Short Story:Pieces

Written by Dora Achieng Okeyo

©2013 Smashwords Edition

I hear those women calling on the radio. They say it and the whole country is ashamed of them. Well, I am not. I do not know them. I have to see this to the end. It is always the same voice-these women- they always have something to say. Secrets are best taken to the grave. I know about his. I know about mine. I hate that I have to act cool, it’s like I am an accomplice. I am an accomplice to his secrets. They will never know, not even if I can help myself. I am twenty four. I am woman. I am strong. I am me. For as long as I know those four facts I will never go wrong. I always thought I was “a woman.” I felt like I was something. It was a while before it hit me that I am not something, but someone. See, someone has “one” and that means composed or one piece, unlike “thing” which means undefined or unknown. I studied English. I believe that’s why I am going round in circles when I could be telling you the truth. For as long as there’s any will in me, I will win this. I will never get mad at him or shun him. I will watch him leave and come back. I will listen to him and still believe that he’s the one. I will hold his hand at functions and talk well of him. I will dress well and keep working. I will listen to word on the street but not be hushed by them. She will win. She will have him. She will see me and say “she’s foolish.” I will listen to her and smile. When it comes down to the truth, no one will ever ask. For when you love someone, it is never about them- but about what is. For us, it was just him and me. He was charming and handsome. I was modest and sweet. I never came across as pretty, not the way she is, or the five others before her. I was the one who could hand him change to pay for parking tickets. They were the ones he spent his salary on. I was the one who nursed him when he was ill. They were the ones that made him sick. I was the fall back plan. They were the plan. It was simple really, but whatever happened between us was beautiful. I decided to take a business class in marriage. See, it is where I do not invest in anything-I just manage. I know he can tell the difference, any man would. I have lost weight and I am two sizes down. I went to the salon and had my hair cut. I am spotting a chocolate brown short new do. My friends love it. His friends love my neck. They say that my eyes now pop out and I look younger than him. He holds me now. He holds the wind really. There was a time when he saw right through me. Now I see right through him and what keeps me here is his guilty soul. I have this feeling that he will take a nose dive and I will have to stand and push him off the cliff, you know just like Scar did unto Mufasa. His name is Micah. We met on a Tuesday. I was making my way around the supermarket and he was doing the same. I was buying some tampons and he pretended to be buying some wet tissues. I stood there for a while before he asked “spoilt for choice, uh?”

“Yes, there’s a lot to pick from.”

“I know, I have to buy my sister some- I don’t know which one she wants. She just wrote ‘always’ and everything here is marked ‘always.”

“Let me help you.”

“Thank you; I’m Micah by the way.”

“Maria.”

“A day for M’s I guess, and I really appreciate this, now thanks to you my sister will deem me a hero.”

“A hero is never afraid to ask for help.”

“And he’s glad when he gets help.” We had lunch immediately after because I had a good feeling about him. I didn’t feel any sirens go off around him. I felt calm and bright. He made me smile and blush at the same time; do you know how rare that is for any lady? We met for lunch more often and six months later he asked me to marry him. I did the right thing by saying “yes.” I will not tell you the details. I believe that you might just spot him on the streets and be tempted to kick him in the shins. I am saving him some dignity as he seems to take away our matrimonial one. We don’t have any children. He never had time for them. I believe it was always, “I hope we are safe, I wouldn’t want my kids to lack anything.” He would get a new car or suit the next day. It is true he didn’t want our kids to lack anything because he spent everything on himself. It is 7:00pm as I sit down to my thoughts. I have spent five years with this man and all I can think of are their names. There was Florence; the secretary who always wore red heels to work. She smiled a lot at him. She sneered at me. Their love blossomed for three weeks until she found a richer man. Next in line was Agnes. She was kind and the neighbor three houses down the street. I always loved how she talked well of charity. I came home one afternoon suffering the pangs of pneumonia when I saw them. I went back into the living room, picked my shoes and stayed at my friend’s house for the day. When I came home, Micah was all dressed and had made supper. He was glowing. Yes, men glow too- for them they have this sudden bout of confidence that could blow you away. Agnes lasted four months till her husband decided to leave with her three daughters and tell the whole world about her new catch. She came crying saying she didn’t mean to. I looked at her and said “I saw you in my bed on July 5th 2009, at 1:00pm. You were having my husband for lunch, bet you were full.” She looked at me. Micah dropped his cup of tea. I watched them. “I always knew you would cheat on Micah, and I believe you looked good on top of Agnes, bet you two forgot that she had a family and children. Serves you right.” I never yelled at him. I didn’t have anything to say to her. All the neighbors thought I was crazy. My Mother believed I was a murderer. Looking back, I believe she was the only person who knew who I was. She told my sisters that the only way to kill a man or any relationship was by being indifferent. I will admit that it worked to my advantage. Micah was the model husband for six months, and then he met Nelly. She was sweet and fresh. She made him laugh. She saw him for the god he was. She was in her second year in the university. She was studying Home Economics. I knew of her. I knew of his love for her, and they lasted a year. He realized she had three other gods too. That was the year he also contracted Syphilis. I am grateful to that infection because for two months I looked after him. I cooked for him and cleaned him. I smiled when he wanted me to. I often told him he would get well soon. He believed me and with good medication he got better. I moved into the guest room immediately after that. It was only yesterday when I learned that during his Nelly phase he was also managing Alice and some lady who calls herself Sweet. I did not know of these two, but now that I do know- I believe I have reached my breaking point. It is true, for you would not believe who Sweet is. If I told you, maybe you would. If I didn’t you would be left guessing, but Sweet is human. She is the lady who I turned to when all seemed to break loose. She is the lady I am going to meet this evening. She is the one who got me dressed up and looking like a star. She is also the one who will never kill me. I will never give her the satisfaction of seeing me writhe in pain. She made me believe in love again. It was a wonderful evening that week. I recall looking into Micah’s eyes and listening to him confess. He was sorry for all he did. He held my hands and swore he would never hurt me again. I looked at him and believed him. I was his wife after all. I played by the script and let him hold me again. I was in heaven that evening and the rest of week. He was sweet and sensual at the same time. He played by the book and I kept turning the pages hoping for a happy ending. I got mine. I will tell you all about it later on, but let me get back to Sweet. She’s the most elegant woman you could meet. She is also my best friend. This evening we are going to celebrate her engagement to Micah’s younger brother- Noah. It’s one big loyal family if you ask me. Noah is the hopeless romantic who had to propose to her at Amboseli under the night stars. He is also the one who cannot stop praising his wonderful fiancée. I once asked my Mother if my Father ever cheated on her. She looked at me and said, “A woman is like glue, she is the one who keeps the family together, and if she breaks, so does her family.” I asked her what she would do if he cheated on her, “keep myself together.” I have done that for five years. I have listened to the other women laugh at me. I have seen them sneer at me. I have also been called by some and insulted because I did not know how to keep my man. I have listened to all of them, not because I wanted to, but because a part of me knew what I needed from this relationship. It knew long before we were even married. I will confess that I lied about my age too. I am twenty eight. I also did not tell you that I have been an auditor at a bank for three years. I am never proud of my job, because I want something more flexible. I am done dressing up in the same dull colors just because someone calls it official. The good news is that, I have three more months at work and then I could resign. I need to focus on my business that is slowly picking up and demanding most of my time. Micah does not know I have a business. We do not have a joint account too. I thank heavens for that advice from my Mother. She told me, “No joint accounts my dear, this one seems to hop.” She knew it, she warned me, now I wish she’d simply hold me as I cry. I will tell you some things about Micah. He is kind, listening and most of all he knows how to treat a lady. I know you’d say he doesn’t treat me well. It is true, but he is the perfect gentleman. He opens doors, smiles, and pulls chairs. He also knows how to use his words and when to hold a hand, a waist or leg. He knows all this and even though I wish he’d used them differently, I still have to admit he’s courteous. I will go to Sweet’s engagement party and wish them well. Micah spent last evening with her at Ole Sereni. I know this because with time I learned that you could use word on the street to your advantage. He did not know that the lady at the Reception desk is my business partner. When she met me this morning for coffee and told me, I smiled. She could not keep her rage from showing, but I thanked her because I could see how much it was killing her to be the bearer of bad news. I had finally learned who the mystery woman was. I also respected her for having carried on for two years with Micah. She outlasted all of them. I will get back to you after the party, I have to go now and meet Micah, and he is ready to wish his mistress and younger brother a long healthy and happy life.

Pieces: I used to love Art. I used to love puzzle pieces. I never connected the dots or looked for clues, but sometimes I wish Micah would look at me. I mean really look into my eyes and see what I am letting him do. See the difference between me and those women on radio is that I own my pain. I won’t call in like them. I won’t let someone suggest what I should do to ease the pain. I won’t let someone shame me because they are saints. I won’t take anything that I don’t need. I am done loving Micah. I am done loving him because it has made me stronger. When one is strong one can dare walk alone. For five years, I have seen him grow his tail. He has come to love so many women, but when they leave I always have his back. I have been the one who smiled at them. I have been the one who they called to insult just to prove that he is adulterous. It is funny that for such a term it hails from the stage of reason. We all expect adults to be reasonable. Love is not reasonable. Lust is worst. There are days I look at our wedding pictures and smile at the thought of having worn his ring. I still hear his vow that he’d be faithful to me as Christ is to the Church. He is not Christ. At the moment I would give my life to trade him for Christ. I already did. Maybe that’s what is keeping me alive. The women called me to say he’s promiscuous. Funny how that term reminds me of ‘promise.’ So, we went to the engagement party. Noah smiled and took my arm as he led me to the balcony. “You look radiant Maria, how have you been?”

“Better Noah and you?”

“Nervous, but I am good- who wouldn’t be?”

“That’s good, I am really happy for you- I wish you all the happiness in the world.”

“Don’t patronize me Maria!” I looked at him and looked away afraid that for once the tears I held back would fill his house. Noah held my hand and sighed. “I know about them. Only a fool would pretend not to, but what I don’t understand is why you’d let this happen. I thought we were friends. Why wouldn’t you come to me Maria?”

“So, you wanted me to come and tell you that the woman of your dreams has been your brother’s mistress for two years? Noah, that’s not how things work! The pain, anger and rage that sweeps over you is something that no one- not even a piece of you would understand.”

“But you could have told me!”

“Then why are you still having this engagement party?”

“I need to get out of all this and the only way to do it, is by letting everyone know, once and for all the reason for my calling it off. Grace thought she’d get away with it! I hate her! I was a fool and Micah, does he know?”

“No, he’s never known.”

“How many have they been?”

“He’s still your brother.”

“How many Maria?”

“More than my fingers, but each has been rather beautiful.”

“Is that why you’ve never had any children? When was the last time?”

“That’s none of your business Noah. I am married to Micah. He loves every woman but disrespects me, yet I still cling to him- out of rage, not love but understanding and when I leave, that is if I ever leave him, he’ll fall to pieces and trust me, no woman will put him back together again. Now as for your parents and relatives, the ones who declared me barren- I could forgive them, because their son is a saint.”

“I am sorry I never listened Maria.”

“Sorry is such a sorry word. Better tell me to smile and here comes your bride- put on a smile and be nice! The first rule of war is to know your enemy. The second is to know when to attack, and how to do it. The third is no minimize the effect of the war on civilians.” Noah looked at me, and I rushed to the bathroom afraid that he’d already seen those tears. Truth is, Micah saw them too- but he did not do anything. He stood there like he knew but he didn’t know. Hours later, everyone gathered around the couple and their family. Grace was smiling and holding Noah’s hand. Noah’s Father was smiling, happy that his son would finally give him grandchildren. Noah raised his glass and this is what he said “thank you all for being here, I am lucky to have met Grace. She is kind, beautiful and loyal in her own way. This was supposed to be an engagement party but I am calling it off. And before you start asking why, the truth is, I believe in marriage and in the honesty of a couple in a relationship. So when I discovered that my brother-Micah, has been having an affair with my fiancée for nearly two years, I decided to hell with this! So, thank you Micah and Grace or should I call you “Sweet.” I believe you can stick around and eat or leave as you please, but there’s no way I am marrying Grace, thank you.” I looked at him. He had tears down his cheeks. I could see him breaking, but he picked himself up and smiled at me then said out loud “And here’s to Maria, for always loving her husband, despite the number of affairs he’s had, and I am sorry I insulted you for being barren when all the while it was my brother who kept you waiting. I am also sorry for telling everybody even though you always kept this to yourself leave now if you can because you deserve a man who will respect and look at you for the beautiful woman you are.” Micah’s hand dropped. I smiled at Noah and then followed him to the balcony. Everyone stood still and I could feel Micah run along behind me. I felt his hand on mine. “Maria, please…”

“Not this time Micah. It was a pleasure being your wife. I wish you and Sweet happiness.”

“Maria…” It was the second time he called my name. He’d never called me with such emotion, not in three years. So here I am in this new house. It’s been a month, and I know in the next three it will start showing. I got what I wanted finally- but for the love of me, if this baby is a boy, I shall raise him up to respect any relationship he has with any woman. I will raise a man who knows what it means to a woman when you say you love her. If it’s a girl, I will let her cherish her beauty and heart-and teach her that only a woman can be forged into steel so sharp that it could slain the whole world. I will teach her to love and accept heartbreaks and move on. I will tell her that her Father was once the man who made me smile and blush at the same time. I will tell her that she can seek him if she wants, but to never make me look for him. I will tell her that her best friend is her Uncle Noah. The man who set me free because he wanted revenge. The same man who cried in my arms because his elder brother had denied him his dream of love. The same man who years on would look at me and wish he’d been lucky enough to marry me. The same man who knew I was in pieces but let me break as much as I could because he also loved me. The same man I am looking at, who knows that this baby will be loved; not by me but by us. One the Mother, the other the Uncle. All of us in pieces.

End

About the Author

Pieces was inspired by a confession overheard on radio. It seemed like a good story-but the author still remains a hopeless romantic and is slowly learning to drink more tea- especially at 2:00pm. Visit her blog: http://www.dora-jodie.blogspot.com Send her a tweet @herhar.Like her Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/DoraAchiengOkeyo

Short Story: The Truth About Me and Anna

Written by: Archie Okeyo

Blog: · http://www.dora-jodie.blogspot.com

Follow her on twitter: @herhar

Anna: That’s all I can remember.

She asked me ‘how can you change the past?’ I looked at her coffee brown eyes. She had her hands folded across her chest. Her hair was neatly braided. She had a brown sweater on. I could see her belly: firm and round, almost bulging. I looked into the horizon and held my breath. She was standing before me. She was beautiful and her voice mellow. The wind carried her voice away. She talked about the truth. She talked about ‘us.’ She talked about the good times. I listened to her even though my back was facing her. I stood there ready to turn. She asked ‘what happened to all that?’ Then I saw her. Have you ever seen Death? I mean looked into her eyes and known that no matter what you said she’d got you good. I say death is a woman; because only she can be beautiful and determined.  Only a woman can bring a man to his knees. I loved Anna. I still do. But how can I change the past? You change it by reliving it. I drove to Kisumu that evening. She was standing there waiting for an answer. I walked out on her. That was the biggest mistake of my life. But like my Father used to say, a real man knows when to walk away. She is Mrs. Anna Otieno now. She is my brother’s wife. He is the other twin. I am happy for her; I am not happy for him. Things were good back then. I was happy and so was she. I am a Farmer now.

Source: http://www.uio.no/english/research/interfaculty-research-areas/leve/research-groups/maternal-health-reprod-rights/

I have a confession to make. I know that every family has secrets, but there’s nothing as bad as each member having their own secrets too. My Brother, Robert, says ‘this is Kenya; everyone has secrets, what counts is who takes his to the grave.’ He is right, but Robert is my twin. He is the guy who can pass as me. What tells us apart is a scar, a black patch on my back-and who can see my back when I have clothes? My Mother knows us from our voice. She says one speaks from the soul the other from his mouth. I am honored to admit that I am the former. How stupid of me to be taking credit! It is the only thing that stops me from admitting that I was hurt by my brother. Sure enough, it is easy to write, but to say? To face Robert and tell him he hurt me, is another thing. I walked away and he stood up for Anna. I am honored to be the man who will stand by his brother and affirm his love for the woman we both know I love. I bet now you are thinking, ‘being a man is tough!’ It sure is, and it gets worse when all you have to do is smile and act as though everything is fine. It is worst if the man that pulls the trigger is your blood brother, the one whom you’d still take that bullet for. So now you know my poison, I will tell you about my pleasure. I used to be a cook. I hear they call some chefs now. I still cook, but back then it was what I lived for. I cooked in a simple restaurant in town. I made the dishes and got paid. My shift started from 6:00am to 10:00pm. I would then cross the road to Gill House and board a matatu heading to BuruBuru. It’d take me twenty minutes to get home at night, but I loved the thrill. My Father used to tell us that love is like madness; only the mad know what it means to love. I loved cooking so much that I had to watch The Food Channel before I slept. I never made supper because I took my meal at the restaurant before leaving. It was always that simple.

No one in the family understood why I settled for less, yet I was the best. Truth is I didn’t settle I was just getting started. Robert on the other hand became a lawyer. Father was so proud the day he got sworn in as an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya that he offered him a cheque of twenty thousand shillings! Mom was overcome with joy we thought her cheeks would bulge. Father never gave you more than three thousand shillings. We all toasted to Robert’s success. I was the one who cooked all the meals we had that afternoon. Robert joked that he might marry me if he never found a woman. So, that’s how it began. When Robert started making more money than me, my Father kept pushing me to work harder or get a good job. I listened to what he said, but also acknowledged what he left unsaid. In his mind Robert was better than me. In his heart- he wanted sons who made more money. Mom never said much, but in her own way, she’d often say ‘your Father is right, you are a better cook than your old Mother, why don’t you apply for a job at a bigger restaurant or a five-star hotel that’d pay you more?’ I listened to her too, but with time I decided to stay put. I worked hard at the restaurant because I loved being there. I never told them that I had opened three cake shops in: Buruburu, Donholm, and Embakasi.

I never told them that from these shops I made more money than they could ever imagine. The only man that inspired me was my Grandfather. He knew my Father was tough on us. He also knew that we were smarter than him and of a different generation. So, one time he called me and said he wanted to bless me before he died. Anyone who gets such a call knows that you dash home lest you be cursed by the dying! I did just that. He was smoking a cigarette and telling the shepherd to take the cows down to the Lake. He hated cows, because they couldn’t stop chewing. He’d look at the cows and say, ‘cows are just like women! They never know when to let go, look at that ugly black cow, it reminds me of the days when women actually obeyed their men-those were the days, that was love, not this endless chewing, aargh!’ I walked up to him and he smiled. He spat out “so you’ve come to say good bye eh…well, I have bad news for you, that Angel- the one that made Zachariah blind, that Angel…eeh what’s the name of that fool? Eh…eh…”

“Gabriel and it was God that made Zachariah blind Grandfather.”

“Yes, that one-wait, is it him? Well, that fool, he showed up this morning when I was trying to shut my eyes and said that the Angel of Death is still held up in Iraq. He will be here when he can, and that might take a while.”

“I am glad to hear that Grandfather.”

“Stop being nice! Have you been castrated? Call me Tito!”

“Yes Tito and I brought you three packs of cigarettes. I know Embassy Lights are your favorite.”

“Three? The child, where is your Mother I piss on her head? How can you bring shame to this home? I smoke a pack every day and you dare bring only three! Better go back to that kitchen of yours and heat your brains!”

“I also brought you that jacket you wanted and a crate of beer is that still shameful?”

“Bless you my Grandson, I kept telling your Mother that you were the only Man of that house, not that one that cannot keep quiet, here sit down and tell me all about your wicked Father and the many times he’s tried to kill my favorite Grandson.” That is how our relationship was sealed. Tito, my Paternal Grandfather, always had answers for everything. He never minced his words. When he died he left his farm and thirty five cattle to me. No one objected to this because he had called a clan meeting and made his wishes clear. Father hated farming and he didn’t mind. His other siblings were busy with their lives to worry about cattle. The only thing he asked for was that I be the one to inherit all his wealth. Of course being a twenty seven year old with my career set in Nairobi this came as a shock. It was even worse that he died three days after I had visited him. So, three months after his funeral I relocated home. I had enough money to renovate his house and demolish some unused structures. It also gave me the chance to learn about cows and why he hated them so much. He also left behind a plot in Kisumu for Robert. Robert sold this plot of land to me of course and that’s where my Cake Shop is. I make my cakes and deliver them to Kisumu and its environs then drive home. At times I sleep in the shop especially when schools are closed and people want more cookies and cakes. Back at home, life was tough at first, but people welcomed me. Mama Nyabose taught me how to make ghee and it has helped my business. I always bake loaves for sale and this has the shepherd making extra money every day as he delivers to the homes. The shopkeepers hate me for this, but I learned that if you can’t play the game, you’d better quit! So, I am home. I watch the sun set from the place my Grandfather, Tito, used to sit and smile. At times I recall what he used to tell us, ‘if you can’t keep your head up, then you’d better chop it off.’ Other times he would make some rude comments about women that made us cringe, and then he’d laugh at how stupid we were. Father said he became bitter when our Grandmother died, who knew death could change people that much?

Every one has a story. Some tell their stories but others never master the courage to do that. In the end, it’s just a world full of stories. Tito knew what was happening between me and Robert. He saw it from our childhood. He’d often say that we were nations at war, and the war would end when one killed the other. I don’t believe him. We are brothers and I would rather die than fight Robert. I realized this when I walked away from Anna that evening. I am a coward because part of me knows that the old man was right and doesn’t want to accept it. I love Robert that is why I can take anything he throws at me. He called me last night. The phone rang at 11:30pm. I have often believed that any call received past 10:30pm bears bad news. I was right too. He was calling from the office to tell me some good news. They were getting married. Anna had finally said ‘yes.’ He was too happy to keep quiet with the news. Of course Anna wanted to tell me, but she’s been so busy with the preparations that he had to break the news. I congratulated him and told him if he needed anything he knew I had his back.

He laughed and said they’d be coming home over the weekend. He wanted to know if I could make it to our parents’ house in Kisumu. I laughed at this and told him it was only an hour away. He got into the farming life and asked me if I needed any seeds or fertilizer from Nairobi. I needed some for spring onions, but I told him I was fine. He wished me a good night and hung up. My day just began after that I hung up. I have never baked from midnight till dawn. I did just that and only stepped out at 6:00am when the shepherd was coming into the house for the milk jug. He didn’t ask me what was wrong. He only said ‘you are worse than my Mom, Richard, why would you wake up at midnight to cook?’

I smiled at him and joined him in the shed. He started milking the fussy white cow while I went for the grey one. I couldn’t stop thinking about Anna. If I were to tell you how we met, you’d probably think of me as a fool for having walked away. You would be right. So, that was how my day started. It was a Friday and I knew I had to be at my parents’ house the next day. I would wait for them to hear the news then go on. I did not want another comparison talk because it felt as though my Father had a son in Robert and a retard in me. My Mom had sons one was fast the other was sweet. I happened to be the sweet one. She’d often mock me by saying I reeked of cow dung! Father would only look up from his newspaper and ask, ‘did you bring me a slice of my favorite cake?’ I would hand it to him and he’d praise me till he finished it. When he was done, he’d go back to his old self. He would ask me if any woman would want to marry a Farmer. One evening he told me, “Richard, do you know what breaks my heart about you? I bet you don’t, but the thing is, you gave up too soon. It’s like you just decided to live a life of ‘let come, what may,’ and nothing ever gets to you, unlike Robert who strives for something-you just sit there and wait, and sad thing is I don’t know what you are waiting for.” You know, if you even checked me up on Facebook, you’ll see that I have said I am an enigma even to myself. I don’t blame my Father for saying that. He calls it as he sees it. I keep my secrets because I have my goals too. I don’t want to tell the world about them. I don’t want to be answerable to anyone but me, that’s why some things I’d rather have them unknown. Like Tito used to say, ‘it takes a man to know when to keep his mouth shut.’

I know I will have to face Anna. I know that she’ll look at me and wonder why I gave up on ‘us.’ Just like I said, some secrets are taken to the grave, because that’s where they belong. I am glad she’s with Robert now. I know she will raise their child to be a better man than his Father. So, she asked me, “How can one change the past?”

My answer to her is “by letting it stay there…in the past.”

 

Short Story: Mheshimiwa’s Fly is Open

Written by Faith Oneya

Someone should tell Mheshimiwa that his fly is open. This is a delicate task. You do not want to tell him in a manner that will embarrass him, but also you do not want to be the person that knew and did not tell him.

Big men like this, powerful men, why can they not remember such a basic task? It is easy. You go to the toilet (or any other business that may require the act of fly-opening), you do your business, you shake, put the snake back in, and then you zip up!

Perhaps I should ask Selina to tell him. Selina is the one seated in the Youth Wing corner pretending she has not slept with Mheshimiwa. She is one of those campus- type of girls , you know them – those girls with unnecessary long hair extensions, cheap make-up, even cheaper perfume with shoes so high they look like damn Kangaroos while walking in them and high pitched giggles. If you see one of those just know they are from campus, it is this one right in the middle of Nairobi city. Mentioning names will land me in trouble.

Apparently Selina is a youth leader. Hah! When you see the horny males she is leading then you will understand what ‘Hah’ means.

Source: http://burnsattitude.wordpress.com/category/consequences/

Anyway, someone should tell Mheshimiwa that his fly is open. You can see clearly that the underwear he is wearing is not cotton. Nylon is what he is wearing. What? A six figure salary, no taxes and he cannot afford cotton underwear? You can also see that he is slightly aroused. Perhaps he is aroused by the youthful crowd in campus that that is hanging to his every word .

He clears his throat and places his hand momentarily on his crotch; Selina looks at his crotch, then at me. Has he noticed that his fly is open? It could save us both a hell lot of trouble. Turns out he was just trying to tame his arousal.

He clears his throat again. Perhaps he needs a glass of water. I take him one. He shoos me away. Like the way you chase away an annoying cat or bird. Imagine that. I could have whispered to him that his fly is open, but knowing Mheshimiwa, he would probably have said into the microphone,

“What did you say?”

And I would have been too embarrassed to repeat it.

The audience seems entirely captivated. He is babbling something about some government initiative to distribute mosquito nets and some other things about the youth fund from the government. Someone shoots up their hand with a question; Mheshimiwa ignores the hand, then turns and winks at me as if we have a secret joke. We do not have a secret joke!

He had been allocated twenty minutes for his speech plus the question and answer session. He awards himself with an extra hour.

It is now time for lunch; we sit at the same table – Him, me, Selina.

He asks: “Did you see how responsive the crowd was to my speech?”

I tell him: “They were responding to the spectacle of your crotch.”

He looks at Selina: “Is this true, Selina?”

Selina says: Yes

He laughs loudly. His shoulders and belly shake in mirth.

He says: “You young people and your jokes.”

He slaps me on my back I almost choke my food.

Short Story: I Killed Brian

 

Written by : Dora Achieng’ Okeyo

Follow her on Twitter: @herhar

Read more of her work here: http://www.dora-jodie.blogspot.com

I believed him.

He never minced his words. “I’m done!” and he left me standing there. After three years you think you know someone, only to wake up to the beast himself! What hurts is- he is right. He left first. Come to think of it, I left first! I left on a Friday night. The clock read 10:43:36pm. I recall because I was trying to write. When that urges comes over me I lock myself in the tower. The tower is four walls of blank pieces of paper. I go there when the world sleeps. I have spent weeks there. When he’d see me head there, he’d look down the drive off later on. My life has been like that. I’m either in the garden or the tower. I bloom in both but always enjoy being in the tower.

Source:http://bossip.com/

 

He….just left!

Like any other woman I reckon the question is ‘what did I do wrong?’

He said, ‘I am tired of the questions.’

So, he left because he was tired. Or was it that he didn’t have any good answers. ‘What did I do wrong?’

‘I can’t stand this, what should I do Ariel?’

‘Tell me the truth.’

‘What truth Ariel?’

‘Where were you on Friday?’

‘I said I was out with Gregory.’

‘Let’s try this again Brian, where were you on Friday night?’

‘I was out with Gregory, how about we call him, shall we?’

That’s when I gave him the pictures. He was the guy. He was the lead actor. His mouth covered hers. His hands were all over her. Her? Well, allow me to introduce the supporting actress- Nelly, my best friend. On the back of those pictures- she scribbled “now you know he’s a dog!”

Brian looked at the first picture. He had ten more to flip, but the first one was worth a million words!

‘How did you get these?’

‘She sent them to me.’

‘I see…’

‘Now you see Brian. I am glad you can see.’

‘Ariel, I…’

‘Save it Brian.’

I left him standing near his black leather seat. His Papa seat like he liked to call it. Three years, two betrayals and the greatest of them with my best friend. She was on a mission, so was he. She wanted to prove a point. Guess we both know Nelly wins this round!

Love doesn’t hurt, lovers do.

Love isn’t blind, lovers are.

Love doesn’t cheat, lovers do.

Love doesn’t forgive, people in love do.

So here I am in my tower.

I can hear their voices down stairs. Up here, everyone is an ant- ants dressed in black. I’ve always loved black. Nothing exudes power like black! Some apologize, others pity- but I love my tower. It is the only place that his scent doesn’t haunt me. It’s the only place I can breathe.

They all know. Grace told all of them about him. She let them know he was a dog. She told the whole world about Brian. Now, what’s left of me is my dignity. I hold my head up high. I walk among the vultures. I can see Mary, Neischa, Daisy, and Nelly- his conquests. On my left hand finger is his promise to me alone. I cannot be mad at Brian. I reckon that bitterness is long gone. Brian is nothing like me. His love is different from mine.

The gravel below is a beautiful bed. I could jump off this window and catch up with him. We can argue till eternity. But, he stormed out on me. He stormed out and in his rage was welcomed by an electric pole hours later. The Coroner’s report said his blood-alcohol content was too high. The man even asked me if he could breathe with that much liquor in him.

I know he could have. My Brian had it in him to do the impossible.

But never in my life did I dream of him never returning home. So here I am in my dungeon- he’s downstairs. He’s confined in wood. Now he knows what it feels like to be four-walled.

When I leave this room, I leave in peace. I leave knowing I loved. Love didn’t let me down, Brian did. He let me down four times. My mind tells me I killed Brian, but my heart…my heart says I died before him and maybe, just maybe…there’d be a chance for us in the afterlife.

 

Short Story: Dear Yellow -Part 1

Written by Dora Achieng’ Okeyo

Twitter Handle: @herhar

http://www.dora-jodie.blogspot.com/

Dear Yellow,

Dear Yellow,
I hope this letter will clarify some of the questions you have about us.
It is eighteen minutes past four in the afternoon as I sit down to write this. I had often thought of how best to express myself, but the only answer I kept receiving was through pen and paper. I would have sent you a hand written account of my side of the story, but then you told me to embrace technology.
I love using my pen and how my hand glides on a blank piece of paper. I think we are a lost generation because we have missed out on the romance and magic of letter writing. Imagine waiting to hear from me in two weeks or more? Imagine how you would feel when you receive my letter and sit down to it immediately? I long for such an interaction, but you said “si kuna email na Facebook” (but there’s emailing and Facebook).
I wonder why we have Facebook, Twitter, Google+…of what use have these been to us, rather than creating a distance. I can recall, I sent you a three hundred word message on Facebook and your reply was ‘lv u mo.’ Yellow; you have no idea how disappointed I was. I had opened up my heart to you and there you were, maybe in your room, contemplating the next Manchester United match, and so you quickly pressed some keys and clicked ‘reply’ without a second thought.
I was not disappointed let me admit, I was irked! I could have given into the social dialect and said “Nkt!” but then we would have been the same. Yellow, I want you to write it as you say it. Write “I love you more” not a selection of words that cannot be found in a dictionary!When I asked you about it, you told me simply “si you know I don’t always have much to say.”I immediately asked you, how last week’s game was and the monologue lasted ten minutes!Yellow, let me take you back to 2008-the month was December. Can you recall the date? Let me ease the pain of doing so, it was the 18th. You came to our house back in Kisumu. It was a sunny day with the heat soaring above thirty two degrees Celcius. You were with your elder brother and his friend. I had just come from Kibuye market and my feet had collected every particle of dust it could on my way home. I was glad to see you and we hugged for over a minute. If I am right it was almost two minutes and some few seconds. I sat down next to you and started asking questions. We hadn’t met in over two years and I missed you. You told me you were studying Engineering at Moi University and that you were fine. I wanted to hear more about you, but you suggested we go out for a few drinks. You waited patiently as I took a shower and got dressed. I had my black fitting jean trousers from Enkarasha and a blue blouse with white polka dots. Your brother-Joshua, said “You look beautiful” and I blushed. It was so embarrassing that I blushed with my arm wrapped around yours.
I was but two decades old.
We walked into a bar & restaurant and ordered drinks. I asked for soda and you all started laughing at me.
“What? I don’t drink alcohol.”
“Sure, but that’s cheap take at least an Alvaro, in fact take three of those.”
“So, I hurt your ego.”
“Yes!”
“Okay,I will take an Alvaro please.”
The attendant went to the counter and came back saying they were out of Alvaro. I asked which soda they had and she said they had Coke. I opted for two cans of Redds. We had a wonderful time then talking about the old days.
You might not recall this but I do. The first time I met you was back in 1996. You were the new kid-fresh from another lower school. You had joined our class with your sister-whom you led us to believe was your twin. I liked your sister. I loved her big chocolate eyes. She also had a neatly pressed uniform and she smiled a lot.
You on the other hand were quiet. You sat next to the stammerer of the class. You never raised your hand to answer any question. I liked your eyes then. They were dark and mischevious. You were like two people in one and I labeled you a pretender. We never talked much but you knew I was in-charge. I was the class monitor and you respected that.
We shared seats for the fisrt time in class 6. This decision was thrust upon us by the class teacher, who felt we could make a good team. I still haven’t forgiven her for that. She had just opened a Pandora’s box-if only the short plump woman knew!
I had been a monitor two years so I knew my role, you on the other hand had no clue. You were the prefect and you had to take charge of the class. I was working as your assistant. You did what every organization does to the intern and left all the work to me. The class would be making noise and you’d do nothing. When the teacher would show up,you’d direct him to me for the names. I always did your work. I did it because I never liked to leave any stone unturned. You used this against me Yellow and the result….wait, I will get to that in a while.
I was in the school dance troupe, Choral verse, public speakingteam and also a debate member. It is in this year that I constantly emerged the best speaker. Do you recall what happened in the third term debate between our stream and six blue?
We were two points down and we needed to level the score, then Esther came up on stage and can you recall her introduction? She stood up to say “I’m Esther, standing before you as happy as a lion…” As happy as a lion, seriously? The whole room laughed out loud. The teacher had to call for order ten times before we proceeded. She broke the tension in the room with that. Later on, she told me she wanted to say “as happy as a king, but she couldn’t remember the phrase. I thought we were very stupid for having laughed at her. All of us had crammed the similes. We knew only a king could be happy, but what of a lion? Couldn’t a lion be happy as he lioness brought back a hunt?
I still think of Esther each time anyone says they are happy.
So, I had said we’ll talk about the turn of events due to your oppression. I was diagnosed with stomach ulcers the next year. The Doctor asked me, “what’s stressing you yet you are a child?”
I would have gladly answered “Yellow” but was in too much pain to talk. My lovely Mother could not understand what was happening to me. I could also not explain it all to her, but this sudden bout of anger was within me. I felt like a walking volcano ready to erupt!
If you took the time, you would have realized: I was in school by 6:30am, had to clean the board after every session, I exchanged old books for new ones at lunch, had to walk home for lunch and be back to school for dance practice, I had to supervise the class members who cleaned the class, had to go get our Class teachers’ daughter from school. I was doing everything for the welfare of others and not mine. Why do I say I was oppressed? I was oppressed because you knew your roles were to maintain order in class, assign someone to clean the board and supervise those cleaning the class-but you never did a thing.
The pressure I had to endure that year almost killed me!
I am glad I graduated from primary school to secondary school. I had this never ending crush on you which made me hate you more Yellow. My sisters would laugh at me each time they saw us in school. It was a taboo to hold a boys’ hand let alone talk to one for two minutes in school. Do you recall those who were discovered by the class teacher and they were whipped?
I wonder why they thought feelings could be undone by whips. I felt sorry for them. You and Joel laughed as the boys screamed. It was funny then-you always laughed at everything! What was amusing about someone’s pain?
I went on to high school in another district. It was the only place without a trace of civilization. I found out that my new school was in the middle of a sugarcane plantation. We had a navy blue gate with a watchman who never stayed at his duty point. He was forever eating githeri in the dining hall. Our classes had broken windows and I happened to learn that potholes not only existed on the roads but also in classes. My new school was Catholic. I had to wake up by 4:00am and shower on a slab with over three hundred girls. If you applied soap on your eyes-you’d reach out for an empty soap dish. I was told I had to buy toyo not Cussons-to stop them from stealing my soap. I had never used toyo-I used it in my second year of school, never have I missed the scent of Cussons like I did in that year.
It was the same year that we met. I never knew you were studying in out alleged brother school. It was a law that all the girls in our school had to date boys from your school. You were the best guys around, who knew how to keep ladies company. The other boy school was not lucky. They were kicked to the curb because they turned down a symposium. They learnt what a woman’s scorn is. All the girls who had secret admirers and boyfriends from that school dumped them. They had to settle for second best.
You came to school that year-it was the first time I was seeing you since primary school. We did not say much, but seeing you was enough proof that a crush could last a while. You were talking to my best friend-it was the words you chose, I saw you as a man then. Don’t get me wrong here, but your voice drew me nearer. When she left to grab a book for you, I shivered. I was in a navy blue school skirt, and red house tee-shirt. You were looking at me-I felt your eyes on my neck, down to my hips and I blushed. It must have been innocent-but I felt good. You asked me about my new school and whether I liked it. I told you I had been there for two years so my opinion did not matter. You laughed and then stared right ahead at your bus. I stole a glance at you-you were so tall. I hated being fifteen then, it was too much joy to take. Yellow, I never finished doing my laundry after you left. My heart was on a high I couldn’t stop smiling. My friend talked about how much you had changed too. It took me four years to realize that she too loved you.
The next time I saw you-I was defending you from the wrath of a girl who had nothing to do with you. You had also received a letter from a junior in our school declaring her love for you. I wish you knew how sad I was then. You read the letter in our presence and I pitied her. She had laid her heart bare only to be mocked by her beloved. Yellow, I still believe that you did have an affair with her. I am not being a drama queen. A girl would not tell a boy she loves him unless he leads her on. I know you had an affair with her, I just wish you wouldn’t have read that letter before us.
You sent me a card to wish me well in my final exams. I had a boyfriend then from the enemy camp. I’d receive letters from him and I’d be high on love till dawn. They called me by his first name. We were named one of the best couple and I relished the thought. Your card-was purple and it had a teddy-bear bearing flowers behind his back. The words were in golden italic “best wishes for my best friend”
You wished me well and I sent you a letter to the same effect. I had a crush on you and it was growing into something more. If only I knew it would be destructive then I would have let the enemy flatter me.
Yellow, our friendship grew till that day-December 18th. We went out with your brother and friend. I danced the whole night under the influence of Sprite. In fact your friend said he’s never seen a girl take soda the whole night while clubbing. I told him I was not just a girl.
Your brother after taking one too many told me that you had a crush on me. He asked me what I would do if he kissed me and I said I’d slap him senseless. He then asked what if it was you and I looked away. How could you love me? We were good friends wasn’t that enough? You were tall, with looks that could dazzle any lady and your voice-was richly deep. I was in love too, but scared of admitting it then. He kept telling me things about me that you noticed and I felt uncomfortable. I hate being around your brother especially when he’s drunk.
We had late supper as the alcohol sunk in your veins and then made it for another club. Your brother retired home-he was too drunk and sleepy.
I cuddled in your arms in the back seat of the taxi. Your friend looked at us and said we had to stop acting as lovebirds. I smiled and you chuckled. We danced some more at that club. I had never seen ladies wear nothing but pieces of cloth. I saw them flirt with men who bought them drinks. It was almost 1:00am and I couldn’t keep your brothers words out of my mind. I asked you if you liked me. You smiled and took a swig of that beer. I felt safe and warm in your embrace. Yellow, we talked about life back in primary school and high school. You said you had always loved me but were scared of what would become of our friendship in-case we broke up. I admitted that I liked you too and you kissed me. It was the first kiss from a love as tender as eight years old. I loved that kiss. I loved it not because it was from you, but because it was a declaration of feelings that were long overdue.
We became a couple officially that night.
You asked me for a chance and I gave it to you.
We never ushered the New Year together and I was superstitious. You know that those who usher the year together will always be together throughout the year. I wanted you to kiss me that night, but as the crowd shouted “happy new year!” you were nowhere to be seen. You told me you were having drinks at some bar downtown. I cried that night; my tears went back inside and the pain eased by dawn.
The next morning I dawned my beautiful dress and made for your home. It was your birthday and we had to wish you well. You hugged me tight and said, “you know I’ve always loved you.”

Watch out for part two on Tuesday 22nd May …

Rita’s Mistake

Written By Gloria Mwaniga.

 

The promulgated Kenyan constitution states that: a marriage is a union between two adults of sound mind.

This was not entirely true for my friend Rita.  For one, her fiancé Roba was drunk and hence not of sound mind on their wedding day. Having downed several mugs of the famous local brew yokozuna during his stag party. (Otherwise known as the funeral of bachelorhood).

True to the name, it was a funeral of sorts because two of Roba’s friends had died and three others, including Roba himself had lost their sight. Luckily for them, they had been rushed to the Kangemi health center before the poison could get into their system.

Truth be told, it was actually Roba’s fault because he is the who had requested mama Achieng’ to alter the ingredients of the drink and make a ‘special brew’ for the occasion.

Rita heard the news later on in the evening. She and her girls were busy being taught how to please their husbands.  The main speaker, one Miss Zainabu, had been hired all the way from the coast. On hearing the bad news, the session had been promptly postponed till further notice.

Rita needed time alone to cry and contemplate on her sudden change of fortune.

Later that night, in the midst of her tears, many thoughts had passed through Rita’s mind.

For one, she had contemplated leaving Roba. The only thing that kept her from doing so was the thought of going back to her parents’ house. After a month of freedom, space, privacy and good food, she couldn’t see herself going back to her mothers’ scrutinizing stares. Moreover, sukuma wiki and ugali at home wouldn’t beat the Pilau she now cooked on a daily basis.

Another thought that had crossed Rita’s mind was that she could run off to Nairobi to search for a job. The problem with that thought was her Cousin Rebecca’s story. Rebecca hadn’t found a job despite proudly carrying a diploma in business management from the Nairobi polytechnic.

So Rita, afraid of poverty, completely ruled out this option.  Besides, Roba was a rich man, a very rich one at that.

So at about 11.30 am on Saturday the 28th of December, on a sunny afternoon, Rita made up her mind to stay with Roba. As she stared at him slightly stagger towards the pulpit assisted by his brother, she prayed to God that she had made a right decision………

 

Short Story: Fresh Paint

Written by Faith Oneya

The smell of fresh paint reminds me of a fresh coffin. I cannot stand it. It hits my nose and I step back from the door, slapped by the vicious hand of a painful memory. My face clouds and my eyes water slightly.

“What is wrong?”

I pull myself back. Mother did not raise a coward.

“Nothing baba,” I reply.

The smell of fresh paint disgusts me.

We have moved to a new house in Nairobi.Father has found a nice job in the government. It is in a ministry whose name baba cannot pronounce so he claims it is “too complicated for us to understand” What an illiterate fool.

He has moved from a tiny structure (He pointed it to us as we entered the compound) to this single room that smells of fresh paint.

A lonely pit latrine stands outside, with its roof hanging on precariously to dear life, its rusty exterior a clear sign of its hard work under tough weather conditions. A tiny roofless structure stands timidly by it side. I later learn that it is going to be our bathroom.

The smell of fresh paint persists in my nostrils. It is not so much the fresh paint that disgusts me as is the fact that it was also used to paint coffins that would eventually rot in the ground together with the body in it.

The room is nothing like baba had described.

I see a tiny wooden structure with a thin mattress lying loosely on it. A brown, dirty-looking blanket hangs limply on the side. There are no sheets. An extra mattress stands timidly propped up on the wall. It is thin and wasted from years of use. It seems like its life entirely depends on that wooden wall.

A lonely-looking stove stands at the corner, its body full of bumps and bruises .It surely must have suffered in the hands of an unskilled cook.

“Well?”Baba enquires. His voice holds with it both arrogance and vulnerability, as if he was daring me to say I did not like it while hoping desperately that his only daughter would find sufficient his poor attempts at providing for her in the harsh and unforgiving city.

I do not get time to answer, because aunt Seraphine sweeps into the room in her characteristic swagger, which is not aided much by her excessively endowed rear that makes her walk look rather ridiculous.

“This will do,” she says briskly.

Why is she here?

“Anyango! What are you doing standing there like an idiot! Do you think that this meat will cook itself?”

I walk slowly towards the stove. As if afraid that my feet were not following me (as mother would say).It is difficult to breathe because of the fresh paint, and my chest heaves painfully at each breath. I have always had a weak chest. I wheeze slightly, carefully, because aunt Seraphine might say that I am trying to get out of cooking duty. My mind goes back to the events that brought her to our lives.

“It is only temporary,” baba had said, “A girl should not be allowed to live without female supervision”

That was right after mama had passed on.

And what did a grown man need female supervision for?

Mama had never liked aunt Seraphine. Auntie is famously known for both her humongous backside and love for finer things in life. That is why; as mama said “She hovers around this house whenever your father comes from Nairobi, hoping he will notice her. She is evil.”

I imagined that it would be difficult not to notice the bottom of a woman who wanted you to notice her. But I never told this to mama.

“It will be alright, you will see,” baba said.

Yes, I was seeing that it was NOT alright.

Aunt Seraphine wants me to scrub the house before I cook. My back is tired from sitting eight hours in the bus from Siaya, but I pick a frail-looking plastic pail dutifully and do as she pleases under her supervision. I can see that father has gone on a “meet the neighbors” tour. They do not seem particularly eager to welcome him into their houses.

It does not take long to wash the house, and afterwards I light up the stove and cook a delicious meal that has auntie turning her head to the side, flaring her nostrils and saying:

“It will do.”

I wonder if she thinks that I am seeking her approval. What a foolish woman.

It is time to sleep now. I spread the thin, timid mattress on the ground and Seraphine joins me. She sleeps on her side and her bottom takes up three quarters of the space. Soon, she is snoring. My body is half on the mattress, half on the floor. Sleep takes a long time in coming.

In the middle of the night, I wake up to soft murmurs form baba’s bed. Auntie’s side is empty. I do not let them know I am awake. Let them do what they want. I don’t care.

In the morning, I find auntie on her side of the mattress again.

“I hope you slept well.”

What does she care!

“I slept well auntie.”

Father has already left for the bus stage.

“She had the virus, you know.”

What?” It takes her a while to maneuver her bottom in order to face me squarely.

“Repeat what you said.”

“She had the virus.”

“You think I did not know that? Your mother was a whore.”

It is easy to hear somebody you hate call your mother a whore.I look at her pitifully. Then I say;

It is your funeral,” I tell her

And it was.

It is now one year since we buried auntie Seraphine in a fresh coffin. That smelled of fresh paint. The smell of fresh paint disgusts me. Her buttocks disappeared with death. Or death disappeared with her buttocks. Death also took away the permanent smirk form her face.

Her coffin was very expensive. Baba had to take a loan. I had a sneaky feeling that she would wake up any minute and say (of the coffin).

“It will do.”

As if her approval was needed.

Baba says; “Now that was a good woman.”

The smell of fresh paint disgusts me. I turn away from the coffin because I feel nauseated.

Baba wants me to go back to Nairobi with him. I tell him NO. I cannot stand the smell of fresh paint.