Celebrating East African Writing!
Phillip stared at the therapist’s thin caramel legs. They reminded him of dry twigs. She wore orange stiletto heels that took his mind to the stove in his mother’s kitchen.
‘My boy Lollipop, you made my heart go giddy up.
You are as sweet as candy,
You are my sugar dandy.
Ha, ho my boy Lollipop,
Never ever leave me,
Because it would grieve me…’
He heard Nelly, Akoth and Marie singing in the kitchen. How he longed to get into that kitchen: so warm and nice, full of love and oestrogenic cooperation. But he wouldn’t dare. Instead he peeped through the keyhole of the Bermuda blue door. He saw the girls chopping, grating, kneading then fry or maybe boil the condiments on a six burner stove. The orange flames teasing his peeping eye as much as his sisters’ gyrating lady lumps teased. They happily swayed and swirled to the tunes coming out of the dubbed tape in the radio. The girls always did a rewind of Millie Small’s rendition of My Boy Lollipop. He loved that song.
They always seemed happy in the kitchen. He, on the other hand, wasn’t to be caught dead there. Not even for a glass of water for a fiery throat.
“Kitchen! No place for a man with functional balls! A sissy maybe. But this Jaduong’ has not raised a sissy. Has he?” Papa growled like a man possessed by the Msambwa Demons.
“No, Jaduong.” Phillip winced. Papa let the girls call him ‘papa’ and even sit, bounce and giggle on his lap. But his only son had to call him Jaduong’ and stand at cadet attention when being addressed.
“Son, you know we have all our dreams and hopes safely banked in an account known as Phillip?”
“I do, Jaduong.”
“That is why you get V.I.P treatment and privileges. As you see and know, this our house is a two bedroom. You are the only one with an entire room to yourself. The rest of us have to share. Your sisters have to arrange ‘godhoro’ in the sitting room every night! Every night! Now, tell Jaduong’ why you have your own room? Go on!”
“I am the account of dreams and hopes. I go to school to read and learn and defeat everyone. So that one day I will become a big man…,” he pauses and stares at the wall.
“Eh! Are you forgetting your creed? Do you shame me in the presence of your mama by turning into a failed memory retard?”
“No Jaduong’….So that one day I will become a big man with money and buddies. For no man without a university campus degree and American dollars can afford buddies and a bubble gum pink Bayerische Motoren Werke car for Jaduong’. That equation cannot balance.”
“Good. Now go back to your room. Marie will bring that glass of water.”
“Jaaa…dddd..uu..ong.” Phillip stammers.
“WHAT?” the Msambwa Demon barks.
“There is a library at….”
“Go to your room before I make you pee in your pants!”
“Phil,” a gentler voice called.
The therapist had her left hand on his arm. He looked into her eyes the same way he had stared at the wall in Jaduong’s sitting room. She looked away and walked back to her seat with the help of her twigs.
Klik, klck, klik, klok and thwump. Four steps and her tiny bum hit the chair.
“What are you thinking about?” she asked.
“I can’t call that thinking, Dr. Sunjit. That was not thinking.”
“What was it then?”
“It was my mother’s kitchen. It was fire, motion and sound.”
“Go on….I want to go on to the library.”
“The library, Phil?”
“You know your questions, Dr. Sunjit; they never have more than five words in their structure.”
Dr. Sunjit remains silent.
“I want to go to the library man!”
“Alright Phil, you can go to the library. There is one close by. Just go up Ralph Bunche Road and you shall find one.”
“Thank you Dr. Sunjit. I guess we shall see you tomorrow.”
“There she goes again with the short questions.”
He stood at the entrance to the library. There were too many people in the compound, sitting on the benches idly.
‘Why aren’t they in the library with the books?’
People always made it difficult for him to get into the library. Jaduong’ never let him go into one. He said that he would do just fine with the textbooks. The library was full of radical opinions on paper.
Jaduong’ was a person, singular for people. That did not even make sense. The examples in the textbooks read:
e.g Boy- Boys
There was no ‘Person- People’. Not in his textbooks. Sometimes the world confused him. His gut always told him that it was Jaduong’s fault.
The last time he saw Jaduong it was not so pretty a sight.
‘My boy Lollipop,
You make my heart go giddy up,
you set my world on fire,
you are my one desire,
my boy Lollipop, my boy Lollipop. ‘
Jaduong’ was curled up in an ashen corner with zero signs of life. Charred and black, his face contorted and fleshy resembled cold and half baked beef. Someone set the two bed roomed on fire and Phillip was smiling, holding the radio close to his chest as he looked around. Beautiful sound and medium size pungent clouds of smoke.
Mama, Nelly, Akoth and Marie looked like baked beef too. Mama covered with the charred pink blanket on her marital bed, the girls hurdled together on the sitting room godhoro.
He was unharmed. So was the radio. The people in the fire wagon took him to a hospital. They said he was in shock and sent him to a hostel on Ralph Bunche Road. Dr. Sunjit said it was close to her clinic and it would be easier to treat his shock if he was a stone’s throw away. She promised to help him get over his remorse.
He was not remorseful. He walked away from the inaccessible library. It was almost dinner time at the hostel. They called it dinner there, but Marie, Nelly and Akoth used to call it supper. They told him that their food was soul food. Phillip liked that, S for Supper or Soul food while D was for Dinner or Dump food.
Phillip went to his room to get his spoon and his heart ran over a beat. His radio was not on the stand.
“Yes, Phillip!” she yelled back.
“Come here, matron, come here” he sobbed. “Where is my radio?”
“Oh that old thing, I threw it in the garbage.”
“Why?” He winced
“The garbage collectors came and I didn’t want to leave any trash behind. You know they only come once in two weeks. So, I get it all out while I can, every single bit of trash on my path goes with the stinky truck.”
“Trash?” asked gently, with flames on his mind.
”Yes, the radio and everything about it was trash. If the inspectors found it here, all rusty and rotten wood, they would quarantine the place for tetanus or even burn it down,” she laughed.
© Linda Musita 2011 http://ivoryconfessions.blogspot.com
If you would like this piece to be the Story of the Week, please vote below on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being weak, and 10 being excellent. The numbers will be tallied on Sunday 13th of February 2011 and the story with the highest figure shall be Crowned Story of the Week on Monday 14th February. Be sure to fill in your name and verifiable email. You can include your critique/comment after the vote.