I am woken up from the mat by the sounds of matatus honking away, playing music so loud it makes the iron sheet wall vibrate. My eyes refuse to open. I hate mornings! It takes literal effort to get my feet onto the cold floor and will my eyes to adjust to the darkness. It is 5am in the morning.
My room stinks. It reeks of my mistakes. I should not have left her. My husband is a monster . . . was I mean? I came home from the dairy to find him on her. He was ploughing her like a farmer would the earth in dry season; hard and with determination. She was five. I look at her body which has turned pale. I do not know what to do.
I walk along the corridor to the main door of the house; we call it a unit. The door is slightly ajar. The women must be taking refuge in the darkness, while taking a communal bath behind the unit. The care-taker must be awake too. He must look after the safety of the women early in the morning. I step out and the morning chill hits my naked face. I tightly clutch at my clothes. I sit on a stack of wood outside. They creak as though refusing to be disturbed.
What was disturbing though was that they were father and daughter. She must have screamed. They must have thought I was a negligent mother. Maybe I am. I screamed, but no one came. I didn’t think. It came to me as naturally as breathing does. I lay hands on him. I did not know I have such strength! For a split second, I was the monster. She didn’t even squeal. Blood was all over the place. I couldn’t bear to mop it. It would mean that she was actually gone . . . and I did not want to accept that reality.
The sun slowly comes up to reveal the miracle where filth outshines metallic dustbins. From far, one can see shimmering circles of dim light, but as you got closer, the dim light takes on a different shape. The bins have been well used; but that has not stopped the people from using them. They overflow with banana peels, maize flour bags and the unmistakable chaff of thoroughly sucked sugarcane. I wrap my kanga around my head as I always do when I’m going to the dairy and walk away.
© Beatrice Wainaina
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