Celebrating East African Writing!
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.”
-R.D LAING (THE POLITICS OF EXPERIENCE)-
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,
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.
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,
*≠*≠* ≠*≠*≠*≠* ≠*≠*≠*≠* ≠*≠*
*≠*≠* ≠*≠**≠*≠* ≠*≠**≠*≠* ≠*≠*
*≠*≠* ≠*≠**≠*≠* ≠*≠*≠*≠* ≠*≠*
*≠*≠* ≠*≠**≠*≠* ≠*≠*≠*≠* ≠*≠*
“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.
“”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.”
“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.