Celebrating East African Writing!
I could see him grimace in pain as he tried to choose the right words, “I don’t know. I can’t explain! No! It’s strange! Unfortunate! A Curse! How could she?”
I nodded silently. The rage that boiled within me was enough to melt iron. It was deep and I could feel its cruel talons tearing at my heart.
The men who sat outside were from the nearby village. The large house looked oddly silent. Where were the children?
I had heard of the sad news at my charcoal stall in the market. Nantondo, the village chief rumour monger had filled me in.
Sylo was my age mate, although no one would blame you for calling her, ‘Maitu’ (granny). Mother of four who worked on her shamba from dawn to dusk except when she came to the market to sell the little she had harvested and on Sunday when she joined the other villagers in the afternoon fellowship.
Okonyo was a wealthy city man; he had businesses in the city. I hear night and day is almost the same in the city. The bars are opened all night. Kiosks are big and one gets in and pick what they want and pay as you move out. I have gone to the city only once; when my uncle had found me a job. The job was to look after an old white couple but it looked like they paid me to look after Josphin, their Cat. I left the job. I can look after a cow but no cats!
Sylo and I had been lovers for one year. I went to Sylo’s home to make the matters official and rumors had it that Okonyo had suggested he would marry Sylo. I didn’t blame him; after all she was the village beauty.
Her father’s words remain emblazoned on my brain,” What is that you own encouraging you to step into my compound? Nothing! I am not giving our daughter away to a mass of poverty. No! No one ever fed on poverty! OUT! I say OUT!”
I didn’t see Sylo again.
One month later, I spied her coming out of Okonyo’s homestead and I knew what had happened. Although she looked old, it pained more than I could bear.
My heart withered within me. I moved to the other side of the village.
Six years down the line I heard the news. Here I was at her house.
“…I didn’t know it would end up to this madness. Just get into that house and see it for yourself …” He looked at me to see if I had been listening.
He knew I was not. He paused. I looked into his eyes and he quickly looked away. The other men looked away. The open door looked more like into a cave.
I knew what they were thinking.
She had been found breathless and her mouth frothy in her children’s bed. Her arm tightly around the young one who was still asleep when the villagers streamed in.
©Nyawira Njenga 2010
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