Celebrating East African Writing!
I awake with my mouth full of coir, or is it the doormat? Again! I spit a chunk into the fine satin of my palm before I trust myself to breathe without choking. I try to swing my legs over the side of the bed and wipe the cobwebs of sleep from my eyes. I can’t command any of my limbs to do anything. Do commanders shoot dead all soldiers who disobey orders? That’s how I know I am still a danger to my family.
My mother sweeps into the room that very instance.
“Why did you give me doormats for breakfast?” I yell at her in language I sure as hell know she will understand. I have been speaking to them in ‘wonderspeak’.
“Leila, no one did that to you…”
“Ametoka kuzimu nini?” the voice that says that belongs to none other than grandma’s.
“Mom, please…” my mother turns to her mother.
Well, for as long as I can remember I have one foot in hades. I try to struggle free of the chains that keep me from attacking my family. The others mill into the room slowly, one by one, until the one who shouldn’t creeps in like a ghost.
Zuleka says the word that I hate and I release one deadening scream that cramps me into a heap like a ventriloquist’s dummy, harmless without some spirit in me.
In my first memory I am six years, six months and six days old; the dreaded number 666. I am killing my sister, Zuleka. Sometimes the recollection is so clear I can feel her body fighting the inevitable, her muscles slackening, she wanting everything but death then wanting nothing no more. My mother walked in to check on her, the princess of the family, and saved her. The next time I used a pillow. She was asleep. She didn’t stand a chance. Mom and dad were going to their bedroom that evening when they decided to pop in our room and see how their lovely daughter was doing after the earlier incident.
They saved Zuleka, again.
“This never happened,” my father said. “This should never be known outside these walls…”
From then on I didn’t seem to exist, except in being kept away from her, until it didn’t matter.
In the end, I know, I have to kill my sister. That’s why I was born, or so I have been told.
I now know why I have to kill my sister. She is the slayer of the jinnees. She doesn’t know this. It will be revealed to her on her seventeenth birthday. She has two years before the epiphany.
The jinnees are scared. They can’t leave the ocean. That’s where they have lived all along, their home. Where would they go? I am the one to stop her.
On Friday 13th June, 2014 I should kill Zuleka. If I fail then the next time is when I am twenty-one. Friday 13th August, 2021. By then she would have freed Mombasa of the jinnees.
I hear the creak of every joint in my spine as I fall into the segue of conscious unconsciousness. I am a ghost – I hear everything they say, see them hug Zuleka and each other in solidarity yet I can’t do anything.
“Uliambiwa huyu moto husimzae hukusikia,” grandma says.
“We wouldn’t have known she would be like this, mom,” my mother responds.
“Now what? She is a threat to all of us. She wants to kill her sister, who knows who else is next…”
“I love them both, mom. You are a mother…”
“Mtoto wa kuzimu huyu. Lazima afe…”
Strange things have been happening. All of a sudden temperatures in Mombasa have dropped, it’s like we are in Mount Kenya. There have been whistles in the night but you can’t see who is whistling. People have woken up to coconut trees growing in their sitting rooms. Others have swallowed stones. Me I have feasted on coconut shells, and now coir.
“You can’t fight this hard,” I say, “without fighting for something worth.”
My sister tried to kill me when she was six. As we grew older, it didn’t matter she counted ways on which to accomplish her mission – poison, sprinkled on my food, or laced in my drink; a shove down the cliff we liked to go to; electrocution.
I am the psychic, but I failed to see this. Grandma calls her the ‘Devil’s Child’, says she should be killed. My psychic powers haven’t worked.
In the end my sister will not kill me. I will kill her.
At least this is what I tell myself.