Shower’s Bride

Young woman reacting in shock to cold shower water
Young woman reacting in shock to hot or cold shower water as she stands under the shower head washing her hair eyes closed with her hands raised and mouth open; Shutterstock ID 245687524; PO: cold-shower-wake-up-stock-TODAY-tz-150422; Client: TODAY digital

I knew who my husband would be hours after I came out of the womb.
But as usual my parents’ thoughts were different.
Two days later they placed me in the hands of the husband they had chosen.
I liked him. I played joyfully while he held me.
He continued to visit me until I was old enough to be married. I was twelve. I moved in with him.
Today I woke up feeling fed up with this marriage.
I pulled the blanket over my head and turned to face the wall and tried to sleep.
“No.” I thought, “I cannot take it anymore”
I got out of bed and entered the bathroom.
I opened the shower.
And there he was. He wanted us to take a shower but, from the bottom of my heart, I was not in the mood.
If I made the mistake of showering then it meant I’d live with him one more day..
I walked out of the bathroom and sat on the bed.
I looked at the clothes I was supposed to wash that day and started crying.
I was tired of washing the clothes,
because he would not wear a dirty shirt,
I was tired of cleaning the house, and cleaning the utensils..
Every time I entered the house, no matter how tired I was, he had to eat from a clean plate.
To add insult to injury, all the girls wanted him because he was clean.
I stopped loving him one and a half months ago.
Now I can’t stand him.
I stood up from the bed and went to the kitchen.
He was at the sink.
I opened the tap..
“This month has been very hard for me.” I started explaining, looking at him sorrowfully, it was not easy. “It has been cold but you have not made any effort to keep me warm.”
“Why” he asked.
My husband has one problem. He never has any idea of what is happening.
“Is that why you did not take a bath this morning with me?”
he asked almost crying.
“I am the only one who does everything in this house”, I complained, “even the many children we have don’t help me at all.
I don’t need you people anymore. I’ll stop paying my bills and let you go.
I want you all, off my budget. You have become an unnecessary expense”
Tears were rolling down my cheeks. How can a mother hate her children so much and throw them out of the house?
“I want a divorce” I said wiping the tears off my face.
“Where do you want me to go?” My husband asked, his voice almost a whisper. I wanted to change my mind..
I shrugged, “I don’t know,” I answered, my hands pointing towards the door, “there are so many women out there.”
My husband did not move, he just stood there, looking confused, some of our children had already gathered in the kitchen and were crying. I did not care. I wanted them out right now. Maybe they could come back later but this time of the year…. No!
“Let us see who will win” I walked to my closet, picked up my bag and went to the offices to file a divorce.

It was very cold outside. This made me even more determined to send my husband and kids away.
I did not want to touch water and yesterday was the last day.
I entered the water offices, my vision blurred by tears. I wiped the them with the back of my hand and continued to fill the forms. I could feel all the eyes of the staff on me. I looked back, as I handed over the forms to the person at the counter, and smiled at them. The person gave me a copy and I immediately ran home because I was afraid my husband, Maji Baridi (cold water) might leave before I said goodbye.
I pushed the door open and ran into the bathroom. Maji was not there.
I rushed to the kitchen..
Aaaaaaaaaah” I cried, “let me give you one last kiss..”
I had made the mistake of leaving the tap open when I went out. Maji was gone.
I ignored the cries of the children and rushed outside to the drainage.
I was relieved to see Maji walking away very slowly, his head hanging low.
“Bye bye Maji, I hope you understand.
You may send someone to come and collect your children, you will find them outside.”
I picked up my children,
my firstborn, Soap,
my second born, Scouring pad,
my third born, Jik,
the rest, Scrubbing brush,
Mop and
my second from last born, Toothbrush, cried at the top of his voice and begged to remain, but I explained to him,
“Baby you cannot stay. You cannot live here without your father….you see……even your sister mouth wash and brother towel are going”, into the paper-bag they went.
I kissed them and placed them 17 metres away from the house.
I took my last-born the face-towel and walked back with her into the house.
I went to bed and slept for two days..
I was the happiest woman now that Maji and the kids were gone.
On the third day I heard a knock on my door.
I peeped through the keyhole to see who it is before I opened, because I could not even begin to picture Maji Baridi entering the house.
You remember the husband I told you I knew would be mine hours after I came out of the womb?
He was standing there outside my door.
I quickly opened the door and hugged Mr. Jasho(sweat).
I never knew I loved Jasho like I loved him now, I thought.
“Come in”
I smiled, behind him was his only son, Roll on.
I knew my life was going to be perfect.

The Wife The Bad and The Rowdy


I watched Sospeter as he tried to fix the Polythene paper to the roof.. It was leaking and the only pail that we had for trapping the water was broken.. Sospeter had accidentally kicked it.

‘So this is where we are…’ I thought. ‘The invisible line that the world suddenly draws and people are divided into.. young mothers and mature mothers. The poor and the rich.. The terminally ill and the healthy. The mad, depressed ones and the happy ones. The ones who’ve been disabled by accidents, and the lucky ones’.

My line was drawn. I was the poor young mother and wife. Since I started living with Sospeter there was no help. I had cut each of my lesos into four pieces to use as Napkins. The pampers were over. The little ones that my relatives were sending from town stopped coming. That is how it is. Once you start living with a man a magic wand is placed in your hand and walah! Aladdin’s lamp! Your problems are over, the world concludes, even when the man walks around in worn out clothes.

I finished wrapping the baby and turned to watch my husband. He had finished fixing the roof.

“I got another house.” he said picking the tools from the stool, “we are moving.”

I felt my blood rush from my hands to my legs. The baby slipped from my hands and down she went. Sospeter dropped the tools and dived to the floor stretched his hands forward and catch!!! The baby was safe.

Yes. That is my Sospeter. He saves everything. Do you remember seeing a whale on TV that had been swept by the waves to the shore? Sospeter boarded a plane all the way to that country to help push it back into the ocean. [ The last sentence is a lie]

So that is why this seventeen year old, tall, slim, size 12 girl, from the other side of the village wanted to stay with Sospeter. To save her. “My parents are boring and old,” she had complained to my Sospeter.

I was silent as I sat on the bed. Sospeter handed the baby over to me. “We are moving to the new house tomorrow” he went on, “The girl has refused to go…. if she sees you with my baby she will believe what I have been telling her…..” he moved closer to me, bent, placed his hands on my knees, looked into my eyes and added “…that I am married.”

I caressed his arm lightly, “I am okay.” I assured him.

The next day we packed our belongings on a cart fastened to a bull. I came out of the house and spread a bed sheet on the bull’s back, picked the baby and waited for Sospeter to come and help push me up onto the bull.

“Berina…” I turned to look at Sospeter who was climbing onto the cart, “….come. This is where you are supposed to sit.” I could see he was trying very hard not to laugh, “you can not ride that. It will kill you.” I handed the baby over to him. “You may laugh,” I said smiling.

We arrived at our new house. Miss universe, in a very short skirt, was sitting on the steps of the house. She went in when she saw us. Sospeter left us and followed her. I climbed down the cart and stood under a tree a few metres away from the house.

‘I am dying today,’ I thought, ‘she might come out of that house with anything. Hot water, a metal rod, a knife, a bottle, a stone, a spear. The farther I stand the safer.’

“What are you still doing here?” I could hear the anger in Sospeter’s voice. The girl’s voice was low. I could not understand what she was saying. “We can’t all stay here. That is my family. I respect that.” Sospeter shouted.

He pushed the lady out of the house. She staggered, almost fell. She gained balance and looked at me. I was afraid. I held my baby tight. She turned to look at Sospeter.

“You stupid dog!” she shouted, “you will not stay in that house. I am the one who chose the colour on those walls!” she screamed. “The design on those windows is mine! That house would not have been a house if I did not help you!”

She rushed to the cart, picked a Jembe, ran towards the house and threw it at Sospeter. Sospeter shut the door. The Jembe hit the door and fell down. A crack formed on the door from top to bottom. She picked up the Jembe and started hitting the door..

Opeeeen!” She screamed, “Open this door or I’ll kill your wife!” She turned to face me.

‘Jesus!’ I thought, ‘I am dead now.’

She dropped the Jembe. I tightened my grip around the baby. “He is choosing you over me because you have his baby.” She rushed towards me.

I don’t know how Sospeter reached where I was before this girl. He pushed her away from me and she fell backwards.

“You!” she shouted, “You rapist! You raped me! You raped me many times!” Of course this was free cinema for the villagers, “…and now you are throwing me out! For what?” she paused, stood up and wiped the tears off her eyes, “For this.” she said pointing at me over Sospeter’s shoulder.

“All the time you talked about this garbage!!” she went on, “I thought she was an angel. So you were marrying your grandmother!” The villagers turned to look at me. I almost believed I had wrinkles. I wanted to touch my face but I had to protect my baby.

Sospeter turned, grabbed the baby and ran into the house. I followed him closing the cracked door behind me.

I peeped through the crack. Miss Universe was scattering our property everywhere. I could see a few of our underwear on the trees. Then she started giving a speech bending slightly forward now and then to slap the side of her thighs, stamp her feet, lift up her dress in anger, turn around, face the crowd, then continue with the speech.

‘Our future “governor”..’ I thought, ‘I wonder what the speech is about..’.

What she did next made me call Sospeter. She was kicking the bull. [Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned] She stopped when she heard me and ran towards our door. Sospeter emerged from the bedroom with a bag full of her belongings including some tablecloths.

He opened the door and threw the bag out. It landed on the Giraffe’s….sorry….the girl’s mid section knocking her to the ground. The bag burst open, the squeezed items ‘escaping’ in all directions.

There was “Oooooh” and murmuring from the crowd. An elderly man walked towards the girl and pulled her up.

“I told you…” the gentleman told the girl, “I have told you many times. Look at how polite that woman is…” the girl was trying to wipe the mud off her dress, “A man will never leave a good woman. You embarrass me.” He held her hand. “Let us go home.”

He turned and looked at us. He nodded at Sospeter. Sospeter nodded back and closed the door.

The baby was crying, she was hungry.

African Grace


My husband does not drink water before getting to bed. He says that the people who take alcohol and roast meat are the ones who are attacked by the heart. I am afraid of having a heart attack so I make sure to take a glass of water before getting to bed. That is why I have these nightmares quite often, of looking for a toilet  which I never find. Last night I found the toilet in my dream, and as I was about to…

I suddenly woke up to find myself squatting on the bed, a few more seconds, and I would be over with my business. Thank goodness! Everyone has an angel who wakes them up. “Berina! Berina! You are almost wetting the bed. Wake up!” I turned to look at my husband Sospeter who was fast asleep. He was lucky, I thought, there is no time he has ever stood on the bed in his sleep because he dreamt that he was about to…

I got out of bed to warm some water for milking the cow [it has to be milking the cow, that is how we are taught in school, we cannot say milking and stop there, we must add, the cow, which makes me wonder if there are other animals that are milked] I carried the little pail with warm water to our milkman, Nebuchadnezzar.

Nebby! Nebby!”I called out.. “Nebby! Where are you?” I could not enter the milkman’s house, you know what would happen if Sospeter found me coming out of there. I turned to get Sospeter, but he was standing there, two metres away from me. His right hand on his waist, moving his hips from the left to the right and back again, his head slightly bent to the left, sneering. He mimicked, “NebbyNebby…” sounding like a cat. “When did you start calling him Nebby! Why was I not called to the baptism ceremony?”

“Aaaaah.. my darling, it means nothing,” I said, “dont I call you Nebb.. sorry, Schwarz sometimes?” He clicked his tongue grabbed the bucket and rushed to Nebby’s house..

Ondieki! Ondieki!” Sospeter shouted as he entered Nebby’s wooden house. I followed him. Ondieki was not in. He walked to the latrine, me following him closely. No one was there. Sospeter gave up on the search, walked towards the cowshed and started milking the cow.

I watched Sospeter milk, his face filled with anger. I felt sorry for the cow because I could imagine all the anger directed at the tits. There was a time I thought they would be pulled to the ground. Poor cow.

Milking was over with four liters in the pail. Sospeter stood up and attempted to move backwards, only to trip over the stone he was sitting on, and backward, he fell.. “Uuuu! Chini![Down]” I exclaimed as I rushed to save the milk, a quarter of a liter, the soil and the cow-dung drank the rest faithfully. The ground was thirsty. The thought of taking black tea, suppressed my laughter as I helped Sospeter up. I knew only two people were going to take white tea that morning, Sospeter and the mother.

Breakfast was served. Every cup had tea. Just as I was about to take a sip, I heard, “Let us pray.” My mother-in-law, decided to pray. I raised my head up, and looked at her, my eyes wide open, I turned my head to look at Sospeter, my eyes even wider. If eyes could pop out of the socket mine would have been on the table. I waited for Sospeter to say something… nothing!

The mother started praying… For Nebby.. For the cow.. For the fire that cooked the tea.. For the tea.. For Sospeter’s Ugali and beans.. For the kids bread and beans..

The children and I quietly started taking our breakfast. Sospeter opened his eyes, looked at us and closed them again..

She went on, for all her children, and finally Sospeter.. Blessings for Stavros, another name for Sospeter that she loved to use. She prayed for Stavros’ health, property and manners. Finally the prayer was over and we all said “Amen!” as I thought how awesomely patient God was.

Sospeter’s tea was cold, his mother’s too. He stood up, picked the two cups of tea, walked to the kitchen and placed the tea on the stove. His mother stood at the door. “What are you doing?” she inquired. We all stared at her, “we are supposed to eat immediately after the prayers. Now see all the blessings are gone.”

“But mong’ina, [a name used while speaking to elderly women to show respect] we cannot eat cold food.” Sospeter answered as he walked to the table to get the food. The chairs were empty, except mine. Curiosity almost killed me.

The food and tea was warm. Sospeter carried it to the table. Mother followed. They sat, ready to eat. Before Sospeter could sip his tea, the mother asked, “Stavros, are you fed well? Do you get enough food in this house?” “Yes.” Sospeter answered. He had gained weight so much that he added the name Schwarzenegger to his birth certificate, that is why I called him Schwarz, sometimes.

He raised his cup, as it touched his lips, he heard, “Let us pray.” The prayer started with an apology for burning the blessings from the first prayer, Nebby

I placed my hand under my chin to support my head and watched mother and her son, Sospeter, Stavros, Schwarzenegger, pray.



After the meal in the kiosk, Sospeter went home with my headscarf around his neck, and I wearing his shirt. I was in love, I was happy, I skipped all the way home. Mama had arrived home from the shamba earlier than usual. She looked up from the porridge she was stirring. I was a little afraid.

“Whose shirt is that?” mama asked, I did not answer. She looked at the Sufuria and continued to stir. I removed the shirt, placed it on my bed, walked to the kitchen, picked up the clay pot and walked to the river.

From then on I met Sospeter many times. He was my life. If the maize and the bananas plants could speak, they would tell many stories. Life was a little garden of sweet smelling flowers until my clothes stopped fitting.

I tried to spend as much time away from my parents as possible. I walked around in an unzipped skirt and unbuttoned blouse. I walked with a leso around my chest all the time.

A time came when the leso could not hide it anymore. Suddenly I was big. It was the seventh month… I stayed away from everybody most of the time. This got worse when a woman on a path to the river stopped to look at me..

“This can’t be your first pregnancy, is it?” the woman asked.

I was surprised…… it was none of her business.

“Why do you ask?” I inquired, attempting to walk past her, but the path was too narrow.

“Because first pregnancies are not usually this big,” the professor with a degree in ‘pregnancy and their sizes’ continued to inform me.

Hebu, let me see if you have any stretch marks at the back of your legs,”

I had.

“have you ever had an abortion?” the self appointed FBI agent continued to investigate.

I did not speak. I went round a small bush and down to the river. Before the pregnancy, taking a bath at the river was not a problem, but when the pregnancy started showing, everyone would pretend to continue what they were doing but I could see every head was slightly turned towards my direction. I started carrying water home for bathing. Those were two trips. I met more people who wasted their talent as detectives and counselors on me.

“Who is the father of the baby?” they would ask, “Are you getting married?….You know this baby will be a problem to your mother….Your mother should be resting now, not taking care of babies at her age…See all your sisters are married…. you should also get a husband…” To avoid argument, my answer was always ‘yes’ to everything.

The pregnancy was getting heavier and the pots were feeling bigger than usual. When Sospeter learn’t that I was getting tired he would meet me a few metres from our house, pick the pot and fetch the water for me. This went on, for quite a while.

When I had our girl, Sospeter made sure to see me after visiting hours when I was alone, because we knew that, if our parents saw him, they would marry us there and then, with or without a priest and Sospeter would be forced to take me with him.

Most of Sospeter’s little money was spent on me and my baby. “You should be healthy” he would say lovingly as he handed me a few coins. “This is for millet flour and bananas, you must have enough milk, in there, for the baby.” he would say pointing at my chest.

I was happy. It did not matter that Sospeter had very little to offer. He loved me, he cared. That was everything to me, nothing else mattered.

His clothes were worn out with time. With the baby, he could not afford to buy more. This world can turn your life upside down in just a few seconds. I learn’t this the hard way.

Mama had decided she was not going to the shamba because the housework had been neglected for sometime.

I heard a whistle outside, then a small stone hit the window, at the exact time mama walked in to check on the baby.

She opened the window, my heart was beating fast.

“You” she shouted,

“so it is you, mango tree boy!?”

I was shocked.

“Mama knew all the time Sospeter Pssss Pssssed me from the mango tree?” I thought.

“You are leaving with her” Mama said pointing at me. She rushed out of the room to the front door. Sospeter came to the window.. “My shirt! My shirt!” he whispered. I placed the baby on the bed and got the shirt. As he turned to leaved he bumped into mama. “Sorry, sorry, sorry,” he murmured, as he stepped back and walked away.

“Come for her tomorrow!” mama shouted.

The next day, mama made it clear to me that she did wish to find me home when she came back. As Sospeter’s time for visiting approached, I packed my bag, wrapped the baby, carried her and sat on a stool outside the house.

“You are making sure the baby is getting vitamin D?” my ‘know it all’ neighbor shouted from across the dusty road.

“Yes!” I shouted back.

I saw Sospeter walking towards me. Then I felt more love. He touched my head lightly and pushed my hair back.

“This is going to work out Berina,” there was no anxiety in his voice. “Do not worry”.

For the first time he held our baby in his arms. I placed the bag on my head and we walked to the other side of the village.

I was calm.