“Next Time” and “This Time” by Sitawa Namwalie

JAFearB-P15-NextTime


Next Time

Next time. It will be worse. Oh much worse. Enraged inferno, guns and young men. Weapons for the destruction of the masses. Sent out amongst the virtuous. To set terror alive. Never seen in this land of strangers. Where just the other day 1300 died for a point of view. Hacked down by missiles of the naïve. Machetes, hammers, tumescent penises, rough-hewn stone. Everyday home tools.

Killing was an improvised game played for leisure.

Next time. Guns will take the place of useful implements turned into weapons for a quick kill of a neighbour’s son. I knew him. Watched him grow. A teasing kid. Now a new young man. He stands before me in his magnificence. A sliver of God. I felled him. I felled him with my axe. My choice weapon.

The blood of a son congeals. Contaminates time.

Next time? I remember. Slowly I sink into fear of retribution. From my neighbour and my God. Too late I remember. I am Born Again, a Christian. I do no evil.

I never intended to become a killer.

Next time? I will not come so close. To be forever stained. I will hide in distance, anonymous space, raise a gun from far away, let loose a pumping salvo. Ratatatat! After all I can kill many more this way.

After all I can kill many more this way.

Must I wait for next time?

 

This Time

This time I am vigilant.
I watch as it arrives,
Sneering in full swagger,
There is no surprise, no disbelief, no unworthy questions.
I won’t ask “Why?”, as if I had caught my lover compromising.
This time; I will welcome it; welcome its arrival on my door step,
Welcome it as it arrives armed with its machete; sneering in full swagger.

This time I am vigilant,
I watch it approach,
I step out in open-armed-welcome.
I won’t forget my manners.
Here, have some tea, have some bread; would you like blueband and jam?
I will be gracious, anxious to please this caller from so far; who deigns to visit my inconsequential home wielding a machete with such eloquence.

This time I am vigilant,
I watch it approach,
I don’t cower at the inevitable,
After all, I am known for my dignity,
Will it be a beheading?
I hold my head high, take what’s coming with fortitude.
This time.
Will we kill another worthless 1300?
Or; will the number go beyond compare?
This time?


Sitawa Namwalie is a Kenyan poet, playwright and the author of several dramatized poetry productions including; “Cut off My Tongue” (2008), “Homecoming” (2011), and “Silence is a Woman” (2014). She has written two plays “Black Maria on Koinange Street” (2014) and “Room of Lost Names”.