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Sifuna’s body odor was the heaviest burden he carried around his neck, back, body like yoke, that gave him a slouched frame and stole little joys. In school, they called him namukholondo, a smelly black insect that bit painfully and left one itching hours later and abandoned bumps on one’s skin. It itched up to the brain. Majimbo fought the kids who called Sifuna that, but once they were out of school and in the meadows herding cows and lost in games, he called him namukholondo. He wrestled with him, wading off the name, refusing to cry.
But Sifuna was a hedgehog:
He recoiled into an impenetrable spiky ball when he was afraid of the verbal attacks and when he saw that they could not be trusted. He locked people out. But when with his five friends, his head was outside and his spines retracted. When utterly provoked, he unleashed spines, raining them on his attackers. One such time, a kid called Roddy came to him and put his nose on Sifuna’s neck and shouted to the whole class, this one is a rotting corpse! Sifuna flung him to the wall, fracturing both of Roddy’s arms. So those who witnessed sat away from him, afraid of him.
He wondered why he smelt no matter how much he bathed. His siblings were lavenders. Despite being the brightest in class, it didn’t lighten his burden. Then his friends thought they had the solution to his disease one time. It was Lumbasi who said that as long as they rubbed a certain type of shrub on his skin, then scrubbed him with a stone, the smell would be a story of yesterday. It ended badly with Sifuna bleeding one would think his body had been a plough, pulled on a murram road. He was taken to the dispensary and his body sprinkled with gv.
But hedgehogs are playful and Sifuna could play the whole day and night without getting tired as long as he was with his array of friends.