Remember to feed me (2)

Harassment

PART VII

Yes…. Baba Douglas, Mama was a little annoyed with a memory.

Baba Douglas had overheard the conversations between his wife and Mama Sikovia. One time when he came back from the city, he carried two paper bags. In each was meat, milk, rice, eggs and vegetables. He hid one in the bush before he went home. After the mid-day meal, he excused himself and walked out. He picked the paper he had hidden.

Seconds later he was standing outside Mama Sikovia’s door. He knocked softly. Mama let him in, then sat on the bed. Baba Douglas sat on her left, a few inches from her. Sikovia was asleep.

“From what I have been hearing,” he whispered. “You have been having a difficult time getting food,” Mama was silent. He moved closer to Mama. Mama moved a few inches away. He moved closer. Mama moved again. He moved. Mama could not move any further, she had reached the edge of the bed. She would have stood, but she was weak, bored and tired.

“I have brought you this.” He removed the items one by one and placed them on the left. Mama felt something pull and tag in her stomach. He lifted his hand, placed it on her shoulder. Mama sat still. He moved his hand down towards her chest. Mama folded her hands across her breasts.

“Do not be foolish,” he whispered, “Baba is gone, you are going to die,” he moved his hands from her chest to her knee and pulled her dress up. “Do you want to die? I know how much your relatives in the city despise you,” he paused then, “word goes around, you know.” Mama did not want to die, but she also knew there were many ways of getting out of trouble…. other than sex. There was no simple solution for drought and famine, but….

She pushed his hand away, looked behind and hoped Sikovia does not wake up and see the food. Children can make people do things they would never have dreamt of.

Baba Douglas put the food back into the paper bag, “You are going to die, both of you,” leaving the door ajar, he walked towards Aholibah’s compound.

Determination

Most of the villagers had moved to other towns to stay with relatives. Mama Sikovia had nowhere to go. Her relatives and friends thought she was poor because she was lazy. She wasn’t. She had a big shamba, a shamba that always produced good crops. She made sure the same relatives had a share of her harvest every season. There was no harvest, then, and she became the enemy again…. and they still thought she was foolish and lazy because she lived in the village…. this made her feel ashamed and very scared.

You may be polite, you may be generous, you may make people smile, but one day you get unlucky and the world crashes you. How did she miss the step on firm ground and fall through the cracks…. go under? How does someone fall from much…. to nothing? She knew that moving to any relative’s house would be like jumping from a bed of rocks to a bed of k apple. Thorns were more painful than death. She was used to death now. In death, there was peace, but who would take care of her daughter. She sighed, and placed her head gently on her arm.

My first reaction to my father’s pain was one that surprised and disturbed me a great deal….
anger and resentment towards God….
I never would have expected it….
I am more than somewhat embarrassed and actually sad to have to tell you what I said to God, I actually told him….
“I know everyone has to die, but if you let Dad suffer horribly….
I’ll never forgive you….
because I know you can prevent it if you want to”….
Fortunately, my father never went through the long suffering….
the anticipation of which brought on my outburst to God….
But it did leave me with a problem….
I needed to know why God permits suffering….
There was obviously something about the nature of God that I didn’t understand….

~ Musings about God.com ~  

Every time she took a walk around the village, there was fresh soil…. graves. No one knew when the people in the graves died except the ones close to the dead. The villagers were tired of asking. The ones that died lately had died quietly and were buried quietly, wrapped in a sheet of cloth, no ceremony, no coffins. The ones without close relatives, the ones with small shambas, the ones with little wages…. the ones from minority clans, died first…. and the first victims of starvation were children. Mama noticed. Many graves were small. She also knew that some had died from simple infections because the body’s immune system was too weak to fight disease. Others died in their houses, and their bodies would disintegrate undiscovered if it were not for the stench.

When you try your best, but you don’t succeed….
When you get what you want, but not what you need….
When you feel so tired, but you can’t sleep….
Stuck in reverse….
And the tears come streaming down your face….
When you lose something you can’t replace….
When you love someone, but it goes to waste….
Could it be worse?


~ I’ll fix you ~

~ Coldplay ~

‘The world is not kind’, she thought. She remembered her neighbour who wept for many days after giving birth.

Mama had found her staring at her baby blankly, tears flowing down her cheeks. Her husband was beside her. The husband had been dead for more than two days.

“Why even?” the neighbour wailed. “What is this child for? He will bring sorrow and sadness in this home? He will die.”

Mama was silent. Tears welled up her eyes.

“How will I feed him?” she looked at her underweight child. “I can’t even feed myself?”

A few days later, a good Samaritan decided to take some porridge to the new mother’s house. She knocked on the door. There was no answer. She knocked again. Silence. She pushed the door and peeped. The new mother was missing. The kind soul sat on the thin mattress on the floor and held the baby in her arms. The baby was thin and underweight. She waited. The sun set a little further, and she knew baby was nobody’s baby.

The baby lived. He was given a name, Simon. Simon was everybody’s baby. His story touched people’s hearts. Most humans wait for bad things to happen, so that they can start doing good. Many villagers visited the good Samaritan, with food for the baby. Everybody wanted to be in that story, of the child who survived miraculously.

Close to a billion people….
one-eighth of the world’s population….
Still live in hunger….
Each year 2 million children die through malnutrition….
This is happening at a time when doctors in Britain….
are warning of the spread of obesity….
We are eating too much while others starve….

~ Jonathan Snacks ~

Mama and Sikovia’s situation, was just another starvation story. Feeding them would never make anyone popular or famous. It would not be a hero story…. They were forgotten. Mama never questioned God and never forgot to pray.

PART VIII

Trembling, she dragged herself slowly, away from the door. Sikovia saw Mama tremble and threw one more piece of firewood onto the fire, like Mama did for Baba. Ashes rose into the air. “Sikovia, come. Open the door and call out. Maybe someone will hear you.” Many people, having suffered so much, never try to save themselves when they are near death…. but Mama wanted to live, live for Sikovia and Baba. Baba should come back to a home he was used to, a home with a wife. Love gave Mama the little strength to live.

“Sikovia, open the door.”

Sikovia shook her head. “The dogs”

“Listen…. they are not barking. They are no longer here.” Mama stretched her hand slowly, held her small leg and pushed her gently towards the door. “They have followed the others, for meat.”

When we are shown scenes of starving children in Africa….
with a call for us to do something to help them….
the underlying ideological message is something like….

“Don’t think, don’t politicize, forget about the true causes of their poverty….
Just act, contribute money,” ….
So that you will not have to think!

~ Slavoj Zizek ~

“Meat.” Sikovia loved meat. She opened the door and let out a shrill. No one turned to see where it came from. Maybe, they thought a child was just being a nuisance…. or playful…. but why would they think that? The children no longer left the house much. They even stopped going to school. There was not enough food to carry to school. They did not have enough strength to play anymore. It was very difficult for hungry children to learn, worse still, impossible for children who did not eat enough, to walk to school. Why would anyone think, this one child, was playing?

Ignorance

Mama Sikovia, through the crack of the door, saw the crowd of people disappear. People cannot give forever; they get tired eventually. The dogs turned. “The dogs are back,” She whispered. Sikovia closed the door. Mama Sikovia closed her eyes. ‘Where is Millicent?’ she wondered…. ‘and Fabirisina?’ What she did not know was, they both thought…. Or should I say, they decided to think, she had moved to another village to stay with her relatives. None of them confirmed. It was easier to think that the relatives were helping.

It’s not the job of government to help the poor….
The church is the mechanism that God put on earth to help the poor….

~ Rich Mullins ~
Concern

Two hours later, someone opened the door slowly and peeped. “My God!” she whispered as she pushed the door wider and rushed towards Mama Sikovia. The door hit Sikovia lightly as she jumped back. Sofia tripped and almost fell on Mama. Sikovia stared at the two women. Sofia knelt beside Mama and touched her forehead gently. Mama opened her eyes and closed them again slowly.

God has a guardian angel for everyone….
we only have to be patient and wait….
If you have faith in God, everything will be alright…

~ Berina Ogega ~    

Sofia rushed out and ran towards Millicent’s hut. She knocked urgently. She was still knocking when an impatient Millicent opened the door. The last knock was on Millicent’s face.

“What is….?” She stopped when she saw the panic on Sofia’s face.

“Give me water!” she entered the hut, looking around. “Mama Sikovia!” she said pointing.

Millicent froze in her tracks. “Mama Sikovia! Mama Sikovia is around?”

If you can’t feed a hundred people….
then feed just one.

~ Mother Teresa ~

Sofia found a cup and fetched some water from the pot. Millicent ran after her with a bottle of milk. They turned Mama over, lifted her to a half sitting position and supported her head. The rays of light from the door fell on her eyes. She whimpered and shut them. Millicent closed the door and opened the window. The house smelt stale. Using a spoon, they fed her with the water and milk alternately. If Sofia was able to save the whole village, she would.

The images of Millicent’s dead cow flashed through her owner’s mind. ‘I should have slaughtered that cow!’ she muttered to herself. She wanted to cry.

“The dogs were tagging at my bag, the one with the meat,” Sofia began. “They came out of nowhere. I lifted the bag up and attempted to kick them. My son bent to pick a stone,” she lifted the spoon up to Mama’s mouth. “They ran back here. After reaching home, my son and I decided to come back and catch the dogs, for a meal, that is when I decided to check what they were barking at, and I saw you.”

Millicent shook her head. She had not imagined the extent to which hunger had hit the villagers. She was anti-social. The food that her husband brought from the city, plus, the relief food, she was fine.

“Where are the dogs now?” Mama Sikovia asked.

“You don’t want to know,” Sofia stood as she heard footsteps approaching the hut.

There are ways to get there….
If you care enough for the living….
Make a little space….
Make a better place….

Heal the world….

Make it a better place….
For you and for me and the entire human race….
There are people dying….
If you care enough for the living….
Make a better place….
For you and for me….

And the dream we were conceived in….
Will reveal a joyful face….
And the world we once believed in….
Will shine again in grace

~ Michael Jackson ~
Care

At the door was Sofia’s son, the medicine man, and the donkey.

Millicent and Sofia wiped Mama Sikovia clean as the rest waited outside. Mama Sikovia was placed on the donkey. Sikovia cried.

“I will be back,” she assured her daughter. “I am going to bring Baba,” The word Baba was the sun that lit the little girl’s heart. She sniffed and wiped the tears with the back of her hand. Sofia locked the house and carried Sikovia. Millicent gave the remaining milk to Sikovia and looked at Mama as they faded away. She did not know what to say. She smiled at Sofia, turned and walked slowly to her hut.

Compassion

A happy Sikovia opened the bottle of milk and took a sip as they walked towards Sofia’s home. There, she would join her temporary brother, Simon and many lucky children.

Across the world millions of children suffer from starvation and malnutrition….
This is caused by mismanagement and corruption….
There is also lack of accountability in government programs….
Half of the families in the society experience struggle to find food….
And also experience chronic hunger….
Sometimes paying the bills must come before buying food.

~ Aljazeera English ~

~ You Tube ~    

Lights will guide you home….
And ignite your bones….
And I will try to fix you

~ Coldplay ~

PART IX

When Baba heard from the other patients that the relief food had been delivered to the village, he was relieved and knew his family was not going to die. He was stronger now and had added weight. The meals in the hospital that were supplied by donors were excellent. Every patient that was discharged was given a bag of the excellent food to carry home. Baba longed to go home. He wished to take this sweet food to his family. He thought, staring at the mabati (iron sheets), his hands at the back of his head.

It took all his will not to cry out loud when Mama was brought in. Men don’t cry you know. Men who cry, are weak, they said. Tears welled up his eyes. He kept very still, for he knew, any movement, would get them running down the side of his face to the ear. It was taboo, that is what they were told, during the thousand meetings held in the village. Initiation, from babies, then boys, then men. An invisible knife cut deep through his heart. Did Sikovia die? His heart bled.

The tears dried up. He closed his eyes. He imagined Sikovia wrapped in a sheet of cloth, Mama burying her, alone, in a shallow grave. He turned slowly and looked at Mama who seemed asleep. He was a little relieved, it would give him time to grieve before he got courage to ask about Sikovia. Brave enough to listen to how her daughter suffered before she let her soul free.

“We got a spare bed!” one of the nurses shouted. “Someone has been discharged.”

Mama was wheeled away. Baba sighed. Mama was alive. They had each other.

Two days later, a weak Mama opened her eyes, looked around and asked for Baba.

Baba had seen patients die as soon as they arrived at the hospital. Others died a few days after because their body organs had failed and could not digest or absorb any food. So when the nurse came in and walked towards his bed, he almost told her not to give him the news, but a man has to be brave, is it not? He breathed in deeply and held his breathe….

“Your wife wants to see you,” the nurse whispered. Baba was speechless. He nodded, sat and stared hard at the floor. He walked to his wife and sat by her side, she was on the drip.

“How are you?” he spoke softly. “I am so sorry,” he said.

“It is alright,” Mama smiled weakly, “we were saved.”

So many questions ran through Baba’s mind. ‘Who was saved? His wife and his daughter or his wife and the villagers?’ He opened his mouth to ask, but words failed him. His head dropped.

Mama wondered why Baba was miserable. Then it hit her. She placed her hand on Baba’s.

“Shhhh, I know,” Baba said looking away.

“Sikovia is fine,” Baba’s heart missed a beat. “She is with Sofia.”

Baba, forgetting that he was still a patient, rushed out of the ward and ran towards the gate. The gate was locked. He shook it vigorously shouting “My daughter is alive. Open the gate!” Tears rolled down his cheeks, he did not care. If a man is not allowed to express his feelings, then he must be an animal.

Thinking that the daughter was standing outside the gate, the guards decided to open. There was no one. “This man is hallucinating,” the confused guards whispered. “He is mad.”

Baba continued shaking the gate. Then rushed to the small office and quickly told his story. They were amazed. In spite of their fatigue, they found this funny. They laughed, asked Baba to calm down and sent him to get the discharge sheet. Baba ran to the ward and was informed he had two days to go. After pacing up and down outside the ward for about an hour, he calmed down. He entered Mama’s ward and sat beside her.

More than 50 hours later, Baba was riding on a donkey to the village. He passed outside his house, it was okay. Dark clouds were gathering up in the sky. ‘It should rain already,’ Baba thought, as the donkey trotted towards Sofia’s house.

PART X

Sikovia was throwing pieces of paper and small sticks into the fire when Sofia entered the hut with a sufuria of water and beans. The house was full of smoke from the smoldering paper and sticks.

“Sikovia,” Sofia startled her. She turned rubbing her eyes, coughing. “That is bad.”

Sikovia walked out for fresh air. She took a deep breath and rubbed her tearing eyes. She had not tickled Simon that day. “Where is Simon?” she murmured looking around. At first Sikovia did not recognize Baba. Then it was Baba. She jumped up and down with joy and ran.

Euphoria

“Baba!” heads turned.

An excited Baba lifted Sikovia, threw her up into the air, then caught her. He held her tight and swung her round until they were both a little bit dizzy. He looked around and notice Sikovia was not alone. He waved hallo to all the children, they waved back. Baba was here, the young ones longed for their parents. Some would never come back.

Sofia placed the beans on the fire and went to see what the screaming was about. She was very happy to see Baba. Baba was kind to everyone, always kind. Everyone loved him. They shook hands.

“Come with me,” Baba said. Sofia locked the door of the hut and followed Baba to where he had left the donkey. Baba opened the bag of food and gave a packed of biscuits to the medicine man then gave Sofia the rest of the food. The medicine man left.

With Sikovia following him around, Baba took another packet of biscuits and fed the children. He watched Mama Sikovia cook as he played with the young ones. He ate and left. He visited and helped Sofia with the chores, every day. He brought with him all the relief food, until Mama came home.

I know what you are thinking. No, nothing happened between Baba and Sofia. Baba and Sofia were good people.

We were created with a purpose, that is why we are alive. That is why the human race still exists. Suffering will come, but God will never let us suffer forever. He is a God of love…. and that is why the rains came.

Blessings
12 “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” 13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.  14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’” ~ 1 Kings 17: 12-16 ~  

THE END

Art by: Berina Ogega

Editor: behance.net/KenOmollo

GUEST POST

HUNGER AND STARVATION

Hunger is an urgent need for food or a specific nutrient. It is also the uncomfortable feeling that results from lack of food. In biological terms, hunger is a condition where the calories consumed, are less than the energy needed to perform light physical activity, and where you cannot maintain a particular weight at a certain height. When hungry, our stomach muscles become tighter which is known as hunger pangs. These contractions are triggered by a hormone known as ghrelin hormone, which causes an empty sensation in the stomach.

Acute hunger, is when you are underfed over a certain period of time. It is the most extreme form and arises as a result of crises like drought, wars and disasters.

Persistent hunger refers to long-term undernourishment where the body absorbs less food than it needs. Usually as a result of poverty.

Hidden hunger is a form of persistent hunger that results from an unbalanced diet. The consequences are visible over a long period of time. It can lead to serious diseases such as marasmus and kwashiorkor, poor physical and mental development and even death.

Marasmus is a condition affecting children that is caused by a diet lacking mainly in calories.

Kwashiorkor also affects children and is as a result of a protein-poor diet. It is characterized by progress in growth. 

Malnutrition results from shortages, excesses or imbalances in the consumption of nutrients in food.

Food insecurity occurs when people are at risk or worried about not being able to meet their preferred food in terms of calories as well as nutritional value.

Reasons why you are always hungry

  • Not eating enough protein.
  • Not sleeping enough.
  • Consumption of too many refined carbs.
  • Diet is low in fat.
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Diet lacks fibre.
  • Eating while distracted.
  • Lots of exercise.
  • Drinking too much alcohol.
  • Stress.
  • Medications.
  • Dieting.
  • Menopause.

Appetite stimulants are medications or supplements that increase appetite by increasing hunger. This might be their medical purpose or a side effect. These medications are useful to cancer patients, those with psychological disorders and the aging who may be suffering from weight loss to increase their appetite.

Menopause results in hormonal imbalances in the body. Ghrelin hormone which creates a feeling of hunger and leptin hormone which makes people feel full, are affected. If more ghrelin hormone is produced, individuals tend to be in a constant state of hunger.

Stress, which can be physical or psychological, increases appetite. This is because stress increases cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol is a hormone which controls hunger and food cravings for specific foods such as sweets.

Starvation.

Poverty is one of the leading causes of starvation as individuals lack enough money to buy food as well as to acquire possessions such as land or the farming materials needed to produce their own food.

Starvation is the result of a severe or total lack of nutrients needed for sustaining life. The basic cause of starvation is an imbalance between energy intake and energy use by the body.

Starvation mode is a situation where body reactions slow down because a person is not eating enough or is not getting enough energy from the food eaten. It is a brain system that protects an individual against starvation.

Refeeding syndrome is a condition that develops when someone who is starved or severely malnourished begins to eat again. This is because of the sudden reintroduction of glucose or sugar into the body. It can cause death due to abnormal heart rhythms leading to heart failure. Other risks of the syndrome include confusion, coma and convulsions/seizures.

During treatment for starvation, victims should be given small sips of water mixed with glucose at regular intervals. Fruit juices are also recommended. Later, food can be given gradually in small quantities. They should also get plenty of rest and be kept warm.

Medical causes

Starvation can be a result of medical causes as well as circumstance.

.

 Medical causes include conditions like anorexia nervosa, which is an intense fear of gaining weight and the way in which they regard weight, where an individual eats food that is too little to get enough nutrients from.

Bulimia nervosa where an individual overeats then proceeds to force himself or herself to vomit preventing the body from absorbing enough nutrients.

Comas also cause starvation as patients are fed intravenously (through an IV tube) and this may limit the quantity of nutrients they get compared to when they consume food.

Gastrointestinal, diseases of the digestive passage, may cause damage therefore preventing some nutrients from being absorbed, gradually causing malnutrition.

Strike and Fasting.

Circumstantial causes may be intentional or natural. An individual may go on a hunger strike or fast excessively hence intentionally starve themselves.

Natural causes

These include famine and drought caused by climate changes resulting in an inadequate amount of food being harvested from the fields. This prevents people from getting enough food to survive causing them to starve to death.

Floods cause poor harvests as crops die from taking in too much water as well as from being uprooted by moving water. Floods may also cause landslides which carry away planted crops and cover others which were planted, hence destroying them.

War

Another cause of starvation is war. Wars cause fear hence preventing people from cultivating their fields to produce food or transfer any produced food to the market to be sold. This results in food becoming scarce. People may also be displaced from their homes becoming refugees who have to depend on the goodwill of others for their survival. Unlimited security during times of war may cause market instability causing food prices to be very high.

Symptoms and effects of starvation

Inanition refers to the symptoms and effects of starvation. These include:

  • Catabolysis is the process of the body breaking down its own muscles and other tissues, in order to keep vital systems such as the nervous system and heart muscles functioning.
  • Loss of weight as a result of reduction in muscle mass resulting in fatigue, faintness, dizziness and feeling sluggish.
  • Vital organs such as the heart and lungs shrink slowing down the heart rate and causing low blood pressure. There is also bone density loss resulting in fragile bones which can break easily.
  • Atrophy (wasting away) of the stomach which weakens the feeling of hunger. Hunger is controlled by the small volume of the stomach, causing one to feel less and less hungry as time passes.
  • Decreased ability to digest food because of lack of digestive acid production, may cause chronic diarrhoea and constipation resulting in discomfort and pain.
  • Individuals may have anaemia due to low iron content in the body. This leads to reduced oxygen flow to body organs thereby causing fatigue.
  • Poor immunity due to lack of vitamins and minerals of inadequate of the same, which are important in the production of antibodies to fight illnesses. This increases chances of becoming ill higher.
  • Victims of starvation are often too weak to sense thirst and therefore become dehydrated. This results in wasting away of muscles and dry, cracked skin which causes movement to be painful.
  • Fluid may accumulate in body tissues and cavities as a result of protein deficiency. This causes some parts of the body to swell.
  • In females, menstruation stops due to low production of the o estrogen hormone, and a low body fat percentage. It can also cause infertility and miscarriage.

Psychological effects of starvation

  • People may exhibit apathy which is the lack of interest, motivation or concern for themselves or those around them. They may neglect themselves in ways such as not caring about their appearance and hygiene.
  • Individuals may become withdrawn and isolated from other members of society either from the lack of energy to interact with others or from feeling judged or ashamed of their situation.
  • Hunger causes irritability where people become sensitive to noise and other petty irritations making them aggressive and argumentative. There is also difficulty in mental concentration since the victims become obsessed with thoughts of food.
  • Hunger decreases self-consciousness and increases the act of doing something without thinking twice, hence increasing the willingness to take risks and make poor decisions. People may steal or become violent as they become more desperate to get food by any means. Eventually the personality becomes so morally corrupted that mothers may go so far as to steal from their children.
  • Parents may become moody and depressed when unable to provide for their children. The children in turn become less social, have lower concentration levels and more behavioural issues and experience sleeping and eating disorders. Maternal depression during pregnancy impacts the physical and mental development of the child.
  • Poor mood can result from poor eating habits. The drop in mood can then lead to a loss of appetite causing a vicious cycle. The person can be in a constant state of moodiness.
  • In the final stages of starvation, just before death, adults may experience mental disorders such as hallucinations, anxiety, trauma, stress and dementia.

Starvation can be prevented by:

  • Poverty reduction through creation of employment opportunities, ensuring more people are earning an income to enable them buy food.
  • Political stability reduces chances of war. War prevents food production and creates unstable markets causing high food prices.
  • Providing food aid to hunger-stricken areas through donations and fundraisers as well as establishing soup kitchens and food banks to feed the hungry.

It is an eternal obligation towards the human being, not to let him suffer from hunger when one has the chance of coming to his assistance.

~ Simon Weil ~

Article by: Tracy Moraa

Bachelor of Arts (Psychology)

References:-

https://en.wikipedia.org, https://www.healthline.com, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com

Remember to feed me (1)

PART I

Desperate

The sun rose from behind the hills, the rays harshly burning the ground. The ground was dry and dusty, bringing with it a feeling of hopelessness. It was only a few hours into the morning, but it felt like mid-day. Mama Sikovia could see the rays of heat rising from the ground into the atmosphere. She remembered how she used to walk around the compound barefoot, but that was no more. The ground was hot. Each step she took raised a small cloud of dust into the air. It choked a little, she coughed a little. Some dust settled on her face and some on her clothes. She was used to it. She kept her hair covered. Everybody kept their hair covered.

 There was nothing in the granary, but she walked to it and peeped through the window every day…. as if miracles still happened. She hoped a kind neighbour would suddenly think of her, and surprise her with maize, only maize. She could not borrow. Villagers talked, you know, and were rude sometimes. Others did not bother to hide how relieved they were, that some people were worse than they.

She knew things were going to be bad when the rains failed, but she had not imagined it would take this long. Each day that passed she grew thinner, as she sank deeper into despair.

“Mama what are you looking at?” Her four-year-old Sikovia, was curious. The last time she was there, the granary was empty. “What is there?” she raised her hands up to Mama. Mama lifted her and helped her look into the granary. “There is no maize,” the sweet little girl said, looking at Mama.

“Yes.” Mama said and knew it was useless to explain. She placed Sikovia carefully on the ground. Sikovia took her hand and pulled her towards the shamba. “There is nothing in the shamba,” mama said softly.

“There is,” Sikovia said pulling harder.

“We were there yesterday,” Mama was reluctant, she dragged her feet.

“The maize has grown,” Sikovia insisted. She thought maize grew overnight, because Mama used to get maize from the shamba all the time. What she did not know is, the stream that enabled Mama to harvest throughout the year had dried out.

Children dying for causes they don’t understand….
We’ve been taking their futures right out of their hands….
They need the handouts to hold back the tears….
There’s so many crying but so few that hear

If there’s a God in heaven…. Well, what’s he waiting for….

~ Elton John ~  

They stopped. Mama remembered the time she peeped through the window and saw some neighbours pointing at the shamba, speaking in low tones, shaking their heads. Later, she learnt from a friend that they were saying how foolish she was not to do animal farming instead of plant. That was before they knew the drought would last this long and many animals would die.

Hopeless

Sikovia tugged at her Mama’s hand, jolting Mama’s memory back to present. There was no maize, Sikovia realized. Mama stepped into the shamba and uprooted an almost dry maize plant. She removed the leaves and broke the stalk into two. She peeled the cover from the stem and chewed the soft inner part of the stem. She gave Sikovia the other. Footsteps approached from behind. They turned, Mama frowned.

“Hm…. How times change!” Her neighbour, Aholibah mocked with a smirk on her face. “No one would believe you were the best farmer in the land,” Mama Sikovia pulled her daughter close, attempting to cover her ears by placing one side of her head on the thigh and covering the other with her dusty hand.

“You have finished all your human food, now you want to finish the cow’s.” Aholibah laughed Sarcastically.

“You know, I cannot do what you do, Aholibah.” Aholibah clicked her tongue and sneered.

“You cannot do it, because you are not as beautiful as I am.” Aholibah said, then spat. She slept with anybody for food. She hated Mama, because Mama’s husband was very hard to get. She walked away, swinging her hips.

‘If Aholibah’s words came out of her mouth, as a gush of water,” Mama thought as she removed her hand slowly from Sikovia’s ear. ‘the whole village and the neighbouring one would be green. There would be many rivers and a lot of fish. Villagers would sail and swim too.’

Mama did not want to think much about Aholibah’s disrespect and unkindness. She knew she was not finishing food for any animals. She always allowed the villagers to cut the stalks for their herds, a little at a time, so that they would be enough for everyone. She exchanged this for a little food and water, but the quantity of the food reduced, as days went by.

Aholibah was just one thorn in the bush, some of the villagers were kind, they gave out excess food, the rest who were unkind, gave out food which they could not bear to eat. Some of it stale, some of it rotten. No one complained because they were hungry and did not wish to die.

PART II

In some cases, dogs will eat you because they’re just really hungry.

A middle-aged woman had been eaten by not one but two dogs.
And the worst part…. The dogs consumed her entire body…. The only things left of the poor woman were small bone fragments, a piece of her skull, and some hair. The woman had been dead for a whole month before she was found. Officers at the scene arrived to find two bags full of dog food that had been ripped open and eaten. They had run out of their normal food, so they had to look elsewhere.

“The dogs appeared healthy,” she said.

~ Science Direct ~

~ Rando ~
Fear

The village was silent, except for the dogs that growled, then barked. Sikovia opened the door some inches and peeped. The dogs growled louder. Their ribs more visible than they were the past week. The last time she peeped, which was the day before the previous, someone gave her a box of biscuits. On this day she was disappointed, nobody brought biscuits. What she did not know was, many people were afraid of dogs…. no one would approach the house with the animals at their door…. or…. Were they grateful the dogs were there and that would be a good excuse for not sharing their food?

Mama, who was very afraid of dogs, lay on the bed. She raised her head slowly. “Sikovia! Get away from the door!” she ordered. Sikovia who was four years old, had realized that Mama was not about to get up and pinch her little thighs and arms. Mama did not want to get up anymore. The little girl closed the door slowly, and stood still.

You cannot tell a hungry child that you gave him food yesterday. ~ Zimbabwean Proverb ~

“I am hungry,” she said in a small voice.

“Those dogs barking,” Mama rose and supported her body by leaning on her elbow. “Those dogs have taken our good luck away. Nobody will be brave enough to come here.” …. But…. Mama knew, it was not everybody who was afraid of dogs, they just did not want to share their food. The last time Mama saw the dogs, they were thin, nobody fed them, she could count the ribs and she knew they were here to eat her, and her daughter.

“Why don’t you throw a stone, like the other day?” Sikovia walked a few steps towards Mama.

“We have no more stones,” Mama explained.

“And those,” Sikovia pointed towards the fireplace.

“Those are our cooking stones,” Mama struggled to breath, “we will not be able to cook with one stone less…. furthermore, they are too heavy for me to carry…. and we do not want to kill the dogs, do we?” Of course she wanted to kill the dogs.

There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread….

To a hungry man…. a piece of bread is the face of God.

~ Mahatma Gandhi ~

PART III

Charity

The last time the chief and sub-chiefs delivered relief food, Mama was very weak and knew she could not walk all the way to the chief’s camp. She was sure the villager, who gave her daughter the biscuits, did not know she was in the house, maybe he would have given Sikovia two.

Mama slumped down onto the bed and looked at her arms, then at her daughter. “We are too thin,” she mattered to herself, “even if the dogs managed to come into the house, there would not be any meat on us to eat, they are just wasting their barks out there” …. she was thoughtful…. “but dogs love bones too.” They scratched the wooden door, Sikovia ran and climbed onto the bed. Mama wished she could breastfeed Sikovia, but the milk stopped coming, several weeks back. She stared at the grass thatched roof. She pulled the blanket up to the neck. She felt colder every day, especially at night and in the morning because there was not enough food to generate heat in the body. Neither was there any activity. Days were useless with nothing to look forward to.

Mama remembered the day she fainted on the queue, the day of relief food. She was very hungry. she begged the people in the queue to let her pass, but….

“Are you pregnant?” Mama shook her head.

“Are you sick?” no, Mama answered.

“Are you old?” she fainted before she could respond.

The day hunger disappears…. The world will see the greatest spiritual explosion humanity has ever seen.

~ Federico Garcia Lorca ~

When she came to, her friend Fabirisina was towering over her, very impatient. All the other villagers had left her. She had only remained behind because one of the villagers had told her, it would be a shame to leave her friend there, in that state. Fabirisina helped her into a sitting position and gave her a sip of water, then a biscuit. Nobody remembered to get any food for her. When Mama was sure she was strong enough to walk, she got up, and they walked home.

At her door, Fabirisina gave her a one-kilogram tin of maize and said good bye. Mama walked a small distance to the bush and collected a little firewood. The only thing that was abundant. Firewood everywhere, but no food or drink to place on it. Oh! ….and vultures, vultures were everywhere. Mama thought of trapping some, but changed her mind. She was sure some had fed on dead humans.

Something moved behind her. She turned. Dogs! They did not attack. They were afraid of the sticks she was carrying, but they followed her home.

She reached for the keys she had tied to the corner of her leso, opened the door and found Sikovia still asleep. She placed the maize on the floor and walked out.

She stood outside Millicent’s hut. The next door neighbour. “Please give me a little water,” she begged. Millicent looked at her for a long time, then brought her a five litre Jerry can of water.

“Thank you,” she took the water. “May the stars shine upon you.”

“Why are you carrying that stone?” Millicent was curious. “You scared me, you know…. this hunger comes with a temper.”

Mama was startled, her eyes wide. “I have two stray dogs that have refused to leave my compound.”

“It is because of the meat,” Millicent said nodding trying to sound very knowledgeable.

Mama almost told her that she did not get any meat, but changed her mind. She walked away slowly. Millicent shook her head.

As she ate the maize, almost in tears, she longed for the meat and beans. She missed Baba. Baba always came home from work with meat.

“This maize is hard,” Sikovia complained pushing the food from one side of the plate to the other. “Where are the biscuits?” Sikovia looked around.

“Here,” Mama handed a cup of water to her, “We were given maize only,” Mama lied. “Next time I will come back with better food.” Sikovia nodded and sipped the water.

They tell us every thing’s alright….
And we just go along….
How can we fall asleep at night when something’s clearly wrong….
When we could feed a starving world with what we throw away….
But all we serve are empty words that always taste the same….


We must stand together….
There’s no getting even….
Hand in hand forever….
That’s when we all win….

~ Together we stand ~

~ Nickleback ~  

Mama started to eat very little. She wanted her sweet little daughter to have food the longest time possible. Days before…. before most of the strength left Mama’s body, she walked to Millicent’s hut.

PART IV

A parent’s love

She knocked on the door, softly. There was a lot of commotion in the house. Mama knew they were hiding food. Millicent opened the door.

“Sorry for bothering you again,” she began.

“Yes,” Millicent nodded.

“That cow over there,” she continued.

“Yes?” Millicent responded.

“I do not mean to be cruel,” Millicent nodded. “Do you think it has long to live?” with her eyes wide open, Millicent shrugged. “Why don’t you slaughter it for food before it dies?” Mama Sikovia was very hungry, her thoughts were not very clear and she longed to eat meat.

“The cow will not be slaughtered, my friend.” Millicent smiled, not from her heart. “Where have you been?” She placed her hand on Mama’s shoulder. “The villagers have been slaughtering dogs in secret,” she paused, hoping Mama got the point she was trying to put across. “and who knows?” she continued. “We might slaughter the cow today, and the rain comes tomorrow,” Mama was silent. “You have not suffered yet. You should thank God that you are still alive. People have died, you know. You are very lucky.” Mama smiled and nodded. With her head bent low and heart heavy, she walked away. ‘My Sikovia is going to die,’ She wrung her hands.

The day each family keeps aside food to feed one hungry person or animal or bird everyday….

Nobody will go hungry in this world….
There is enough food to feed every hungry stomach….
Mankind just does not have the heart for it….

~ Ruzbeh Bharucha ~

The cow died two days later. The rain that the villagers were waiting for, did not fall. It was not the only animal that had died, sheep died, goats died, chicken died…. as people watched…. dogs died and cats died…. humans died. Mama had no desire for meat from dead animals. Even if she wished to eat this meat, it was too late. There was no meat left on the animals.

It was a stinking village. A village with little life left. Everybody walked alone most of the time. They bitterly realized no one was spared. They were scared. There was nothing to talk about, nothing to discuss anymore. What use was it to speak, when there was no solution. The poor did not want to be the centre of gossip. The rich, feared a conversation would result in begging for food. They imagined poor villagers were everywhere on the road, waiting for the ones coming from the city with food.  Some of those who came with food had to pass through the bushes to avoid the beggars.

Misery and loneliness chewed into everyone’s brains, their hearts, and bones. The ones who stopped to say hallo to the other, seemed impatient, always looking around, as if expecting to see an animal to hunt, or a fruit dropping from a tree. Everybody was restless.

Starvation is the characteristic of some people not having enough food to eat….

It is not the characteristic of there not being enough food to eat….

~ Amartya Sen ~

PART V

A month earlier, Baba came home. He could not work well at the village blacksmith’s little shop because his stomach was never full. His employer was concerned.

“Baba Sikovia,” he looked up, tired, but trying very hard to be strong.

“Yes, Baba Neema,” He stopped polishing the metal and stood.

“I am sorry, I have to let you go for a while,” the boss was sad. “We do not have enough food for everybody anymore, I will send you home to rest. I will call you when the rains fall. Baba’s heart skipped a beat. ‘What would he and his family eat?

Baba Neema took a wad of notes from his pocket and gave them to Baba. He entered the house and brought a small sack of food and gave it to him. Baba Sikovia nodded.

“I wish you well, my friend” his boss smiled.

“I will be back, and thank you for being kind,” with his head hanging low, he walked away.

Sacrifice

He brought food home with him. Food he was given and food he bought. Although Mama Sikovia cooked good food for him, he was worried about his family. He ate very slowly. When Mama was not looking he would pour half of his food back into the pot, so that food does not run out soon for his wife and child. Baba was very hungry most of the time, but he kept a straight face, and even smiled sometimes, in spite of the fangs of hunger that bit into his stomach muscles. He did not wish to worry Mama.

Poverty is not an accident….
Like slavery and apartheid….
It is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings….

~ Nelson Mandela ~

He looked around the house. The clothes were dirty. The utensils were dirty. Taking a full bath was a luxury. Baba Sikovia had used most of his remaining money on water, the money was very little and then finished. There was no water anymore. He went into depression, food lost its taste. He ate less every day. Soon his muscles were getting thinner. The body used up its fat, and started getting energy from the organs. Baba tried to buy food with the little money that was left, but the ones who got food from the urban areas were not willing to sell anymore. They always spoke of ‘tomorrow’. “We are saving for tomorrow.” The ones who had food in the shamba sold it at a very high price. Those who were greedy for money, sold all the food, forgetting that soon the money would be useless with no food to buy. Eventually Baba’s body was at its weakest and the brain was very tired. His breathing was so slow, barely visible.

The interesting thing is….
While we die of diseases of affluence from eating all these fatty meats….

Our poor brethren in the developing world die of disease of poverty because….
The land is not used now, to grow food grain for their families….

~ Jeremy Rifkin ~

~ American Economist ~
Emaciated

Everything was turning to dust. Mama thought Baba was also going to die. He was very sick; no one knew where. He shivered with fever. He felt cold, firewood was added onto the fire, he felt warm, windows were opened. He lay on the bed most of the day. The medicine man was called, got him some herbs, but the herbs did not help a starving Baba. Baba needed to eat to get well. It is when he closed his eyes, almost breathing his last that the medicine man took Baba on a donkey to a hospital in the neighbouring town.

Hunger is not an issue of charity….
It is an issue of justice….

~ Jacques Diouf ~

~ Former FAO Director-General ~  

PART VI

The candle in Mama died, she felt the darkness pour into her heart like soil into a grave. Baba kept her strong, Baba kept her alive, but now with Baba gone….  Her body, already longing for nourishment, had no appetite. The villagers were already troubled and worried about the famine, they did not remember to visit and keep her company. She wondered if she should really wish for someone to visit. The last time she had a conversation with someone, it left her feeling hopeless.

“Oh, sorry, I heard your husband was taken to hospital?” Aholibah wished to confirm.

“Yes, the herbs he was given did not work.” A sad Mama Sikovia stared at the ground.

“Has he left a will? You know these men of ours wait until it is too late.” Mama fidgeted uneasily. “See how Mama Daniel is suffering because her husband never left a will” Mama was speechless.

She walked into her hut, took her leso and covered her head. She cried bitterly. Sikovia climbed onto the bed and tried to uncover Mama. Mama attempted to swallow the lump in her throat three times. If she was asked to choose between her husband and wealth, she would choose her husband. She wanted her companion back. People regain wealth, but they never regain the same husbands. She sniffed and took a deep breath.

Still covered, she whispered, “Mama is feeling very sleepy” She cried silently. Sikovia caressed Mama’s head ever so lightly, like Mama did, when she was very sleepy. Mama lifted a corner of her leso, let Sikovia in and hugged her close.

She wanted to throw her hands up in the air and cry out from the bottom of her lungs. Where would she get another man like Baba? Images of him sneaking towards the pot when he thought Mama was not looking, flashed through her mind. Nothing was more painful than seeing Baba make that sacrifice. Mama knew her words of disapproval would go unheeded. So she made Baba’s gruel thicker and gave it to him more often hoping it would compensate for the food he poured back into the pot. Usually she gave him porridge two times a day, but she increased this to four. Porridge is not food, is it?

Images of how little the food was before Baba worsened brought a mild headache. One potato on the plate, ten spoonfuls of gruel in a bowl, tea with a drop of milk and then none, then no tea. Two meals a day to one. The ones with large families sometimes counted the number of grains on the plate to make sure everyone got an equal share.

The scratching on the door stopped and Mama’s mind drifted back to the present. She knew she was getting weaker every day, but it happened very fast she did not realize she had no strength left. She breathed in deeply, gathered all the strength left in her and walked slowly towards the door, pausing to take a breath with each step. Sikovia followed her.

When I dropped my crayon box in rainbow silvers on the floor….
One person stopped to help me gather rolling crayons….
Crawling on our hands and knees….
We picked up bits of green and blue….

When someone else spills their crayons….
I will stop to help them too.

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater    
Agony

She was about to open the door when she dropped to the ground. “Sorry,” Sikovia was sad. She tried to lift Mama. Mama was too heavy.

Sikovia loved to write A, B, C, D on her rough book. Every time she picked the book and asked Mama to help her practise writing, Mama stopped what she did for a moment, helped her, then went on with the house chores, stopping now and then, to correct her. Sikovia rushed to get her book and pencil, and sat beside Mama, thinking that this would miraculously get Mama up. Mama moved, only a little. The edges of Sikovia’s mouth quivered.

“It is alright,” Mama said, “when you are bigger, you will be stronger.” Mama lay her head on the ground. ‘Why did I not slaughter those dogs while I still had the chance?’ she regretted. She looked at her daughter and her heart sunk. ‘No, she was not going to let her daughter die.’

Ignorance

Many footsteps passed outside the house. Mama had forgotten what day it was, the day of relief food, though it did not matter. The villagers were back with food from the chief’s camp. She was not angry anymore that they had forgotten her. In this dry season, with no food, everyone was too troubled to think about the neighbour. Fabirisina had a large family. Mama understood that if her friend, Millicent, shared her food with her all the time, her family would not have enough…. ‘But her friends had forgotten her,’ she thought sadly as her eyes dropped. It kept creeping back to her mind…. ‘everybody had forgotten her.’

The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world.

~ Dr Paul Farmer ~

One time, she visited Millicent again and learnt that men are less tolerant to hunger than women. “You know; I must keep some for Baba Douglas” she said. “There is no peace in the house when he is hungry, and he believes that people should work hard, if they want to eat. Would you believe it if I told you that our three-year-old son also carries a small tin of food for himself?” That was the hundred time she had heard about men, boys, working hard and food. She was tired of people thinking that she did not have food because she was lazy.

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

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

GUEST POSTS

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