Celebrating East African Writing!

Neighbouhood Feud

At first she trod with preparation into the serenity that herself and no one else suffered. She inspected the compound with glimpses and listened like one who smells a rat. Then Gab whom you never heard anyone say he found sober, struck up meters away. It mystified Wanja why she was not even aware of the hustle and bustle of the kids playing just few yards away and the sheep was bleating and the cow mooing yet at first she had not heard them, she had been consumed by ostensible serenity. There was indeed another time she had had those same irregular feelings and it had prompted her mother to concern and she had accused their neighbour on her daughter’s apprehension.

She sat down on the threshold to their house and trying to be with aplomb she heaved a sigh of relief, much as tiredness pervaded her and also because of that week’s and the ever so often dreadful events. The frequent trials were seemingly intrinsic in their evening endeavours hence they could be anticipated formally. So she sat the sad anxiety feeling still vivid and listened waiting for any traces of affront from their neighbour, a thing always seeming sure to happen every of those evenings.

Her younger sister Wanjiku was playing outside the compound with others. She considered hollering at her for playing with their neighbour’s children when their mother had repressed her against it, but she was too all-in to heed violating their carefree. The children sometimes quarreled over small matters whilst also cheerfully running and wrestling each other. But Wanja only felt a lamentation tinge on remembering the state of strong dislike and violence that existed between these neighbours. Bickering like that of the children and even prattling on about their clothes mostly led to severe fights between their families. She felt tears bulge her eye sockets as she watched her sister so urbanely intermingle, almost divinely and sharing their gaiety equitably with the children of their neighbour who inflicted much anguish to their mother. She was filled with admiration and wonder why, kids though sometimes in brief naïve discords, were such good breeds of humanity whilst grownups were times just as Gab called them ‘hot potatoes’. Wanja always wished she would one day come abode to an atmosphere of pure bred sweet solace like of kids. One day she shall find their families amicably living and sharing their woes and fortunes together rather than in disparage and agitation, she prayed. She wished people were like her father who handled crises with vigilance and though reserved and placid he was also a man unequalled where a necessity of thrusting clenched fists arose.

Wanja was still so integrated with surreal things which were obvious to happen and she was thus oblivious of the thunderclap which had for now three days on end been grumbling, rumbling and went tumbling sometimes with spooky feelings and though heralding the long awaited down pour it had anyway prolonged the anticlimax. Her cat came meowing and jumped and went purring in her lap as she sat astern against the door post closing her eyes with a feel of somnolence. Gab came nearer. He seemed to be the only one who had noticed the coming of the rain. ‘Farmers cheers! You are the only remaining uncorrupt in all industries’ he glorified. Wanja heard the kids also, playing, running hither and thither and she in an illusory saw in all that a neighbour like a bull, charging at her mother. To dissemble the mind she started to talk to her cat and fondling it. But still she couldn’t relax. She remembered their dog which had been found a week before at the road, houseflies buzzing over it and feasting on the disemboweled carcass. It had been run on by a pick-up but their mother declared that it was their neighbour woman who had bewitched it. Such misfortune, though not much convoluted and not whatsoever tantamount to superstition, infused the families with inquietude. There was wizardry which whenever there were resources in abundance and people had things to their replete it would wane, but such climate like the present scorch found people retrogressing to cultural bondage. Ordinary accidents, at least more than a half of them were regarded with ominous significance.

The hilarity of the kids subsided and one was crying at the top of her voice, most of the time it was always Njoki. Then Wanja heard her sister claim that Njoki had called her scud! Then there was an exchange of hostile words in the background and Wanja quivered and thought they were at it again. It was already twilight; darkness could not pave way for the common evening stunts.

“You woman!” the neighbour woman with an obnoxious tongue propensity was engaging Wanja’s mother. She had chanced to hear her daughter crying, a thing she seemed to always seek so as to give a free rein to her arsenal. She was fortunate, there was mama Wanja coming from the market.

Words were heard flare up.

People stopped to rubberneck.

The woman made a beeline for her enemy with her arms bowed “Here, see the heroine. You think you are the only one who goes shopping!? That waif of yours I will kill….mscheeew!” Mama Njoki with insolence as usual.

On it went until the two women had a good tussle. All the goods that mama Wanja had bought were scattered on the ground. She held mama Njoki by the hair and the fat woman bit the other in the stomach. She sunk her teeth in the fat woman’s neck. Fat mama Njoki lifted the other up in the air while the other pulled the fat ears. It was all tearing, biting and uttering of ungodly words. One with a red eye, nose bleeding and with her blouse tattered again, jaunty and unperturbed in her buffoonery pose but poised in readiness for more fight, whilst the other had a sore lip, spitting blood and without a shoe and her arms akimbo and she too throwing the glove again.

Wanjiku and Njoki were gathering the goods all over the road: vegetables soiled and writhed, cereals spilling, the paraffin can leaking and a gourd broken. When the chubby of the two mothers saw her daughter collaborating she took out on her and gave her a thunderous smack. The poor girl fell on the ground gaping and dilating her eyes. Her mother took her and shook her, “useless brazen girl, go home!” the girl wildly ran home her vixenish mother in tow.

Wanja’s mother also briskly walked home curiously jolted into silence. She wrung her lips, sometimes retaliating by ordering her children about.

At the hearth her husband put it lucid that he was solely responsible for all that needed authority in the family otherwise he threatened to make her take her whole kit and caboodle and head for her father’s home.

When the kids later went to bed their mother was told off some more. Wanjiku was eves dropping as his father told their mother that she should ignore their neighbour. But, Wanjiku said to herself, ‘but not be deaf when Njoki calls me scud’ which she had been dubbed because of her careless tendency to fart. But anyway Wanjiku had a very good appetite.

© Waitara Gid 2013

The word I based my story on is ‘duel’ and what in the picture triggered it is the posture of the two girls, it looks like they are about to fight.


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