His head bent low….his throat constricted, tears stung and dimmed his eyes. He blinked. The drops streamed down his cheeks and fell onto the ground. Onesmus walked to his wife’s grave and sat on it. He was exhausted; he had not slept well for many days. Everything that made him happy seemed to have moulded itself into a small, dark, evil ball that had settled at the bottom of his cold heart. His heart was heavy, tight, between two clogs.
He wanted to pull it out. He wished it were a physical battle, physical pain. That…. he was sure would end. There was a cure for that, but for emotional pain and agony? There was not. Can anybody wipe a bad memory in seconds? He wanted to take his life many times. He wanted to die, to be buried. He wanted to meet Miriam down there, underground, and tell her exactly what he thought of her. He wanted to beat her, to beat her like he had never beaten anyone before, into pulp. He burnt with anger.
|I know the rage that drives you…. |
The impossible anger strangling the grief….
Until the memory of your loved one is just poison in your veins….
And one day you find yourself wishing….
The person you loved never existed, so you will be spared your pain….
I was forced to learn there are those without decency….
Who must be fought without hesitation….
Your anger gives you good power….
But if you let it, it will destroy you…
There was an invisible wall, a wall between him and hope. He had spent so many days in sorrow that he forgot how to climb to the other side. Did he really want to? Who would be there to receive him? Would anybody be glad to have him around, now that he owned nothing? He would be a beggar to the villagers, a burden.
Every day he looked at the rope around the cow’s neck, the rope that would help end his life. He would be free. There was nothing to live for. Nobody cared anymore, nobody wanted to be near a sad man, nobody wanted him. They had their lives. He could not visit them for comfort. He was also angry, angry with everybody. They were all bad. The villagers passed by his hut, thought he was only grieving, and whispered, “It will pass.”
“God…. so this is my life….” Onesmus said aloud.… “Everyone from the church says so…. I do not want to see anyone from the church anymore. I do not want to hear another – ‘everything has a reason story’, because this does not have a reason. What could possibly explain this?” he continued, hitting his wife’s grave with his fist…. He stopped, there was a sharp pain in his hand, he looked at it; it was bleeding. He rubbed his hand and spat on the grave. “You, ugly witch!” he shouted, as he waved the letter he was holding in the air.
|I thought I was immune to depression, anxiety and panic attacks…. |
I have not slept, I don’t eat, I don’t drink enough water….
To be betrayed over and over again, by the person you thought you could trust most in the world….
Is something I hope never, ever happens to you….
~ The death of a dream ~
~ Eryn ~
He unfolded it….
And read it for the hundredth time….
‘To Onesmus…,’ the letter began.
The weakest man I have ever met…’ he stopped, crumbled the letter in his hand and closed his eyes…. ‘What did I do to deserve these insults? If I had known this before that wicked heart stopped…,’ he stared at the grave. “You are lucky…,” he pointed at the grave. “Trust me, you are safe down there, and if anyone ever asked you to make a wish, you! You! You Jezebel! Do not ever think of saying, you want to breathe again, because I will be here, waiting…. waiting to kill you.”
Onesmus had turned into a beast, inside. He had not known greed could overtake love until the death of his wife. Was she greedy from the beginning? He wondered. ‘The world never stops teaching people hard lessons,’ he thought. ‘Parents can teach you everything else, but they do not know how to cure a broken heart. Sometimes they do not even know when you are lonely or miserable. In fact, no one can detect the enormous, empty hole in your heart, until you untie that rope around the neck of the cow and tie it around your neck. “Ooooh, he should have talked to us,” they pretend to be concerned. How many people had said after the burial, “When you need us, we will be here?” Where are they now? Every time I approach anyone, they are in hurry, except Priscilla.’ He felt the wall around his heart grow thicker and taller.
|Until we have seen someone’s darkness…. |
We don’t really know who they are….
Until we have forgiven someone’s darkness….
We don’t really know what love is….
~ Marianne Williamson ~
“You are here again…” A voice startled him. Zacharia placed his hand under Onesmus’ arm and helped him up. “Every time I pass by, I see you here. When did you last eat?” he asked as he looked at Onesmus’ dry lips. “I am so sorry,” he continued. “I heard what happened.” Onesmus was silent. “That is why most of us here, do not marry women from the city.” This made Onesmus sadder. Zacharia was not helping. He wished Zacharia would vanish. Tears flowed freely down his face. He wiped them off with the back of his hand and stared at his feet.
“Have you ever gone for any medical tests?” Zacharia asked feeling like a University professor.
‘This man now thinks he is the perfect one because his wife is not dead,’ Onesmus thought. His mind wondered.
|You know why they attack you, don’t you….? |
They are afraid of you….
All creatures feel fear….
Especially the scary ones….
Priscilla, one of the villagers, went to the hospital and pretended to be Miriam’s sister. The hospital staff gave her the information she wanted. She discovered that Miriam did not die of any contagious disease. Priscilla, the rumormonger, made sure the whole village knew how she had tricked the hospital staff. She was very excited as she delivered the news to the villagers. Onesmus was surprised that they had not reached Zacharia.
“These hospitals,” she said proudly. “Hm!” she pursed her lips. “Easy to know anything,” she said. “Miriam died a clean death, no syphilis, no herpes, and no hepatitis.” Nobody asked her, but she talked and talked. “You have all heard many stories about her, but don’t you worry, she was clean,” she repeated this to almost every villager she met. “You are safe,” she assured them. “Very safe.” Everybody hated Priscilla; she had a big mouth, no secrets. When there was nothing to gossip about, people kept away. No gossip, no friends. That is why she looked for gossip, like a witchdoctor searches for a lie to tell to a miserable person. In every community, there is a mad woman who never keeps her mouth shut and only says bad things about people; she destroys humans emotionally. In this community, it was Priscilla.
She was concerned because there was a time Miriam gave her a bite of roast maize. On a different day, Priscilla’s children ate food at Miriam’s hut, from Miriam’s utensils….
Onesmus had heard the rumours, he knew he was healthy….
Onesmus hated Priscilla…. that is why, the other day, when Priscilla came to his Hut to borrow the stick that pounds and turns Ugali (maize meal), he told Priscilla to get it from Miriam’s grave…. and if she did not find it, she could pull out the piece of wood with Miriam’s name on it and cook with it. Onesmus’ thoughts shot back to the present…. he suddenly turned back, walked to the grave looked at the piece of wood, pulled it out of the soil and threw it over the fence. “Why plant a cross on a grave whose owner did not make any sacrifices? You will follow that piece of wood soon, you, heartless woman,” he shouted, looking at the grave….
|At age 46… |
I finally learnt that helping others is the most important thing in life….
We are all in a rat race… to go where….
Why don’t you stop and look at the people around you and say….
Can I help that person…?
it is so important….
~ Humans of New York Series ~
He walked towards the hut past Zacharia as if Zacharia was not there. Zacharia shook his head. A cat attempted to cross the path, without stopping, Onesmus kicked it hard, towards the bush, it hit Zacharia almost knocking him down. He shook his head again and stared at Onesmus until he entered the hut.
The hut did not feel like home anymore. It was cold, the dull brown colored walls made it colder. He shivered. He placed his arms across the chest and hugged himself tight. The hut was quiet; Miriam had taken the children to their grandmother’s home. The sympathizers had stopped coming…. They were busy, very…. very…. busy. Onesmus sneered.
He looked at the letter in his hand, he read….
‘I agreed to marry you because you had a nice hut and a big shamba. I thought I was very lucky until…. I came across your school certificates. You had just a pass in Mathematics and Science…. that is when I realized you were not a genius. I had married someone who would transfer his foolish genes to my poor, unknowing children….” Onesmus dropped the letter onto the floor and covered his face. ‘Five children…. Five children….’ He shook his head bitterly as he walked towards the clothes’ basket.
He removed Miriam’s clothes from the basket, carried them, placed them under his favourite tree and burnt them. The smoke reminded him of food, but he had no appetite. He heard footsteps; it was Priscilla.
“Hallo.” She shouted, waving. Onesmus did not respond. He continued prodding and turning the clothes with a long stick, making sure all of them caught fire. Priscilla came closer, looked at the fire and frowned.
“uuuuuiiiii, poor woman!” Priscilla ‘sympathized’. “If she knew what was happening…. She would turn in her grave sixty three times,” she paused. “Why don’t you marry again? It is four months now. Look at how thin you are. I can cook….” she stopped when she saw Onesmus’ angry face and walked away quickly.
“I don’t want your food,” Onesmus shouted after her. “Go marry someone else.” Priscilla turned to shout something back, but ran when Onesmus waved the stick he was holding at her. When she reached a safe distance, she stopped and turned. Onesmus sat under the tree, deep in thought.
Priscilla tiptoed back. “You know…”
Onesmus looked up. His heart sank. “No, I don’t know.”
“You are very lucky those children are not yours.” Priscilla continued. Onesmus stood and walked towards the hut. “Imagine taking care of children who do not have a mother.” Priscilla shouted after him. “It would have been a huge burden for you.”
Onesmus stopped in his tracks, hands akimbo and sighed. “Do you not have a heart?” He entered the hut.
“Yes I have a heart!” She shouted. “It beats for you.” She pouted her lips. Priscilla had tried to woo Onesmus after the first wife left, but he knew her very well.
He came out of the hut carrying a panga (machete) and rushed towards her. She ran for her life; she would have flown if she had wings. Without the intention of killing her, Onesmus threw the panga at her with all his might, just to scare her a little. It fell a metre behind her.
“Why are we born?” he spoke to himself as he walked back to the hut. “To suffer, and then die? Why does God forsake us? Where is He now?” he said searching the grass-thatched roof. Miriam’s smiling face flashed across his memory. ‘She knew what she was doing all along,’ he thought, ‘All those smiles…. were mockery smiles.’ He stood, picked his coat and walked into the forest.
|The truest darkness is not the absence of light…. |
It is the conviction that the light will never return
~Lois Lane ~
~ Justice League ~
He approached a hut… and ‘Knock…. Knock…. Knock….’
“Wait!” a heavy voice answered. “Turn and face away from the hut” Onesmus turned.
The door opened. “Get in, do not turn…. walk backwards towards me.” Onesmus obeyed. Holding Onesmus’ sitting muscles he continued, “Bend, move back a little and sit on this stool.” Onesmus moved back. He accidentally knocked the three- legged stool causing it to topple over. His host jumped back. Onesmus sat on the floor with a thud. Too tired to concentrate on the pain, he quickly stood up as the heavy voiced man, the witchdoctor, placed the stool behind him. He sat.
The witchdoctor shook a gourd. He poured the contents that sounded like stones onto the ground. He picked a flywhisk and dusted Onesmus’ head, whistling. He brushed something off Onesmus’ shoulders, jumped up and down around him, still whistling. The ornaments on his hands and feet making noisy musical sounds as he moved around, his head covered in a bag made of cloth, which had two tiny holes at the eyes ….
|What are you seeking…. |
I seek to turn fear against those who prey on the fearful….
What do you fear….
You must first master your own fear….
What you really fear is inside yourself….
You fear your own power….
You fear your anger, the drive to do great terrible things….
Now you must journey inwards….
Breathe in your fears….
To conquer fear, you must become fear….
You must busk in the fear of other men….
And men fear most, what they cannot see….
“Your spirit is troubled my son,” the heavy voice trembled. “Hm –m-m-m-m-m…. very troubled. I can feel it all around this hut. Hmm-mbl-mbl-mbl-mbl-mbl,” he mumbled and sat on the floor. “Before you turn to face me, son, go out, run around the hut several times, leave your coat at the back of the hut, then come in, that way, the spirits will be confused, they will not know where you are.” Onesmus did that and was standing at the door when the witchdoctor said….
“Wait, remove your shoes and throw them away from the hut…. then come in, hopping on one leg, that way the spirits will not track you.” The witchdoctor waved the whisk from side to side, as if to clear the way for Onesmus. When Onesmus sat, he removed the bag that covered his face…. He grinned. “You never know what evil spirit your client comes with.” He cleared his throat. “We have to hide our identity, or they will follow us home.”
He collected the bones from the floor and put them back into the gourd. He shook the gourd vigorously. Frowning, and asked….
“What brings you here son?” ….
“My wife,” Onesmus answered, “My dead wife. She troubles me.”
“Yeeeees I can feel her,” the witchdoctor’s voice trembled, he breathed heavily and behaved as if something was pulling him towards the ground. “I can feel a strong spirit that did not remain outside with the others, it followed you in here.” He placed the bag over his head, shook the gourd again and threw the contents on the floor. He pointed at one of the bones that was not yet dry.
“Pick it up.” He ordered Onesmus. Onesmus did….
“Smell it” Onesmus placed it under his nose and almost threw it away….
“That is your wife rotting down there, in the grave, she cannot keep calm. Her spirit wants to come out of the grave and harm you,” the witchdoctor said in a loud deep voice. “Her spirit will come out with a stench like the one on that bone. It is not a good thing. She does not mean well. Spit on it and return it here. He took the bone, put it back in the gourd, shook the gourd, placed it on his ear and listened.
“Worse things are coming….” The witchdoctor said, his eyes blinking. “Does she appear in your bedroom at night?”
“No,” Onesmus answered quickly shaking his head, not wanting to imagine she could. “I want to forget about her and the bad things she has done to me.”
“Ahaaaaaa…. Haaaaaa….” The witchdoctor sat, took a pinch of soil from the ground, placed it on a dirty khaki piece of paper, which he folded well. “Go…. Go to your wife’s grave and bring me pieces of her hair and nails…. and this….” He handed the piece of paper to Onesmus…. “Sprinkle it on your wife’s grave before you start digging.” Onesmus eagerly took the piece of paper and started to walk out…. “And…. bring me a cow and two thousand shillings.”
|I am just a lonely soul…. |
Can anyone hear me?….
Is anyone out there….?
I have nowhere else to go….
Escaping from all the misery….
And from all the trouble that had been caused….
I feel as if my life just took a sudden pause….
Regretting for my regrets….
Feeling that I may just not belong….
Feeling that the path I made was wrong….
I ask God to forgive me for all my sins….
And all the ways that I have been….
Just look it from the way I see….
So am I talking for anyone out there….
Can anyone hear me….?
~A lonely soul~
~Katyana M. Destine~
Everything was fine, except for the money. Where was he going to get the money? He did not plant anything during the rainy season. He walked out of the forest, took a path to the left and walked towards Zacharia’s hut. He found Zacharia outside the hut threshing maize. He saw the children and tears welled up his eyes. ‘This is a happy family,’ he thought. ‘Everybody is happy. I am the only one who is suffering.” Zacharia stood and walked towards Onesmus stretching his hand. “My friend….”
After the handshake….
“I want your help,” Onesmus said pulling Zacharia aside…
“Yes.” Zacharia was curious…
“Can you lend me two thousand shillings; I have an emergency.” Onesmus fidgeted. “I will refund as soon as possible.”
Zacharia wondered where he would get the money. The whole village knew Onesmus had stopped farming and had nothing.
Zacharia’s wife was walking towards the kitchen from the forest when she heard the words ‘two thousand.’ She stopped in her tracks and turned.
“Eeee aaaah…” Zacharia began…. “Where….?”
“Please.” Onesmus interrupted…. “It is urgent.”
“What?” Zacharia’s wife asked looking at her husband. “Tomorrow we are visiting your mother. It is all we have.”
Onesmus was disappointed; he turned and walked away. From the corner of his eye, he could see Zacharia and his wife whispering. “Onesmus!” Zacharia shouted. “What did you say you wanted the money for?”
Onesmus turned, “Travelling to the city to sell my cow.”
Zacharia knew, after the cow was sold, there would be a lot of money, and maybe, brew and meat. “Wait….” He said and entered the hut.
Onesmus sighed with relief. After sunset, he got a lamp, a jembe (hoe), a shovel, a ladder, a garbage bag and a piece of cloth he tied around his mouth and nose, securing it with a knot at the back of his neck. He reached the grave, took out the folded piece of paper and sprinkled the soil on it. “Here I come, you little imp…,” he said as he picked up the jembe. He dug, and dug…. resting every few hours.
Morning came; he had not finished…. He placed the ladder in the grave. He would go on the following night. When he was about to enter the Hut, Martha appeared on the path.
“Good evening!” she shouted, waving once. “I can see you have gone back to farming.” She said walking closer and looking at Onesmus’ muddy clothes and slippers. A guilty man will forget his sadness for a while, fear replacing it. He had decided he would never speak kindly to any woman, but this time he had to, to make sure they did not talk about Miriam, or else Martha would suddenly decide to visit the grave, who knows?
“Yes, I am thinking of planting some food for the cow.” Onesmus answered wishing Martha would go away.
“Processed food is very expensive these days. Martha agreed. Many farmers are turning to shamba (field) products,”
Onesmus nodded thinking ‘Who asked you now?’ He smiled. “I am going to rest”. He said as he walked towards the hut. Martha was sorry.
|And I’m thinking what a mess we’re in…. |
Hard to know where to begin….
If I could slip the sickly ties that earthly man has made….
And now every mother, can choose the colour of her child….
That’s not nature’s way….
Well that’s what they said yesterday….
There’s nothing left to do but pray….
I think it’s time I found a new religion….
Whoa, It’s so insane to synthesize another strain….
There’s something in these futures that we have to be told…
Inside the hut, he picked the letter from the floor, sat on the bed and read a few more lines.
‘So I decided to have children with Reuben, the chemistry and mathematics teacher. I took them to my mother before the hospital admitted me; I would not let a weak man like you bring them up. All the property you had transferred to my name, because I had given birth to four sons and one girl…. (this left me wondering what would have happened, if I had given birth to girls only, maybe, you would have left me with nothing). I transferred all the property to their father.’ Onesmus knew it did not make any sense, because he had handed over the property to her immediately she gave birth to their daughter, the first-born. He held the letter for a few minutes, and dozed off…. A knock at the door startled him… The sun had set.
“Onesmus! Onesmus!” It was Zacharia. Silence…. Another knock, and then…. “Onesmus!” Silence…. “Maybe he has not come back from the market.” Onesmus heard Zacharia say to someone that he assumed was the wife. “We will come tomorrow”. They went away.
|Darkness falls across the land…. |
The midnight hour is close at hand….
Creatures crawl in search of blood….
To terrorize y’alls neighborhood….
And whosoever shall be found without the soul for getting down….
Must stand and face the hounds of hell….
And rot inside the corpse shell…
~ Michael Jackson ~
Onesmus was in the grave a few hours later; he dug furiously. Finally, he uncovered the coffin. “Goodness!” He cursed under his breath. Even with the piece of cloth covering half of his face, the stench was unbearable. He placed the jembe near his feet and opened the coffin. Placing one hand on the cloth that covered half his face he said, “The witchdoctor knew,” he lifted the cloth a little and spat, “you stink.”
It was easy for him to pull out the hair and nails because the body was decomposed. He put them in the small paper bag, which he put in his pocket, and the rest of the body in the bigger paper bag. He climbed with the body out of the grave, dragged it to the fence and threw it over to the other side. He was relieved. His misery would be over, soon.
“Let us see if Reuben will come to your rescue,” he shouted in disgust, “and bury you in the forest, because I know, obviously he has not worked long enough to buy a shamba.” He spat twice on the fence, and then walked slowly towards the hut.
“That is what happens to bad women,” He threw the jembe. It hit the door, shattered it and dropped on the doorway.
“May you rot and rot and rot,” He said pointing towards the body.
“Ha. I did not hear you well.” Priscilla shouted. “Are you speaking to me?”
Onesmus was not startled. “My God!” He muttered, walked into the hut and shut the door.
He woke up very early the following morning, took the money, pieces of Miriam, the cow and walked towards the river…. and there was Martha! ‘Doesn’t she ever sleep?’ Onesmus wondered. ‘She must be spying for that restless woman, Priscilla?”
“Where to?” Martha enquired moving closer. Without waiting for an answer, she nodded looking at the cow, “True, that cow needs to feed, it looks thin. Hope the food will grow well.”
“I am taking the cow to the river.” Onesmus answered, bored. “Sometimes the water in the hut is not enough.”
“That’s right.” Martha agreed. She looked around. “Something smells terrible” …. She wrinkled her nose.
Onesmus almost touched his pocket, but restrained himself. Instead, he lifted his hand and scratched his head. Shaking it, he said, “It is wrong to throw dead animals in the bushes,” Onesmus parted the little tree branches and pretended to search for the dead animal. “If these villagers continue to do this, we will never breathe comfortably.”
Martha nodded. They parted ways. ‘Poor man’, Martha thought, ‘things went wrong in his life just like that.’
|I’ve been stabbed in the back by those I needed most…. |
I’ve been lied to by those I love….
And I have felt alone when I couldn’t afford to be….
But at the end of the day….
I had to learn to be my own best friend, because there’s going to be days where no one is going to be there for me….
~ 9LifeQuotes.com ~
Onesmus arrived at the witchdoctor’s hut. He tied the cow to a tree and ran around the hut several times. Removed his jacket, dropped it at the back of the hut, removed the shoes, threw them into the bush and knocked on the door. The door opened and Onesmus hopped backwards into the hut and sat on a stool….
“Why are you hopping?” The witchdoctor grinned.
Onesmus was confused; he opened his mouth to say something.
“Did you bring what I told you?” the witchdoctor interrupted. Onesmus nodded. “And you ran around the hut, removed your jacket and shoes?’
“Yes.” Onesmus said.
“It was not necessary.” If Onesmus had not been tired from all the grief, the witchdoctor’s statement would have disgusted him, and if he were not desperate for help, he would have punched the witchdoctor on the face. “It did not send away the evil spirits.” Onesmus was puzzled. “You are carrying the evil in your pocket.” Onesmus nodded quickly, he wanted this over. The witchdoctor put the bag over his face.
Onesmus removed the paper bag out of the pocket, and was about to throw it outside, when he heard the witchdoctor shake the gourd and point at the paper bag, then to the ground near the fireplace. Onesmus placed the paper bag where the witchdoctor indicated. The witchdoctor made a small fire using little sticks, poured some water into a tin and placed it on the fire. He picked the paper bag and threw the contents in the water. As it heated up, and came to boil, he danced around it shaking the gourd. He stopped, threw the contents on the ground, picked the stinking bone, threw it in the tin and stirred. He poured the hot water into a small bottle. The bones, hair and nails remained. He handed the bottle over to Onesmus….
“At exactly six o’clock, tomorrow morning, sprinkle this water inside and outside your hut.” The witchdoctor instructed. “Where is the two thousand?” Onesmus handed it over to him and walked out the door into the bush….
“Where are my shoes?” he turned around…
“The evil spirits took them. Be glad, they accepted your sacrifice, they will not bother you again.” The witchdoctor assured him. Onesmus walked on. The ground was hot. It did not bother him though. He would be a happy man by the time the soles of his feet healed. The door closed behind him. He could hear the witchdoctor muttering to himself. Onesmus knew they were the evil spirits he had left behind. The cow was gone, and the jacket too. He did not look back. He did not care that his feet hurt. His biggest problem would soon be over.
He was shocked to find a crowd gathered in his compound. The people were talking in whispers. He moved closer; they were looking at the open grave. Onesmus walked to the grave and dropped beside it, he sobbed and wailed, pretending to be sad at the sight of the open grave. He cried, and screamed. He was weeping for the last time, he thought. Zacharia and a friend helped him up and took him to the hut.
|When the madness of an entire nation disturbs a solitary mind…. |
It is not enough to say the man is mad….
~Betrayal in the City~
~Francis D. Imbuga~
“We are sorry for what happened.” Zacharia began, the friend nodded. “Witchcraft in this village has gone too far. No dead person can rest in peace. We thought the witches had stopped. Now see. They have started stealing bodies again.” Onesmus closed his eyes. “We know you liked to visit the grave every day. We will try our best to find Miriam.” Onesmus almost opened his eyes to say, no, but did not want to hold any conversations, not now. He did not even care. The visitors left. He longed for morning.
At 6 o’clock the following day, Onesmus sprinkled the water inside the hut and was sprinkling outside, when Martha approached. Onesmus almost jumped thinking it was Miriam from the dead.
“I would also do that.” She said. “That water,” she said pointing at the bottle Onesmus was holding, “that water works,” Martha said thinking it was blessed water. “Be assured, that witch will never step on this compound again.” Onesmus stopped and turned to look at Martha…. This was not the time for small talk.
“Did they return the body?” Martha enquired.
“What are you doing here this early?” he asked. “Are you sure you are not the witch? You’ve come to check if you left evidence that could lead us to you?” he sprinkled some water on her. Martha jumped back involuntarily and clicked her tongue. She sneered and left. “Witch!” Onesmus shouted after her.
|If your problem in life is as big as a ship…. |
Never forget that your blessings are as wide as the ocean….
~ Anonymous ~
He put the bottle in the pocket, picked the letter and sat on the bed. He looked at the mud on his clothes, then at the letter. He wondered when his dead wife turned into an evil woman. He read the last few sentences….
‘The chief will have two copies of this letter. Yours and Reuben’s…. which he will give you, when I am gone, or if I become mentally ill. Good-bye, my weak, useless husband. I hope you will marry a foolish and weak wife like you…. and I have not forgotten how you failed to defend me every time I quarreled with our neighbours.’ Onesmus shook his head. ‘A strong man should have fought them.’
He kept still for many minutes, staring at the letter. What wrong had he done? Oh! he remembered. His grades. He still felt, that would have generated so much hatred. Had she failed somewhere earlier in life and was letting it out on him?
He tore the letter slowly into small pieces, and took them to the pit latrine. Outside, he stretched his hand and plucked the nearest guava from a tree. It was unripe. He did not mind. He took the little bottle out of the pocket and sprinkled a few drops on the guava. “Hope when I wake up, you will be out of my mind.” He sat on the bed.
‘What exactly do women want?’ Onesmus wondered. ‘I gave Miriam everything she wanted. I greeted her with a hug every morning. I bought her presents. I took good care of the kids. We never quarreled. I never came home late. She slept in my arms the whole night. I never forced her to do anything. What did I do to make her stop loving me?…. Why do I keep asking myself this and I know my grades made her angry.’ Onesmus kept repeating to himself that Miriam deserved to die, but that did not make him feel better. Death was not a punishment…. he knew that. People, who do not die of a natural death, rest in death. Minutes later, he stretched on the bed and closed his eyes.
|We are not here to curse the darkness…. |
But to light a candle that can guide us through that darkness….
To a safe and sane future….
~ John F Kennedy ~
There was a knock at the door. Priscilla and Martha bore bad news. The next day was prayer day at Onesmus’ hut, they said, but the villagers would not hold prayers in his hut, because it was possessed (they did not say what possessed it) and the witch had not been found.
“You never know what the witch plans to do next,” Priscilla said. Martha nudged her with her elbow, looked at her quickly, frowned, and then at Onesmus. “Or what the witch left in your hut,” Priscilla went on.
“The witch might kill us…. and eat us…. who knows?” Priscilla added shrugging.
Onesmus looked at Priscilla, “How do you know the witch eats people if you are not one of them?”
“Because the witch carried the body and left the coffin,” Priscilla explained. Martha stared at them, mouth agape. It was unbelievable.
“How do you know she was going to eat the body?” Onesmus was bored.
“Now it is a she?” Priscilla complained
“How do you know the body is not there?” Martha asked turning to look at Priscilla.
“I was at the grave. The coffin is still open,” Priscilla answered.
Martha threw her hands in the air and was about to ask ‘when?’
“Maybe, the witch left the coffin for you, to sleep in, or use as firewood,” Onesmus said.
“Firewood would be good,” Priscilla retorted.
Miriam slapped Priscilla’s hand and pulled her towards the path.
“The man is still mourning,” Onesmus heard Martha tell Priscilla as they walked away. “You are hurting him more.”
Priscilla shrugged and massaged her hand.
‘They do not call me by my name anymore,’ Onesmus thought.
Onesmus was about to close the door, when the chief appeared. He paused.
“Hallo.” Onesmus shook the chief’s hand.
“I came to remind you….” the chief began.
“I only have thirty days in this hut.” Onesmus completed the sentence looking straight into the chief’s eyes. He almost shooed the chief away, but remembered he was the chief and it was his duty. He thought he saw sadness in the chief’s eyes.
“Yes, I remember” Onesmus confirmed. “I will move.” He did not know where to, yet. “Look at the shed,” he pointed. “I have even sold the cow.” He almost said he had also exhumed the body, because he planned to move with it, but did not. Being morally upright did not matter to him anymore. It was easy to lie. He almost chuckled. The edges of his mouth trembled. The chief mistook it for the urge to cry and wanted to say something, but decided not to. He nodded, patted Onesmus on the shoulder and left.
Another knock. Onesmus opened the door and gasped. Zacharia walked in very excited. “I checked the cowshed. So….” pointing the lips towards the shed, he said, “You managed to sell the cow. We will surely miss the milk.” He sat heavily on a stool. Onesmus had allowed the villagers to milk it wherever they wanted. He had bought the cow for Miriam, on her birthday. He hated the cow. Thank goodness, the witchdoctor took it. It was somewhere safe. The villagers would have milked it to death.
“That day the witch dug up the body, he stole the money too,” Onesmus said in a shaking voice. Zacharia stood.
“What do you mean?” he stood hands akimbo. “You mean we are not getting our two thousand back? I thought everybody was just being malicious, but now I believe this hut is possessed. You are lucky you are still mourning; you would have known why the hen sleeps with its head tucked under its wing.” At the mention of the word head, the sight of Miriam’s rotten hair flashed through Onesmus’ mind. His stomach churned. His eyes turned red, he coughed. Zacharia mistook it for wanting to cry and left.
|And why do we fall….? |
So we can learn to pick ourselves up.
Onesmus had travelled far and wide to get the best herbs and roots for Miriam before she died…. No matter how much we try, when death waits, it gets us eventually…. Onesmus watched every day in despair, as she got weaker. Miriam’s look should have gotten softer with time, but now that he sat alone to ponder, he remembered seeing a harsh look in Miriam’s eyes until she died.
He wanted to tell someone about this, to talk and know if there was anyone out there, who had been betrayed and felt like the world was going to tip over, anytime. He wanted to be held, to cry over someone’s shoulder, but everybody was busy, always in a hurry. Daytime was good though, there was life, and he saw people, people who passed outside his hut, going to the market, to the river, to visit friends. He dreaded night. At night, everyone was at home; he was alone, so alone.
Every night, when he lay down to sleep, he drifted down memory lane and got angrier. His troubled heart raced and pounded hard; he could not sleep. Sometimes he woke up, walked to the grave, expressed his hate for his late wife in a few words, and then walked back to the hut, carrying his sorrows alone. Sometimes he thought there were shadows following him, without fear, he would suddenly turn hoping it was Miriam from the dead, then he would have the chance to strangle her to near death, release her and strangle her repeatedly.
Then there was Priscilla, in the middle of some nights, walking home from one of the men’s huts. She would approach Onesmus every time she saw him, to try and get something to gossip about the next day, she already knew it was difficult to get Onesmus to sleep with her.
“Hallo Onessii” she tried to seduce him one night. Onesmus stopped. Priscilla was excited; finally, Onesmus loves her. “I see you do not want to suffer anymore,” she almost skipped towards him. The disgusted look on his face under the moon made her disappear into the dark like an antelope that had seen a cheetah approach. “Witch! Night runner!” Onesmus shouted after her. “Foolish woman!” another night. “Evil snake!” the next one. He never ran out of insults. Despite the fact that she gave him a hard time, he did not add her to his list of people he hated with a passion. She was one of the people that deviated his thoughts from Miriam. Priscilla was used to it. It was a fight between two bulls, where the grass never got hurt. His hate list had only one person, Miriam.
The hyenas laughed in a chorus.
Onesmus got down on his knees, “Oooooh God! He moaned and bowed to the ground “What has happened to my life? What did I do?” He wailed raising his hands to the roof. “Whaaaat!” he screamed shaking his fists. He remembered all the times Miriam gave excuses to avoid sex….
“I want to wake up early tomorrow….
I have a headache….
It is that time of the month….
The mattress hurts my back; I will sleep on the sofa today….
I am fasting and praying….
I ate too much, I am bloated.”
Onesmus banged the ground with his fists. “God!” he shouted, “What did I do?”
Suddenly the door opened….
|Your job on this earth is to find yourself…. |
No one else can find you….
Others can see you, learn from you, love you, use you as a mirror in finding themselves….
But no one else can find you….
You are here to find yourself….
It is one of the most important things you can ever do….
because you are the only person who can do it….
The only way to do this is to be honest with yourself—about who you are, what you want, why you want it, and what you believe….
~ K. M. Weiland ~
“You did nothing.” Martha said walking in. “I could hear you from my hut. Get up,” she held Onesmus’ hands gently and walked him to the chair “When was the last time you took a bath.” Martha asked lighting firewood. In silence, she placed a pot of water on the fire, poured the hot water into a pail and took it to the bathroom. He took a bath; it felt good. When he came back to the living room, there was a bowl of hot fermented porridge on the table. Martha was gone….
He was deep in thought, as he ate the porridge, slowly. ‘I am not weak’, he thought. ‘My first wife’s son is in college, doing engineering…. My second child, my daughter finished secondary school and scored As in all the subjects.’ His mind jogged back to the present. ‘Why am I still hurt and thinking about Miriam? Didn’t the witchdoctor’s medicine work?’ He wanted to throw the little bottle away, but changed his mind. ‘I might need it again later.’ He thought.
|It is amazing, how things change….|
when people let you down….
And how that once happy face turns into a solemn frown….
You search and search for someone who cares….
Anyone who understands….
Anyone who dares….
Loneliness, it hurts….
It kills you deep inside….
It makes you empty….
It stops your stride….
~ I wish I wasn’t alone ~
~ Jo ~