A POEM OF AFRICA

Posted in Uncategorized on September 13, 2016 by bendyourhead

 

 

In Kenya, Somalia, Rwanda

Where my journey began to wander

To Tanzania, Congo, Uganda;

And I started to wonder;

about this strange habit;

Many Africans have it;

They just stand there….they just stand there and stare;

Without blinking, at you, or in some case;

Just spacing out to space.

 

At first I thought; how pensive;

Their thoughts; intense and extensive;

Until I tasked a small  dark Hutu man’

Skin charred black by the red Hutu sun.

“You Hutu Man are staring too much

It is disturbing for you to stand there as such

Speak your brains Sir!”

and he said “DUUUUUH”

My heart sank;

African brains are just bare blank!

For in Africa, the Heat and The Stupidity;

Make it absent of all reason and lucidity

In brown Africa,

to brown your brains are baked;

In rock dry Africa

To brick your brains are caked.

In the swamps of Africa

To mush your brains are boiled,

Lives are toiled, living is faked.

Lies are told, believing is feigned,

It must be the heat…Yes, the heat.

It seeps into your pores and sizzles your core

And you become the only thing you can;

You become African.

In this continental heat, continental shit,

is made and said, on a daily basis

and in it, dark black Africans sit, and wait, swim and wade

you can smell it; the bullshit,

Stinks doesnt it? do they like it?

Why do they seem to ride it,

naturally, as if they do not see,

or as if it was just meant to be,

All the rape, robberies, corruption, war,

Little towns covered in garbage

Cancers so savage

In the blood and brains,

It is irreparably damage;

In Africa; dirty smelly shitty piss cities

Wallowing in shit piss and self pity,

Every-time I looked around me, I swore,

I will leave  this place, I deserve more,

than a society dumbed down

by generations of genocide after genocide,

Slavery and colonialism, disease and despair, sailing in with every tide.

Africa Rising;

You must be kidding me;

romanticizing;

The story of this retarded family;

Our new-born brother, South-Sudan,

Such celebration when he was born,

Oil in his cup and bullets in his gun,

Our baby brother is a vile child demon,

He delights in wanton plunder and gang rape

by troops  of his men who look like apes.

 

Look at our Mother congo, a whore for the highest bidder;

sometimes 2 or 10 at a time;

We have gotten used

To watch her get used and abused

Americans, Pakistanis, The French and the Indians;

All grab mouthfulls as they bite her flesh off in chunks;

as she cries, and rips off her insides but once again fails to die;

With the bitterness of generations that have been afraid, raped, ridiculed, hungry , thirsty, oppressed, depressed and deeply tired for a hundred years.

The women, children, daughters and sons;

and all the weak, exploited and vulnerable ones;

Should simply kill themselves.

In these vast lands stretching ,

From Kisangani where the dirt brown

Jungle tangled river of blood flows down,

to Kinshasa where seeds of war are sown,

in this fertile ground;

where arms and idle men abound;

marching around

bands of drug, murder and rape crazed militia;

They should simply kill themselves,

flay their own skins and burn themselves

like Basboosa in Tunisia

I think it would be easier

than trying to live and trying to love,

than trying to give and trying to have

when you’ve been raped by seven men who after

inserted sticks and bottles as they choked in laughter;

When you’ve seen your younger siblings

right in front of you, get cut-up to pieces

What is the point of living a life;

Where demons of hunger, misery and fear;

Infect your brain with deep despair

In this sunburnt continent

Where nothing ever makes sense;

Where the heat beats your brains to scrambled eggs,

And you watch your life’s dreams scrambled dead.

Where the heat will beat you down;

Step your face into the ground.

You think humanity has fallen to its bottom?

Africa will surprise you with a new low;

How low can she go on in this limbo;

Where despair looks like hope,

And hope feels like despair,

Is it In the greasy filth of that slum called Kampala;

Or the vast Nairobi slums Kibera;

Mathare and that pretentious wretched little nightmare town Kigali,

Who really has Africa pride?

When we can all see mother Africa slide;

Down on her knees, to suck another donors conference so hard;

That everyone present pledges loads of money;

and they stuff it into her mouth as they leave;

and slap her cheek “Good job honey.”

 

Look at fat oily African presidents ride

Limousines, ranges, ferraris, with pride

Through regions that are God forsaken cracks,

in the middle earth; Where women break their backs

To feed tens of children to whom they gave birth

And who now go to the worst schools on earth

In class rooms that are more like goat pens

They sense, that they’re doomed

Even when the President zoomed past

With a low flying chopper

Covering their one roomed mud houses

in a thick layer of dust

Our future is cast,

The time to hope is past

I swear theres nothing here to look forward to;

And I swear if I cannot get out I would quicker die too.

 

 

 

 

 

THERE’S A DOG OUTSIDE!….and other memories.

Posted in Uncategorized on September 9, 2016 by bendyourhead

 

 

1 – WHAT DOES PEE TASTE LIKE?

 

My mother has left me sitting in a large basin of warm water….outside, on the lawn, in the sun….she was going to wash me, but I think she has forgotten.

I can hear her singing inside the house.

I am three years old….maybe…

I think I want to  pee in the water. I pee in it.

What does pee taste like?

I stand up in the basin, cup my hands and pee into them…then I give myself a mouthful.

It is not sweet at all.

What does soap taste like?

 

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2 – WRESTLING

 

My father comes home with a big box. He is with his friend Muriuki. They open the big box and remove a big radio that has a window.

My big brother JP, my big sister Eddah and I, gather to see what it is for.

Muriuki says “Your father has bought a TV!”

Muriuki works with my father. He goes drinking with him until late at night every day. My mother does not like him.

Everyday in the evening, my father puts on the TV for us.

Then he leaves us watching it and goes drinking. We do not touch the TV ourselves.

Sometimes there is news on TV. News looks very strange and sad.

It always begins with a portrait of the president.

Sometimes my mother watches it a little….but not for long…then she has to go and work in the kitchen or in the garden.

Sometimes there is wrestling on TV. Wrestling looks funny.

 

There are many men in wrestling. They all have big muscles and some are fat.

Also, they all have a special song which plays whenever they come from a hidden place, at one end of the enormous hall, to enter into a square place with ropes all around; just two of them in that square….and then they fight and fight until one becomes the winner.. The whole hall is full of people. Some of the people cheer and support one wrestler and some of them support the other one….and bright lights shine from the roof of the stadium, and sometimes the lights dance.

There is a big man called Giant Haystacks. He is a a good wrestler and he wins a lot.

There is a small man called Superfly Jimmy Snuka. He is a good wrestler too.

One night, I walk into my parents bed-room…..the door is open….it is a bit dark…but I can hear them inside there.

I see them on the bed, under the covers….It is a bit dark….they are making a lot of noise and rolling around together.

I ask them “Are you wrestling?”

They stop what they’re doing and keep quiet for a moment….then they burst out laughing.

It is a bit dark. I do not know why they’re wrestling or laughing.

I leave their room and go away.

I am three years old…maybe….

 

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3 – A TORTOISE CALLED TOMORROW.

 

It is quiet reading time. Teacher Pasqualina says we cannot talk to each other during quiet reading time.

I am four years old….maybe….

I am reading one of my first books ever….a book called “The Hare and The Tortoise.”

It is about a hare that wants to run a race against a tortoise.

I have never seen a hare. I have never seen a tortoise.

I read,

The hare said to the tortoise, “I will see you tomorrow.”

I do not know what tomorrow is….what is this word?

“tom-or-row.”…..”I will see you tom-or-row.”

Of course, it must be the name of the tortoise!

I can’t wait to see my mother in the evening…..and tell her the story, of this tortoise named tom-or-row.

Quiet reading time makes me feel like sleeping.

 

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4 – THERE IS A DOG OUTSIDE!

I wake up one gray and rainy morning, and walk silently to the living room.

Nobody else is awake yet, even though it is already daylight.

Something draws me to go and peep out through the large window that looks out to our porch….I want to watch the rain.

I peep through the curtain…..there is something lying down on our porch!

A little mongrel puppy, staring out at the pouring rain and looking forlorn….jet-black, with a sad face and floppy ears.

The sound of my mother in the kitchen startles me. I ran to her.

“Mum there is a dog outside!”

“Your father got us a dog. You can play with it when the rain stops.”

I almost keel over and die from excitement.

“What is it called?”

“I don’t know….why don’t you ask your father?”

I cannot ask him. He comes home very late at night and he is always angry in the morning.

He drinks a lot of beer.

I am four years old…..maybe.

 

mongrel

(Years later, when my family is falling apart, my father hires a gardener named Kaberia.

One day, the man goes mad and bites one of Bobby’s ears off.

We run out of the house when we hear Bobby screaming in pain..only to find Kaberia with blood dripping from his lips, laughing.

We tell my father in the evening…but he does not fire Kaberia.

My mother does not live with us any more at that time.

I am 10 years old at that time…..maybe…)

 

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5 – OUR NEW BABY SISTERS.

 

WE have new baby sisters! My mother just came home with them one day.

She says she got them from the hospital. She looks very tired these days.

Our new baby sisters are twins and they look like pretty dolls.

My big sister Eddah wants them all the time. My big brother JP wants them all the time. I want them all the time.

Sometimes we go to my parents room just to look at them…and we stare until my mother asks us to leave the room.

Are they really ours?

In the evening, my mother washes the twins in a big basin in the living room, close to the fireplace, where a warm fire is burning.

It is raining outside. I hear footsteps in the corridor, coming from the bedroom.

My mother hears them too and stops washing the twins. She stands at the door.

“Where are you going at this time?” Mother.
“Why?” Father.
“If you are going to drink then at least leave us with money for food and for the electricity bill.”
“I am not going to drink.”

He is going to drink.

“We have no money for food! Where do you want me to get money for the children?”
“I do not have any money either!”

They begin shouting at each other. It gets really loud whenever they are about to fight. They fight a lot. The twins begin crying and splashing water in their basin.

“Mum. The babies are crying.” She doesn’t hear me.

She shoves my father and he grabs her.

He drags her outside the house by her dress. He is going to beat her.

They fight like this many times nowadays.

I look at the twins……crying and splashing in the water…our new baby sisters.

 

 

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6 – DO NOT DIE JP.

Our mother does not live with us. Our father chased her away.

Everyday we think she will come home….but then it becomes night and she has not come home.

I cry sometimes when it becomes dark and she has not come home.

She has not come home for two years.

My father brings home different women to clean the house and to cook for us.

They cook badly.

He says we should call them “Auntie”

He says, “This bedroom is now for auntie Grace…..all of you must share the other bedroom.”

JP, the twins and I, share one bedroom now.

The Twins share a bed. JP shares a bed with me.

My big sister Eddah has gone away to live with our mother.

They have not come home for two years.

I wake up at night. My big brother JP, who I share the bed with, is crying.

I put on the lights.

He is bleeding a lot of blood from his nose.

JP bleeds from his nose many times….we do not know why.

I take JP by the hand. We must go to my father’s bedroom.

We are scared….we are not allowed to enter my father’s bedroom….but I am afraid JP might die.

I open the door….the light is on….but there is no one in the room.

JP is crying. He is afraid he might die.

“Let us go and tell auntie Grace.” I say to him. “Do not die.”

We go to Auntie Grace’ room.

I open the door and switch on the light.

Auntie Grace is in her bed. My father is in her bed with to her.

“JP is dying” I say.

They both wake up.

My father looks at us for a moment…blinking because of the light.

“Go to the bathroom and wait for me there.” he says. Then he turns off the light.

 

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7 – SISTER FLORIDA

My father drives us to school every morning in his blue Peugeot 504. He takes us to school late everyday.

He always wakes up late and angry and gets into the car wearing his bath-robe.

The twins are now six years old….maybe….

I am nine years old…..maybe….

Our mother and our big sister Eddah have not come home in three years.

We do not talk when we are in the car…or whenever our father is with us.

We get to school when everyone else is already in class, so my father has to talk to the headmistress, Sister Florida, or we will be punished.

She is standing in-front of the school building, watching us as we walk in shame from the car.

Sister Florida is scary.

She is small and old, but she is very strong.

Sometimes she becomes very angry when children are bad…..but sometimes she is very happy and plays skipping-rope with the girls or football with the boys.

She becomes very angry when children come late for school.

My father stands before her, wearing a bathrobe. We stand behind him…four of us.

She is small. She folds her hands across her chest and shakes her head.
My father says to her, “Sister, do not punish them, you see, since their mother left me, I am having a very hard time. I have to cook, clean and do the house-work alone. It is not easy.”

Sister Florida sighs deeply. She signals us to go to class.

As we walk to away, we watch our father go back to his car.
We know he is going back to sleep.

Every night he comes home way past midnight, after drinking all night…and then he sleeps a lot during the day.

(Sister Florida is an Italian Nun, who is our primary school headmistress until we leave for high school.

Later, when I am much older, I visit her at her retirement home.

She tells me that there were many other families like ours in that school, all falling apart….she says she wondered why; and she prayed about it a lot.)
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8 – AUNTIE FLORENCE

My father keeps on forgetting to come and pick us up after school.

One day he forgets and we wait for him until it is dark….four of us standing in the empty playground in the dark.

Sister Florida talks to the last parent who comes to pick their child, asking them to help us get home.

We feel very ashamed….so from that day we decide to be walking home by ourselves….JP, the twins and me.

I am nine years old….maybe….

It takes us thirty minutes to walk home….but sometimes we walk slowly and it takes an hour….we walk slowly on Tuesdays and Thursdays because there is nothing good on evening TV on those days.

We have a new Auntie at home….her name is Florence….she is nice, but she also cooks badly.

In the evenings, she plays with us more than the other aunties and she also helps us with our homework.

She likes listening to music and watching TV with us.

She is younger and more fun than any of the other aunties my father has ever brought home.

But on this day, we get home, and she is nowhere to be seen! The house is silent.

There is a letter on the dining table…should we read it?

“Dear Julius”…that is our father’s name…..”Thank you for being so good to me and for all the fun we have been having.

I am sorry I cannot stay anymore.

I have to go back to school because the other girls in my class have told me that the headmistress is looking for me.

She might tell my parents that I have not been in school.

Please come to see me again.

I love you.

Florence. ”

 

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9 – CAR-WASH

My father says that JP and I must wash his blue Peugeot 504 every morning before we leave for school.

He comes home very late at night, when we are already asleep.

His car is always dirty when he comes home.

In the morning, he is always too tired to wake up and drive us to school.

We try to wash the car very early  and very quickly, because we have to walk to school after that.

I steal all the loose change that he forgets in the car every morning.

There is always a lot of it. Sometimes the coins add up to a hundred shillings.

JP is afraid to touch the money, but I am not. I always take them all.

Mostly my father does not notice it because he comes home really drunk at night and cannot remember things.

Sometimes I steal too much of it, and he asks about it, then I lie.

I tell my father lies all the time. He does not like me.

He says when I grow up I will become a criminal.

Every weekend I go into town with all the money I have stolen during the week.

 

Sometimes I buy sweets and snack for JP, the twins and I.

Sometimes I buy toys….small cars, a ball, dolls….things like that.

We only play with them when my father is not at home…which is most of the time.

 

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10 – MUM’S BIRTHDAY

Our mother is back in town! She has been away for three years.

She visits us at our school.

Teacher Rose says, “Your mother is in the garden, go and have lunch with her. Come, do not be afraid.”

We walk to the garden, JP, the twins and I….I see her…she is seated on a picnic blanket with food spread out. I am hungry.

She smiles when she sees us. She looks happy and healthy. I can not remember her face very well, but I know it is her.

I feel too many things at the same time. Scared, happy, confused, sad…hungry…I do not know what to do.

Teacher Rose tells us. “Go on and greet your mother. Do not be afraid.”

We go to her. JP, the twins and I….I am ten years old….maybe….

She gives us food. It is good food, not like the bad food that my fathers women cook.

Sometimes auntie Grace even packs for us stale food….it smells so much that I cannot eat it and I have to stay without lunch.

We have not eaten such good food in years. There is chicken and chapati. There is so much of it. It refuses to finish.

After eating lunch, my mother gives us chocolate eclairs candy, and tells us that she has gotten a work transfer to our town so she could come and see us.

She tells us not to say she is back in town because our father may send people to hurt her.

“Do not tell anyone. When I get a good house, you will come and live with me.”

We are excited about it. We hate living with our father.

He does not talk to us. He is scary to us. He drinks a lot of beer.

He has a new girl-friend called Kajuju. She does not talk to us either.

The house-help, auntie Grace, told us that Kajuju will be our new mother.

We are happy our old mother has returned.

How will it be living with her? Maybe we will eat chicken and chapati every day!

We must not tell anyone that our mother is back. Our father may send bad people to hurt her.

Our father comes home early that night. He finds us all doing our homework.

“How was school today?” He asks.

Why is he asking? He never talks to us. We keep quiet.

He goes to the twins, they’re still chewing candy….some of the chocolate eclairs our mother gave us.

“Where did you get that candy?”

“It was someones birthday today and they gave out candy.” I intervene quickly.

 

“Whose birthday was it?”

“Mums birthday!” the twins shout happily…before any of us can stop them.

I know my father is staring at us, but I do not look up from my homework until he leaves.

The twins…they’re six years old….maybe….

 

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11 – GOING TO THE LIBRARY

The August holidays have just began. Things are very strange at home.

My mother has returned to our town, after being away for three years.

Everyone knows it. My father does not want us to see her, but she has told us where she is working….at the Municipal Education Department, right next to the Town Library.

My big brother JP, my little sisters, the twins, and I, love going to the library during the holidays.

We do not have friends to play with, and home is sad.

We go to the library in the morning and read story books in the children’s section….book after book, until closing time.

There is a big lady who is in charge of the children’s section. She likes us a lot.

She smiles every time we come in.

One morning my father says to us, “Nobody is allowed to leave this compound to go anywhere. Okay?”

“Okay.” say the twins.

“Okay.” Says JP.

“I want to go to the library.” I say.

“Have you read all the books in this house and finished them?” He retorts.

I keep quiet. He stares at me hard.

He knows I will go to the library. I know I will go to the library.

He often says that I am hard-headed….that I am the one spoiling the others…my big brother JP, and the twins.

I don’t know why I am hard-headed. I just do bad things sometimes.

My father locks the gate with a padlock when he leaves for work.

“Don’t go to the library Ben. auntie Grace will tell Daddy and then you will be beaten.” JP says to me.

I climb the gate and jump down on the other side.

There is only one way to the library. If by any chance my father drives back home, we will sure cross paths….then he will beat me.

I walk with my heart beating fast. The road is empty, a dirt road lined by woods and homes on each side…..but way ahead, coming towards me there is a figure of a person.

Who is it.

I keep walking. The figure gets closer and closer. It is a man…..he is carrying a yellow jerry-can and a machete.

For some reason, he slows down as we get closer. I start to panic, and I slow down too.

Then, when we are just a few feet away, he stops…..I stop.

He is tall. I am small. I look up at him. One of his eyes is missing….he smiles at me….then takes a step forward.

I turn and run as fast as I can.

“Yes! Run like that you little!…..” I hear him shout.

I run so fast everything is a blur. I do not look back. I run till I get home and scale up the gate as fast as I can.

As I jump down on the other side, a jagged piece of metal rips a huge hole in my pants.

Now I have to think up a lie about that.

I run back to the house and into our bedroom without seeing anyone. I am scared and panting.

Outside I can hear JP and the twins playing.

I do not know who that man was.

I do not know why I am hard-headed.

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12 – STAR TREK ON SUNDAY MORNING

Every Sunday morning we watch Star Trek, The Next Generation, on our TV.

We watch it while standing right in front of the TV, JP, the twins and me.

We watch it standing because Star Trek comes when church is about to begin…..so we are always afraid of getting to church late.

Immediately Star Trek ends we run really fast to church. Most times we get there late.

I wish the TV would show Star Trak after church.

My father has a new girl-friend. Her name is Kajuju. I think he is going to marry her.

She has been staying with us for a month now.

She does not talk to us. My father does not talk to us.

This Sunday morning, while we are watching Star Trek while standing, they both come to the living room and sit down.

My father turns off the TV. The episode is in the middle! Why can’t he let it end?!

He says to us. “I hear your mother is back in town.”

We are quiet.

He says to us. “So do you want to live with me, or do you want to live with your mother?”
We keep quiet.

“Do not ask them that question. Ask them when they want to go and live with their mother.” Kajuju says. She does not talk to us.

We keep quiet.

“Go and wait for me in the car.”

My father and Kajuju bring two large bags and put them in the car boot.

The bags have all our clothes, books and toys inside them.

We keep quiet.

We all sit at the back seats of the car. My father enters in the front seat and drives.

Kajuju does not come with us.

He does not speak to us. We do not speak to him.

He takes us to a fuel station. He goes into the shop next to the fuel station and comes back with four sticks of chocolate fudge. He gives us each a stick. We eat them as he drives silently around town.

It is Sunday morning and most people are at church. The streets are empty.

He stops at a roundabout just outside town. He asks us to get out of the car. Then he takes our bags out of the car boot and places them on the roundabout.

“I have sent someone to tell your mother to get you here.” he says.

“Sit here and wait for her. You can come visit me one day.”

He points at me, “Except you. You I do not want to ever see you again.”

I think it is because of the money I have been stealing from his car.

He gets into his car and drives off.

We sit at the roundabout, on Sunday morning, and wait.

I wonder how that episode of Star Trek ended.

screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-9-52-11-am

SIMBA GOES TO TOWN (the death of a deranged genocidaire)

Posted in Uncategorized on September 5, 2016 by bendyourhead

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NIGHT

Devil+Moon

I can’t sleep….another night and I can’t sleep.

My teeth grind together like a stone mill…like a machete scrapping the tarmac.

I play with the little pieces of broken teeth that fall on my tongue as I listen to the sweet music in my head.

The sweet music of deranged dogs growling at us when we jumped over the fence of Rwamagizi’s farm.

The sweet music of his little pig children squealing for their lives.

The sweet music of Rushozi the shop keeper….Rushozi’s bellowing like a cow in pain….Rushozi the shopkeeper crawling like a crocodile without a tail, as Muhimiri cut off his legs.

There is hair in my throat.

There is a snake giving birth to snakes in my stomach.

The coughing will come again to remove them, like it does every night….the cough will purge them all.

Another night and I can’t sleep.

The sweet sound of gunfire bursts in the dark hills and gives me an erection….….where did this stupid woman go now?

How come she is not at home yet?

….she has gone to shame me in town again, borrowing food from her parents.

She is the one making people say I cannot feed my children…..wait she will see how I will do her when she returns.

She thinks she is something because she has work on Kagera’s farm…she thinks she is something because she pays school fees for Kalinda and Mwene.

Yesterday she gave me a bag of flour to bring home because Kalinda and Mwene are becoming thin….She thinks I will cook it for them?

I will cut her neck off and see who she looks at with those pitiful eyes.

I know Mwene and Kalinda are not sleeping.

They cannot sleep in this heat that is filling our room. I can hear them whisper….on the floor right next to my bed.

My cough keeps them awake….but the songs and dances of Kaluma are working inside me.

I can feel the snakes rising from my stomach….purging the hair from my throat….purging the evil spirits from my insides.

Sometimes I cough until I vomit, and the evil spirits leave me alone for a while.

I am not sick. It is not the AIDS. It is just evil spirits…..Kaluma the witch doctor has said it…. a virgin will heal me.

Another night and I can’t sleep.

I stagger out of bed. Outside the rain has stopped.

The moon is out, looking at me with satan’s eyes…it starts to melt when I stare back at it.

I pick up my machete and swing it at the moon….cutting it’s face like I cut the face of Rushozi the shopkeeper….hacking it over and over until I slip and fall down in the mud at our doorstep.

I can hear Mwene and Kalinda crying inside….”Shut up!”

Another night and I can’t sleep….why do my teeth grind so every night?

The coughing is coming again. It is not the AIDS.

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DAWN

The rain has started again. I can hear the men singing in the valley below.

I try to walk faster and catch up with them before dawn breaks.

We have the Pawa! We have the Pawa! 

Pawa Pawa Pawa!! Pawa Pawa Pawa!!

Pawa Pawa Pawa!! Pawa Pawa Pawa!!

My head is aching. My feet are aching. My left leg is stiff and I cannot keep up with the rest of the men.

Genocidio-Ruanda-Hutu-con-machete

We are blessed by God.

We are blessed by satan.

We keep running like a train of demons through the village…. satan’s home village.

We pass the shopping center where we burnt Rushozi’s store yesterday. Where we cut his whole family up like chickens. They still lie there on the roadside.

I strike his body as I walk by. O the sweetness when the machete hits the bone.

His mouth is wide open, and I hack it to see what is inside his head.

My penis has new lesions I saw in the morning…they pain when I walk…Kaluma said a virgin…

We have the Pawa! Pawa Pawa Pawa Pawa Pawa!!

At Kibeze, just before the junction, we see the family of James the taxi driver, running into the banana plantations.

Once again I am a leopard. I am Simba. My strength returns to me.

God blesses my legs. Satan blesses my hands. I run for their girl…their smallest girl.

She is barely 10 years old….she keeps looking back as she runs and our eyes meet for some seconds…she is separated from her family and she runs deeper down the valley into the bananas…I will catch this little demon chicken…..I follow her alone…she will cure me of the evil spirits in my throat and the lesions on my penis…I have to catch her…….I try to run faster but my left leg is refusing…. I trip and I fall hard, my face hitting the mud. I bite my tongue.

Blood, mud and sweat mix in my mouth and they all taste the same to me now.

The girl is gone…but I know will get another one soon. There are many which have been left in the valleys and villages…I will get another one soon….or maybe…..Mwene.

But where did Mwene and Kalinda go? They were nowhere to be seen in the house this morning.

It is not the AIDS, Kaluma has said.

Suddenly I hear the men screaming…they have caught the others.

My left leg is stiff….it refuses to work…. I try to crawl back to the men’s voices as fast as I can. I crawl through the plantation, back up the valley, on all fours.

I am Simba. I am a leopard.

Rwanda_ From Hatred to Reconciliation

The men have already cut up James and his wife,but both of them are still refusing to die…and the men are surrounding them….

…..to see how long they can live….

….with their limbs in pieces.

…..With their bellies open.

I crawl to the middle of the circle where they both lie…..I catch James’ wife by her dress and pull her to me. She groans and lift up my machete…O the sweetness as the metal cracks the bone…..I feel the spirits start to bless me again as I cough out the hair from my throat…cough it out as I swing my machete over and over again…..I cut open the back of James wife, Kayitesi,  and put my hands inside her…she is still warm.

I crawl to James and start hacking his face…I want to see….if it is like Rushozi’s head inside…..I cut until my cough becomes vomit again….The snakes come out of my belly and the spirits leave me for a while.

I fall flat on the ground….I cannot stand up….my left leg refuses to work….The men leave me behind.

We have the pawa! We have the pawa!  Pawa Pawa Pawa Pawa Pawa Pawa!!

As their voices fade in the distance, I lie down in the blood, vomit and mud next to the bodies.

The rain is becoming heavier….I am feeling cold…..and for the first time in seven days, I fall asleep.

Now I can sleep. Kaluma said…….

***********************************************************************

MZEE

Posted in Uncategorized on September 4, 2016 by bendyourhead

I had just completed high school and I had nothing to do.

After the prison-like horrors of four years in boarding high school, and the immense pressure of the national examination, I was content with being in this sweet limbo for as long as possible.

My family lived in a flat in the crowded part of town, while Gideon, my desk-mate from high school, lived on their family’s farm just outside town.

He also had nothing to do. I liked their farm much better than our home, and I spent many days there.

His mother was very sweet and she was always nice to me. She did not seem to mind that her son was spending too much time with a me, a Catholic…their family was very Methodist…..and in this small town it was a big deal.

We spent many idle days with Gideon, talking, cleaning the cowshed and helping about the farm…..and sometimes we climbed the large loquat tree in their backyard in front of the cow-shed and simply sat up there for hours.

One day Gideon said, “I think Mzee has AIDS. He is really thin.”

We looked down at Mzee from up there in the loquat tree. He was the night watchman at the farm. He did not see us looking. He was extremely emaciated and his clothes seemed to hang from the framework of bones they covered. He washed his face with water from a bottle in the back yard and walked slowly to his quarters near the farm’s gate.

Many people in our town had AIDS.

That night Gideon’s father woke us up. He needed some help to carry something.

We did not ask what.

We simply walked with him in the darkness, from the farmhouse to the Mzee’s quarters. Everyone walked in silence. Even the  three dogs that walked with us were silent.

Mzee was dead.

Gideon’s father asked us to help him lift the body from the tiny one roomed guard’s-house onto his pickup truck, which he had parked a few yards away.

Mzee’s wife and daughter…or maybe granddaughter….stood outside, illuminated by the truck’s headlights, watching us.

When we were lifting the lifeless body of Mzee onto the pickup truck, Gideon holding the shoulders while I held the legs, handing it to Gideon’s father to hoist it onto the back of the truck…Gideon’s father said

“Don’t be afraid. It is the same Mzee that you know.….it is just his life that has left him”

Gideon and I sat at the back of the pickup truck with the body. Mzee’s wife and daughter…..or granddaughter…sat in the front of the truck with Gideon’s dad. We did not speak as we drove through the cold and the darkness of the highway.

At the morgue Gideon’s father argued with the attendant. The attendant wanted a bribe, or else he would let the body decay all night. We listened, standing a few feet away.

Gideon’s father said to him.

“I do not have any money. You can let him decay if that is what you wish.”

***********************************************************************

TRESSPASSING

Posted in Uncategorized on September 3, 2016 by bendyourhead

That night, my brother and I were led into the mens’ cell at the police station.

The policeman said.

“Do not worry. We will sort out this trespassing thing in the morning” Then he shoved us in and locked the door.

It was pitch dark. There was a brief silence…then suddenly I felt a rush of bodies towards us and I was almost lifted off the floor as thirty or so hands groped me simultaneously….I couldn’t see whose they were.

For a moment I feared we were about to be raped….but after a a minute of groping, I realized that they were just searching for something to steal from us. The hands went through my pockets so roughly that they almost tore my pants, and on finding nothing, they all let go and went quiet, and I could feel people settling back to sitting on the floor….but I still couldn’t see.

My brother and I moved around the room, getting shoved whenever we almost stepped on someone, until we found an empty spot to sit on the floor. It was the worst spot obviously, the only one un-taken, right next to the shared shitting bucket.

The smell of mens sweat mixed with booze and feaces and urine in the open shit bucket thickened the air in the room.

One fat man said (He sounded fat….I couldn’t see.)

“So as I was telling you, the young girl came home and introduced her boyfriend to her father. Then her father recognized the boy. It was his son from his secret family.”

There was a long pause. I realized that he was recounting a story to the whole cell of his invisible sweaty audience……His story was not an original….just a soap opera that was quite popular on local television at the time.

A voice said, “Then what did they do?”

Long pause.

Fat voice. “What could they do. She was already pregnant”

Wrong! That wasn’t what had happened in the Soap Opera! They weren’t even sleeping with each other yet.

Since the story had ended that abruptly, attention turned to me and my brother.

“Why are you here?” The fat voice. “What did they arrest you for?”

My brother was quiet. I tried to explain. “My father called the police and said we had trespassed into his home.”

“How can you trespass into your fathers home? Don’t you live with him?”

“No. We live with my mother. They’re separated.”

“Why did you trespass?”

“School starts tomorrow and we have no money for school fees. So our mother told us to go and demand that our father pays it. When we got there there was nobody at home and we sat and waited outside the house until it got dark. That is when our father came home with the police.”

“So it was your father who got you arrested? What sort of father is that.”

The fat drunk man in a police cell for the night wondered aloud.

“Don’t worry. They will let you out in the morning. They are not even allowed to lock up children. Where do you go to school?”

I wondered what time it was. I wondered why my mother had not come to get us.

I didn’t know what my brother was thinking. He was quiet. He was turning 16 soon and I was barely 14. School was opening the next day. We both did not have any money for our school fees.

All night that night, in the thick darkness of the cell, men shat in the shitting bucket…. barely a foot from both our faces.

***********************************************************************

The Kitten

Posted in Uncategorized on September 2, 2016 by bendyourhead

I was on the alley that leads to the block of flats where I lived….a narrow concrete road with tall concrete fences on each side.

A man in a small car was trying to make a difficult U-Turn on it. He was almost succeeding, but I had to stop and wait before I could pass.

“He must have taken a wrong turn somewhere”, I thought.

He needed to reverse the car a few feet, turn it a little one way, move forward a few feet, turn it a little more the other way, and repeat this several times before he could turn and go his way….and then I could pass. He struggled to do this without grazing his car on the concrete fences that lined each side of the narrow alley.

Then I saw it….a kitten…. on the ground, near the rear wheel of his car.

He couldn’t see it. He had already ran over it…maybe a few times….but only on the lower half of its body.

It was alive and it was trying to get away by dragging its tattered and mangled lower half away desperately…I froze and stared….the car reversed once more and crushed its little head onto the ground. It did not make a sound.

I felt a knee weakening sense of relief.

The driver did not see all this. As he passed he apologized for keeping me waiting.

***********************************************************************

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A Night at the Bottom of the Lake.

Posted in Uncategorized on April 14, 2015 by bendyourhead

lake bottom

I had always wondered what it would be like to live at the bottom of the lake….to lie down all day on my back on its soft decaying lake bottom and look up at the sun for hours….its rays dancing between the gliding forms of silvery fish and the outspread surface rippling feet of miniature crocodiles….far away on the surface….the sun dancing right through the murky waters and hitting the bubbles that would rise up from my empty eye sockets.

The priest stood over me and asked “Have you any last wishes.”

“I wish you were a woman.”

“Would like to say a prayer”

“I pray that you are a woman.”

When I was 12, my brother told me that it was impossible to lie down at the bottom of the lake. He was 6 and I carried him to school at the front of a wheelbarrow. He had no legs.

Every morning we passed close to the dirty brown lake….we stared at it for hours on end…at times getting to school only in the afternoon.

He wasn’t caned, because the teachers thought he was going to die soon, but I was beaten unconscious sometimes.

When you’re about to die people keep pain away from you, because pain takes too much time. It is tiring to listen to.

I want to breath in lung-fulls of the muddy red waters of the lake and feel the algae dancing in my belly. The water will fill me and inflate my skin and bones and I will cling to the plants at the bottom of the lake.…I will refuse to ever float again.

“Have you anything to say to your family”, the teacher asked…..she stood next to the priest. She wore a cowboy hat that was given to her by the living dead.

“We need a new wheelbarrow for my brother.”

“Its too late for that now you little demon.”

 

One morning my brother told me that he could walk.

“If we set the wheelbarrow alight, I will have no choice.”

“But you have no legs.”

“I will slither like a snake. I will slither up that little hill. Bit by bit. By the time I get up there, the gravel will have scrapped off the skin of my belly and my face.

I will lie down in the woods and listen to the pain and wait and heal…and then I will roll back down the small hill after a year. I will keep doing this each year until my body starts adapting. Its called evolution.”

Later in the evening, my parents swam down to the bottom of the lake. They still had their work clothes on….my mother in her overalls and my father in his underalls….they stood next to the priest and the teacher.

“He says you need to buy a new wheelbarrow for his brother…but I told him to shut up.”

“Well done.” said my father.

“You shut up yourself.” Said my mother.

She had my schoolbooks with her. She placed them under a rock next to where I lay, at the bottom of the lake.

“Your brother doesn’t need a wheelbarrow anymore. He slithered up the hill like a little serpent…he will roll down soon. Try not to act surprised when you see him next. He has no face.”

“Boy. You cannot skip school by lying about in this filthy decaying lake. You need to get yourself together and float to the surface. But you may get eaten up there.”

“Please leave so I can do my homework. All of you.”

 

Night falls and the lakebed falls dead silent. I cling on to the plants. I will not allow myself to float until morning.

I have been lying here at the bottom of the lake since eight in the morning.

I close my eyes and think about how we burnt my brothers wheelbarrow in a bonfire, and how I watched him slither up the hill like an adder cut in half….a small genius boy with no legs…. crawling and leaving little bits of skin on the gravel. Now he has no face.

With one hand holding on to the plants, I wrap a thick sheet of murky waters tightly around myself and try to sleep.

I will lie about the homework. I will miss my brother at the school this year.