Mother will never know

Mother does not know where I am going, and she never will.

All she ever does is make me work. Before sunrise, I mop the house and polish the floor. I dust the seats and sweep the carpet. When the sun rises, I fetch water from the village well and wash clothes. I clean and clean and clean. By the time the sun is overhead, I go with Mother to the market, and then I get dinner ready, as Mother sits on the verandah, waving to the neighbours and beaming with pride when they tell her what a good daughter she has. Let her think I am still her good girl. Continue reading

I wish the neighbours would fight

Last night was peaceful. You’d get my meaning if you knew my neighbours. They fight. They fight often. It’s loud. It’s ugly. It keeps everyone up.

Last night we all took the night off. I was happy to hear my own heartbeat again. I drew the blinds. I dimmed the lights. I got my bowl of popcorn. I burrowed into the couch and started the film.

And then I heard that eerie sound again: the kitchen door opening, distinct footsteps slowly coming my way. I froze. My pounding heart rose to my throat. How I wished the neighbours would fight.

Vegetarian for a day

A distant vibrating sound rouses me from my deep slumber. For a few seconds, I think I’m dreaming. And then I hear it. The hooves of a herd of cattle, pounding the stony earth road, the whoosh of a whip cutting through the still air, the deep bellow of a full-grown  bull. My sleep disappears with the moon. The herd disappears through the gate to oblivion. Onward to the slaughterhouse that supplies the city with fresh beef every morning.

I drag myself out of bed and through the day in a sleepy daze. On my way home, as I wait to be served at the local butchery, my thoughts are drowned by that staccato sound of hooves, and I walk away in a stupor, to my dinner of salad and fruits.

 

Are you looking at me?

“Are you looking at me”

I start violently. The kettle tips and spills hot tea on my cousin’s foot. She shrieks and glares at me.

Am I the only one hearing grandpa’s booming voice?

We’re in his bedroom, or more accurately,  what used to be his bedroom. You see, we’re at his wake. His corpse lies in the front room, in a home-made wooden coffin, atop three stools placed in a neat row. Continue reading

That thing that was in your room last night

Sometimes you wake up feeling exhausted. Your limbs ache, you’re feverish with indistinct memories of a nightmare.

If you examine your skin carefully enough, what you thought were mosquito bites turn out to be light puncture wounds. The truth dawns on you.

The thing that flitted past your kitchen veranda last night was not a shadow. When you thought you heard your dog growl and then whine in fear, you heard right. The single tree outside your window, whose leaves were rustling in the wind, well that was not the wind. Something was in the room with you last night.

Otto is dead. Long live Otto!

Otto is dead. I figure he was male because of the way he dominated my space.

I first spotted him a month ago behind the couch by my bedroom window. He was so large I thought he was a rat. I sprinted out of the room in alarm, and didn’t see him again for two days.

I was nervous and jumpy until I saw him peeking out from under the dressing table. A spider, not a rat. Small comfort, but definitely better than a rat.

Otto was sensitive to sudden movements – a trait that helped him escape the projectiles I threw at him. He would always came back. I got used to seeing him hanging out on the wall above the television, under the kitchen sink, on the book shelf…

Today I found four of his hairy legs under the magazine rack. I hadn’t seen him for one week. I think I might have killed him. I swept up the legs and threw them away. I couldn’t find the body.

Later, as I was making myself a sandwich, something crawled out of the fruit basket. A smaller version of Otto.

Otto Junior is now hiding behind my fridge.

Christmas present on the loose

Nakhumicha rounds the bend and sprints towards the hut, her Christmas present in hot pursuit. I am surprised by my sister’s agility.

It serves her right. After all, hadn’t I expressly instructed her to slaughter that goat and divide the meat among her sons and their wives? God only knows their young children could do with some meat on their bones.

Nakhumicha would have none of it.

“No, he is too valuable to eat. I’ll sell him when the prices improve. I have to pay Anna’s school fees, and Maria needs a new pair of sandals…”

Can one he-goat fulfill everyone’s wishes? Can he change their fortunes overnight?

Selfish, that’s what Nakhumicha is. That black shiny he-goat was destined for the market alright, but not for Anna or Maria; Nakhumicha has had her eye on this Black Mamba bicycle for months. That’s where the money was going.

There she goes, racing around the hut one more time. The children are gathering in alarm. Thomas, my brother-in-law, runs in front of the agitated creature. I turn away before the resounding ‘thwack’ and corresponding yelp. Thomas goes down; the rest of the family runs after the escaping he-goat.

That beast will never make it to the market.