Celebrating East African Writing!

Bats in the Bedlamite’s Belfry

 Written by Linda Musita

From the moment of birth the Stone Age Baby confronts the twentieth century mother, the baby is subjected to these forces of violence called love, as its mother and father and their parents before them have been. These forces are mainly concerned with destroying most of its potentialities and on the whole, this enterprise is successful.”



6.30 pm on Wednesday, the 1st day of June 2011. It was fast food night and Enoch had to call Bugga n’ Fizz before they stopped delivering. The major set back on this particular Wednesday was the negative truth that his mobile phone had no airtime. The nearest shopping centre was fifteen minutes away. He liked to walk to the centre but at 6.30pm the jeunesse dorée in their convertibles and the ruffians in the 46 matatus had formed the habit of creating a car park at the Gitanga Road junction that extended all the way to Lavington Green Shopping centre and beyond. The perpetrators of the evil had nothing much to do while it lasted, so they glued eyes on their car windows and stared at the pedestrians. Enoch always thought them hopeless hostages suppressing the urge to release bad air and worse still they made random pedestrians like him feel embarrassed by their own footsteps. Nevertheless, he needed airtime in order to get his chilli fries and fillet, so he wore his boots, put on a pair of maroon briefs and a white vest.

“If they are going to stare, they might as well satisfy their visual organs.”



Buto reached into the plastic bag half full with tamarind fruit, cracked a pod and thrust a sticky line of sourness into his mouth and onto an already sore tongue. He had seen Enoch leave the house in more revealing, revolting attire or sometimes in the nude. The young boss despised clothes and anyway, who was he to judge him. In his time he did more unconventional things especially to his wife Euphrasia. Things that included her pudenda, chilli powder and his eternally sore tongue. He had learnt a lot from Enoch’s parents.

‘Rest their liberal souls of kink….and Euphrasia’s submissive soul too.’ He laughed and whistled to sooth his tongue.


 Enoch walked briskly and they did stare, as expected, prompting him to smile and increase his pace just to give the whole spectacle the required visual effect. At the shopping centre, he made for the SWANKAtel kiosk and bought a scratch card. He keyed in the,*1547895378698872≠. Instead of the usual short message confirming his new account balance he got,

 “Imagine a yellow corporate tower sticking its tongue out and singing’ fey fey fey fey boo boo, you haven’t loaded shit!’ Please try and reload the card. If you have dumped it already, buy another one, make me rich and reload it severally for required results.”

He had dumped the card in the recycling bin next to the kiosk.

Frustrated, he asked the vendor to read the message and explain what he thought he had not understood.

“Ndho hivo! Siku hidhi wanankula wananthi hivo. Nunua kadhi ingine ama uthchange mthandao,” he told Enoch while handing him another card with his right hand and holding out his left palm for the money.

Enoch took the card, paid for it and made four attempts at loading the airtime finally getting the polite message confirming the recharge. He called Bugga n’ Fizz immediately perhaps out of fear that the yellow tower might pull a fast one on him again.

As soon as he got home he got rid of the articles of clothing and then frantically typed an email to the corporate punkster,

Dear SWANKAtel,

You really think a yellow building trying at personification would freak me out? Try harder because when I see yellow, I do not think of playing guns and robbers but taking a bath with my rubber ducky.

Kind Regards,


A month later, on the 4th day of July 2011, he drove to the post office. His mail box usually contained flyers inviting him to Asian Expos and an electricity bill. This time however, there was an extra black envelope, unsealed and unaddressed.  He thrust four fingers into the envelope and retrieved a sheet of paper that among nothing else read,

Dear Enoch

*≠*≠* ≠*≠*≠*≠* ≠*≠*≠*≠* ≠*≠*

*≠*≠* ≠*≠**≠*≠* ≠*≠**≠*≠* ≠*≠*

*≠*≠* ≠*≠**≠*≠* ≠*≠*≠*≠* ≠*≠*

*≠*≠* ≠*≠**≠*≠* ≠*≠*≠*≠* ≠*≠*


“Oh really?’ he mocked the incorrigibles and threw the envelope into the ‘Return to Sender Box’.

That Wednesday he called the fast food people just as he left the supermarket. That way he and the delivery boy would get to his gate at the same time, by his calculations. As estimated, the delivery boy met him at the gate at 7.30 pm, handed him the medium size pizza box in exchange for the consideration.

Safely within his house, Enoch placed the box on the dining table, took off his clothes and walked into the kitchen, shopping bag in hand. The bag was placed on the counter and the young albeit naked boss proceeded to the sink and drank directly from the tap.

Buto dished out a tomato from a basin of hot water, forgetting to peel off the skin, he cut it into quarters. All the while his eyes followed the young boss’ nude frame from the counter, to the sink and out of the kitchen to the dinning table.

Comfortable on a chair, Enoch lifted the top of the box only to be met with a scrabble board instead of the extra topping pizza he had ordered. This was also not the usual 15 by 15 grid scrabble board but a 10 by 10 grid board with all one hundred tiles stuck to it. All of them except the two blanks were marked with an organized sequence of * and ≠.

“Food for thought, huh? Not even a pretty alphabetical letter? Come on?” he asked and then called for the cook.

“Mmmmhhhhhh,” answered a tomato stuffed mouth.

“Come and clear this mess, burn it if you please!”

Buto took the box without looking at the young boss and proceeded, together with his perplexed look and his opinion, to the backyard where he dumped the ‘mess’ into a compost pit.


2.00 am on the 9th of July 2011 and the phone rings. He could swear that he had switched it off before he pulled the covers over his shoulders but still it buzzed and shrieked. He reached under the pillow, dragged it out and pressed the green button.


Nothing but a hum, He thumbed the red button but the phone was off anyway rendering that a useless action altogether. So, believing he was mid-dream, he slipped the phone back under the pillow and dreamt some more. Twenty minutes later, a beep notifying him of a message prompted him to drag the phone out again. And the message read,


“*≠*≠* ≠*≠**≠*≠* ≠*≠**≠*≠* ≠*≠*

*≠*≠* ≠*≠**≠*≠* ≠*≠*≠*≠*  *≠*≠*

*≠*≠* ≠*≠**≠*≠* ≠*≠*≠*≠*  *≠*≠*”

This was the thorn that pricked the orangutan’s hand!

“Nobody knows exactly when the last time of something begins. But this is something else. Because today, at sometime, it is going to be the last time of something between us,”  as he got out of bed he recited a paragraph from, The Visits, a book that his mother made him read repeatedly when he was a boy.

He went to the living room, sat on the sofa and waited. Soon enough there was a deafening bang on the gate.

Enoch went outside. From where he stood, he saw the yellow tower with frightened night shift employees peering through the numerous windows.

“So you think you are brave?” the parking bay on the twentieth floor moved. Enoch took that to be the concrete monstrosity’s mouth.

“Ay, get lost. You will wake the neighbors and their Residents’ Associations,” Enoch answered and started towards the door.


“What, freak?”

“”Really, I do not scare you at all? I am real you know, nothing from a nightmare. You can come closer and pinch me if you like.”

“Of course you are real. Now, can I go back to sleep?”

“Jesus Louisa’s! Do you know how hard it is to get a 10 by 10 scrabble board manufactured to specification and imported to an insignificant telecoms company in Africa?”

“Ehe?” Enoch lifted a brow at the same time noticing the goose bumps on his skin.

“None of that shit scared you?!….Ahhh, wait, I see goose pimples! You are a wimp after all!”

“Ay, those are because I am naked and it is cold out here. And the bumps on your walls are they goose bumps too?” Enoch employed sarcasm.

“No, these are designer! By a very good architect too!”

Enoch turned to enter the house again.

“Hey, wait! I have to have scared the hair up and out of your skin?”

“Nah, you did not.”

“Didn’t your parents ever shower you with sickening quantities of love and by extension instill fear in you. It happens to humans, by default, the last I checked. You do know that love is the mother of all fear, don’t you?”

“No they did not”

“Oi?” the twentieth floor slanted.

“They beat the jeepers out of me daily, never cuddled me, took me to their hunting sprees and made me catch does only to force me to break their necks later, let me watch them have sex sometimes with Buto other times with VCR tutorials and when they went on vacation they checked me into a mental institution or a private clinic’s psych ward. They even let the Old Nick move in, in 1999, just before they passed on. I let him live here till 2007 when I kicked him out. Sulfur has a foul stench and I had put up with it long enough.”

“No kidding?’’

“Nope. I am grateful though; imagine the spook you would have created if they had treated me like a weakling. Now get lost!”

“Alrrrrrrrright,” the tower turned and walked towards the shopping centre





Buto peeked through the bedroom window of the servant’s quarter. The young master was talking to himself again. This time the imaginary person he was talking to was not in between his toes but somewhere up in the sky or thereabouts.

He watched Enoch ramble and then walk into the house, slamming the door behind him.

© Linda Musita 2011

This short story was submitted into the Storymoja Urban Narratives : No One Told Me… Short Story Contest. Please comment on the short story for the author’s benefit and then vote on the story. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being weak and 10 being excellent, please indicate where you rank this story. Points will be tallied on the 6th of August, and the winner announced on the 7th of August 2011.


49 comments on “Bats in the Bedlamite’s Belfry

  1. Liz
    July 23, 2011

    Its amazing..the writing talent here :-) The writing style is not your everyday encounter and for a moment it got me confused especially the last paragraphs but in the end I am able to capture that the young Enoch is mentally ill…the moment that almost sends me back to re-read the story again. I am not entirely able to capture what the theme here is (just me) but I love the effort the writer has made. I give a 10 for this huge creativity and a 7 (just me) for not picking out a distinct theme.

  2. Alexa
    July 25, 2011

    Amazing in style and surreal urbanism. With but a small exception, the text is also very well groomed. The final twist sets it apart from everyday French surrealism. A 10 for creativity, style and presentation (shall I use an Oxford comma here, or not?); a 9 for the chili powder because of insufficient detail…

  3. Alexa
    July 25, 2011

    There is, of course, depth beyond the surrealism. The depth is that a mentally ill person here is actually very well able to relate and *cope* with his world.
    Maybe only because his condition empowers him to cope with what otherwise might be unbearable? An 11 for this deeper extra layer.

  4. John Kiarie
    July 25, 2011

    -uncharacteristic language: deep in a sense; would almost boxed the language on a class or age group. Names of people and places almost feel georgian. A classic nevertheless.-

  5. willy
    July 25, 2011

    he-he awesome write up , the writer put us in the head of a mentally ill person, this is very good wriitng

  6. willy
    July 25, 2011

    I give it 8 out of 10

  7. Nyambura
    July 25, 2011

    “jeunesse dorée”…I don’t know what that means and it is not my fault. I like the characterization…it definitely builds up well and I really felt like snarling at SWANKAtel too.

  8. Dama
    July 25, 2011

    I award 9 for creativity, that was a captivating story!

  9. John Kiarie
    July 25, 2011

    ….I give it a 9 out of ten…..I take one for use of uncommon names and words uncharacteristic to urban readership…..

  10. Bee Illustrated
    July 26, 2011

    Imagine a whole building talking down to you…the nerve! I love the writing! I give it a strong 9.

  11. Alexander Ikawah
    July 26, 2011

    Interesting… an 8.5 out of 10.

  12. Nyambura
    July 26, 2011

    In terms of grammar and characterization and continuity I will give it an 8.

  13. jake
    July 26, 2011

    hmmm,quite a twist from our everyday presentation.i like it, very creative writing
    and i surely admire the play of words on there,i give it a strong 9.

  14. DUNCAN
    July 26, 2011

    Imagination at its best. I give it an 8.

  15. faith nancy
    July 27, 2011

    hehehe! 11 outta ten!so good at some point i thought i was crazy!kudos!

  16. Ivory Cherub
    July 28, 2011

    Now thats a story.I love the flow and the language. strong 10 for me. Keep up the good work.

  17. Joyce
    July 28, 2011

    I give it a 9. Loved it.

  18. Brenda Angwenyi
    July 28, 2011

    Amazing creativity in here and for a moment you actually think that a building talking to you is sooo normal. I give it 9

  19. Lukoye
    July 28, 2011

    Lovely narrative. Just lovely. Linda’s writing here is very inspiring. I want to write like this, and get away with it, just as she did. 10.

  20. roundsquare
    July 28, 2011


  21. Laura Holder
    July 29, 2011

    This short story includes all the typical ingredients: an open beginning and ending, only a few characters without a detailed background, and a conflict. I like how Enoch and Buto act; it is always totally clear who of them is the current third person narrator. At first, the story is not so easy to understand, but in this way you have to think about it, and will ask yourself: Could among us also live persons with a mentally illness / weakness without us noticing it? Therefore 9 of 10 points – one point less, because I was not able to understand all connotations (which might or might not be due to my youth and my different cultural background :P )

  22. David O. Musita
    July 29, 2011

    This is a great literary piece. Linda Musita’s work manages to catch the eye of anyone who finds time to study art and literature. She writes captivating narrations. This is one amongst many that I have looked at, quite appealing. She is destined to reach greater heights if she gets the necessary support. The harmony, language and skill with which she pens her work reveal prowess that cannot escape our attention. Despite many challenges, she remains upbeat, in high spirits to further this noble cause. Reading her work gives you almost a real time experience.

    I score her at 9 out of 10 points. Hats off.

  23. flirtbolt
    July 29, 2011

    Edgar Allan is alive in these words,its true; you such a piece of talent.
    I give it a 9.

  24. Orato
    July 29, 2011

    It felt like sitting smack on a sofa watching a Tarantino Flick and we all know those can get. I read it five times and the intelligent convolution of plot, the disturbing mood, the wacky feel, the through character development that has obviously gone on here and the theme that lies in plain sight but which dissembles itself until the very end. I adore these kind of writing. Bravo!

    Naturally, I give it a ten!

  25. George
    July 29, 2011

    I laughed and laughed. Story line is amazing and strong. I give it a 9

  26. Awoken Soul
    July 29, 2011

    The writer has a unique way of sweetly persuading, capturing and passionately holding her readers’ spirits and minds…:delicately sprinkling refreshing droplets of comic relief here and there… skillfully weaving warm blankets of direct speech…awesome creativity….hmmm…upper class 10!

  27. Gachagua
    July 29, 2011


  28. bemih
    July 30, 2011

    in her characteristic self,Musita does it again,captivatn,leavn you with no choice but to concentrate and read,am i a bar and i hav 4 gottn bout my drink n company¿…write a book on this Musta!

    I give it a ten.

  29. shikoh
    August 1, 2011


  30. Angelaleah
    August 1, 2011

    Interesting story, totally uncharacteristic of what the norm is I like the suspense of not knowing what its all about at the start. I would give a 9 out of 10

  31. Joanne Njeri Kobuthi
    August 1, 2011

    I absolutely love it!it is intriguing,I could not wait to see how everything penned out in the end.Its got a captivating flow and amazing vocabulary.Amazingly talented author

  32. Abitso GaQcx
    August 1, 2011

    I Love it~~ 11/10

  33. Joanne Njeri Kobuthi
    August 3, 2011

    i give it a 9/10

  34. Cillah Mo'
    August 4, 2011

    i love it…the way the ending is just the begining, it makes the reader re-read the story and somehow sees it in a different light. Simply mavelous! I give it a 10/10.lous! I give it a 10/10.

  35. Redscar McOdindo K'Oyuga
    August 4, 2011

    You’ve vividly describe the events which, albeit fictitious, are admissible. I however have reservation with the thematic nomadism. You so hop – knowingly or otherwise – from one theme to another that at the end one wonders what prompted your writing of this story. Then I find the name ‘Enoch’ so alien to the desired plot. For effect, it is too western to befit this son – or so I imagine – of Nairobi. The name ‘SWANKAtel’, on the other hand, marries perfectly into the setting and it resonates with the events thereof. The story is captivating, and that one may indeed experience it is anybody’s guess. I rate it 9.6 out of the possible 10.

  36. Redscar McOdindo K'Oyuga
    August 4, 2011

    You’ve vividly described the events which, albeit fictitious, are admissible. I however have reservation with the thematic nomadism. You so hop – knowingly or otherwise – from one theme to another that at the end one wonders what prompted your writing of this story. Then I find the name ‘Enoch’ so alien to the desired plot. For effect, it is too western to befit this son – or so I imagine – of Nairobi. The name ‘SWANKAtel’, on the other hand, marries perfectly into the setting and it resonates with the events thereof. The story is captivating, and that one may indeed experience it is anybody’s guess. I rate it 9.6 out of the possible 10.

  37. Evericko E. Words
    August 4, 2011

    classic 9/10

  38. Gemini
    August 4, 2011

    Your name is Redscar, my name is Juliet, her name is Linda, I know a Noah, and we all live in Nairobi! What in the world is ‘alien’?

  39. Redscar McOdindo K'Oyuga
    August 4, 2011

    Notice that I opined so only ‘for effect’. The story would be more related to Nairobi – and less so to Paris – were the ‘Enoch’ some ‘Tamima’ or ‘Tamara’. Its inclusion doesn’t make the story any lame. For its worth; characterization is as important.

  40. Fatuous Fatuity aka Bildad Kaggia
    August 4, 2011

    The story in sucked in little detail. I mean, there is a lot of telling in the story than showing. The final editing is not satisfactory at all. Besides, long sentences in some paragraphs can be replaced with more shorter and concise ones. Sorry, i had to start with what i think is at stake in the story. OK. Liz writes with energy and passion, which, by the way, is a good thing. The story idea is ok. She too adheres to her natural rhythm and whatnot. I gave you 8 over ten.

  41. Fatuous Fatuity aka Bildad Kaggia
    August 4, 2011

    Whoops, i almost forgot. Enoch to me felt like some character in a newpaper story.I did not feel him at all, surely. I don’t how he looks like, and whatnot. Whatever. I expected the writer to make me see and like and identify with her character viscerally. But there was nothing like that. Enough with the rambling!

  42. julie auma
    August 4, 2011


  43. Beth
    August 5, 2011

    mine is a 10. great creativity and i think the story reflects on the unseen obstacles in our lives that we must deal with yet other people are unaware of. but Enoch here shows his stubbornness and goes on to challenge his adversities even freaky as they may seem. the fact that he is mentally ill is symbollic for our shortcomings which we may use as our strong points in facing these problems. thank you!

  44. Robie Nson
    August 5, 2011

    the beautiful ones may not yet be born, but the heroines are born, and one is in you, I must indulge you more, in silence… I rate in 9.5…Brilliant!!

  45. aumaj
    August 5, 2011

    i crown it a 9/10. That is what you call thinking outside the box, infact there was no box. Definately not your garden variety, smart, direct and insightful. Love love love love love it! The intrigues of the mentally unstable while still showing vulnerability as well as comedy and relevant themes. The custom made scrabble set bit was a total winner.

  46. Karen C. Limo
    August 8, 2011

    CONGRATULATIONS LINDA! I am very happy for you!

  47. Linda Akhatenje Musita
    August 8, 2011

    Enoch, Buto, SWANKAtel and I would like to thank you all for the votes and the comments. Thank you too Karen and congratulations on second position.

  48. anonymous inc
    August 24, 2011

    linda genius this is thestuff real wtitting is made of

  49. samy
    August 15, 2014

    how do i get her number coz i need a serious mentor

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