At the shores of river Nzoia lays a woman; hair curled on one side; cheeks swollen; eyes wide open, and as white as snow. Her stomach is ballooned with excessively gulped water – of when she was drowning; and an embryo, a one month old baby, whose sex we will never know.
The young lady’s skin is poked with sores and rashes of marine bites and blistered by overstay under water. She is dead. Dead to the granting sounds of cicadas’ swellings – the songs of the hour before dawn; before the rise of the opulent sun and the resuming of search for her body, now missing for a week.
But soon, after midday someone will brawl from this same spot where she lays,
“Hey guys, I found her. Over here! I found her.”
He will be waving with a bare chest, to the scattered search crew. And in a flash everyone will converge at the spot, unknown to them, her pregnancy and her trigger of death. There will be speculations about why she committed suicide. Why she consciously jumped into the flooded river and let herself be flown away by the murk and dirt of river Nzoia’s wild flow.
Among the people speculating in circles, with fake remorse, will be Janet, her mother’s younger sister.
She will be the first of the dead woman’s relatives to arrive at the scene, to identify the body. She will be crying loudly, her dark cheeks drowned with tears and her face marked with heart breaking emotions.
Cries of a life lost so soon.
Later, Janet will lose it and threaten to plunge herself into the river too and her fat ugly self be swept away into Lake Victoria.
Wouldn’t that be traumatic/amazing? To want to die for a course?
To kill yourself because you detest your “favorite” niece’s early death – your fear confirmed?
When she earlier mentioned taking her life, Janet dared her and gave her a noose to make it happen quickly, but she (Eunice) said,
“I don’t need to hang on a tree and cry foul for help as I choke, I’ll do it my way, my way, as I wish, not as you’d want me to.”
And, for Janet, giving out the rope was but just a joke and it should have passed as jokes do.
Only sometimes, in Africa, we joke with issues so serious, as death (Atieno, go kill yourself and we mean it literally), then by bad luck, she does, where does that then leave us?
Do we become a seers and demand a bonus for our eye of premonition? Our special eye? No, we become witches and we should anyway die for it.
A mother wouldn’t wish their children death and further push them right to it. What kind of mothers would they be anyway?
But if Janet can’t convince herself that it wasn’t her fault and she gets her way with her suicidal plans, news channels should report the death of this second woman as of a love so deep and dear and selfless and unconditional as a mother’s love ought to be.
They should emphasize that she died to prove a point. She loved Eunice so much not to want to live in a world that she didn’t.
And I’d be damned.
And do not be fooled either, such a report should be a show of journalistic incompetence by the person who does the story – let’s make it simple, let’s just say, “this’ the side of the table no writer wants to sit on.” Plus, Eunice would not be pleased that the stupid act of her aunt, at her funeral, before the investigations to what caused her death, masks the truth about what really pushed her off the cliff.
The spirits. The beings. Her aunt. With words and actions as you should later see in the story.
Her homeless spirits want the truth to see some light. (I hope I don’t sound like an ambassador of, “speak for the dead movement, though…).
Truth is, she wants the world to know that she was only 14 years old and pregnant when she died. She came to my dream.
She’d want you to know that she served in the church and was in school then. Class 8 for that matter and presumed staunch, in the Holy Ghost faith. She danced to the Alter with her mates and bowed to the monument of the SON a like; like I do, like you do, like some of us do – a sign of respect at the celebration of Eucharist and to the holy sanctuary.
It goes without saying that for her visibly good deeds, humility and the inimitable dance skills, everyone in church soon noticed her and thought well of her. They knew she had copped well with her mother’s sickness, the madness that since long ago made her (the mother) wander in the streets with ragged cloths; tatters, always speaking to herself and dancing to the whispers of the demons. Her master’s – that have chained her hands and minds for so long, not to want to hear the wails of a child and to lull her, an infant, on her laps, to sleep.
This mad woman, with matted hair, crawling with lies is not so fond of her child (Eunice), such that when she is just five and to begin school, the grandparents take her way and the mad woman smiles and leads them on.
Eunice becomes the reason these older citizens live longer. The reason they think Jesus is smiling on their home again.
And to their liking, she is cleverer than their ancestor they remember with that smart gene ever was.
They become poignant with hope of their psycho daughter’s daughter one day elevating their societal status. When/if she has studied to the limits of becoming an actuarial scientist, a neuro surgeon, an aeronautical engineer or a computer scientist.
They know she might make it because she says she won’t let them down, plus, the parish is walls behind her and willing to pay for her high school fee if she will pass her primary school exams.
To be clear, no one foresees any ridge bumping up in the shiny surface of Eunice’s future. Not a blotch or crack or a blurry blot.
Everyone sees her as the type to make a ding on the face of the earth, like Steve Jobs and Meketilili wa Menza before him.
And that’s not to say that fate doesn’t have its way of doing things; it has, and it waits patiently for its time.
Like in the instance that you plan to wake up in the morning and wear your best suit to work then it (fate), sends hungry mice to your closet that same night, a few hours before dawn – with specific instructions, “nibble the cuffs, the collar and the lapel so that when he can’t put it on and all his other cloths are dirty, he will resolve to the dirty genes, for a meeting with the company’s most respected and priced client and just like that, he will be fired, jobless.” And you fall to it. And you lose your job.
Other times you plan to go to Zanzibar on vacation, with your family. To feel the warmth of the white simmering sand, under your bare feet; you picture laying under a tree, half naked, with your wife on your broad hairy chest, silent, so you can hear insects crawl and rattle from a mile away, amidst rustles of palms, and the whistling winds that come with cool breezes from far away, from the east, and enjoy the sight seeing of seas which swoosh repeatedly, wadding wild waves at shores; slapping rapidly, angrily, and whirling back till the feeling of contentment gets over you.
But hold it there, this is just my lazy imagination of a perfect holiday, don’t make it yours. Don’t get on holiday mood just yet, because we are mourning, because,
‘Your destiny is to drive to the airport too late to your plain just leaving. You will curse and blame your wife and daughters for taking ages applying makeup then seconds later, your phone will vibrate with an incoming message, a breaking news.’
The flight you ought to have boarded just crushed in the Swahili wilderness and none of your bones have crushed with it. You can’t help but sing hallelujah and glorify God.
Similar were the happenings with Eunice’s life; a series of predetermined events awaiting and unfurling in due time. After another.
While everyone had their hopes high and seemingly ready and awaiting the opportune moment of her success, fate boiled its fair share of concoction, to throw to its part, her path, a maze she’d need to pass first.
To their expectations, it first sent puberty, softening her skin and widening her hips to give her the womanly feel and beauty, like her mother’s at teen (she’d seen her on old photos), the pictures before her madness.
With puberty, Eunice’s body changed till she ached to know what it felt like to be touched by the rough palms of men, and to be roughened up to feel love.
It’s during this stage of test that she blushed at the sight of priests, male teachers and boys her age. She threw suggestive facial expressions that drew lustful predators closer and faster than her aged grandfather could comprehend.
These changes disturbed him. What had once seemed his grace and honor and legendary and a farfetched restoration now was his biggest headache and pressure accelerator.
He was angry, he hurled curses to manhood, to what is between the thighs of a man that a teenage can not savor in secrecy and never show.
He sulked at the thought of ever being the best father, envied by many an old villager, but afterwards, all his daughters turned fools and now, the granddaughter enroute.
She’d been told and reminded over and again that if she let a man close, as much as touch her, she was throwing away the possible scholarship by the monastery, smashing her grandmother’s wish of her becoming a nun – right in front of everyone.
Such selfish acts would be considered of impunity, vile and lustrous or a flirt with older village boys and men; like their oldest aunt had done and walked out of the convent to get married a few months to ordination.
She (Rose) must have starved of bodily pleasure, for two years straight, during postulancy, for her to gett out of the convent and not think of her mother or siblings or even wish to enquire how they were.
She went straight into her husbands home to get married. A cold disrespectful action which bruised the old woman’s heart to the point that she (mama) never forgave her even when leukemia became her sail to the underworld.
It was on Eunice’s 13th birthday that she went to the church to give thanks for another year of life. She prayed world unending that if the clouds were to open and the man seated on the golden chair to see her, humbled and in need, would send a golden chariot to bring her home; and she would party in eternity, with the angels and saints and the other elevated men of faith. But He, the man of fate didn’t see Elijah in her, or Mary or Moses or Magdalene.
He sent a man of flesh into the church. And that man stood physic with stiff jaws, dented forehead and smiling with dark shiny cheeks. Blue black. He must have bowed to the Alter when Eunice was still buried to prayers because when she turned to walk out, he was just there; happy a hunter to corner a dear that he did not have to chase, longer, in the woods.
She was delivered to him on a silver platter and his task was to talk her into being a good girl that she already was. Which he seemed failing when she passed him like a vehicle to a different direction.
Do you still rmember that she had danced along this isle, all her life, and literally brushed shoulders with people for the same length of time? People she said hello to because they greeted her first, not because she was obliged to greet them or that she was in the habit to look into the eyes of anyone and say,
“Hello Mr. Otieno, How are you doing. Allow me to dance at your wedding.”
Or to intrude saying, “Hello Mrs. Ayuma, I’m so sorry about your loss. Please allow me to dance at your husband’s funeral.”
And she (Mrs. Ayuma) would nod in agreement because, Eunice, still is unmatched in dance, plus, we are Luo people, people of the Nile and the lake.
FYI, we. dance at funerals and we don’t as much as ask for anyone’s permission to do so. We just dance like Musando’s widow, on YouTube. Check it out.
Eunice passed the young man without a word, his body stiff to the front of the church while his head slowly tilted, twisting an 160 degrees turn, to force his neck veins crack and muscles stretch with creeks.
Men don’t have limits for prey – for asses that swirl, covered tightly on silky dresses, revealing sculptures of womanly walls, derriere, curves of nudity. It’s in their weakness to avoid Lust.
Steve put his God on hold and followed Eunice outside.
“Hey stop, can we talk, for a minute?”
“I saw you dance with the other flower girls last Sunday. I must say I was impressed.”
“What’s your name?” He asked smiling
She answered and blushed avoiding eye contact. Fidgeting with a rosary between the fingers, for a miracle, a sign that she was wrong about her feelings. That she didn’t like Steve already, by the gentlemanly handshake that she figured going a long way into friendship or flickering into anything else, they didn’t know. Who could tell?
It was their first meeting after all, a first talk and a first shake inducing that fast feel of womanhood in her as she felt her nipples boil with likening and dare a touch, a tickle by anything so soft as a hens feather, or the tip of a wet tongue and she would give up her every little dream she has, and plunge herself right into it, into his bed, anything,anywhere. Anything for Steve.
And Steve didn’t have much persuasion to do after the introduction.
Because, that same day Eunice had gotten home restless and filled with anxiety of what happened at the church compound. She had never felt such sweet feelings trickle through her chest when she talked to anyone.
Not the men of faith who held her hands explaining a thing or two or her peers who felt supreme and luminous by relating to her beauty.
And if she had as much as played along to any of them, she didn’t feel the want to see them so soon and as frequent.
Was her feeling for Steve an obsession fast developing through the veins, melting the long frozen ice beneath which her heart lay? For so long. What was it? She didn’t know but her only way of finding out her truth was finding that young brazen man first.
She had to see him again and the only way how was to search for him by his Surname, Ochilo (of dirt, as should be translated from Luo). He must have been born when people didn’t bathe in Siaya County, for fear of crocodiles devouring humans in river Nzoia.
The night before she saw him again she lay on her torn, moldy mattress, on the floor, in her grandparent’s living room, of the grass thatched house which looked like a huge makuti pub; sleep did not destruct her thought of him and her eyes did not as much as blink to darkness and she gazed though that oblivious nothingness, making of Steve’s biceps and imagining a world in his arms forever (fuck the convent).
Much as she did not notice it, for the first time since she moved in here, she did not slap her own cheeks and forehead trying to kill constantly dominant and tough headed mosquitoes buzzing in her ears and biting her lips like they was in love with her.
She didn’t feel cold, and she curled on her side, her fat hips tucked into her pillowy chest and both arms slung over her face as she waited for dawn. And when it came, she was the first to wake and flash through chores.
When she was done, it wasn’t her speed which rose eyebrows, (she was always so dexterious and fast to everything), it was the excitement written all over her face and the restlessness of her body so that soon she mentioned going to church on a Thursday, selling herself out.
A lie which the old man picked so fast. The first of her lies. But again I mean, the man had lived longer and experienced much and raised other girls before her to know when a teenager was up against mischief.
He challenged, “you no longer go for morning masses on Thursday’s, what might the occasion be?”
And Eunice fumbled with words to repeat the same thing, “a special occasion in the church.”
So she was let go of and she walked the village in it’s entirety diging her dik did all through until she came to the last home, not too far from Sega polytechnic and not too close to the church either.
One of those few homes that had gone modern with iron sheet roofing but still walled on mud, of the red earth. The houses were countable, at least six, built to the strength of a homestead. The main house directly facing the gate and the rest, each lined parallel to the other.
It was still early, an older man was seated in a wooden rocking chair busking the sun in front of the main house. He resembled the young man, Steve, except age had wrinkled his cheeks and his skin cracked with dryness. She approached shyly and said hi.
The old man was polite to return her greetings and ask what great news such a beautiful lady had delivered that morning. The flirt which went flat but she smiled anyway.
You don’t frown at your in-laws on the first meetings, ever.
She said she was here to see Steve and the old man asked if she was sure – not in the stoic need of an answer way but in a rapt, this is not a good idea kinda way. But the lady still stood erect to the puzzle waiting to see Steve, to be told, “that’s his house.”
This was her second corner into the maze of fate and she was already lost when she willingly walked to Steve’s house.
A few days later, she was back but not by herself, by her step mother Janet. Just as chubby as the rest of the girls her age.
If to tell the difference, Janet was a few feet taller than Eunice, darker in complexion and just as shy as the younger one.
Their only other difference would be, a gap of two years in their ages which made them age mates anyway – growing the bond as they grew, older, sharing everything from stories, schools, plates, the bed and now secrets.
“Hi Steve, this is my sister (step mother actually), Janet.” Eunice said
She turned to the lady, “Janet, this is my…” she stopped, and they giggled as girls do because Janet already knew the point.
Steve and Eunice were no longer friends, not after their first meeting. She’d told her about the story, in puzzles,
“Janet, today I’m so tired, I lifted some weight. Longer.” She turned with excitement and continued to speak, asking questions, “Is that how a first time feels? Girl that was awesome. Awee… the tender touch of our lips, his teeth grinding tenderly on my nipples, his middle finger slipping deep into my nunu and that sexy whisper asking, “have you ever done this?” I wriggled with pleasure and moaned at his every move, his rub of palms against my butt.”
She smiled and went silent then Janet jumped in,
“tell me more.”
“Let’s just say that it was painfully amazing and rewarding at the same time. Sweet pleasure. I’d want to do it again.” Said Eunice.
“The second time will even be better, I assure you.” Janet jumped in
Later, they planned to visit Steve together, and here they were, at the house of the man they nicknamed jamach “of fire.”And they fidgeted when that fire burnt inside them, forcing wet of their pants. (Steve and Eunice’s because they had tried it before and felt it and wanted more) while Janet’s, because she had been told the story and it wasn’t as hers had been.
She remembers her boy, rough and fast at pulling down her pants, she remembers less foreplay. She says, “before his tiny dick had penetrated well into me, deep inside me, his blue balls shrunk, splash, dushnyau.” There was a river of semen. Of ejaculation. And he kept mourning and spanking her and Janet wondered if ever she would find a tiger, fierce like the ancient dragons, sculptured into antiques by the Chinese. She wanted to be torn like Eunice was. She wanted to feel the pain Eunice talked about and to see her blood soak the sheets. For lack of all that, after her first attempt and more, she considered virginity her most priced treasure.
You be the judge. No matter how tiny the dick is, do you continue being a virgin after a ‘lousy’ intercourse?
When they were done talking and giggling, they left and went back home to no one noticing their leaving. With days fast passing, they talked more about Steve and the praise of his fire brought to life and hoisted over and again till months later and the excitements toned down and Janet didn’t want to hear about him anymore.
She didn’t want to be told that Eunice missed him so much that she would want to sneak into the middle of the night and walk by the guide of stars and the light of the moon to his home.
Envy showed in her face.
The more they talked about him, the more she felt she should have been the one to have found him.
several days later, she wore her claws of mischief and rehearsed in them and went to Steve’s, alone, threw herself on him, his bed and he thought, why not, if she wouldn’t kiss and tell. Who’d know? And they had the sex of her dreams and more followed until the day Eunice had made an impromptu visit and bang! Janet was seated on Steve’s laps, both, naked, Janet’s arms tucked around ‘their’ lover’s neck and she mockingly kissed his lips at Eunice’s watch. And Eunice stood there, statued, in disbelief, with tears trickling down her cheeks. Uncontrollably.
Not knowing what to do or say, she stomped out and Janet followed hurling those insulting words through the shears.
“Daughter of a mad woman, go away, go hang yourself, stupid girl, ‘nun’.”
It hurt, but she kept walking and the only time she turned to look back was to say, “I’ll kill myself, my own fucking way.” And she disappeared into the foot path covered by shrubs and no one ever saw her again.
The grandfather worried sick of what might have become of her.
Janet on the side, praying that she goes away and never comes back, because, she tested positive for pregnancy. Pregnant by Steve and it’s him she wanted to marry and leave school.
After all, with a man giving good sex, who doesn’t want to become a house wife and give birth to 22 children, because with Steve, sex is a whole day’s meal and when garbage goes in, garbage must come out? Only in this plot, as children.
A week later, someone fetching water from river Nzoia will see a body float and haze past with the fast flow of the river.
He will run back into the village to deliver his news of a dead body floating and when they come back, it will have travelled some distance.
A search will begin and it won’t take long before the bare chested man finds it again, clutched down the stream, ugly and oozing liquids by her deathly pores.
Her ghostly eyes cast to the sun and the embers reflecting back at Janet who should give birth to another girl to replace her.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, there is someone else you haven’t met. Lilly, Lilly of the valley, the little girl, Eunice’s other confidant.
She’ll whisper to someone in the crowd,
“I tell you, she missed her periods this month.”
And that old man will faint and die, of a fast racing heart.
This story was inspired by our theme of the month, “to save the girl child.” And it is dedicated to Eunice. A young ambitious Kenyan girl, drowned, dead and buried for a world she thought crumbling when she lost her lover to someone she introduced.
An ugly scene, by African standards, or is it? Ujumbe ni (message is) ‘let’s rally behind our girls, this week (and all the days of our lives), as we celebrate international Women’s week.