The wood was smooth when his fingers slid down, but he could feel small ridges when he traced them up again. The only evidence that termites left after they were unable to chew the whole plank off. They had abandoned it and gone to look for another source of food. Or maybe they hadn’t moved at all. Maybe ants had attacked and carried them away as he often watched them do.They were really strong, those ant. Small and strong. Just like him, except the strong part.

He always wished he was strong enough to kill the taunting boys at school. Maybe carry them one by one to a hole and dispose them. Dead. Dead? No! Not dead; he would get caught if he killed them.just like in the movie he had watched at mama Faith’s. The person who killed first was the bad one. And he got killed at the end. It would be better if he killed them as vengeance. That way, he would have an excuse. Like the commando in the movie, he would stagger from their makeshift military camp just as the police and army helicopters arrived, like the commando.

So who would the boys have to kill first? Simple. His best friend, then kidnap his daughter. Wait! No!Not his best friend, not Korah. And he couldn’t wait to grow up and get a daughter. That was too long.so who? Who? Who? Mom? Perfect! No! Not perfect! No! Who would buy him ice bars after church? Who would bring him fruits? Buy soda? No, mom was too good to die. The boys wouldn’t even have to kill her, dad will have done so already. Isn’t that what he said today? “I will kill you!!! Ghasia! …good for nothing …bure kabisa! ”

That was before he unbuckled his belt and flogged mom with it. Tears welled up his eyes and his throat was becoming parched from the memory …mom’s screams still cut through his mind like a hot knife. Why didn’t the neighbours help? ..wouldn’t they risk?


He touched the welt on his cheek . The belt had found it’s way there when he tried to call for help. It was still hot; swelling. Why did dad demand food then vomit nyama choma minutes later, puking slime all over the floor and filling the house with the smell of the bars?
It was disgusting, and never changed. From Equator, to Stage bar, to Mountain view even to Sportmann’s. The smell was the same.Dad went to Sportmann’s only once a month, some times he would drag him around. There he would play around as dad downed a few beers and talked ‘business’ With some women in the bar who sat on his lap. Maybe that’s why dad beat mom up. Because she never sat on his lap or wore small clothes. In some instances he had gotten glimpses of dad’s hands under their skirts and blouses . Many times dad would carry one of the women and disappear only to reappear after an hour. Dad was strong, he could carry a grown woman,big rocks and the huge metals he worked on while welding. Once he had been picking up bottle tops in a bar as dad sat drinking with some friends. A man had tried to prevent him from placing them on the table. Dad hit the man until blood ran down his nose. People in the bars called dad “Munene” – big one. Even the guard at the Sportmann’s swimming pool knew dad was not one to be joked with. He had once pinched him for throwing pebbles into the swimming pool. Dad had beat him up in front of the management and wazungu.

Why couldn’t he throw pebbles into the water? He liked the ‘plop’ sound. Sometimes the pebbles bounced on the water if he threw them well. Weru had taught him the trick one day as they swam in river Nyariginu. That day he felt all bad inside when he came home wet, dirty and late, everyone had been looking for him. Dad had been so angry he forced them to sleep outside and locked the house from inside. Mom had taken him to the old bathroom which nobody used anymore. She spread the worn mattress that had always been there. That night he didn’t sleep a bit. He spent the night looking through the spaces between the planks on the wall.the stars had been beautiful. The cold had numbed him though.
He peeped through the spaces again, there were no stars tonight, just the darkness. A drop hit him in the eye and he jumped back. Startled. Mom pulled him tighter, she was warm. Atleast she wasn’t sobbing anymore. He prayed that God would see dad sleeping alone in the house, protect him from thieves and give him a good night … as he slowly slipped to sleep, the rain thundered down the iron sheets and his hand slowly slipped down the plank onto the floor.

@Ngartia Bryan


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