. We were not going to force you to marry her. You rejected her and her son. Her wounds healed a long time ago, you will not open them up again.”

“Give me my son, please…” He pleaded.

“He is not your son,” his grandson appeared at the door. He was a little sleepy. He stretched. His Grandpa picked him up. “Where is your Baba?”

His grandson pointed at Patrobas and ran into his arms. “You see,” there was no expression on Grandpa’s face.

“Go away,” he waved his hand towards the gate. “I do not want to ever see you here, again.”

They left distraught. Baba held Mama’s hand as they walked towards their hut.

Patrobas looked into Guadentia’s eyes. “You called me a fish.”

“I did not mean it that way,” they laughed.

THE END

My Art Teacher and Editor: Behance.net/KenOmollo

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REJECTION –  I

Reject: To dismiss as inadequate, unacceptable or faulty.

Rejection occurs when an individual is deliberately excluded from something by an individual or by a group of people. It can be in active form such as bullying, teasing or ridiculing, or passive as in the case of being ignored or being given ”the silent treatment ”. However, in some cases, individuals experience feelings of rejection where there are none.

Rejection can become a problem when it is prolonged and consistent or when the individual is highly sensitive to rejection. People who feel bad about themselves are especially vulnerable to rejection but people can also control and regulate their emotional reactions.

There are a range of negative emotions associated with rejection such as frustration, anger, jealousy, hate, resignation, despair and depression. Rejection eventually leads to adverse negative psychological effects such as low self-esteem, aggression and loneliness. As a result, such people become insecure and mistrustful of others as they anticipate future rejection from them.

~ Wikipaedia ~

Rejection is emotionally painful because human beings are social by nature and feel the need to interact with others. They seek love and a sense of belonging as well as an identity from others who are like them and want to form interpersonal relationships with them.

Rejection sensitivity is a part of the mentally disturbed personality. It is the tendency to feel deep anxiety and humiliation at the slightest snub or turn down. Sensitive individuals are reluctant to express opinions, tend to avoid arguments or disputed discussions, are reluctant to make requests or impose on others, are easily hurt by negative feedback from others and tend to rely too much on others who are familiar to them as well as familiar situations so as to avoid rejection.

(Neuroticism is a condition where people respond worse than normal to stressors and are more likely to interpret ordinary situations as threatening and minor frustrations as hopelessly difficult.)

The fear of rejection forces compliance from individuals as well as conformity which is matching the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of others in order to be accepted by them.

Rejection is painful and unavoidable but rather than being self-critical and cruel about it, we should take it as an opportunity for self-reflection. We should review what happened and consider what we should do differently in the future. An individual should look at their self-worth rather than their short-comings.

We can also deal with rejection by keeping the odds in mind. We should remember that there may be a chance of facing rejection rather than acceptance in various situations.

Rejection provides a learning opportunity as we look at the experience as a means of discovering areas that need improvement and self-growth hence moving forward with more wisdom as we learn from where we went wrong the first time and make corrections.

Article by: Tracy Moraa

Bachelor of Arts (Psychology)

REJECTION – II

Rejection occurs typically when a person or entity pushes something away or out. Studies have found that the same areas of the brain get activated when we experience rejection as when we experience physical pain. This is the reason why rejection hurts so much. As human beings, we are extremely sensitive to rejection, especially forms of social rejection. We have a strong motivation to seek approval and acceptance. One only feels rejected by those people whose love or approval they were seeking out. These may be people one has known for a long time (family members, friends), or people who one has just met, people one wants to work with (e.g. being turned down for a job), parents whose approval one wants, and so forth. Rejection can be a very painful experience because it makes an individual feel unwanted and not valued. Most people will experience rejection at one point or another in their life.

However, romantic rejection is more common and can be particularly challenging for people who are looking for a lasting relationship. It leads to feelings of grief that are overwhelming and can last for weeks or months, altering one’s view of their life after the occurrence.

Several emotions arise from experiencing rejection. People’s feelings are hurt when they believe that others do not sufficiently value their relationship. One is humiliated when another person puts them down especially if this is done deliberately.

One could experience loneliness when they believe that people who greatly value their relationship are not available for social interaction and support. Loneliness is particularly common among people who have recently experienced rejection in the form of bereavement, divorce or the end of a close relationship and people who believe that others do not regard them as desirable friends and partners. Loneliness and rejection are both about being socially excluded, and as such share the same painful, sad feeling. Someone who feels rejected by a group can go on to feel lonely for not having meaningful social interactions. 

Facing rejection also leads to one experiencing social anxiety which is where one feels nervous in social settings, because of the realization that people value and accept you as friends depending on how they perceive you. Thus, when you believe that you may not make desirable impressions on others and are likely to face rejection, you end up experiencing social anxiety.

Rejection also causes one to experience sadness. Sadness is brought about by the loss of a relationship that one deemed close to them or separation from a loved one. In extreme cases when the rejection is prolonged one could go into depression and have difficulty recovering thereafter. People also become angry when they feel rejected but anger arises during rejection where people interpret the rejection as unjustified. In some cases, people who feel rejected not only become angry, but also react aggressively. However, whether people get aggressive when rejected depends on whether people value the relationship, believe that the rejection was unfair, or believe that the relationship cannot be repaired.

Article by: Gail Mwaniki

Bachelor of Arts (Psychology)

A Thorn in the heart


Art by Berina Ogega

PART I

Mzee (Old man or Old Baba) stepped out of his hut slowly and coughed. Everyone that heard him ran in different directions, to hide. He placed his right hand over his eyes and squinted, no one was around to assist him. He stretched, then yawned loudly. He almost fell backwards, the door frame saved him. His bones were failing him. His body fluids were drying up. His heart was slowing down. He could not walk for long without getting tired. When he was lucky, a good boy or girl would help him by walking behind him with a three legged stool on which he sat after every few steps.

Nyanya (Old woman or Old Mama) had just finished pounding goat meat in a big pestle. Her husband ate soft meat because his teeth were no longer very strong. She walked out of the hut, sat on a three legged stool and waited for Mzee to reach the living hut.

“Why don’t you ever help me walk?” Mzee asked every day, because he forgot that he had asked the previous day.

“I will not answer that,” Nyanya would reply walking into the hut. Many times she had answered… “I love you, but if I walked beside you I would become a statue and a statue, cannot cook for you, keep you warm, clean you, massage you and remove those little sneaky insects from your blankets.”

Mzee would shake his head. “That is not love.” He would say, smiling weakly. “You stopped loving me a looooong time ago.”

“One thing, my love, just this one thing, makes you think I don’t love you,” Nyanya would respond, “If I didn’t love you, I would not be here with you. I would hide like all the others.”

Mzee would close his eyes, raise his head, breath in and smile. Nyanya wondered if he was forgetful or just wanted to hear these word every day.

PART II

Not long ago, children waited outside Mzee’s hut to help him walk.

“Do not forget the stool,” Mzee would remind them. “When I get tired on the way, I will sit on it.” When Mzee sat, and Nyanya was not watching, a bored child would wonder away. “Ee! Do not leave me here,” Mzee would shout, “ants will finish me.” He would try to unsuccessfully lift a leg. Some children would come back because they were sorry and others returned because Nyanya appeared. Mzee would hold on to them tight, never letting go until he reached his destination. His grip was painful sometimes.

Soon Mzee came up with a plan. He had never bribed anyone when he was younger and stronger. (Old and weak come with many undesired deeds).

He spoke to Nyanya, “Please go to the shops and buy sweets for me. The children do not want to help me anymore. I will start rewarding the one who assists me, every day.” Both knew bribing was wrong, but what were they supposed to do?

Nyanya bought sweets, not all the time though. The first time she refused to go, the reason…. “My love, the shops are a quarter of a mile away. When I am tired, I cook bad food, because I cannot make another journey to the shamba to pick spices,” Mzee nodded sadly.

“Here,” Papa stretched his hand. “Take these, sweets will give you enough energy for the journey.

“No,” Nyanya shook her head slowly, “Sweets are for children.”

“But you are still my little love.” Mzee teased, returning the sweets under the blanket into a small bag tied around his waist. “When we were younger, I remember, these sweets would make you do anything for me.”

One day Mzee picked a spear from one end of his hut thinking it was the walking stick. He stepped out of the hut and placed the stick on the ground for support, it got stuck. He called out to Nyanya. “My girl!” She raised her head and saw Papa at the door and thought,

‘Ah! My love is out; time for exercise,” she continued pounding meat and looked up again. “Today he does not want to move at all.’

Papa called out again. “My love!”

Nyanya stood. “Eeee…” and entered the hut, put the goat meat and herbs into a pot of boiling water. Mzee’s grandson, Gonzalez, heard Grandpa and was curious. He peeped from the door and saw Papa struggling with his walking stick. Remembering the sweets Grandpa gave, he rushed to papa to see what was holding the stick to the ground.

“Get my stool!’ Mzee ordered Gonzalez.

“Grandpa, that is a spear,” He had the stool in one hand and the walking stick in the other. He took hold of the spear and tried to pull it away from Mzee’s hand. Mzee held it tight.

“Not another trick,” he turned slowly to look at Gonzalez.“You think you are clever, you are planning to take my stick away from me, so I can stand here the whole day, you, mischievous little boy…. I have not forgotten that the other day you exchanged my large piece of meat for a dirty piece of towel?” You spoiled my stew and risked my health. What if I got Cholera?” Gonzalez almost let out a chuckle.

He pulled out the spear every time it got stuck in the ground and placed a stool behind Mzee every time he wanted to sit.

“I do not know what happened to good children,” Mzee complained as he sat. Gonzalez took a step behind him and tiptoed away a few metres.

“We can go on now,” Mzee stood after two minutes. No response. He raised his weak voice a little.  “We can go on!” He turned around slowly, “Gonzalez!” He was frozen in his tracks. He removed two sweets from under the blanket and showed them to Gonzalez. Gonzalez rushed back.

“Don’t play games like that with me.” Still thinking it was the walking stick, Mzee had a tight grip on Gonzalez’s hand and poked him with the spear several times.

“Aaaaaah! Grandma!” Gonzalez shouted. Grandma rushed out.

“Grandpa is killing me!” Gonzalez fell and hit the grass.

Grandma stepped out of the hut, ran as fast as she could and snatched the spear from Mzee’s hand. “You want to kill Gonzalez? Have you forgotten that his parents feed us? We would starve to death if you killed him!”

“But I can feed myself,” Mzee retorted, “I have two hands.”

Nyanya slapped his hand lightly. “I do not mean that. Look ,this is their land, we get food from their shamba and they buy us food sometimes.”

Mzee nodded several times, “Ooooooh!” He looked at the spear Nyanya was holding and gasped. He turned to see if Gonzalez was badly hurt.

PART III

“Uuuuui!” Gonzalez’s mama screamed from the gate, dropping a small kiondo (handwoven bag made from sisal) she was holding, behind her washer husband.

“Why are you killing my son?” she shouted running towards the group. “They are killing my son,” Her husband was calm.

“It was an accident!” Mzee defended himself, giving Nyanya the ‘we are going to die soon’ look.

“Grandpa killed me!” Gonzalez shouted getting up from the ground. “I was dead, he pierced me here and here and here,” he pointed at several places on his body.

Nyanya stared at him in shock, mouth agape. She stepped towards Mzee, picked up the walking stick and placed the stool behind him. Mzee sat. Everyone was speechless.

Mama Gonzalez rushed towards his son and looked for blood. “I was kind to you when I brought you here,” she looked at Mzee then Nyanya. “You are not grateful. Looks like I am going to have a grave in my compound soon, my son’s grave. That shamba…” she pointed, “is for food, not a graveyard.” ….Silence.

Mzee shook his head. “I knew many strange things were going to happen during my last days, but did not know… my grandchildren turning against me was one of them.” He thumped his chest several times. “What sins am I paying for?”

“Stop turning this around,” Mama was angry. “Who was holding the spear? You hate your grandchildren!” Baba Gonzalez held Mama’s arm and turned her to face him.

“Mother of my children,” Baba looked her in the eyes. “Let us go slow, let us start from the beginning.”

Immediately Mzee and Mama had finished telling their story, a small voice was heard from behind Baba….

“And the other day Gonzalez wanted to kill Grandpa.” It was Gonzalez’s little sister, Marisela. They turned. Gonzalez made a threatening face at her.

Mzee wiped his nose several times as he narrated the dirty piece of towel incident. Nyanya lifted the edge of her leso and wiped Mzee’s forehead. Mama walked quickly into the living hut and came out holding a thin strong smooth stick.

Gonzalez looked at Mzee, “Ha Grandpa, you will know why the cow eats green grass, but produces white milk,” wicked laughter. Baba was silent.

“I am tired of the drama that I find in this compound every time I step out for a few minutes.” Gonzalez nodded slowly like a grownup, feeling very important and special that Mama was defending him…. and getting more excited that he was going to see an old man whipped.

Mama lifted the stick high up in the air, Gonzalez jumped up and down on his feet, his hands held together on his chest, grinning, waiting for Mzee to be punished. Mama brought the stick down, hard on Gonzalez back.

Chwaa!

Gonzalez wriggled. “Now the traditional dance you had started performing is getting better!” Mama lifted the stick high, again.

Her son rushed towards the path that led to the bushes and hid behind some shrubs. She, hot on his heels caught up with him and landed the stick vertically on his back.

“Aaaaa!” Gonzalez screamed and ran as fast as he could towards the river.

Mama ran a few feet after him, then stopped… “He will be hungry,” she thought aloud, “he will come back to eat.” She turned and almost bumped into her mother.

“How did you get here so fast? I thought you did not have any strength left in you.” Mama was surprised.

“Shhhhh….!” Nyanya placed her hand on her daughter’s mouth.“If your father knows that I am still strong, he will never do anything for himself. I want him to stay active…. Is that your son you were hitting or a  snake? I rushed here to make sure you do not kill him.”

“I am tired of hearing Gonzalez did this, Gonzalez did that, every day.” Mama was annoyed.

Mother and daughter walked back side by side. Mama stretched her hand and plucked three terere (amaranth) leaves she had missed earlier on.

She tried very hard to hide her smile. “Why are you smiling?” Nyanya had a mild headache from the day’s events. “I hope you are not laughing at us and our old age. You know… one day you will be like us.”

Art By Berina Ogega

PART IV

“I am not laughing at you,” she laughed and dared not say why.

Mama had secretly followed her husband to the river that morning to watch him take a bath. Every time she wished to accompany her husband, he forced her to stay behind. “You must take care of things around here, you must make sure there is no trouble, especially from Gonzalez who enjoys harassing those around him, including Marisela.

She felt that her husband was up to no good and wanted to find out if her feelings were correct. She suspected he bathed naked for all women to see. The more her husband insisted that she stays at home, the more suspicious she became. She could not take it anymore, she picked her kiondo and walked down the river, hid behind a tree and watched.

Baba Gonzalez placed his bathing bag near a bush and fetched water from the river. He carried the pail to the bush and took out two lesos from the bag. He tied the ends to two small trees, and plucked some soap leaves from a nearby bush. Covered by the lesos, he washed himself.

There was nothing strange or mysterious to see…. no trouble, with her husband behind the lesos. Her eyes wondered to other men and women. All the men bathed in their underwear, and women, in their petticoat. Nothing unusual.

Her husband emerged from behind the lesos, he had finished bathing… she ran, a few strides on, she knocked a stone and rolled backwards, down the path to where she had been hiding. She stood up and looked behind to see if her husband had heard the thud and rustle in the bush. Her husband had disappeared.

A few metres from home, she saw her husband approaching. She swiftly turned left and picked the leaves of terere beside the path. The husband should never know that she was spying on him.

“Aaah…, my favourite vegetables,” her husband picked too. “You are cooking early today I see.” Mama smiled and nodded.

They walked home together and chatted happily until Gonzalez screamed.

“You have not stopped laughing,” Nyanya was puzzled. She jolted her daughter’s mind back to the present. Mama could not hold her laughter anymore, she laughed out loud. “Something funny happened today when I went to get terere. You will not want to know.” She looked at Nyanya.

PART V

They entered the compound. Eyes were staring from the half open wooden windows of the huts. It seemed after the spear accident, no one would come to help Mzee, in a long time. They also knew that it would be worse after Gonzalez went around saying how he died and rose after Mzee killed him with the spear.

Baba walked beside Mzee. Marisela helped carry the stool. She got three sweets, and an extra piece of goat meat from Nyanya.

“I learnt my lesson never to ask that boy to help me serve you food.” Nyanya said, they laughed, Baba was not amused.

“Every time I drunk the soup, with no meat in it, I thought your love for me had faded,” Mzee chewed his very soft piece of meat.

“You should have asked,” more laughter.

“You know…. women are unpredictable” Mzee sipped his soup. “I did not know how you would have reacted.”

“And the boy never grows fat,” Mama joined in. “He must have eaten a whole goat by now. I thought Marisela wanted more meat all the time she complained that she had none on her plate.”

Baba almost chocked on his soup. “Is that why Gonzalez does not eat with us? For how long has he been stealing meat from Mzee and Marisela‘s plate?”

“For a whole year,” Marisela shouted. “He sips my milk too when no one is looking.”

“I hope you know what a year is,” Mama threw the clean terere leaves on the fried onion and covered the pot. She turned to face Marisela, “Why didn’t you tell us?”

“He said he’d beat me if I did.” Marisela handed her empty calabash over to Mama. “I want some more!”

“No,” Mama took the plate and placed it near the fireplace, “That space in your stomach is for porridge.”

“There is no space,” Marisela replied quickly.

Mama smiled and poked her small tummy, “Aaaah, and where were you going to put the soup?” Silence.

Gonzalez appeared on the doorway, Mama stretched her hand and touched the stick, Gonzalez disappeared.

Baba sharpened his tools. Mzee sniffed his tobacco. Mama stirred the terere. Nyanya weaved the basket. They talked.

An hour passed, Nyanya helped Mzee out of the hut into the mid-morning sun.

PART VI

“Who goes out on a mission in a bright yellow garment?” Baba placed the machete he was sharpening on the floor close to his foot.

“You want us to go catch Gonzalez,” Mama stopped turning the terere. “Let me finish this,” she scooped some soup, blew it, poured it on her hand and licked it.

“No,” Baba looked up. “I saw you at the river,” Mama almost dropped the cooking stick. Baba stared at her.

 “That was not me,” Mama lied.

“Anytime you wish to hide in the future, wear a dress that cannot be easily noticed.” Baba tried to stifle laughter. “You were spying on me.”

“No I was not,” Mama tried to hide her face from Baba.

“Who will keep me warm at night?” Baba frowned. “Who will take care of our kids if you died?”

“Are you planning to kill me? Forget it,” Mama removed the pot from the fire and placed it a few feet away.

“When you rolled down the path,” Baba looked up at Mama. “I thought you were going to have a concussion and drown in the river.” Mama was embarrassed. “I am surprised you are still alive and cooking.”

“And kicking,” Mama corrected him.

“I don’t see you kicking,” Baba smiled. “I only saw you rolling and now…. cooking.”

Mama laughed out loud, clicked her tongue, scooped out a little terere from the pot, tasted some and handed the rest to Baba. “Don’t tempt us with that laughter,” Nyanya shouted. “We will come back to the hut,” They ignored her.

“Something good came out of the mission though,” Baba handed the ladle back to Mama. “I get to eat one of my favourite leaves at lunch time.”

PART VII

Gonzalez approached his Grandparents. “Life would be better if you did not live with us. I would be eating more meat.”

“Are you sure?” Mzee asked. Nyanya shook her head in despair.

“Yes,” Gonzalez was confident. He turned and found Baba standing next to him.

Baba pinched his ear and pulled him into the hut. He got a small rope, tied  his hands, his feet and forced him to sit on the floor. Marisela, who had been sulking on a stool at one end of the hut, grinned. Mama washed the dishes.

Baba walked to the cowshed and came back carrying a cowbell, which he hang on a nail above Gonzalez’s head. There was a knot in Gonzalez’s throat. Tears flowed down his cheeks.

“That is how Grandpa felt when he was choked by that dirty piece of towel,” Baba squatted in front of his son. He pointed to his tied hands and feet, “and that is what he would have felt if he had gone into a comma…. Hit the bell several times, when you have the urge to go to the latrine.You will know what Grandpa feels when he calls and sometimes nobody is around to assist him.”

“Mama! Mama! Mama!” Gonzalez cried. “Mama! Mama!” Mama stretched her hand and touched the stick. Gonzalez stopped shouting and sobbed quietly. “Baba should have tied that bell around your neck.” She picked up one of the stools in the hut and sat next to Baba.

“Can I have warm water for massaging Mzee’s feet.” Nyanya stood at the door. Mama got up and walked to the fireplace. “Eeeh!” Grandma exclaimed when she saw Gonzalez. “I see… I will be having company…. for the next how many days?”

“One year,” Baba suppressed laughter. Gonzalez cried louder. Mama hid her smile.

“Aha!” Nyanya nodded as she took the basin of warm water from Mama.

Marisela walked to the bell and hit it three times. Gonzalez tried to cover his ears. “Can I massage Gonzalez’s legs too?” Mama wore an expressionless face, tears of laughter welled up her eyes.

Baba was fixing the fishing net. He paused and looked at Marisela. Mama held Marisela’s shoulders from the back and pushed her back to where she was seated. “If you ring that bell again, we will take you to the pit latrine. That is what the bell is for.” Baba pursed his lips.

“I will never mistreat Baba again,” Gonzalez spoke between sobs. It did not seem like anyone heard him. “Baba,” silence. “Baba.”

“You’ve only been there a few minutes.” Baba looked at his son and raised his eyebrows. “In order to grow, we must be disciplined…. Talk to me after one week.”

My Art Teacher and Editor: behance.net/KenOmollo

Invisible Pain

Art by Berina Ogega

PART I

Analia did not give a thought to the drops of dew that fell on her face that morning when Balthazar was proposing to her. His arms were around her when he spoke. This was the first man to truly care about her.

“There are many girls who are more beautiful than me,” Analia was sad. She uncomfortably shifted on her feet. She raised her hand and touched her hair, looked up lovingly at Balthazar.

“My hair is never beautiful like the other girls,’ my clothes have been handed down to me ever since I can remember, I have never had a decent shoe…”

Balthazar placed his hand over her mouth and “shhhhh… I have always offered you money to do whatever you wish with it; you do not take it, ”he held Analia’s face up and looked into her eyes. “Marry me, and things will change.”

“You know it would be useless for me to make my hair, with the dust and ash,” Droplets of dew fell on Analia’s face. Balthazar wiped them off. “Decent shoes and clothes would not last a week. The long walks to the river, and the many hours I spend collecting firewood would not spare my shoes. How can I wear a new dress, the firewood tears my clothes?”

“Marry me, and you will not have to do that,” Balthazar persuaded Analia.

She held his arms, removed them from her waist and took a step back. “If I agreed to marry you, it would not be for change, I do not deny that I want a better life, but I would marry you for love. You have been very kind to me.”

Analia never thought beyond loving Balthazar.

PART II

When she came into the world, her parents were very young and poor. The pregnancy had not been planned, just like all the other pregnancies, conception was always a surprise. Very few people understood this. The villagers were angry. How could people start having sex when they were so young.

How could they have known that sex at such an early age was not allowed if no one had told them? They found themselves alone, building a hut out of reeds. Villagers whispered and gossiped as Analia’s mother’s belly grew. Her parents knew it would be easy to take care of a baby. After all people were getting babies all over the village…. and if the baby did not have food, he would suckle the mothers breast up to the age of sixteen, they decided.

The baby came, love did not bring food, love did not feed the baby. The milk disappeared and Analia’s father started fishing and hunting for food. Every day that passed they were angrier and bitter towards the villagers for shunning them away, for just one mistake.

“You are the one who enjoyed the sex,” they reminded them all the time. “We were not there, carry your own cross.”

“I do not care about myself,” Analia would cry. “Please have mercy on my child. My child is innocent. She does not have to go through this. Please give me food, for my child.” No one cared.

Sometimes Analia’s father would go the whole day, searching for food and come back with very little.

One evening he spoke to his wife, “You know we cannot go on like this.” The wife’s eyes were red and swollen from sobbing. Her two-year-old girl held on to her sagging empty breast.

“What are we supposed to do?” The wife asked resignedly.

The next morning Analia woke up. The door was half open. She opened it further and stepped out of the hut. “Mama!” she walked towards a covered small hole that was supposedly the pit latrine behind a tree. Mama was not there. Analia, having brought up next to her Mama’s breast, never cried much. She did not cry even then, she walked slowly back to the hut and sat on the doorway.

Villagers passed by, not one noticed that Analia was alone.How could they, when no one visited them, when no one bothered to find out how they were doing? Analia dozed off, slept on the floor near the door, sat up,dozed off again, but no one cared. Night came, she did not see Papa or Mama.Society tends not to notice the very intelligent children. Analia was intelligent. She closed the door and sat on the bed. She was hungry, lonely and confused.

God protects little children, she slept safely. (As I was writing this story I thought a horrible animal would come at night and maul her, but it did not.)

PART III

In every terrible village and market, there is always this person God chooses to be a Guardian angel. Everybody has one. Boys like small children, and Balthazar who was twelve years old at the time, always visited Analia’s home to play with her. That day, he found Analia alone. He thought her mother was running an errand. Analia did not look well and did not want to play that day. Maybe Mama had gone to get the medicine man. Balthazar waited.Evening came, Balthazar knew Mama would worry. Without a second thought he rushed home.

“Where are you going to?” Balthazar’s mum was surprised that he was going out to play very early in the morning, the following day.

“I am going to water the mango tree,” Balthazar, the previous day after the last meal, worried about Analia. He did not sleep well. He wanted to know if Analia was okay.

“Make sure to be back before the porridge gets cold,” Mama said as she stirred.

Balthazar rushed out and ran all the way to Analia’s house. Analia saw him, stretched her hands and started to cry. Little sound came out;her voice was very weak. He carried her, rubbed the back of her head and sang a song that he had heard the village women sing to their babies. Analia was quiet, but tears rolled down her cheeks. Balthazar placed her at the foot of the bed, removed a stinky, wet leso from the bed, rushed out and spread it on one of the shrubs outside. He ran home.

Analia lay down on the bed. Drops of tears fell onto the reed mat. Villagers passed by Analia’s hut, without a care, without turning their heads towards that direction. It was Analia’s parents’ fault that they had had sex at an early age. They were an embarrassment and shame to the village. The villagers would never be caught, even looking in that direction.

“Isn’t the sugar in the porridge enough,” Mama was worried. “You are taking longer than usual.”

“The sugar is fine.” Balthazar lifted the calabash to his mouth. “I am trying to change my eating habits, I am a grown up boy now,” holding the calabash carefully, he walked to the fireplace, picked a sweet potato and cut it into two.

Mama frowned, then shrugged, “I see,” she said as she walked to the cowshed.

With the calabash half full, Balthazar dipped the sweet potato into the porridge, covered it with Mama’s leso and rushed to Analia. Analia ate the porridge slowly, and remained some. The sweet potato did not go down well. Balthazar put it aside for another time. He brought food to Analia many times, until Analia learnt to fish at ten years old. Balthazar hunted.

PART IV

God protects anyone he knows will continue to have a beautiful soul till death.

The villagers wished bad things would happen to Analia, so that she would die. They said the spirits would be annoyed one day because an outcast lived near them. A manner less girl who wore boys’ clothes…. They hoped Balthazar would tire one day and not visit her at all, then she would die. They even planned to kill her one time when drought struck, but no one had the courage to do it. They feared Analia’s parents would be watching from afar.

Analia jumped up and down with joy the day Balthazar brought three old dresses he had stolen from Mama’s wooden box. Mama had forgotten about them, she never realized they were missing. Soon Analia was wearing plastic shoes after Mama threw them away because they were outdated. Analia never wore a knicker, nobody had thought of giving her one, but she always tied her mother’s old and worn out lesos around her waist. These good deeds are the reason why Analia never accepted Balthazar’s money.

“You have done enough already,” she would always say.

The men of the village who had been afraid that the wrath of the evil spirit would strike them if they were seen near Analia’s hut, started noticing that Analia was a beautiful flower. The worn out dresses and lesos did not keep them away. Yes, there were many men knocking at Analia’s door at night. (Who knocks on a door made of reed) They did not feed or dress Analia,but they wanted to have sex with her. Analia never opened the door, let alone get out of bed. With the expert and feared witch doctors, nobody forced his way in.

She had gotten used to having very little and had decided to live with the very little. Men whispered promises at the door, but it did not matter to her. They should have been there for her earlier.

She also knew about temptations, so she avoided long,useless conversations with the men. When Balthazar visited, they sat outside,on the grass. When they were in the forest hunting, Analia dressed well with all the tempting parts of the body hidden well. She never brushed against Balthazar, always kept a safe distance. One day she inquired why no one loved her.

“Your parents had sex without permission,” Balthazar explained. “but I am beginning to think that is not the reason. People will make excuses, not to get involved with unfortunate people…. because they do not like to help. The hatred for you gives the villagers something to talk about, something to gossip about. A tale for their offspring. Don’t you worry though, you are beautiful, you are kind.

Analia was very afraid of sex; she knew sex brought very bad things with it. She loved to look at the villager’s beautiful children, but swore never to have her own. The villagers will hate her children. She did not know the right age to have sex, nobody would tell her and she did not want to suffer like her parents.

PART V

Analia’s mind was jolted back to the present by Balthazar’s squeeze on her hands. They were soft despite the hard work.

“I know you will want to have children.” Analia was in deep thought. “They will be cursed before they come out of my womb. The evil spirits will kill them.”

Balthazar who was now thirty years old, had spent half of his life researching about the evil spirits, curses and witches. He wanted to help Analia. He had learnt that the evil spirits and witches attacked a person,only if the person allowed them into his or her home or if a person was bad. Analia was safe.

“I will let you think about it,” he handed a piece of roast chicken he had brought from home to Analia. “Then I will ask again and again until you say yes.”

She laughed amidst worry. “You are the only person I have had in my life. Marrying you will be boring.”

Balthazar pretended not to hear, his smile was well hidden. He would never marry anyone else. He wanted Analia. She was beautiful, hardworking and passive. She hunted and knew how to roast any kind of meat well. He walked behind her to the door of the hut. He held a bunch of reeds firmly and shook the hut, it was weak and about to cave in. It had served its time. Beside the reed hut, they started building a thatched mud hut the following day. Balthazar moved in with Analia, came with a big bed, after he informed Mama that he had found a place to live.

PART VI

When the elders visited Mama, Mama did not know why. A few minutes later, without mincing their words, they informed her that her son was living with a monster and the monster should die…. because they did not want to have little monsters running around the village spreading evil spirits. The evil spirits should not use Mama to destroy the village. Eighteen years had passed since the village had a good harvest. Analia was the reason, they said. They spent many hours in Mama’s house planning how to finish Analia.

As expected, Balthazar’s mother was wealthy and could not bear the idea of her son marrying a pauper. She visited her son. A very beautiful and well-dressed Analia opened the door. Her skin glowing and radiant. Mama knew she was with child. Her heart fluttered with excitement, because with the pregnancy, it would be easier to kill her. Analia smiled and gave way.

They had expected her to visit, but did not know when. She had come.

“I can see you are fine, my children,” she looked around the house and nodded.

Balthazar did not bother to talk about his marriage or introduce his wife. “Yes we are fine” He knew his mother was here to oppose the marriage.

“Analia has lived alone all her life,” Mama began. “I think it would be better if she lived among us now.” She continued. “She belongs to us now, we are one.”

The lovers were speechless. They did not expect this.

“All the villagers have agreed,” Mama paused searching their faces. No expression. They had trained themselves not to have facial expressions when a third person was around. “I can also take better care of her before she bears child. I will also teach her how to be a good wife”

Balthazar loved his Mama. Mama had taken very good care of him. No shouting, no quarrels, polite correction, and words of love now and then. Now that Mama was on his side, it crowned his joy. They moved in with Mama. Balthazar was confident that his wife was in good hands, so he extended his working hours from three to twelve hours a day. He moved back to his hut because it was near his work place. 

PART VII

Two week later….

“Analia! Analia!” Mama whispered from her bed when the cock crowed. “It is time for milking, let’s go, I want to show you how.”

Mama got up, followed by Analia. Outside the cowshed, Analia bent over and threw up. She held her stomach.

“Do not worry,” Mama said politely. “The first few months of pregnancy are the hardest.” She pointed at the mess, this will stop, soon.

Analia woke up every day when the cock crowed, threw up, milked the cow, cleaned the compound, went to the shamba, fetched water from the river and cooked. She never rested, she never had enough time to eat comfortably. She was Mama’s servant. Mama enjoyed herself so much that she forgot she was supposed to kill her, in fact, she did not want her to leave or die. Mama could now sleep most of the day and have her food served, sometimes in bed. She noticed that Analia’s legs were swelling and she had grown darker, but that was not her concern.

Balthazar visited every week, and brought with him many fruits and vegetables for his wife, from the neighboring village. He gave Mama money for emergencies too. He wanted a healthy baby. Mama kept three quarters of the goods to herself and never spent a cent on Analia. The villagers had a good time eating what her son brought. They came with their beautiful daughters hoping Mama will kill Analia and pick one of them. One day Analia fainted, they thought she had died, but the medicine man shattered their dreams when he announced that Analia was suffering from exhaustion and needed to rest. Mama did not pay him. When Balthazar asked,

“Why?” surprised that he left enough money to settle the medicine man’s bills for many days.

“You know your wife has to eat,” Mama was manipulative. Analia cried every night under the blanket. She asked God everyday why she suffered and Balthazar had taught her that kindness will be rewarded. Was she was going to suffer forever she and her child? Why did God not answer her prayers?

Analia wanted to get away from Mama. She wanted to talk to Balthazar every weekend when he spent the night with her, but he was worn out all the time and did not want to trouble him. Mama was clever, she never left them alone during the day. She made sure to escort Balthazar to the road every time he left.

“Rest Analia,” she would smile. “Sometimes you and the baby need rest. Let me walk your husband to the road.” Analia never had a mother to guide her, but she knew that older people were to be respected and obeyed. Every day her lover left, she would sit near the fireplace and weep. Every time Mama came and counted the money that Balthazar gave her.

“I was given some to bring to you.” she would spread her hands as she showed her the money, “but I will keep it for you, because running the errands around here, does not leave enough time for you to go to the shops.I told him you are a good person, a hard working wife.” It did not bring comfort to Analia.

Analia loved sugar, she wanted porridge and black tea with a lot of sugar. The medicine man said sugar was okay for her. Mama said sugar was bad for her health. One day she wanted to steal a few notes and buy sugar for herself, but Mama kept the money in a small bag that hang around her neck.

PART VIII

After treating Analia, the second time, the medicine man visited Balthazar.

“When was the last time you talked to your wife?” there was concern in his voice.

Balthazar was afraid, “Has something bad happened to her?”

“She is not dead, she walks,” there was sorrow in the medicine man’s voice, “but she has no soul.”

“It is a mistake, Mama would have told me” Balthazar fetched some water from the pot with a cup and washed his face. “or someone else. Maybe Mama is too old to see.”

“You say someone else,” the medicine man shook his head. “Who?”

It is when Balthazar realized that no one had ever spoken to him about his wife and no one would. The earth swayed under him. He wished he would fly to Analia. He stood still and tried to calm down. He and the medicine man walked slowly and parted at Mama’s gate.

Balthazar stood at the gate and watched. He watched his wife running up and down fulfilling duties in the compound. Sometimes strength flowed from her, she would sit and cry. She realized Mama kept appearing at the door now and then to check if she was working.

‘Mama never cared about the shamba?’ he thought trying very hard not to approach the hut until his anger had died down. ‘Why is Analia going to the river and I give Mama enough money to pay someone to fetch water?’he thought aloud.

Soon visitors arrived and interrupted Balthazar’s espionage.They were excited to see him, the generous son who brought nice things that could feed half the village. He walked into the house alongside them.

When Analia said hallo to her husband, it was without a smile, without excitement. Her husband realized that many days had passed without him seeing her smile. He was very sad, disappointed with how things had turned out to be, but did let his mother know, he went on as usual. Analia stood to serve the visitors.

“Oh Analia, rest,” Mama looked at her son. “You know, I insist every day that your wife should rest, but she doesn’t. I do not know what I will do with her.” Balthazar wanted to scream. He fidgeted on the stool. He did not say anything because he wanted to part with his mother, peacefully. He smiled now and then, until the villagers left.

PART IX

“Mama,” She turned face him. “I would like to go home with my wife. I miss her. I have no one to spend my free time with. I have no one to serve me a warm meal when I come home from work in the evening. I have no one to talk to. My house is cold and empty.”

Tears stung Mama’s eyes. She knew what she was going to lose with Analia gone.

“But she is almost bearing child.” Mama wanted to cry. With her back facing Balthazar, she looked at Analia threateningly.

“Analia, do you wish to leave?” she blinked more than ten times.

Analia nodded.

“I am sorry Mama.” Balthazar stood and stepped outside the hut. “Analia, I will be waiting for you out here.” Mama followed him and he knew what Mama wanted. He took out a wad of notes from his pocket and gave it to Mama.

“Don’t you see the danger your wife will be in, if she does not rest the last few months?” Mama tried again. “How will she handle everything alone?”

“Analia has been alone all her life,” he did not turn to look at Mama, “she will manage.”

Without saying another word, Mama walked into the hut. She met Analia on the doorway and whispered, “One day, you will need me.”

Analia looked straight ahead. She was silent. Balthazar took her bag from her and held her hand. He stopped in his tracks. Those were not the hands she knew. He took them in his and looked. They were rough, with bruises and blisters. Some fresh and some healing.

A knife cut through his heart as they retraced the steps back home.

A few months later Balthazar built a strong reed fence and a wide trench around his compound. He disowned his village. Every time a visitor from his village knocked at the gate, he knew he or she was coming to ask for financial help or food. He made sure to send Analia, and the person would be too ashamed to make his request and walk away.

He continued to work as a guard at the village border and made many friends in the next village.

“Everything will be alright,” Balthazar assured Analia every morning, and every evening.

They had five wonderful children who became very successful and served in the neighboring village.

(Many women suffer in the hands of their Parents in law, but they cannot speak out, because they are afraid to lose their husbands and many times, they have nowhere to go back to, especially those who grow up as orphans)

THE END

Editor: behance.net/KenOmollo

Restless

Image result for Traditional kenyan hut

PART I

The sun penetrated through the small gap in the grass thatched roof. The ray of sun woke her up. She shielded her face with her hand. Atarah was glad it had not rained for two days. She had given her steel pail to Bernice her neighbour. The pail she used to trap water. Bernice had only one steel basin. She wanted to wash her clothes in the basin and rinse in the pail.

“Bring it back,” Atarah had reminded her. Bernice nodded.

Atarah placed her hand on Bernice’s shoulder as she handed over the pail. “I tell you that all the time, you nod, but you do not return it. Do you know that there are times I do not want to get out of the house at night? Sometimes the pit latrine seems very far.

“Yes,” Bernice nodded, “You told me…. and because of Zebadiah, you do not want him to see you at night and…. you tricked him into buying you five pieces of roasted cassava.”

“Yes, Yes,” Atarah said quickly. “Now go, I would like to rest. He kept me up past midnight talking about the village fights and how his muscles are getting stronger every day.”

“You are lying,” Bernice looked at Atarah suspiciously.

“We did nothing, we just talked,” Atarah said. “I know you love to think of bad things all the time, let me not hear a word about this.”

Bernice was hurt, she spoke no more. She thought she was walking out until she hit the wall on the other side of the hut. She mumbled, turned and walked out the door.

Atarah needed her pail. She sprinkled water on the earth floor, every day after sweeping, to keep the dust down. She got out of bed, stretched, raising her short night dress to above the knee. She was about to walk out when she noticed that the rays of the sun were shining directly from the top of the hut.

“It is mid-day!” she exclaimed. “Goodness!” ‘I hope my neighbours have not noticed I overslept,’ she thought. ‘Men in the village will think I am lazy.’ In her heart, she knew it was one man. When she woke up early, she opened the squeaking window as noisily as possible, so that the man would hear that she was a very hard working woman. On this day, she tip-toed, which did not matter because she walked on an earth floor and was wearing rubber shoes.

PART II

She moved the window lock back slowly and supported the window up as she opened. Sospeter and I were walking hand in hand on the path outside her house eating roasted maize. I had bought this because I loved to watch Sospeter chew, with his mouth closed, concentrating on each grain. Then we saw the window open.

“Uuuui Atarah! Is this the time you are waking up,” I rushed to the window; she banged it shut. The loud bang echoed throughout the village. I pushed the window in from outside, she tried to keep it close from inside.

“Sospeter!” I hit the window with my fist. “Come quickly”

Sospeter thinking I was in danger, rushed to where I was. “Please lift me up”

“No,” Sospeter shook his head. “The reason why these windows are placed high up, is that no one can peep into other people’s houses.”

“Please,” I begged Sospeter.

After clicking his tongue, he lifted me onto his shoulders. Making sure that I was steady, I pushed the window hard. Atarah had let go. In a fraction of a second, my hands slid along the window frame, the hem of my dress caught Sospeter’s head, banging it against the hard wood. He pulled my dress off his head. I fell to the ground, with all my weight. I thought I had cracked the floor.

“Khai!” he cried as he put his head inside the window. “My head!” He rubbed his forehead “I hope your curiosity has been satisfied. You broke your back, who will split the wood and cook supper? I am not paying for any donkey to carry you home.” He walked away, then after a few seconds, “I hope you are happy now that you can talk to Atarah face to face.”

I do not know what Atarah was doing under the bed, I wanted to laugh, but a sharp pain shot through my back radiating to my thigh.

“Come out,” I said gesturing. “Nobody is going to eat you.” Atarah crawled out.

“Berina!” then a knock, Atarah jumped and slid under the bed again. “Open.”

“I can’t stand,” I shouted. Sospeter appeared at the window, his forehead started to swell. “Atarah, can you open the door,” Atarah shook her head. “Atarah, men have been brought up to climb through the window. You are not safe.”

She crawled out slowly, opened the door and rushed back under the bed. Sospeter walked in. Without attempting to help me up, he sat on a three legged stool near the fireplace. He stared at Atarah.

PART III

“You should know, that I know, that you stare at my son through that window.” Atarah’s head dropped. “You know; my son cannot love you.” Sospeter shifted on the stool. “I know you want him.”

Atarah shook her head and thought of how annoyed she gets when the son prolongs his visits. She wondered if Sospeter knew. I forgot my pain and turned a little to look at Sospeter, then, Atarah. Atarah wanted to cry.

“I also know he comes here.” Sospeter leaned forward. “You are not good for my son.”

“Aiiii, Sospeter…” I placed my hand on his knee. “Leave the girl alone,” I said. He pushed my hand away and placed his elbow above the knee. With the other hand, he stroked his beard while looking at me, then said,

“Big mouth,” I shrugged my shoulders. “It would be better if you shut up. You are the reason we are here. You are the reason I am forced to look at that manner less girl’s thighs as she exposes them from there,” he pointed at Atarah’s thighs. She tried to pull her dress to cover her knees, but it did not budge. She pulled it again, harder than before, and tore it at the seam. She tried to pull the pieces together, another inch of her body was exposed.

“Wah! Atarah!” I said as Sospeter looked away. “Will you stop that,” I whispered “and come out of there.” Atarah looked at Sospeter and crawled out slowly. Her legs were numb. She limped a little before she sat on the bed.

“Were you wearing that short dress for my son?” Atarah looked at Sospeter angrily. It did not bother him.

“You know we are not rich.” I gestured to Atarah to help me up. “If you think I am going to give you the cow I paid as dowry for my wife….” Atarah came behind me, bent and tried to lift me up.

“Take those things away from me!” Sospeter shouted as he pushed Atarah forward. Atarah stretched hands forward, pushing my head down, causing my lips to hit the knee. She held the edge of the bed firmly and saved herself from falling. Tears of pain ran down my cheeks joining the trickle of blood that was coming out of my lips.

“I will not only miss supper,” Sospeter complained. “but also my kisses…. And you,” he stood, walked to Atarah and poked her head three times. “I don’t want to see you near my son. You wake up late, you wear short dresses, you bend towards men and your house is full of bad luck.” He walked to the fireplace, took the lid off the pot that stood on three cooking stones, picked three sweet potatoes and walked out.

“I am dying today,” I sobbed, “I am sure, I will die today. I should have known when I saw that black cat dragging a dead black rat across the path. It looked direct into my eyes, as if to tell me something, but I ignored.” Atarah placed her hand on my shoulder. “I should have changed paths. Go and tell the villagers to come, I will die today!” I wiped off my tears.

PART IV

Atarah picked a leso from a reed basket in a corner and stepped outside the house. “Atarah,” I called. She turned. “The long grass outside your compound, why don’t you take advantage of your beauty and get one of the them to trim it for you?”

She turned and smiled, “Those sobs scared me. I am glad you still have a sense of humour”

She walked away to Bernice’s house. She knocked… silence. Knocked again… silence. She opened the door. Bernice was sitting on a table on one side of the hut, head on the wall, snoring. There was a plate of very few boiled maize and beans left over by her side. I picked up my pail and kicked her foot lightly.

“Aaaah…” Bernice groaned. “I am so full. Si I have eaten!” Atarah looked at her stomach and flinched, she tried very hard to keep a straight face. Bernice’s stomach had hang a little to the left. “I think my stomach is going to burst and I am going to die.”

“Seems like several people will die today,” Atarah said, “You will not be the first one, there is another one dying a few metres away from here. Why didn’t you return my pail?”

“I wanted to return it,” Bernice answered, “but I can’t stand. I feel like a big stone just dropped in my stomach. The food has not been digested at all since I ate.”

“You should have brought the bucket before eating.” Atarah was annoyed. “Maybe, if you had, I would have woken up earlier.”
“Woooi, how can I get this food out of my stomach?” Bernice groaned in pain.

Atarah looked out the window. “Phew! I thought someone had stolen your pit latrine, I cannot imagine you depositing all that food in mine,” she pointed at Bernice’s stomach.

“Look behind you” Atarah turned. Zebadiah was standing on the doorway with his friend Barak.

Atarah remembered she had not combed her hair, she unconsciously touched her head, then made to untie her leso. She stopped when she remembered why she had it on.

“I thought you did not care about this body builder?” Bernice whispered, shifting the weight of her stomach to the right.

“Are you sure you are not pregnant and in labour?” Atarah whispered facing her briefly. Looked at Zebadiah, smiled, looked behind at Bernice and made a face.

“You are beautiful…. Still.” Zebadiah smiled. “Even with that hair, and the leso.”

He turned to Barak. “This is the girl I was telling you about. Isn’t she beautiful?” Atarah smiled. She walked towards the door, Zebadiah made way, they started to walk away, when….

“You can’t leave me like this! Atarah please. I will die!” Bernice tried to stand but could not.

“You refused to return my pail,” Atarah shouted as she walked away.

“What is happening?” Zebadiah was surprised.

“Your Mama is hurt,” Atarah said.

PART V

My lips were swelling. Zebadiah bent to look at them. “I met Baba on my way here, were you two fighting?

“You do not want to know! Trust me” Atarah said placing the pail on the floor. “Let us lift her up to the bed.”

I was on the bed when I heard a donkey trotting, then footsteps approaching the house. “Your husband sent me here to treat and take you home,” the medicine man said.

“Thank you for coming,” I tried to get up.

“We will help you,” the medicine man said as he approached the bed. “That is what I am paid for,” Zebadiah and Barak placed me on the cart behind the donkey.

“You want to make more money?” Atarah asked. “Come, let me show you. There is someone dying in there,” Atarah pointed at Bernice’s hut.

“There is a gap in your roof,” Zebadiah whispered to Atarah on the way. “I will mend it for you tomorrow.” Atarah nodded.

“What is wrong with her?” the medicine man frowned when he saw Bernice’s stomach. “She will explain later,” Atarah replied.

Atarah, Zebadiah and Barak entered the hut. They held their noses. The medicine man was modest, he held his breath, walked straight to Bernice and helped her up. He placed his arm round Bernice’s back and supported her to the cart. He wriggled his nose.

As they were passing outside Atarah’s house, Sospeter joined them.

“I came to check if the roasted maize I dropped while lifting my stubborn wife is still there,” he pointed to the grass under the window. “Seems like the ants got a free meal. I also think I accidentally stepped on it, because it is half buried in the soil.”

“Was it a wrestling match?” Zebadiah was amused.

“Shhh! No,” Atarah shook her head. “I will tell you later.”

“Was she peeping too?” Sospeter asked pointing at Bernice. “And what’s that smell?”

Silence….

“And you!” he turned to Atarah. “What are you doing here?”

“Leave her alone.” Zebadiah and I said simultaneously.

“The medicine man shouted. “I almost forgot to pass a message from your husband to you, Mama Nyakundi. He said, the money he had saved for your leso, scarf, necklace and rubber shoes, is what will cover the medical bill.”

Silence…

He turned to find out why everybody was quiet, and wondered when Sospeter had joined them.

“Sorry,” he murmured.