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. 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.
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.
There goes the woman who killed my uncle. The black widow. Today is his funeral and she’s in a white dress; I think it’s her wedding gown. The whole yard is covered in thick, red mud. For the last three days, the mourners have been coming and going, churning up the ground like ox ploughs. The small funeral procession makes its way from the gate through this mess towards me.
Now that the church service is over, they’ll be wanting tea. They’ll expect me to serve it to them I suppose.
From my vantage point at the window, I can see how the pouring rain is cleaning off the gel that had held her hair together. It’s stuck all over her face in lumps. The hat that stood proud now slumps on the sides of her head. With every step she takes, her high heels – which she must have thought so elegant this morning – sink into the soft mush. The hem of her dress looks like it’s soaked in blood.
Clearly, gravity is winning. The black widow is not looking so smug now. Yet in her eyes, that fire is still burning.
The grass always seems greener on the other side of the septic tank. I envied the family that lived across the street; I believe the name was Jenkins. Their house was built in a strange style; it wasn’t like any we’d ever seen. They had brought the plans with them to Africa. My sister said the wife was English, but I could never tell just by looking. They were the first white people I’d seen in my life. Father went over once, to welcome them into our neighborhood. All we wanted to know when he came back was what their house looked like on the inside. He said they hadn’t invited him in and Mr. Jenkins was not a big talker anyway. Continue reading
Three evil spirits walk with me through this life. They co-exist, symbiotic without knowing it. When one disappears, the others follow. When one comes out of the woodwork, I hear the far-away swishing sound of dragon tails as the other two prepare to come swooping down. Evil, Evilmore and Evilmost. Fancy having these blighted creatures as my appointed companions. The gods must have been high on adulterated Kumi Kumi local brew the day they made that warped decision. Whereas their godly hangovers must have been over by sunrise, I was doomed to continue walking in the shadow of the monsters they had created. Continue reading