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Chobo

It started with a game, it seemed innocent. We were a bunch of 9 year olds bored out of our minds waiting for our end of term test results. The teachers marked the exams as we occupied ourselves. How? Well some days we were caned for “noise making”. There was a list of students who spoke during the supposed “quiet time”. What the hell do you expect nine year olds to do when no adult is around and there is a pack of cards around? Duh! Laughter, pain and yelling. Evelyne’s name was always the one someone was hollering out when Penny, was writing down the ‘noise makers’ names. Penny was the teacher’s ‘pet’. She did anything to please any teacher. Evelyne was the cheat in every game of cards.

Solo was always on that list as well, not because he was ‘making noise’ aka talking to his desk mates, but because Penny just didn’t like him. It wasn’t quite clear what the terms were, but needless to divulge too much information. It all revolved around a missing skipping rope that allegedly belonged to Penny – “Miss Perfect” that skipped its way into Solo’s hands. Solo like his name, minded his own business. He never spoke much and when he did he just had a way with words and cracked us all up. The teachers loved him for that during class. He was asleep when no teachers were around. It was amazing that he never had it out for Penny like the rest of us did.

Finally after two days of visitaions to the teacher’s staff room for a whopping the teachers got tired. It was a distraction and a point of irritation, so we were finally let out. Imagine that? One and half weeks of nothing but fun and games at school! Dad always found my attitude in the morning rather curious, no more tears, no early morning fights over breakfast, no moodiness. I was a chirpy eager child.

I will never forget, it was the first week of August, the rains had been pounding all July and this morning, the sun shone and warmed up the city. As always we had Assembly at 8am and then rushed to the fields to play. Chobo was the game. It was a stick in a mound of dirt and everyone playing would take turns to remove dirt from around the stick without it toppling over. Sounds simple and innocent right? Right?

For some reason Tabitha decided that it was time girls played this game.

“What was so sacred about it anyway for boys to play alone?” Tabitha barked at the boys. The boys nodded and gestured for us to join them, so we did. We were briefed of the rules and it was made clear, that this was an equal opportunity game, girls were treated the same as boys! “Finally” I thought. Gerald got a nice solid twig and heaped a mound of soil and stuck the stick through the top of the mound firmly.

One by one, we all scraped off a bit of soil from the mound, laughter turned to tension as the soil reduced around the now unstable twig. And then finally after 10 minutes of waiting, the twig fell during Tabitha’s turn. I have never seen anyone run that fast. Her school uniform flapped violently as boys and girls ran after her to Chobo Ngoto her. Pretty much punch her; from a dress flapping in the air, to legs and arms flailing in the air. Tabitha wasn’t able to make it to the ‘safe’ tree fast enough to avoid beating.

There was laughter, and then silence, Tabitha fell still, she wasn’t breathing and she was bleeding. I screamed and ran to the teacher on duty, who was passing the area, who sent a student to get the school nurse at the sanitarium.

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Scarlet Baptism

He heaved one last time, and moaned in pleasure, sweat drenched torso, and he slapped my breasts one last time. He pulled up his trousers and I heard him zip up. I held my mouth shut with my hand, grabbed what was left of my torn clothes and covered myself. I cowered into a feotal position. Tears streamed down my face.

I felt a sharp pain on my head and a loud snap, I screamed in agony, I felt where the pain had emerged from, my braids were gone, it was a bloody open wound, he laughed. He laughed uncontrollably. What was the joke? He had got what he wanted, why cause me more pain. I squirmed to the edge of the bed and fell to the ground. I moaned in pain.

“You liked that too?” he laughed, I heard a belt buckle. I froze, was he going to do it again? I was so tired, I was sore, I hated him, I hated myself, I needed a shower, a cleanse, bleach or even burn my entire body to rid myself of the shame, disgust.

I felt footsteps move from his side of the bed to mine, I couldn’t look up, I didn’t want to see it coming, couldn’t. The sharp pain on my head returned, I was moving? I felt cold move up and down my body, cold sweats dropping from my brow leaving a trail on the floor behind me. Where was I going now? Why? What did I do to deserve this?

I strong waft of liquor engulfed my face, stinging, burning, screaming at the top of my lungs. He was singeing my scalp with the liquor, the wounds, the pain, escalating, I felt dizzy, and then everything went dark. I felt some relief, I didn’t fight it. In the darkness I screamed, I clawed my way around. A scream, the darkness fades in to light, I look up, I see scarlet red, streaming down a bumpy chocolate countenance. The eyes bulged out of their sockets, mouth foaming, the nails, the hands familiar. I cringed, I felt pain, I felt wet, I could smell blood.

I panicked arose and inspected myself, my tattered frock was now soaked in crimson; it smelt of defecation, sewerage and raw eggs. I squirmed on the floor and rolled myself to the bathroom. I tugged at the door, it was locked, no answer, I went further squirming as I made my way to the hallway, a swarm of flies buzzed by. A woman was in a heap in the corridor. Was she asleep? She smelt of flatulence. She was cold, she was deaf, and she was stiff. There was blood oozing out of this woman’s ears and mouth.

I held my mouth with my bloody hand, where was I to go next? I got to the kitchen and there in his own blood my son sat upright against the cabinets nursing a knife in his chest, he was shivering and whispered. “Mum”, “Mum”, “Mum” The voice got fainter and fainter and in 5 minutes the boy was no more.

I wailed and fell face first it to his mighty arms. Where was everyone, would help never come?

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Karma the Hulk

Naliaka fanned herself violently, her face cringed and she pursed her lips ready to spit, her eyes were red with rage.

“Come on! AMUNGAAAA!!”

Amunga looked up and giggled as he used his hand to fan air from his behind to Naliaka’s direction. It was the same routine every morning; Naliaka would be awoken by the stench of her brothers flatulence. Amunga burst out laughing and left his sister’s room.

“MuUUUUUUUUM!” She yelled out as the door slammed shut. Amunga ran down the stairs with a huge smile on his face, mission accomplished. The daily morning quota to annoy his kid sister was achieved.

Dad was on the couch reading the day’s newspaper; mum was laying the breakfast table.

“Why do you do that to your sister Amunga?” Mum asked. He shrugged his shoulders, and winked at his mother as he reached for some freshly made mahamri. “Have you washed your hands?” Mum inquired as she smacked his hands from taking a helping.

Amunga glanced at his mother cheekily; he had managed to sneak two mahamri away and was wolfing them down as he walked to his father.

“Morning dad!” The two fist bumped, mum rolled her eyes.

“Can the two of you wash your hands please, breakfast is ready.” Mum said as she walked toward the staircase, “Naliaka, hurry up.” Then she heard a thud. “Naliaka?” Then another thud and a violent tear.

“John?” Mum called out to dad, “I think there’s something going on upstairs could you check on Naliaka please?” He turned nodded his head and then nudged Amunga, “let’s go check on your sister.”

Mum stopped them, “Uh! No, Amunga stays here; you have already done enough damage to your sister. STAY. HERE!”

Amunga shrugged his shoulders and dived to the kitchen table.

“HANDS!” Mum called out to Amunga.

Amunga headed straight for the kitchen sink as he scratched himself. Mum just rolled her eyes knowingly, it was like seeing her husband 40 years younger, her son was annoyingly charming like John.

The thuds got really frequent as dad walked up the stairs. Much louder with each hit and they could feel a cool morning draught in the corridor. What was going on? Dad knocked on the door.

“Naliaka? It’s dad and mum can we come in?” Silence.

“Honey, Amunga is downstairs…”

Then a violent thud and Naliaka emerged through the wall. Mum screamed and clenched on to one of the banisters. Dad fell to the ground in a shocked mound next to mum.

“I WANT AMUNGA!’ The hideous voiced bellowed in the house. It, she, whatever Naliaka had become looked like a fusion between a wet gremlin and that homicidal plant in Little Shop of Horrors, the movie.Needless to say, Amunga pissed his pants and screamed like a wounded animal.

The real terror had just began and Amunga was about to get a taste of his own medicine.

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The Feast

It was electric at the stadium, crowds swelled and oozed over the walls. “You only live once; no one’s got the right to make me choose what I don’t want to do. IT’S. MY. LIIIIFE!” The crowd roared and went wild. Thousands upon thousands from across the city had gone in to see Rabid. The band wasn’t one to disappoint. They had just launched a new album, Venom and that was the talk of the city. It was estimated that the 6 million youth would be swarming in to see their favourite band. Tickets were sold out 3 months prior.

This morning the stadium was so packed the air above it was thick, stinking of heavy perspiration with gratitude to the December heat. Brows polka dotted with sweat, eyes squinting to see from the distance, saliva playing target practice as people spat out the lyrics of each song. Others tried to gyrate in the small foot space they had. The security team had ferried 1,000 fainters and counting within the first two hours of the event. When it came to Venom, no curtain raisers were allowed. It was 5 hours straight of hits back to back.

In the distance a scuffle had began, and died, initially it was caused by the fainters. One man who was seated on his friend’s shoulders waving frantically had seen the slight mêlée. It looked like someone had knocked over the first domino to set off a chain reaction. But a pre-emptive move by those closer to the wave’s centre killed the potential mess.

“Kevo! Kevo! Ebu cheki! Cheki!” Maish called out excited and impatiently.

“Ni cheki nini – we ndo uko place poa kuona, nita wika na huku down.” Kevo bobbed his head as he spoke. “Down! Kwish.. Kwish-A!” Kevo sang along out loud in sync with the band.

The two continued to scream, make whooping sounds and yell in jubilation. That was the best 500 bob the two of them had spent. Swaleh who wasn’t as short as Maish had ‘offered’ to stand by Kevo’s side and let Maish experience, “life ya wasee soo!” Swaleh always rubbed it in Maish’s face that he was pretty short. Maish was 5’ 4” Swaleh and Kevo were 6 ft. But despite being high above most of the crowd, the heat and stuffiness was beginning to get to affect him. Swaleh had ignored Kevo’s offer of water earlier giving a stupid supposed macho remark. “Maji? Niya wadhi kama wewe. Water for the weak; I am VENOM!” He yelled Venom repeatedly. Now the only venom that was apparent to him was the acidity building in his own tummy that needed a cooler.

The water was over and done with and with the swarming crowds there wasn’t anywhere to buy some. He was stuck. Swaleh tried singing along some more with his boys. But 15 minutes in again he couldn’t do it. There was an attempt at the Mexican wave in the stadium. It made things worse for Swaleh. The person next to him seemed to have missed his shower hour for a month because whatever emerged from his raised arms was about to clear the stadium. Swaleh coughed so hard, he fell on other fans who shoved him away.

Swaleh was getting worse; more flushed. About three and a half hours in Swaleh wasn’t going to make it any longer, but just before he passed out. He felt something wet sprinkle on him. It was cooling and relieving but it was unusually sticky. He flipped his head backward, he thought it was a little drizzle. The sprinkle felt more consistent with a paint splatter on the wall. He opened his eyes and looked at his hand, it was red. He rubbed his index finger and thumb together to feel the texture; sticky. He smelt it, and shook his head. He looked around, crowds were still cheering.

Venom was playing electrically, locks flung in the air like Juliani’s. But as he turned to look, there was a steady pile up of seizing bodies. Blood was spraying from severed arteries. Swaleh, tapped Kevo’s shoulders. Kevo shrugged him off and shook his shoulders in dance to the music.

“Maish! Maish! Pinduka! Cheki!” Swale yelled, Maish showed him the one finger salute and began to yell along to the lyrics. Swaleh was now sweating profusely and shaking. Whatever was killing people was moving fast. There was no sound or sight of anything. Any direction Swaleh looked, once he looked at it twice to verify that everything was normal, a third turn the group was dead. He couldn’t afford to look at his friends.

Then all of a sudden there was a crash and the band began to bleed through their eyes. The crowd went wild, “Manze special effects za Venom ni noma jo!” Maish cheered, amazing props and make up is what they thought. Then the band fell one by one like a domino game and began to seize on stage. Their eyes then popped out of their sockets violently looking like golf balls in the air.

Then screaming and a stampede ensued; every man for himself. Swaleh grabbed Kevo by the t-shirt, and yanked him backward. The jolt and the stampeding crowd caused Kevo and Maish to topple over. There was a woman on the ground screaming and pummeling in the air. Then out of nowhere they saw her neck being sliced open and blood gushing out. The woman drenched everyone around her.

The trio was now on the ground, people began to climb over them, blood curdling screams filled the stadium. People flew in mid air and landed on each other. Those Swaleh had seen seizing earlier vanished. There was no sign of where they went or what was killing people. Kevo suddenly began to scream hysterically, kick violently and repeatedly and inch away from something. Swaleh yelled out at him, he was sandwiched between people and couldn’t escape. Kevo reached a hand out, but it was too late; blood splattered.

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What the hell just happened?

A lecturer, tortoise and a microphone all in one room, no relation, but something will have to happen in this social experiment. The lecturer had been locked in the room by five of his students who were now seated along the class wall just waiting for something to happen. Steve the class geek arose and turned on the mic, it was connected to a speaker. It buzzed causing everyone to moan in agonizing discomfort for a few seconds.

“Sorry…my badness.” The rest looked at him unamused.

Professor Kanze, grabbed the mic and belted out a tune that left his students baffled.

“What the hell was that?!!” Simon yelled tossing the tortoise at Professor Kanze’s feet. “Get Creative!” Simon yelled and stormed to the back and sat with his peers. It was like a really weird reality TV show. The tortoise inched its head out and began to move steadily, the Professor lifted the poor thing and moved it a few feet ahead of himself and then placed it in the centre, then began to moonwalk around it. His students cheered.

“What he hell am I watching? Carol thought aloud to herself. How did she even get to that room? She closed her eyes for a few seconds and when she opened her eyes she was in the beach in her swimsuit by the ocean enjoying the lapping waves surrounding her. “What in the world?” Carol exclaimed.

Jogging past her, David Rudisha, he waved with a huge smile and soon was a speck in the distance. Carol closed her eyes again; she was in a club dancing with Tyrese Gibson. They were on a dance floor in Miami. She pushed Tyrese back and threw up on the dance floor. Embarrassed, she made her way past the crowd and headed to the bathrooms, where she let out her meals for the last 24 hours. She was in the loo for about 30 minutes. She emerged wet, smelly, teary eyed and weak. Carol closed her eyes wished away that moment. When she opened her eyes she was in bed, clean but in lingerie with a man unknown to her calling her “honey” with dilated pupils inching on top of her. She closed her eyes again, she was with her mother who told her it was “Bed time” Carol smiled and said, “could you read me a story?”

Mother nodded like she always did and with that, Carol, shut her eyes one last time, unsure of what would happen when and if she opened them next.

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System of Fools

“I beg your pardon?”

“Madam, didn’t you read the sign?”

“What sign?” Karimi retorted harshly.

“That sign!” The clerk barked back gesturing to the “This is a Zero Corruption Zone” sign.

“Yes? What about it?” The clerk was riding on Karimi’s last nerve and he was about to get it.

“That doesn’t apply here.” The clerk looked at her sternly. Karimi had had it. She walked away from the till and stormed through the “personnel only” door.

“Who is in charge here?” Karimi was seething; she looked like her face was going to burst.

“Madam…” Karimi cut him off.

“Are YOU.IN.CHARGE?” Her British accent clearer and more deliberate, the man who was addressing her pointed to a desk stacked with oxidized files. The man wore an oversize blue suit, ugly brown polka dotted tie and stained white shirt with circa 1980 spectacles that filled his oblong face. He pushed his spectacles up his fleshy bridge. He had a salt and pepper receding hairline that looked like it was on a mission to run away, as fast as possible, from his face. He lifted his head, when Karimi’s frame cast a shadow over him and the room fell quiet.

“Hello Sir…My name is Karimi…I need your assistance.”

“Madam! Did you read the sign on the door?” The man inquired calmly, as Karimi rolled her eyes. Here we go again with the signs she thought.

“Sir, with ALL. DUE. RESPECT! I have been here for four hours; I have queued for 3 Hours and 55 minutes of that time duration. I finally reached the counter and one of your employees implied that I should bribe him even before he sought to find out why I was there.”

The entire office burst into laughter and laughed for about 5 minutes before it died down.

“Implied…just implied…Madam! You know, that is how we work here. Implied, you hadn’t paid?” The man said as he pointed toward the door. He slammed a file on his table that lifted dust causing sneezing and coughing. The man coughed directly into Karimi’s face, fanning the dust.

“Madam! You see this file?” The man said heavy in laughter that made his pot belly jiggle like jelly.

“These people filed complaints after they bribed. Not before Madam.” He retorted amused by his own statement.

Before Karimi could retort and call him out on his misconduct, he raised his chubby pink palm to silence her.

“Get some money; enough to satisfy our clerks. Then you can be assisted where needed!”

The man pointed her to the door. Karimi stood there in defiance. She sat down and eased into a chair, pulled out her cellphone and dialed a number calmly. She pressed the phone against her ear. After a few minutes, she smiled, “Hello Commissioner, How are you?” Karimi began.

The man’s face fell, he shifted in his seat and the room was filled with a stench of defecation. Karimi stood and walked toward the door. No one moved, no one said a word.

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Grandmonster

“In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit…Amen!” We all chorused, opened our eyes and Dana opened the lid of the cream coloured tea pot. It was a huge aluminum pot with poorly applied paint with a ring of green on the brim that the lid often concealed. Now Odhiambo and I were trying to figure out what she was doing. It was hot water mixed with milk what was the inspection for?

We waited; she looked inside it and then coughed directly into the tea pot! I looked at my brother with the, “What the HELL IS SHE DOING?” look on. I couldn’t say it out loud, because it would be disrespectful to our 80 year old grandma. I never liked her; we were there because Mum insisted we should be there. Why? Only she knows; I had wanted to spend time by the river and enjoy some mangoes and sugarcane fresh from the farm. But Oh! No…

“Even if you don’t like her, she is your grandmother; it is kind to make an effort to spend time with her”.

Mum would go on and on about its ‘importance”. Grandma was old, smelly and mean, and now she had just contaminated our tea. I was so upset; I really didn’t want to be there. My brother looked at me knowingly, then gave me the nudging look, then mouthed, ‘just pretend’. And pretend we did, we had to act like what she did was of no consequence to our health.

“Aluoch serve the tea.” I grit my teeth and served her first, asking her how many cups of cocoa she wanted. “Nusu” and half a tea spoon it was stirred and served. She sipped it with a lot of enthusiasm. I served Odhiambo and finally myself. I hated the bitterness of cocoa; needless to say, I doused my drink with sugar.

Ketho chiemo!” Dana exclaimed. I refrained myself from rolling my eyes disrespectfully.

Mos.” I apologized to my grandmother for my “transgression”.

“Mos ma nadi?” Oh! Lord, here we go, she didn’t take too kindly to a simple apology, now I was the pilfering grandchild who was ungrateful and didn’t even bring a ‘carton’ of gifts. Because that is what a grandchild living in the city should do. Bring a ‘carton’ of goodies for Grandma? Why? Because well, it is a token of appreciation, appreciation my foot!

I had tuned out of her tirade, once she had wrapped up, I was standing up to serve myself a second cup of cocoa. Odhiambo looked at me like I was mad. All I was thinking was, we were forced to be here, I might as well sip my way through this hour ordeal with a blood relative I didn’t care for.