Mrs. Mwanaidi Juma is seated in front of her rectangular makeshift hut. A few meters from her is a warm open hearth beside an old towering coconut tree. On her right there are three monster mango trees that allow the late afternoon sun rays to permeate and dance on her face.
Her new neighbor Mrs. Lulu Rashid has visited her for the first time. Standing on a snaking root of one of the mango trees, Lulu drinks tea from an old plastic cup as she listens keenly to her host.
“You see this tree,” Mwanaidi says, towards the gigantic coconut tree while shielding her eyes from the sunrays. “It was the first one we planted together in nineteen-eighty-two.”
Outside, the men are about to perform ablution required before acts of worship, washing their faces and limbs. I listen to them as they make the niyya-intention to do ablution and recite, ‘’Bismillāh i’r Rahmān i’r Rahīm. In the Name of Allâh, the Beneficent, the Merciful.’’
Syria is hot. I always thought Mombasa my hometown was hot but this heat beats the dense humidity of my coastal hometown in Kenya. The midday scorching sun makes the black hijab covering my head and face feel like a hot iron-box and I’m sweating profusely. Peeping from my veil, I catch a glimpse of the men doing ablution intent on purifying themselves, yet I know no matter how much they scrub, they can’t purify themselves of their filth.
Rose stared at the clock wishing it could move quickly so that she could live her life. The time had finally come to appear before the Church Council. She had been accused of many things and wrong doings. This was the time to set the record straight. The provost at the reception of the church office had served her with nice lemon tea and snacks and informed her that she would beckon her to go in at exactly four thirty. Rose loved tea, lemon tea and she wondered how the provost knew this.
It was a warm Saturday morning; an ideal time to divorce oneself from demanding tasks. James was listening to the subtle sounds of nature when a shadow obstructed the warm rays of sunshine on his face.
‘James,’ he heard his mother speak from above him.
‘Yes mum?’ he responded without as much as cracking an eye open.
‘We are heading for a meeting at the Kombo’s and then we will go and see a farm near them,’ she said.
‘Town or the farm?’ he asked lazily.
‘Out of town,’ she replied.
I met him at club Fly So Fly where I had ceased being a butterfly having suffered a broken neck after falling head first from a stripper pole, an incidence I had seen coming- I have terrible eye-hand coordination by the way- and just like that I fell from a remunerative stripper to a mere call girl.
He sat there, hunched over his drink, studying it like it held within its sparkle the solution to a profound mystery, twiddling the glass before taking a quick draw, withdrawing his lips slowly from the glass. Savoring his drink, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a phone, its brightness illuminating his face. He looked sad, aloof, like he had been forced to sit there by a power he couldn’t resist, unlike everyone else who seemed to have merged into the atmosphere of the club.
February 3, 2013
“Useless!” he yells, violently tumbling books off his desk and down to the floor. “Why can’t I get it right?”
“Dude!” Malik’s voice pierces through the commotion from an adjacent hallway. “What’s the problem again?” he asks, his hand pushing a partially open door into a dimly lit room.
“Malik, the equation is unstable I’m having problems with a variable,” Koech says.
“Really? And here I was thinking you were in a life threatening crisis,” Malik responds sarcastically as he strides past a pile of books and scattered papers towards the now slumped figure in the middle of the room.
“You’ll never get it brother, if I crack it I’ll be able to unlock and replicate with precision, any numerical sequence generated by man or machine.”
Ever since the end of the rainy season, ever since the destruction of the village green house and the chief’s little baraza, Kombo’s heart bore the weight of the universe. It wasn’t because of the rains that had swept away three huts, thirteen cows, five goats and a toddler. It wasn’t because his alcoholic father was down with liver cirrhosis or that his elder sister Nyakara was a harlot who when ‘decent’ wore short skirts that squeezed her expansive thighs too tight she had trouble walking, a strapless top that let her breasts almost hang out loose for the ravenous eyes to feast on and heels which made her walk as if the ground was burning.
Entry 1, 14th September 2001
My name is Maria and today I became a woman. I became a woman of the society, a woman from filth. The other five girls and I were paraded in front of our mothers and fathers, slatted painfully in the joy of the crowd and became whole. The situation was neither embarrassing nor shameful. It was depressing, nonetheless. In between our tears and Mucus River, we became women. The soil drank us whole and felt fulfilled. They claimed we were of age because our breasts danced underneath our shukas. They argued that our bottoms which had started wobbling and dancing freely were getting unwarranted attention from the young men. They insisted that desire would fill us up and our legs would ramble apart, ushering us to sin.
Kazungu had only read about convictions and death penalties in books and newspapers, and it perpetually made his flesh crawl. On that awful day, he had asked his wife to confirm the clear and annoying sound that came from the car. He drove an old PEUGEOT-504 which had been passed down generations from his grandfather, a local chief to his father a palm wine tapper and finally ending its course of life with a middle aged teacher, whose students had nicknamed the “beetle” not because of how he looked or walked but how the car moved rapidly from side to side along the dusty paths of the village.