Fiction · Series

Vile Winds

Chapter 1

The hole in the window gave way to a sharp breeze that brushed against my skin and tiny goose pimples formed. My efforts at masking it with tape couldn’t be seen at all. The wind’s persistence was as stubborn as gravity. The kitchen was suddenly sorrowful.

Sneering at one another, Mother and I rushed for the warmth of the brazier.

+ + +

On a Sunday afternoon, back in March, when the sun blazed through the sky and scorched the maize fields, my father peered through our kitchen and demanded I leave with me. With clothes drenched in beer and breath that smelt like a tavern, he balanced his posture with all his might while he and Biggie exchanged speeches. When my father said he was dutifully bound to care for me, Biggie replied saying he was culturally more entitled to me. The two swapped blows until one of Biggie ‘s fists landed on the window and involuntarily opened a hole. My father turned back on his attempts for a reconciliation and like a wounded Buffalo, he dragged his bruised leg across our compound to his. It was a village away and my heart sometimes thudded at the thought of his unsafety. Biggie, being Mother’s older brother had made a ruling over me that I couldn’t protest because he assumed fatherhood over me upon my birth.

I would not see my father again until many moons later. His refusal to take my mother as his bride even after seeing my resemblance to his pained Biggie tremendously. More than anything, it was Mother’s sorrow that cemented his commitment to caring for us.

Every night, as I lay my head against the pillow, my father consumed my feelings. Deep within me, and Mother too, there were open scars than needed reckoning. We all knew it, but no one dared challenge Biggie.

+ + +

The wind continued to cut through the hole in the window, making the brazier somewhat pointless.

“Can someone cover that thing up,” Biggie barked.

Away from his attention, Mother and I gazed at each other and smiled. We spoke no words, yet our minds met to discuss Biggie’s sudden irritation of the cold. “Has he forgotten who is responsible for its damage?” I asked Mother in mind.

“It seems so,” Mother replied, in mind too, and we giggled in mind.

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Fiction

A Quiet Passion

Part 1

“Luyando isn’t a virgin anymore,” Chipo thought as she stepped into the bedroom. It was a foreign world she wasn’t accustomed to. There was a huge double bed at the center, overlooking a twin set of identical windows. The curtains danced around continuously whenever the wind blew through. It was a dimly lit room with a tiny brown chest of drawers right next to the door. Chipo was hesitant to make another step so she stood at the entrance and allowed her eyes to savor what was before her. A big brown teddy bear slouched in front of two continental pillows with its toes touching a fluffy fleece blanket that was also brown in color.

“Feel at home,” Aunt Jane said as she gave Chipo a little push on the back. Chipo looked around until her eyes settled for the radio on the table that was besides the chest. She recognized the soft ballads of Alick Nkhata on the Taxi Driver song while some words drowned in the haphazard keys of the piano. By that time, the likes of The Beatles and Elvis Presley had influenced local artists so much that it was not easy to distinguish them.

Chipo, within herself chuckled as the lyrics registered in her mind. The taxi driver had over billed the passenger yet the distance was rather too short. She gave an involuntary smile and Aunt Jane had seen it, thinking she was easing into her new home.

“Take a bath and dash to the table for supper, will you?” said Aunt Jane, then she disappeared into the darkness of the passage.

Shortly, Luyando burst into the bedroom, startling Chipo. She held onto her Rambo plastic bag on the edge of the double bed for comfort, while panting heavily.

“I scared you?” Luyando asked mockingly. Chipo said nothing and gathered the senses she had lost a moment ago. The two felt strongly towards each other as if their mothers were not sisters. Chipo remained seated quietly, sorting what she would wear after her bath while Luyando threw what was on her body in the laundry basket.

Chipo observed her. She was sure, by the strand of each hair on her head that Luyando had lost her virginity. Her hips now seemed to curve more outwardly and she had suddenly become flexible enough to cross her legs. Town girls were lazy and stiff like boys, but now Luyando had the ability to sit cross legged without any complaints. Surely she had been spreading them for someone. And her breasts looked more swollen. They had been fondled countless times until they lost their firmness. They were too fluid now and had collapsed. Her mind journeyed towards a colorful imagination of what her cousin’s encounters were like and non were pleasant so she tried more amusing paths with less trenches.

Bama, her mother, appeared in her mind and brought a smile to her face. Her smell was still on Chipo’s dress and she breathed in until she made her mother’s scent unforgettable. Smoke and fish.

The two took turns bathing and had supper with Uncle Mumba, Aunt Jane and Fred. Their family was little and everyone had a room of their own. When the evening chores had been done each one went into their own space without engaging the other in their activities, much to Chipo’s surprise and disappointment. She was used to the usual folklore tales by the fire, dancing in the dark and singing all night long at meaningful occasions. She had missed it already.

She was used to sharing because there was not much she owned. In contrast, her aunt and uncle had bought her new church shoes and a whole new set of clothes yet discomfort crippled her. Aunt Jane had told her that she didn’t need to keep her Rambo plastic bag so the maid tossed in the bin. Including the dress that smelt like Bama and that made her particularly unhappy.

She sobbed in the silence of the night on a mattress that had been spread for her by Luyando. At home, a sack was her bed yet she missed the hardness of the floor. She overhead Luyando telling Aunt Jane that all village people smelt the same.

At long last, when the crickets had chirped their chorus in harmony, sleep begun to creep up on her and she gave in involuntary.

Alick Nkhata sung quietly on the wireless radio in a song titled Uluse Lwa Nkwale. This time the driver’s mercy had landed him in hot water. After pitifully giving an old man a lift, the man died and his family shifted blame to the driver, saying he should have left him alone. It was based on a fable tale about a quail that assisted a snake by carrying it to safer lands, upon landing the snake turned on the quail and ate it.

~

To be continued

Fiction

Big Girls Don’t Cry

There was a hurried knock on the door then it swung open. I heard a screeching noise and my mother poked her head through the bedroom. I skipped the laundry pile on the floor to the bathroom to hide my modesty behind a towel. I was not fast enough. Her eyes surveyed my body while I cupped my hands over my chest. She said nothing and proceeded to greet me.

“How was your sleep?” she asked.

“Well and you?” I said.

“The sun is up,” she replied. My mother had not changed a single bit. It had been 10 years since I left home to start a life and family of my own and still, her answers to routine questions were flat. If you said “I need money” the response was always “Where do I come in?”

“Mayo, that’s rude,” I scolded her and shooshed her away from the bedroom. She hesitantly walked out with her head ostriching around. Still the same nosey mother from when I was a handful teen.

“Come to breakfast,” she echoed from the wall between us and then I heard her tiny feet stomp the passage to the dinning table.

Alone, I took a deep breath before deciding to dip myself into the tub. Momentarily, I questioned the wisdom of my decision to take a cold bath, but the nurse’s prescription mattered. It mattered that I listen. It mattered that I heal.

5 seconds later I sunk myself into the salts of the water and hissed at the pain. One slash on my back for questioning him about his drinking. Another slash on my chest for for tending to cleaning duties at church. The most memorable one was the one that landed on my face last night. Our son had not done well in his school term – not according to Martin’s standards anyway- he came 5th and Martin was not having it.

“Musonda!” his voice thundered. “No son of mine will get pathetic results.”

“I’m sorry daddy,” Musonda sobbed. I could hear our 10 year old son’s regret in his voice as he assured his father he didn’t mean to fail.

“Who came first?” Martin asks, patronizing him.

“Linda-”

From behind the wall I heard Martin stroke Musonda with a belt he had him pick himself. It broke me to a thousand pieces but my fear was by far greater than my pain. He was going to kill me if I dared interrupt his disciplinary session.

“Linda came first because she loves her parents. You came fifth because you don’t. If you loved us- If you loved me, you would have topped your class.” Martin added as he continued to batter our son. My heart thudded against my chest until I couldn’t bare it anymore.

I finally built up my courage and stormed into our bedroom to stop him from hitting our son then he decided I had disrespected his authority in our home and waved the belt at me. I could feel the landing of the blades of leather on my face and rip my skin apart. As blood splattered, my brain decided it was time to go and I packed what I could for our son and myself, then I fled to my mother’s house.

***

Tiny drops of red tricked from my skin, staining the water. I could smell the blood. It was as if a dazzle of unfortunate Zebras had tried to cross a crocodile infested river, then inevitably became a meal. The salts pinched as they dissolved into my skin and stung excruciatingly. It was a reminder of the horror. I had lived it for so long.

I drained the tub only to refill it and remained curled in the pool of water as I wondered why my mother had not said anything. She knew why I had come. I didn’t have to explain. But she was not addressing the elephant in the room and that made me cry, almost. Are things like this left unsaid? I pondered as I circled my index finger on the surface of the water. The load I was carrying was heavy, but I was taught to be strong. I was taught to perceiver. Ukushipikisha, yet I had now run to my mother for refuge when I shouldn’t have. I had broken all the codes written down by the Bana Chimbusas. I held back. Not today, I assured myself. Big girls- married girls don’t cry. They put on a happy face and mask their pain.

I could hear Musonda’s voice outside laughing joyously. He had become attached to the neighbors children very quickly and I was elated to know that.

Covering up was another horror I was bound to because the fabric stuck to the wounds. Taking them off was agonizing. I wished that today would be different, but it was foolish of me to expect better results from the same method. I thoughtfully sat on the floor to enjoy its coolness then my mother came in once again.

We said nothing to each other, but our minds met to discuss. She reached her hands towards me to help me get up but I ignored the gesture for the simple fact that I needed her to confront me. To seat by me. To hold me. To assure me. And she did. I gave into her sympathy and sobbed silently. I didn’t have to tell her anything.

“Big girls don’t cry,” she said as she wiped my tears with the back of her right hand.

Fiction · Rants or So..

Going Nowhere

“I’m not like you,” I say.

“How?” you ask.

“You’re expressive,” I reply. You don’t understand so I proceed to make things clear.

“Last night I nearly died in my sleep.”

“But how do you know if you weren’t awake. That can’t be possible.” You disagree.

“See. You just disagreed with me. You expressed your doubt.”

You chuckle, I laugh then silence befalls us and we savor the awkwardness.

“As you were,” you say while kicking a pebble out of your way.

“Oh yeah. I had a blocked nose so I didn’t take in enough air. My breaths were short. I almost died. I’m telling you. Believe me.”

“I do.”

“I’m not convinced.” I say. You take my danty little hands and cup them into yours. You look me in the eye and tell me that I’m going off topic.

“How?” I ask. You say nothing. I’m frustrated. It’s frustrating. You do this all the time. I bite my lower lip a bit too hard. The pain rushes to the very last of my nerves reminding me that I have a heart and it works.

“I almost died last night. I’m telling you.. I’m telling you this now because I love you.” You say nothing. The words bounce back and echo. My mouth is dry but my tongue has more to say.

“I’d have died without you ever knowing that. I love you.”

“I know,” you reply. No I love you too. I’m hurt but I fight the tears with an off topic dry joke.

“What did the cow say when he crossed the road?”

“I don’t know.”

“Me neither.” We laugh even though it’s not funny.

You don’t love me and it’s not funny. I’m nuts for thinking you’d reciprocate the feeling. The reality then dawns on me and I turn on my heel. You shouldn’t see the tears welling up on my face. I run for the bus across the road.

“Where you going?” you ask. As if you don’t know.

“Nowhere,” I say.

Blogtember Challenge · Fiction · Folk and Fable

Stories From Home – How The World Came Into Being.

Long before the invention of time, Sun stood high and mighty by her lonesome. She loved to dance around the sky with her hands spread out, twirling on her orbit and humming songs of praise to Ngai, the creator. She had lived for thousands of years but not once did she ever go off. She had longed for some company and often asked Ngai to mold her a friend or a child, but being the jealous man that he was, Ngai refused Sun’s request. He loved all the attention he got from her and the thought of Sun shifting her devotion from him was frightening

Sun’s mood begun to change and her light started to dim without her noticing. Ngai’s concern grew as he begun to shiver from the cold. “Sun, shift your posture to the right, I’m trying to warm up here.” He requested.

Sun did as her master said but Ngai was still cold. He pondered for a moment and thought of a solution to the problem but there was non. “When I created you, you smiled and danced your way around. You lit up the sky and brightened me up. Now you look distressed. What could be the matter?” Ngai asked.

” I have no one other than you Ngai. I need some company,” said Sun. “A child maybe?”

Ngai had grown tired of this topic and pushed it for later, but his heart had softened because he knew he needed Sun to keep warm. Before he went on his way he said “Fine. I will create one child only. But I’m afraid you will no longer devote your attention to me so you will stay near me.”

Sun immediately lit up upon hearing the news and twirled her way around the sky again. Ngai created Earth for Sun and placed her at a fair distance from her mother. Sun was then instructed to stand still at the center.

Earth was round and brown. She was made up of dirt and hot coals were placed within the confines of her belly- Ngai had used some of Sun’s heat to mould her. She went about her orbit in hopes of reaching her mother Sun, but her efforts availed nothing. This made Earth very sad from loneliness and she in turn begged Ngai for a favor. “I’m in desperate need of a brother or a sister,” she pleaded with tears in her eyes.

Ngai knew this request all too well and reluctantly collected some of Earth’s coals and transformed them into Fire. “There you go. You have a brother named Fire,” and off Ngai went to scold Sun for ever asking for a child in the first place. He realized he just could not please anyone and this frustrated him.

Earth and Fire loved to play but their games often resulted in one hurting the other. Fire had a bad temper and Earth was hard headed. Having a sibling was not all that fun after all. When they had their differences, Earth often called upon Ngai for a chat but sometimes he was too busy for her complaints. His anger scared her to a point of making her cry. To make up for his actions, Ngai collected all of Earth’s tears and transformed them into Water.

“Whenever Fire fights you, team up with water,” Ngai said and went on his way.

Earth and Water were inseparable and Fire became jealous. He approached the creator for some consolation. Feeling the need to be fair, Ngai sympathised with Fire and formed Wind from Water’s back. “You have a brother to support you when you’re at your lowest point. Call on Wind in those moments.” Ngai left for his dwelling in the sky and marveled at his creation.

Earth, Fire, Water, Wind.

They lived in harmony most of their lives, but they sometimes rivalled against each other. When that happened, there was often a calamity. Wind carried everything in his way. Fire consumed everything he could. Water drowned anyone who’d disagree with her and Earth would crack herself open and destroy anyone on her back.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Day 25

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Blogtember Challenge · Fiction

Stories From Home – The Thing About Love

It’s my birthday and we’re at a dinner. The music is soft and provocative; his of kind of playlist. He orders us seafood which he gobbles down within a minute. I’m quite sure he knows I hate every bit it. I know I mentioned it on our way here. Calamari rings are rubbery and my tongue cannot withstand the sour taste of mussels. I hate this evening and I cannot wait to get home. I’ll broach the topic tomorrow. Tonight is about him.

Mark is in high spirits tonight and I know it’s not because we’ll finish this dinner at home. It’s her. I have mastered the face he wears when she texts him. He acts composed and pays particular attention to me. He makes all the jokes he can and buys me anything he thinks I’ll like. Tonight is it itself compensating me for his extra marital escapades.

I’m a mad black woman and I’m ready to throw these heels at him. I think I’m going to loosen the straps and hammer his head. What was that Bana Chimbusa taught me? Something about being patient with your man when he’s sleeping with another woman I think. This is hard and I hate having to hide all my pain underneath a smile.

He slides a sloppy hand up my skirt and I stop him. “Not here,” I whisper. He contains it a few more minutes until he decides the urge is too strong and he calls it a night.

I’m having to balance his drunken weight against mine in my six inch heels. We stagger a few more steps and finally make it to the car. I have to drive. I’m livid.

I cruise past the rolling hills and winding roads determined to get home. My mind takes another turn into a bumpy road, pressing the brake pad at every thought of her. Her name is not Lisa, or Natasha. She’s Bwalya- a dignified name. She’s a proper lady with good manners and elegance. Quite the catch if you ask me and I sometimes feel sentimental towards her.

But let me be honest, Mark is a douche and he won’t keep her around for long. They teach men to play but not too far from the lawn because it cushions their fall. I’m that cushion- the wife.

My thoughts bring tears to eyes so I decide it’s time to navigate my way to more pleasant routes. I have our children to care for. The thing about love is that it gives you little human beings that fill your heart with happiness. For a moment you forget your husband’s heart is not with you then you remember again and the pain creeps back in. For the sake of your children you hold on and smile.

The thing about love is that there is a lot of pain to be felt. A lot of tolerance to be made. A lot of ignoring to do.

+++

When we get home the kids are asleep. Mark kicks off his shoes and loosens his tie as he stumbles through our bedroom door. He grubs me by the waist but I break free from him and decide I’ll spend the night on the couch in the living room.

“Not tonight,” I say.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Day 21

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Blogtember Challenge · Fiction

Stories From Home – The Distance Between Us

“Marry me Eta!” On my knees, I begged with baited breath. I looked to the sky and saw the eagles circling the sun. They had purpose. As for me, I had never known whom I was meant to be until I saw Eta. Down at the river she balanced the calabash on her head. She treaded her sand encrusted feet across to the banks while I looked on from the bushes a fare distance away. A bit of fear took captive of her. I could tell as her eyes widened in search of the presence that had suddenly descended upon her peaceful realm. I dared not show myself, instead I studied every part of her being as she took off hurriedly, barely covering her modesty. I knew I had to make her mine and mine she became. A hungry man could never sleep hungry, he went into the deepest part of the forest and waited in silence to strike his dinner.

“Shut up, Muna. You and I are from worlds apart. I cannot marry you.” She said unconvincingly.

“How so?”

“I don’t know. We just are. I knew it from the moment I saw you at the river.”

“You saw me? But you never said anything.”

“You are a noble man Muna, but I can’t marry you. I must take my leave now.”

She was the sun she spoke of. My heart was running a pointless race against time. What was this world she lived in that I was not a part of?

“Eta!” I called as I clutched a desperate fist around her arm. She was in the most fragile of states I had ever witnessed. “If there is any love left in you for me, of which I know there is, you will marry me. Your family will prepare for my coming tomorrow.”

“You’re a very poor man. My father will not accept your proposal. Muna you cannot afford my bride price. I dine with the king and his subjects. I rest my head against comfort. I consume the most expensive of beers ever brewed in this village. I’m the daughter of an induna, surely how can a blacksmith like you aspire to marry me? That is the world I speak of and you are not a part of it.” The words cut deep like a spear and left a rippling kind of pain. I felt it once and felt it again and again. It demanded my attention. Love was a thing that did not belong to the poor.

“Why now?” I asked. “I am made for you and you are made for me. The gods of the earth and the rivers proclaimed this to me and you know it Eta! The wind whispered to me, it lifted me off my feet and brought me to you. We cannot rebel against what the gods have ordained lest we die.”

It was true that the spirits had ordained our union.

“I will wait here at dawn, when the cock crows a third time and I do not see your face, I will leave your to enjoy your peace.” I spoke my final words and went on my way. My heart was too heavy to carry. Words left a mark on you that took eternities to erase.

At dusk I waited at our secret place. The cock crowed a tenth time and Eta did not emerge. After a long battle, I accepted her sudden termination of us and turned on my way home only to hear her child like giggle in the darkness. It was Eta.

She was merely testing my persistence.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Day 20

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