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Never Again!

_DSC4509The water streamed down her body, eyes closed, hands rubbing against her bulging tummy, she felt peace. It had been the first time in a long time that Elsie felt this way. The past few months had been a whirlwind.

“Jeremy.” She muttered under her breath drowned by the persistent hissing of the shower.

“I’ll call you Jeremy!” She shouted reassuring herself. She nodded and felt her first kick. Her heart fluttered in her chest and a tear streamed down her face.

“I can’t wait to meet you too Jeremy!” She said rubbing her tummy gazing at her belly right at the point she felt the kick. Elsie stepped out of the shower and steadily walked to her room wrapped in her fluffy towel, as water dripped from her kinky hair to her feet. She walked in to her room and slowly shut the door behind her. A sigh of relief, her face was worn, black scaring all over it with healing scabs. One scab was right in the middle of her lower lip. Elsie licked it and reached for the lip balm and slowly run it over her lips.

It had been four months, but she still felt sore. She was just glad the baby was ok. As she motioned for the lotion, her phone rang. Elsie was confused and startled when she saw the caller ID – Mel. She looked around the room frantically, up the walls to the ceiling, down to the window then the floor. She paused. Looked at her phone again and took a deep breath, eyes closed tight. She muted her phone and threw it on the scruffled mess of her bedding.

Elsie sat on her bed and paused, she unconsciously held her breath, a few seconds later, she coughed violently gasping for air. She fell backward and lay on her tussled bedding clasping either side of her temple with her palms, eyes bulging fixated on a single spot on the ceiling.

“What have I done?” She began to shake her head violently and then the sobbing began.

“What is wrong with me?” Elsie hated the pain, the heartache, the violence, it was all flooding back. She unraveled her towel and lay bare on her bed, her feet still wet, her hair still dripping; and steadily slid herself beneath the duvet. The free threads from the throw tickled her bare skin as she inched over them. Elsie giggled and then quickly fell back into distress.

Elsie curled into a feotal position, one hand supporting her wet head of hair, the other cradling her belly. Elsie began to sob once again. After a few minutes, she fell asleep. 30 minutes later her phone rang again, the vibration of the phone startled her awake, she looked around her dark room. Her curtains were still drawn, she lifted her bedside clock, it was 10 a.m. She inched out of bed, the cold spreading goosebumps to each part of her naked body, as she peeled the duvet off slowly.

The phone vibrated again, she shook in fear, and rushed to answer it. Elsie couldn’t find the phone, where was it? She tossed her bedding around and there it was, just as she was about to answer it, the phone call ended. It was Daisy, she sighed in relief.

Elsie got dressed. Her door bell rang just as she was walking out of her bedroom. She walked hastily to the door. Just as she was about to unlock the door she peeped through the sheers, it was Melvin. Had he seen her? She walked back steadily to her room, carefully shutting the living room door behind her. One hand clasping her mouth, preventing her from screaming, her heart began to race she looked down at her tummy.

“Oh, Jeremy what have I done?” she thought in her mind, her hands rubbing her belly protectively. The door bell rang persistently followed by incessant banging!

“I know you are in there!” Melvin demanded. Elsie reached for her phone and quickly turned it off. Elsie didn’t know what to do; she sat there wishing him away.

This couldn’t be happening again. Jeremy was all she had; Melvin wasn’t going to take that away from her. Not now. Not ever.

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Killing Season

“I’ll have some death with those fries”. I told Sunny yesterday when he came to see how I was doing with his famous flavoured fries. It was a joke. I snickered, he wasn’t amused. You see when you have been through what I have been through; you acquire a sense of morbid humour to survive. To be honest if it wasn’t for my mother, I would have killed myself several times over. I can’t really explain how I feel. It is a mash up of pleasure and arousing pain. There always seems to have been something wrong, wrong with me, with my situation.

Dad died and left me. He left us. Mum wailed, writhing on the ground with Aunt Sally rubbing her back as she too wailed her last. That was it. Just 10 years ago there were eight of us and now here we were, just two of us. My family was destined to live the lifespan of gargantuan fly. Fly life in human time; one week for a fly translating to maybe a meager 18 or 45 years short for humans. Dad was just 45. Eddy was 18 when she hung herself. I found her.

Eddy had always locked herself up in her room, I was sent to get her for dinner as always. I was the youngest, she was the eldest and she was in her teens and weird. I didn’t care. No matter how anyone felt I ensured that we were always seated round the oval dining table for dinner. I loved seeing our eight faces every night.

I sat opposite Eddy. I knocked on her door as usual and there was no answer. Not unusual, at times she would yell, “Go away!” that was a bad day, if it was a less sucky day, silence was the indicator and that meant that the door wasn’t locked. I pushed it open, and turned on the lights. I first saw her room was in a mess. It never was. It was like an explosion had happened in her wardrobe; her clothes were strewn all over the floor.

“Eddy” I called out. Silence. I thought she was in the shower, so I dashed out to see if the shower light was on. It was off and the door was wide open. Mum called out for us both.

“MUM!  I can’t see Eddy. She’s not here.”

I ran to our room to see if she was ransacking Annie’s stuff as she did at times. She always pulled the “I am older than you” card on Annie. Never mind she was like 3 minutes older than Annie.

“EEEEEEEDDDDDYYYY!”  I called out over and over again and there was no sign of her. Something made me go back to her room. On the floor I noticed the dress. The teal sequin dress that gave Mum a heart attack. It was Eddy’s favourite; she wore it on her first date with Edu, her first boyfriend 2 years ago, her robust rump and cleavage waving to an awestruck world in teen defiance. Mum hated that dress. “Undignified.” She sneered after losing the fight with Eddy over wearing it. Mum blamed Dad for spoiling her.

Even though Eddy got over the heart break she always treasured the dress. And it was always hung on a specific wooden hanger with broad shoulders in the plastic laundry packaging. It had a special place. I knew then something was wrong. No way would Eddy let anyone or anything ruin that dress.

The dress was still fine but crumpled amongst the other clothes on the floor. It looked like nearly everything she kept in her wardrobe was out; clothes, shoes, her undies, socks. I decided to open her wardrobe; I screamed…and fell to the ground. Hands trembling and covering my mouth, tears gushing down my face, there, eyes closed, dried mascara strewn all over face making her look like a raccoon, head craned to one side and neck swollen with Mum’s missing sisal rope round her neck and hands hanging lifeless by her side.

Mum stormed in the room panicking, she too screamed and leapt and whisked me in the air into her arms sheilding my face with her chest. She screamed like a banshee, covering her mouth and Dad, Annie and everyone else quickly thundered up the stairs collapsing to the floor. Dad said nothing; his eyes popped out of their sockets and ran to bring her down, shaking her to try and wake her. Dad began to sob bitterly. That was the beginning of my family’s “killing season”.

The grim reaper had found the harvest, it was ripe and it was right in the Okinda household. We had no idea what the next 10 years had in store. Like clockwork, we would hold our breath every 10th December. It was Grim’s harvest date every two years.

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Unpleasant Return

“We will come back right? Someday? Yeah? We can’t leave Eddy all by herself can we?” Aluoch thought to herself. Eddy was her elder sister and she wasn’t going to be on the plane with them. Aluoch wasn’t quite clear why she had to stay. Aluoch didn’t really understand what was really going on around her. For the past two weeks there were people from Renmer, some moving company. They were packing up everything in boxes. Aluoch had initially thought they were moving house.

Mum kept rambling on that it was, “time to go home.” When Aluoch asked what she meant, Mum would respond, “another home”. It didn’t make any sense, information was given in bite sizes, whenever Aluoch asked questions her response was always, “You are too young to understand.” Aluoch was really upset with that. She ignored her mother and went about her business.

A few weeks before they left Mum had allowed Aluoch to stay out later than six. It was unbelievable. She didn’t suspect that her mum had organized a surprise party for her. Why? It wasn’t her birthday it was October. It was a farewell party, she got pretty dolls, photo albums and memorabilia from all the years she had been friends with all those girls. Aluoch had so much fun, she didn’t realise what farewell meant. She didn’t even say a proper goodbye.

She just waved at her best friends from the car as they drove to the airport. Now she was in a plane waiting to have dinner and wishing she could have stayed home to watch an episode of the Cosby Show. It was Friday, she would have gone grocery shopping with her parents and got home in time to play a game of scrabble with Eddy before dinner and watch the Cosby show after dinner. Aluoch missed Eddy, but she was really excited. Her other brother Odhiambo was already in Kenya and she hadn’t seen him in a long time, she couldn’t wait to see him.

Mum and Dad had transferred Odhiambo to a Kenyan school that he loathed. The food was bad, the teachers were evil and most of all he missed bullying Aluoch. Aluoch hated him when he was around, but missed him so dearly when he was away. Last Christmas when Odhiambo was home for the holidays, they bought Christmas treats called ‘fart gum’ really delicious sweets that smelled like fart. Odhiambo always had a weird and gross sense of humour. No matter what he did to Aluoch like chasing her down the street in the neighbourhood with a stick filled with dog poo or scaring her. She still loved him and wanted to spend time with him.

“Excuse me sir and Madam here we are, would you like anything else to drink?” the flight attendant offered Mum and Dad wine and ice cold beer respectively.

“Juice for her please…Mango!” Mum quickly added. I missed Kiora for some reason, or maybe some CapriSun that would be great. Aluoch couldn’t get those brands in the plane. About fifteen minutes later, it was dinner time.

“What is this?” Mum asked in disgust.

“Crab. Ma’am.” The attendant politely responded.

“Where we come from we do not eat this.” Answered like a typical African. And just like that my opportunity to try Crab walked away. I was so irritated. Mum always seem to let the good stuff go. I didn’t want ugali if that’s what she was hoping for. I knew if I had told mum that I wanted to try it. Her response probably would have been, “it’s not healthy for you…you are too young to understand.”

Aluoch’s substitute rice based meal was served with some fish. She wolfed it down, she was sleepy and wanted to rest. It had been an exciting few days and  the next few days would be filled with tears when she realised Eddy was going to stay in London. Heathrow Airport was now thousands of miles away and tens of thousands miles below them.

Aluoch listened to some music which soon drowned out and she was out like a light. What woke her up the next morning was the heat. It was unbearable. She peeled off her cardigan and asked her mum if she could remove her socks. It was so hot. Her puffy, long hair was shrinking from the moisture.

“Mum? Can we go back? I don’t want to stay here.”  The smells and the heat at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport were uninviting. Aluoch remembered this place. She had been here before.

“Not to worry, we will get out of here as soon as possible. Let’s sit here and wait for dad.” Mum ushered Aluoch in with her little rucksack and teddy bear sticking out from the top. They sat on cushy leather chairs waiting for dad to return.

“Mum, Kech kaya.” Aluoch pouted, it was 8 am she was hot, still sleepy and in desperate need for food. Mum fished through her bag and found some sweets. “Here!” she handed them over.

“Mama!” Mum was also tired and she sighed, she was pretty agitated, it had been an hour.

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Saved by the Diaper

Otieno was bored at home. He sat at the edge of the bed legs dangling occasionally kicking back and forth. He wasn’t the only one; his four siblings were equally bored. They had played for hours in the house and they had had their fill. It was a hot summer’s afternoon and they needed to explore. Mum and Dad were out at work and Dina the eldest thought it would be a great idea to finally leave and play some new games.

“Put on your shoes, we are leaving!” Dina called out. All smiles and excited they rushed to put on their shoes as Dina opened the door to guide everyone out. Akoth, raised her concern.

“What if Mum and Dad find out?”

“They won’t we will be back before they get back from work. And they don’t mind, we are all together, Eddy and I will be here with you.” Dina reassured everyone.

“Stop calling me Eddy, I am Achieng!”Achieng called out.

“Eddy suits you better with all the pants you like wearing all the time. Achieng would suit you if you were more girly,” Dina retorted snidely. A fight ensued, as always, Akoth, Otieno and Odhis all looked on, as their two elder sisters fought it out.

Odhis got tired and began to walk to the door, his little legs were dwarfed by the protruding diaper. Otieno laughed pointing at Odhis, “Time to change him Eddy!”

Whack! Tears! Laughter. “You didn’t see that one coming did you O-TI-EN-O?” Achieng got back at Otieno as Akoth laughed and Odhis slipped and fell on his full diaper in laughter.

“I am not changing him now. You do it!” Dina barked at Otieno who was no sulking. They all went back in to the house as they waited for Otieno to finish changing his three year old brother. Akoth felt sorry for Otieno and joined him upstairs to help him clean up after changing Odhis. It wasn’t easy, Odhis was a runner. Immediatley he was freed of his smelly burden and wiped, he would make a ritualistic run before a fresh diaper was placed. Otieno was so exhausted and fought back tears.

Akoth cried out of pity for Otieno. Odhis laughed and run like Speedy Gonzlez darting from room to room before he was pinned down. After that charade everyone was now slightly put off going anywhere. Dina and Achieng went into the kitchen and made sandwiches with juice for everyone to snack on.

Just as they sat and turned on the TV to watch cartoons, Mum walked in through the door. They all looked at her, then looked at Akoth.
“I told you we would have been busted, if we would have left!” she smiled and everyone went about finishing their snack as Mum smothered everyone with a kiss. Only if she knew.

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Kill the Competition!

“Maliiiiii!” Njoroge called out on that gloomy Tuesday morning! Maaallliii!” he got more aggressive projecting his voice, someone had to hear him today. Day after day, neighbourood after neighbourhood, no one had any goods to trade. Busines shad slowed down, people weren’t trading their goods anymore, primarily because people had nothing to give out.

“MAliiii” Njoroge went on. Now slightly angered by what was beginning to look like another unfruitful day. The plastic water jerrican and gaudy orange plastic wares he was hoping to trade now seemed to overwhelm him in weight. He yelled once again with all his might “Maaaalliiii” and fell to the ground in a pile. He sat on the soil and played with it muttering to himself.

Njoroge had been in this business of barter trading for a decade, and over the years he began to see a steady decline. He was also aware that the quality of plastics he traded was generally inferior and that was also another reason why people didn’t trade much anymore. Then what other alternative did he have for income? The clothes and old shoes and electronics he got he would trade as scrap to indutrsy who would pay him. He had’t received money worth his while in months, 4 months two weeks. Njoroge was desperate.

As Njoroge sat on the soil by a concerete apartment wall, Njoroge heard a turn of a key and was engulfed by the musky scent of cologne. A man no older than 25 yers old emerged in a form fiting shirt and ripped jeans with headphones on. Njoroge sighed as he watched the young man walk away barely noticing him. He heard another gate open as people emerged to go about their business.

This went on for an hour, the weather slowly began to warm up and Njoroge began to feel hungry, the wafting scent of different foods being prepared for lunch got his stomach grumbling. Njoroge had no money in his pocket. Today was his only chance to get a meal to feed himself.

“Mali!” “Mali!” It was the competition inching near, Njoroge stood up and dusted himself, there was no way that someone else would take his chance of earning away from him today! “Maaaallliii!” Njoroge yelled.

“Mali!” The other barter trader responded.

“Maaaaaliiiii” Njoroge roared. That was followed by a loud grumble in his tummy that Njoroge tried to hold back by clasping his tummy.

“Mali!” The other trader responded and in a flash of a moment they stood face to face. Njoroge stared at the man straight in the eye seething, no one was going to take what was rightfully his. The other chap gave Njoroge a rather soft look of concern.

“Njoro! Ni mimi, Macha?” the man said.

“Macha?”  Njoroge was so confused who was this who seemed to know him.

“Macharia wa Maina?”  The man responded.

Njoroge’s stare warmed and his countenance fell, it counldn’t be. It couldn’t be, Njoroge saw this man die in his arms. It couldn’t be.

0

When its over…

The doctor kept tapping on his wire rimmed glasses repeatedly as if to emphasize a point. Onditi was uncomfortable. He had been lying on his back, legs spread and his family jewels exposed from under the thin hospital garment. The doctor stood infront of him looking at his genitalia.

“Not good!” the doctor said after nearly 30 minutes of staring. Onditi slowly inched his thighs together, he was done, or so he thought.

“Don’t close, not good.” The doctor began to examine him squeezing every part of his lower torso with extra emphasis on his scrotum. “Lump! Lump!”the doctor exclaimed as if in terror. Onditi was in utter regret as to why he visited this dotor. He had been warned that the man was “weird and alarmist”. But Onditi had no other choice; he had seen other doctors and received the same diagnosis, Prostrate cancer.

Onditi wasn’t willing to hear it from this man either, but after four doctors, who had no relation to each other, Onditi new he couldn’t walk away from the reality of his condition anymore. “You are free to go now, wish you well; I hope you don’t die soon.”The doctor seemed incapable of sensitivity.

“Bastard!” Onditi muttered under his breath as he gave a very worn smile. “I should have stopped at three.” He thought to himself. Hearing the same diagnosis from four doctors only added to his worry.

Onditi had called in sick again, he didn’t know if he would have the heart to go back to work. He was completely bewildered by what was going on around him. He had just lost his wife to cervical cancer, had a daughter, his only child, suffering from Leukemia and now he had prostrate cancer, this wasn’t good. Not good. The doctor was right.

Onditi drove home, using an alternate route. He didn’t want to cause his own or someone else’s death while he drove. So many thoughts ran thorugh his head. No one had told him how much time he had to live. But he suspected a year was all he had. The second doctor told him that the cancer he has is “advanced”.

Where is the money going to come from, I have exhausted all my saving, medical cover is completely wiped out. My salary is barely feeding us. My consultancies have crashed to a halt because of the economic situation. My family is dried out from all the fundraisers; friends don’t pick my calls anymore. What in the world am I to do?

Just then Onditi’s thoughts were disrupted by a knock on his window. He hadn’t realised that he wasn’t driving anymore and had pulled to the side of the road. A huge bunch of bananas waved at him. It was a hawker selling wares. Onditi gently shook his head to turn the man away. The man quickly swung his other hand with carrots and some passion fruits wrapped tight in clear polythene bags. Onditi smiled and shook his head again and raised his hand to say thank you. The hawker sighed and walked away. Onditi sighed and turned on his engine. He steadily pulled out into the road, and after a few seconds everything went dark. Onditi felt a surging pain in his legs and felt a gush of lightness on his head. He opend his eyes, everything was blurred. He could hear people screaming from afar he could barely open his eyes wide enough to see. His hands were sticky and he could smell a sharp stench of copper. Everything went dark again.

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Y.O.L.O

“Make it simple! Make it easy! Don’t think to hard!” Rahab kept saying that over and over again. She had been standing at the edge of the cliff for 15 minutes. She would inch up on her toes and flap her arms around and then inch back down again. She looked like a weird bird, a big one trying to figure out how to fly.

She inched up again and then flapped her arms back down and a huge stench engulfed the rest of her friends in queue further down the cliff attached to the suspended Zip line. People gagged and spat. It stank.

“Sorry!” Rahab turned to apologized.

“I think she shite her pants,” Harry turned and commented to the rest of behind him. He was the next to give the jump a shot and that stench from Rahab’s tummy hit him hard. All of a sudden he was flushed.

“Come on! It’s been 15 minutes. Give someone else a chance!” Paul yelled attempting to move forward. Then the rest of the group began to yell at Rahab to, “get off! Get off!”

Rahab would have loved to but she couldn’t the only way out was to be pushed in to the jump. And once again the stench of diarrhea hit everyone. People spat and clasped on the zip line, it hit hard like a punch to the gut. Rahab for sure had shite her pants this time.

“Push me! Pleaaase! I can’t do it!  I can’t do it!” Rahab pleaded with the safety guide who had harnessed her and briefed her on the jump. 20 minutes in, the guide looked at her and asked her again if this is what she wanted. Rahab shook her head violently in agreement and in a split second, enough time for Rahab to shite her pants again and suffocate people with the remnant of her innards she was up in the air then down again, screaming at the top of her lungs.

There was relief and for some fear, their opportunity to jump to probable death off a cliff drew near. Someone let it rip again in the cage.

“Come on!” Everyone chorused fanning themselves, they were harnessed to a zipline to take the bungee jump there was only so far they could move away from the stench. It had been Rahab’s bright idea as a way to bnd over the weekend with some of her friends and their spouses. Rahab was whisked into a boat once the recoiling  and screaming in the air died down.

“Was it worth it, the chap in the boat asked. “ With blood shot eyes and a grin from ear to ear, she nodded and whispered, “yes”. She lay on shore to help restore her blood circulation. Rahab was so excited, she screamed “Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesssssssssss!!” as she flailed her arms and legs on the shore.

It was the first time Rahab had done anything spontaneous in her life. And despite actually taking two “dumps” in her pants, she was able to prove to herself she could live again without restraint. Next stop, White water rafting.