Caricamento in corso
I racconti del Premio Energheia Africa Teller

The love of hate_Peter Kuya

selena75_2_Africa Teller 2003. 

 

Chapter one

“Please don’t do this to me. I am begging you…”

Midega pleaded, down on her knees on the floor, tears streaming

from her swollen eyes. With her arms raised up in supplication, she

appeared very small and desperately hopeless.

Around her in the spacious living room, stood four men, her

brothers in law-her late husband’s flesh and blood, all staring her

down with enough hate to flood the world.

One of them held her daughter Minayo firmly by the upper arm.

The young child, traumatised by the sight of her unfriendly looking

Uncles, and the sight of her mother kneeling on the floor, kept

screaming uncontrollably. “Mummy! Mummy! Mummy!”

They had descended on the house like a bunch of thugs, armed with

crude weapons and brutal faces that radiated detestation and greed.

They were brothers united by one passion; Hate!

Midega had been in the bedroom preparing to retire for the day

when all hell broke loose. First she heard the crush of a door being

broken down, the thump reverberating through out the house. She

had rushed from the bedroom to the living room scared to death, but

intent on finding out what was happening.

Her eyes bulged in terror when she came face to face with her brutal

looking brothers-in-law…

She screamed!

One of the men smacked her in the face with the palm of his hand.

She flew across the living room and banged her head against the

wall, slipping to the floor. A small bump welled up at the back of

her head, but she did not pass out despite the pain. The pure terror

of possible death kept her awake…

“Why are you doing this?” She asked trying to get back on her feet.

“How have I wronged you? Aren’t you my late husband’s brothers

who are supposed to protect me? Why are you attacking me?”

Alumi, the eldest brother, pushed her hard back down. “Stay on

your knees!”

She looked at him and actually felt the odium radiating from his

hostile face. She couldn’t believe this was actually happening. She

felt so alone and unprotected, and wished that her husband had been

alive to defend her and her daughter. But these people whom she

had known as close relatives for a long time, were now strangers.

All she could do now to safeguard her life was to do what they

wanted…

She remained on her knees.

Alumi stared her down. “You have been a constant source of pain in

this family. You felt very proud that your husband had a good job

and this big house. Now he is dead, and you don’t belong here.

Let’s see you get back on your high horse!”

“That is not true…”

“Shut up! Don’t dare talk back to me, woman. Your days are over in

this family, you hear me? Over!Now take whatever you came with

and go back to your mother. Anything your husband bought belongs

to us, including his daughter…”

Please Alumi… Tafadhali… Don’t do this… Please… I beg you…”

She moaned, struggling to get back on her feet, and twice they

violently pushed her back. The other brothers jeered and called her

names. Finally with brute force, Alumi grabbed her by the hair and

pulled her to her feet. “You are not an old woman. Go get married

or something. You don’t belong here any more”. He said. “Get

out!”

The dark night had been rendered even darker by the constant

drizzle that was fast turning into rain. Alumi threw her out of the

house into this cold wet night. She fell screaming into a puddle of

rainwater. “Oh God! This is not happening… Please somebody

help!” She moaned, picking herself up and walking back towards

the house. But just as she got to the door, Alumi slammed it in her

face and locked it from inside. She desperately banged on it, still

begging to be let in, but they responded with deep throaty

laughter. Somewhere in the house, she could still hear her

daughter crying out.

Midega sat down her back against the door, and cried her heart out,

wishing for her husband to resurrect and protect her. She had lost

everything; her dear husband, her daughter, the house, the farm –

everything. Life had become useless. Every minute she was alive

was like a million years of pain. She just wanted to sit there forever

and let the comforting darkness of death take away the pain. But

the drama was not over.

Patrick, the gate Askari whom she had paid and trusted for years,

walked up to her and informed her that she would have to leave

the compound. She felt like she had been hit by a massive electric

jolt.

She felt tired, defeated. One more shocking incident and she might

suffer a heart attack. She stood up and slowly, with the rain

pounding down on her, walked out of the compound through the

gate to nowhere…

The night was now pitch dark, the rain was coming down in thick

sheets that obliterated visibility. She didn’t know where she was

going but stumbled on blindly. She was wet and freezing.

Groping her way on the narrow pathways of Shibuli Village, in the

upcountry region of Western Kenya, Midega somehow found

herself in a neighbour’s compound. A dog began to bark fiercely,

but to her it sounded like kilometres away. She knocked on the

front door.

When it opened, she practically collapsed in the living room and

passed out, dripping water like a sponge…

 

Chapter two

That night, Midega got very sick with fever due to exposure. Her

neighbours tried to nurse her but she got worse. She became delirious

and cried uncontrollably, calling out Jack’s name. In the morning the

fever was gone. But she looked pale and unstable. The neighbours got

worried that she might become a burden, so they gave her fresh

clothes and sent her away. She had nowhere to go, no home, no

friends, nothing.

She wandered in Shibuli village looking haggard and lost. People who

knew her, even very close friends were now avoiding her.

She ended up by the riverbank where she sat by the rushing water,

crying her heart out. She cried for hours on end and when she was

done, her eyes were bloodshot and swollen. To her left was a shack

made out of twigs and leaves. During her first days of marriage to Jack,

he had told her story behind that shack. That some time ago, a man

whom the village had suspected of being a sorcerer had been banished

as a result of the numerous death that had occurred in the village. Since

no one could tie the death directly to him, they could not totally be sure

of his guilt. But all the same, they banished him. He came to the river

and put up the shack where he lived until he died. His only companion

had been a large white cat. After he died, no one ever saw the cat again.

Rumours had it that he had died of disease while seated on a stone by

the river. His body had toppled into the water and washed away in the

currents.

As night began to fall, Midega went to check out the shack. It was

ruined with large gaping holes. But it would do as shelter for now

before she figured out what to do next. She gathered some thick

leaves and set out to repair her new temporary home. She also made

out a bed of twigs and soft leaves.

Late that night with the first pangs of hunger beginning to bite,

Midega sneaked back to the village market. There were bad fruits and

vegetables strewn all over. She set about collecting the best she could

under the moonlight and carried her loot back to the shack by the

river. The market became her source of food.

Days turned into weeks. Weeks into months. And she grew lonely,

dirty and sick. Nobody came to see her.

The village had forgotten all about her existence. And daily, as she lay

on her makeshift mattress of dry leaves, all that kept her alive was the

thought of one-day seeing her daughter again.

 

Chapter three

The saga begun when her husband who worked for the United Nations

in Nairobi, flew out of the country on a working mission in Iraq. The

war had just ended with the Americans successfully dislodging the

Saddam Hussein regime from power. But the consequences of that war

were now beginning to emerge. The country had practically been

destroyed. People were desperate for basic services like water, food,

shelter, electricity, medical attention and so on. The United Nation

began to step in with plans to ship massive food and medical supplies

to avert an impending humanitarian disaster.

Midega’s husband, Jack, was deployed to the UN building in

Baghdad as an operations and Logistics officer. He would be away

from his family for some time, but the good thing was that every

fortnight, he flew home on a Friday, stayed over the weekend and left

with the first flight on Monday morning.

It was two months into his new posting when disaster struck. A

massive bomb exploded in Baghdad, ripping through the UN building

and killing hundreds of people including the UN Chief in Iraq.

Several Kenyans, including Jack were reported killed, but only one

body was retrieved from the rubble. The Kenyan consul in Baghdad

tried in vain to obtain information leading to the recovery of the other

two bodies but in vain.

Two weeks later, two empty caskets and one body were brought home

for burial. Jack’s body was never found and so in accordance with

Luhya community customs, his casket was filled with banana tree

husks and a burial ceremony was conducted in his farm in Shibuli

village Western Kenya.

Several months after this funeral, Jack flew into the country aboard

a Kenya Airways plane from Pakistan very much alive. From the

airport in Nairobi, he travelled directly to his Shibuli farm where he

not only shocked the people, who saw him, but was shocked at the

people he saw as well.

From the moment he walked into the village in Shibuli, Jack knew

that something was wrong. The first people to see him ran away

screaming. Shortly thereafter people begun to gather in-groups

whispering in shock and trailing him at a distance. And when he got

to his farm, the Guard at the gate just stood there dumbfounded with

his mouth wide open, staring as if he had seen a ghost.

In the house, Jack found all his five brothers seated in the living

room having tea and swapping stories. He smiled broadly, happy to

be back home and expecting them to shake his hand as a welcome

gesture. When they looked up and saw him, some spilled the hot tea

on themselves while others just gaped. When he spoke and moved

closer to them, they moved away as if he was a dangerous animal.

Puzzled out of his mind, he took his bags to the bedroom expecting

to find his wife. She wasn’t there. Instead the bedroom was a mess

of clothes and things he didn’t remember seeing before. He rushed

to his daughter’s bedroom. All her toys were gone. Instead, there

were two more beds and more clothes everywhere.

He rushed back to his bedroom to check on the chest of drawers that

held some of his most important documents and money. To his

shock, all the drawers had been broken into.

He rushed out to the living room just at the same time his daughter,

Minayo, was walking through the door from kindergarten. When

she saw him, she practically flew into his arms shouting “Daddy!

Daddy!”

She was shedding tears as she desperately clung on to him. There

was so much tension in the house you could cut with a knife.

Jack asked his daughter what the matter was, and where her

Mummy had gone, and she screamed some more. The brothers

looked worried and shaky so much that they couldn’t move. They

just stood there…

Jack put down her daughter and asked her again, patiently. She

explained amid sobs that her uncles had beat up mummy and chased

her away.

Jack was enraged. He didn’t need to ask them because they all

looked guilty and afraid. He felt as if an eighteen-wheel truck had

hit him. Tears rolled down his cheeks as he sought to know more

from his daughter. But she could not only tell him much, and so he

walked out and went to question Patrick the guard. Despite his fear

and shock, the guard found enough courage to tell him everything

that had transpired in the hope of redeeming his own misdeeds. Jack

ran all the way to the riverbank, crying. He held his daughter by the

hand and they both ran as if their very lives depended on it. When

he got to the shack by the river, he plonked down on his knees and

cried even more, begging his wife to forgive him for all that had

happened. He found her asleep on a bunch of leaves and twigs, with

a strange big white cat by her side… She looked dirty, dishevelled,

skinny and very sick. His daughter, Minayo, also cried at the sight

of her mother, and their passionate wails woke up Midega who

could only manage to open her eyes and stare as if she was seeing a

ghost. She was too weak to cry at the sight of a man she had thought

dead, and a daughter she had thought she would never see again.

As the tears came in silent torrents, Midega managed to utter only

three words: “Please… hold me…”

 

Chapter four

Jack took Midega to hospital and stayed by her side until she

recovered. Then he explained what had transpired in Iraq. That

while his UN superiors in Baghdad thought he had died in the

explosion, he and a colleague had in fact been kidnapped by

unknown Muslim militants while working near the Pakistani border

and kept hostage for months. When the militants lost interest and

released them, he had caught the first UN charter plane out of

Pakistan back home.

 

Chapter five

He took his wife and daughter back to the farm where he had a new

guard called Sylvester and an extra security man to guard the home.

His brothers were banished, never to set foot at the home again. And

Midega brought home with her, a new member of the family… the

strange big white cat…