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.
“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 ~
“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.
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.
“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….
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.
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.
“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.”
“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….
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…
“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