The man felt the ignominy of losing his child, on grounds that seemed an eternity to all. He rose, took out his cap and strode around the compound. The headstone shone with a carefully inscribed palindrome: the name of his child, who died three days ago.


By Borusei Kipkirui, Bomet, Kenya

I never cared. Women are just some lumps of poisonous vipers moulted on a doves beak. I know you have ever seen women, who in generosity fails, humanity too, they do not actually tell you that you are not wanted in their homestead, rather they will shout at their children in a rather awkward manner. Even making the child see the earth rotating, the mother will whip that child mercilessly, until you feel the pain yourself.

Actually, the visit will be a stale one, you will come home verily cursing your limbs for helping you to that homestead. And to add my saying, I would rather say that men are more innate that women. They are satisfied with every punishment mothers give to the children: However, this makes the child see the father as a mere being in that home, just there to be seen as a myth.

The woman spat on me, went away as her hips swayed like she was an actress coming to the stage. I wondered whether she owned the only vulva on earth, making her work delicately as if she was just from a dry cleaning shop.

The goats bleat as I whistled back home, wishing for a dark evening to bury my cat. And curious to the end, I should have been working on a mass grave as I was a cat killer too! Owls had started crying, and the jackals were whining as I entered the pen, brushing furs of my goat.


That evening, three months after the mzungu arrived, I was carrying a big container of water. I was to water my tree nurseries and later go to the town centre to hang around. Busybodies are always found at these centres, boys of my age are being sent to bring matchboxes to light fire for preparing supper, only to tarry there to listen to gossip of the day: about fights of women at the river, brawls of drunk men who bullied one another, and sort of gossips.

The container pressed my shoulder, as a hole dripped the water on my back. I sensationally felt the itching effect of not bathing for some weeks. Either way, the water’s stench blocked my breathing once in a while, and sending me to hiccups like I was in a symphony. Soon as I put the container on the ground, a motorbike slowed down to Paulo’s homestead. A crowd of women came around, with busy waists turning, probably massaging the sweat on their crotches, lining dirt, rolling nasty rolls of stinking smell whenever they walked past you.

Soon the women danced, and I left the watering can to witness the fete that was an impromptu: I cannot comprehend since I was a mere village boy, so I sat at the hedge once again to listen to every line of their verses. The women encircled the homestead, a spot where olive tree had been dug to the ground, dancing with pride, and wailing songs of an infant.

I let out the world around mute its whooshing putrid winds to drain my sorrows. Sometimes I forgot to pray and later would be haunted by nasty dreams: nightmares that awakened the whole village, particularly Pablo’s homestead would be the first one to awaken; shudder in horror because they still had an itching scar of memories. But after that it never seemed to change, and to an extent I would forget that at one particular time I threw a dead cat that was killed by another introvert neighbor to Pablo’s compound. With childish thoughts, a cat had to be fixed of warts perhaps the childish mind, too, drove me to bite my own fingers in bitterness of being ripped off of a pet I loved the most. There was, then, nothingness, willingness among my network of veins to care for one’s natural beliefs. Cats are cats…

Otherwise, the evening cockchafers sounded. I still perched on the hedge. On the man’s compound was a rodent, mice indeed, of activities: burrowing through jokes, women revealing rainbows they saw in darkness with a killing anxiety of holding a white man’s ‘rod of Moses’s. Later the sounds of the cockchafers were accompanied by cawing of owls, and certainly a season of spring was far. Autumn was near. The drums beat, and girls of the village danced with pride; how I wished I was there, but an impending swerve of culture hindered bulls from seeing the infant for two moons.

Lucky virgins were being advised that night a ram was slaughtered, mutton simmering over the redbrick glows of wood. They were lucky, yes, while I sat there, mosquitoes draining pints of my blood, swallowing appetizing aromas floated free, knowing the fete would soon be over, like leaders’ promises. Socialism. Equity. Transparency: that all ended up to corrupt and indispensable weight some lumps of sweaty leeches of sweet tongued individuals.

There really was an evident hatred among the man and his wife. For the time he left, my billy goat had since sired many kids. Once he had actually come home, yet he slept for a night: and I guess he slept achingly, feeling ominous breath of his wife close, but blindly simulating. Early in the morning, I saw footprints of a soldier’s feet: pressed the sand, two inches to the ground, and a puddle of mud had formed in the midnight rains. Did I not hear that soldiers feed on live livers of street children? God forbid!

The night crickets chirruped as I felt the hot sweat trickling down to the small dirty hole in my buttocks, which maggots would probably be feeding on. I slept soundly, cursing the expectant womb for siring a boy in me.


The morning activities boomed. The usual activity of my own self, peculiar to other boys: sleeping at the hedge, while stealing a glance at Pablo’s homestead to see his muscular arms. I was tired, and more sure, the blood that the ram had shed, were clots, and at least comforting myself that the fete was already over. The man arrived even before the twilight sparkles dimmed off. The memory of my mother came: who hold be awakened by her dreams, but to me she was awakened by slipping of her blanket as she dreamt being swerved side to side by men of the street. And I guessed her body had been thorns of centuries, who could have pity in a harlot then?

Power. Authority. And the man in his own full rights came home. Snow had not yet melted, and the dew was still forming. Each and every time I saw him, I yawned a long yawn repeatedly until the smoky mist from my mouth ceased. When all the sleep had drained from my body I got up and went out up the window to still get a glimpse of the man’s stalwart body.

The man went with visible pride, like a bouncer in a famous film in town, or a certain horror movie actor I used to watch at the village theatre, where weed smoking boys were the celebrities. Like the bouncer, the man took hold of his wife, slapped him severally asking for her face, wounding her severally.

“Is this child mine?” Pablo shouted.

“Why do you think ill of me?” His wife cried bitterly.

“I don’t sire long-nosed children, none in my family had a brown complexion….” he said as be continued pummeling her.

I stood there, watching the live theatre. I would be making more posterity if I tell you that the man’s beastly mood was an elephant’s: and I could wonder by the women do not take the beast I’m their husbands. More often, I clung to Teacher Samson’s words when he said that women are putrefied under their men’s huts, and word still, Ms. Stella told us that men are like scorpions of the desert. Referring to this, she would explain saying that men go for a long time, later to come back with feign desires, that were long time satiated by harlots in the streets.

As if to aid the argument further, Teacher Samson would say women share the matrimonial bed with sweat filled young men. These words were mere important to young boys like us, who later in the evening we would narrate to our parents or guardians. Occasionally, but not to the extent of more often, I could swing on a branch imitating Teacher Samson’s bass, his bald head made him more wise than he seemed- that he fit to be teaching a university student.

Soon the compound’s surrounding was almost with heads that cranes necks seeing the live action. Then, a whirl wind came, the man’s wife fainted and Pablo left her. The women cursed the man with all bitterness, saying how a man could fight over a quibble matter. Soonest, the fete ended…


Pablo stayed for two days. As he left, he came to my grandfather’s house, asking him to look for a painter who could help him decorate his newly built house. I, for the first time, shook hands with him. I felt the hardness of his fingers, probably hardened by griping of guns, saluting to useless bosses, smashing thighs as they struggled to stand at 90° no decimal point placed! To the end, they would later be conned by being given an award, useless! As the blood they drained biting their sorrows. Due to his fierce look, I kept away round the rondavel, sensually pecking a look at the beauty in his homestead who at all times was smiling: even at flies that neither have sense nor pride. Either anyhow would a ghost fly have pride, yet at all times it grins at faeces, rotten garbage…

Early in the morning, the next day, my grandfather and I went to Pablo’s house. With me, I had a can of red oxide paint. My grandfather had a big brush, and the absentia of turpentine made him ask me to wait as he went for some at the centre nearest home. I swallowed my smile, as I knew I would be having an opportunity to meet the girl who always made me wear my three-piece suit on my way to church: not necessarily the reflection that I was a staunch Christian, but just to servile my grandmother, and more so to make the girl have a look at a gallant diary writer!

“Isabel, please make some tea. The painter will be soon starting his work, and I recommended you better start before the flames smell the paint,” the woman said as she continued scrubbing the utensils that were stainless. She moved across the grander and my eagle eye pecked on every move she made. At my age, sirloins of adolescence were not yet tender, and if one heard of my heartfelt desires to have that girl as my own, I would be severely punished, and stopped from herding my grandfather’s goats again.

Soon grandfather came back with two litres of turpentine. He hurriedly mixed with the paint I had placed at a corner of the room. He mixed the paint, splitting some on the ground, while humming a sad tune.

“Bring me that ladder and hurry back home to see what is there something for you to do,” grandfather told me.

“Okay, what of….”

“Stupid! Don’t vary my words…” he said as he said almost losing his temper.

I hurriedly brought the ladder, and ran away through the gate, more often looking back to see if his tongue was still following me around. Grandfather maimed my mission there, and I went straight to the fence where the shadows of the death would be found, the soils that were considered to be grave-soils.

Grandfather swashed his brush mercilessly, fro and back, and soon the verandah was red with paint. And I saw a small child crawl to the area where my grandfather had placed the turpentine, took a glance, and swallowed gulps as he finally sneezed and lain flat, grimacing and writhing in pain.

“Watch out!” grandfather called as he jumped from the roof, almost breaking his limps.

“WHAT! Son of The Most High…” the woman wailed as she laid there, fainted.


After a night funeral that was flanked by mourners of different voices, Pablo’s wife plunged into the pond that now gills the air with stench, after painful memories of her child haunting her. The village veterinary had vanished to the thin air, and there stood Pablo. That afternoon seemed to far precious to me: a night of horror however has gapped my memory.

My grandfather had been remanded for causing death to an innocent child, and I would wonder who was guilty there: the then rotting woman or my grandfather? I felt a pushing urge in my bowels and I ran to Pablo’s toilet, crushing all my waste to the hole, and finally as I softened the newspaper in my hands, I heard a knock at the door: Pablo!

His eyes were red. He brandished his cap menacingly as he whetted in a barely incoherent growl. Spittle on his mouth that had spurt to his vest, sticky, and ominous dropped to the ground and touched my feet.

“Look out!” I said, awakening him from his daydream.

“Boy, your mother born in you a graffiti of calcified irreparable indiscipline…How dare you drop your waste on my pit?” He said as he raised his hand, gave me a hot sweltering slap, and I saw darkness: but as I left the conscious world, I saw my dead cat, trying to remove a fur, that probably had been an impediment: stinging it; then….


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