15 of 21
The glorious thing about corona besides missing school, is now we look like super stars, like Jet Li, like the formidable Rick Ross, like The Rock or those dangerous people in movies. We are wearing masks, even though it feels like our destiny is all confined in the masks because of the discomfort in breathing and talking. We have to keep letting them lie on our necks or push them up the forehead as if they were goggles.
Other villagers look hideous in their masks, like scarecrows in fields, like corpses in caskets, like kidnappers. The village is bustling with multi-colored masks; masks made from vitenge, from synthetic sacks, from hide (like the one Wekesa and his grandfather wear), from blankets, from used clothes and others use handkerchiefs and bandanas as masks. We are invincible and the officers don’t come near us.
Lumbasi has been unwell, their maid told us and we have decided to go and visit him. It has been about two weeks without setting eyes on him, that is why we are excited. That is why we are carrying sugarcane, loquats, tractors, cars, coiled pots, cows, Wizkid and small humans made from clay which we shall gift him. We shall make new ones for ourselves. It is the ultimate sacrifice from us and he will surely be happy. Timina’s mother has a new baby and she is not joining us in this visit which feels like betrayal, but we are going anyway. We have decided that we will sing to him his Wizkid song and maybe he will heal like Jesus did with sick people.
His home is surrounded by a thick cypress hedge. We get there and unhook the makeshift gate and race to the house. His mother, the fair-skinned lady with four matutas, stares at us once she comes to the door. She stares at us the way you stare at a mad person who has miraculously appeared at your door step. We are wearing masks and she looks at us again and we think she is impressed with the masks.
How can I help you? she asks through the grilled door.
We want to give Lumbasi something, we say.
She scoffs and the smile turns to a furrow.
You riffraffs don’t listen, do you? People are not visiting others. You think corona is your mother?
We don’t have corona ma, Wekesa says.
As if corona is printed on foreheads, er? she says.
We stare at her, then at our foreheads, then the gifts we are carrying for Lumbasi.
Why aren’t people not visiting others? Have we not met people going to visit others? Lumbasi’s mother is a witch it seems, as everyone whispers and that is why she does not want us entering her house to stumble upon the big snake in a huge pot.