By the River

1 of 21

It is Majimbo who suggests that we swim because the sun has decided to cook our bodies and Sifuna’s body odor is floating around, a smell that he carries with him everywhere, a smell like a he-goat’s. Even though we had agreed earlier that we would not swim because Niki drowned few weeks ago right there, and his body was picked down in Webuye at the big sieve at the waterfalls, we still consider Majimbo’s words and Timina is already removing her dress, even though we have not agreed whose turn it is to watch over our herds. I am running right behind Timina pulling off the pull neck that sometimes wants to kill me alive. Majimbo is telling Wekesa to watch the cows for few minutes, then Lumbasi will take over, then… but we can’t hear his last words because Timina’s high-pitched laughter has swallowed them. Wekesa is protesting that we didn’t do piki piki ponki to settle on the unlucky person and Majimbo has disregarded his pleas because Majimbo is the boss. Sifuna is coming like a man who is being chased by bees and he is yelping as he jumps in, followed by Majimbo. Sifuna is the last one to enter the water which means he is Frog’s wife.

We are competing staying under water, a game that killed Niki, but games are that way. Majimbo emerges from beneath, slapping water, gasping but he has won again. And he shouts, Niki ng’oo! I beat you!

Kumbafu! Timina says, don’t mention Niki’s name because he will not rest well with the ancestors and they will be angry if he keeps waking up when you call him and then he will come back to life.

Niki! Niki! Lumbasi is now calling and Timina pushes a big wave into his mouth.

Majimbo is laughing and says, Timina some things you say are very stupid. If somebody dies and they are buried, how will they come out of the box and it is sealed and how will they open it from under the ground?

Before anybody answers, Wekesa gestures to us to come out and Lumbasi is protesting that five minutes are not over yet. Wekesa kneels and whispers to us that he has seen people doing it. Doing bad manners. And we are tiptoeing from the river, still naked, following Wekesa who leads us to a thicket and we see them.

The girl is on top. Her face shows pain, her eyes are closed and Timina says we should go and help her, but Majimbo silences her with a pinch and puts his finger across her mouth. Lumbasi’s teeth are out and we are afraid that he will laugh loudly. Sifuna is already carrying his he-goat smell with him on his wet skin and Wekesa’s face shows horror. The man is groaning like a chained ox that wants to break free and he is gripping the girl’s waist. He his grabbing her, shaking her, howling and we are all terrified.

Is he dying? Wekesa asks and Majimbo pinches him too and points his head to tell him he should use his head.

The girl is repeatedly saying wuujira! Wuunjira! You are killing me!

Timina wants to cry and says if we don’t help, the girl will die. Nobody has moved their eyes from the spectacle and Timina starts to peel away, saying she is going to call her brother to come and help that girl. And we are all now behind Timina, thinking she might have a point.

#Quarantinestories #VillageLife  #1of21

This entry was posted in Fiction.


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