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.