“Old House” By Lena Anyuolo

On sweltering January afternoons, Nairobi stretches listlessly in the heat. Her towering skyscrapers like fingers splayed, unmoving, seeking respite from the unrelenting sun but receiving none. The inexorable patter of footsteps courses through her veins, alleys feeding into drives that feed into streets that carry this patter of footsteps and vehicles through her and away from her. The activity never balks, simply slowing in rhythm for when she needs repose, for even hearts need their rest, albeit momentarily, only for the rhythm to resume, incrementally, like the thump thump thump of a runner’s pulse as he ascends a hill.

That is how I found Nairobi on the day I am released. Frigid and languorous on a January afternoon.

Ambrosia wore a black dress with a pink paisley scarf swaddled around her neck; ironical in the January heat. We drove in silence to Old House, letting David’s ghost sit between us.

*

In the house, everyone was waiting for me. The dining table had been moved to one end of the room, on the east wall. On the table, a couple of used paper cups and plates were stacked on top of each other. A pot of chicken and rice remained open. A small portable stove simmered a broth languidly. My mother was the first to receive me. Her thinning afro braided into cornrows, creating an intricate quilt of black and grey hair. As I embraced her, I felt her saggy skin and an overwhelming guilt coursed through me. I bit my lower lip to stop myself from crying.

“How are you?”

“I am fine.”

“Welcome back Ray,” she said as she embraced me again.

What followed was a series of awkward hugs from family and friends. Half of them had no idea what the homecoming party was for or what exactly it is I was returning from. The half that knew were embarrassed. Where I was from was not a place that was easily explained or understood.

Ma’ pulled me to the dining table. “You must be hungry. Lord knows what they fed you in there.”

“No, Ma, we ate on our way here,” I replied.

“Nonsense, come now, have something to eat.”

*

The weeks before it happened were a blur, the days would fold into each other until I could no longer tell them apart. I slept till noon on most days, and only left our room when I knew he had left the house. I would pour myself a glass of wine, light a cigarette, take a long drag and tilting my head backwards, blow out thin wisps of smoke that  unfurled one after the other as they disappeared into the air.

Sometimes I would watch reruns of Friends on Comedy Central in my pajamas. Most of the time, I sat on the bar stools by the kitchen counter and drank glass after glass of wine and smoke an entire pack of cigarettes.

On good days, I would go outside and watch the sunlight filter through the trees as I smoked.

He often arrived at 7pm. By then, I would already be in bed, having knocked myself out with Diazepam, Seroquel and a glass of wine.

I knew my behaviour puzzled him. We lived in the same house but hadn’t seen each other for weeks. On some mornings, I could feel him run his fingers along my thigh and eventually under my night dress, grabbing my ass cheek as he kissed my neck, trying to rouse me from sleep.

I would feel myself get aroused, for the desire was still there, but something in me had died. Killed off so suddenly that I would shudder when I faced this visitor, this cold hatred that had settled in his place.

Still, I grieved him. I grieved him for months, during the entirety of my trial and my prison sentence.

The first days with Grief were the hardest. She would nudge me constantly with mementos of what he had left, deceiving me until I would find myself wandering with her into his study. And amidst rows of laughter, and shelves of afternoons, I felt along the spines of each conversation. And Grief would push me further, and I would wander on, feeling through the pages, thick with words and song, and forget that this was  ephemeral, a mere memory that would wear with age. And then Grief, satisfied with her visit, would bid me farewell and the pages would become thinner and thinner, until, diaphanous, they would granulate and dissolve into the air and I would be left feeling sadder than I was before.

Eventually I learnt to expect Grief’s visit, even miss it, her made-up face and bright lipstick and her penchant for vagueness, her love of the in-between. We stopped wandering into the library and began to explore other rooms and places, like the kitchen and the kitchen floor, where David and I first made love. He loved this memory, he often talked about it on his visits. I never knew why him and Grief loved it so much, it was such an awkward day for me. His pubic hair felt coarse on my pelvis and his kiss foreign. The face he made when he came was hilarious but I knew better than to laugh at how his lips parted making a wide ‘O’ and his eyes half closed as he made his final thrusts.

*

There is a rap on my door to my room. I stand up, pry it open and Ambrosia walks in, my little darling. Petite in her black dress and pink paisley scarf. As solid in her existence as the walls around us, far from the tiny mass of cells that once occupied my womb.

“Mum, you can take a bath if you want to, everyone is gone now, it just me and khukhu.”

“Thank you.”

“Before you go, would you stay a while with me?”

“I’d rather not,” she replies.

I sense she is desperate to leave but I insist either way.

“Please Ambrosia. Please sit with me.”

“Mum, please, I have to go help khuku clear the kitchen.”

“Will you be sleeping over?”

“I don’t think so. Can I go please?” she asks impatiently.

“Sure, but come say bye before you leave.”

*

We are sitting by the bay window overlooking the trees that form the perimeter of our property. Between us, two bowls of groundnuts, a cup of tea for me and a cold beer for him. Ondi plays in the background.

“I like her voice, who is that?” David asks as he take a sip of his beer.

“Ondi. Ambrosia introduced me to her. She says music might help me get over the trauma of prison.”

“Okay.”

We sit in silence before he asks,

“Why did you kill me?”

“Is that what you came for? To find out why I killed you?”

“No, I came to see you. Can’t a man see his wife after not seeing her for ten years?”

“’David, don’t bullshit me please, we are too old for that.” I reply angrily.

“Okay, that is why I came, I came to find out why you killed me. That’s the main thing. But I also came to see you”’

“It’s because I had to David.”

“Why? Was it because of the affair?”

“No it wasn’t about the affair. I forgave you for that.”

“Then what Ray?”

I get up from my seat and head towards the radio. I fumble with the dial, letting the mumble of changing frequencies occupy the silence. Finding nothing satisfactory, I go into his library and come out with a Gary BB Coleman cassette.

“Ray?”

“I already told you that I had to, I don’t know what else you want to hear,” I reply irritably.

“You’re being abstruse Ray.”

“I’d rather not talk about it David.”

He sighs and then leaning over, kisses my forehead and bids me goodbye, his bowl of groundnuts untouched.

I light a cigarette and close my eyes.

Old House was stunning. I remembered when I started working there, being mesmerized by the prominent gables that stretched their tips to the sky. The facade was divided into three bays, separated by beautiful pink columns. Pink became my favourite colour. On the porch, the wind chimes sang sweet songs as they swayed in the morning wind. That was when the house was its most glorious, juxtaposed against the orange light of dawn, it looked like a giant dollhouse.

Inside, the madam dressed the walls with her own paintings which were mostly brightly coloured brush strokes on white canvas or portraits of Yaya, her first born. The furniture was deciduous, often changing with her mood which was tempestuous. Sometimes she would lock herself in the master bedroom for days, never emerging even to eat. It’s because of her poor eating habits that she took on a gaunt appearance, looking quite aged even though she was 30. I knew she was 30 because she never missed an opportunity to mention it.

She would always say, ‘Ray, usione hivi, I’m very young, just 30 years old.’ and my reply was always, ‘Ukweli aunty, ata mtu hawezi jua, unaweza ata rudi university,’ and we’d both laugh. Her, that someone had validated her youthfulness, I, for the absurdity of it all.

In the seven years I worked at Old house, I never knew her name. Just aunty. David was the one who hired me.

David was a strange man. He wore kanzus all the time. It was odd because he wasn’t Muslim. He liked to sit in the backyard, amongst the flowering fruit trees, with the French doors open. That used to annoy me so much because it made me do double work of clearing up the leaves that went into the house and dusting the furniture even though I had done it in the morning.

When madam was in one of her moods, David would move into the guest house which looked like a square block of concrete in which three holes for a door and two windows had been carved out. He was insistent that I never go there, he would cook and clean for himself and only came to the main house to bring his dirty laundry to be washed. Yaya lived in the guest house with him for the duration of madam’s moods, but in the fourth year, when madam went completely crazy and tried to drown herself in the bathtub, Yaya was taken to live with David’s grandmother and madam was moved to the guest house.

After that, a man in his late fifties would visit every month. Sometimes he came with a very big suitcase which David would help him carry to the guest house. One day, when I was cleaning up after the doctor had seen madam, I peeped into the suitcase and saw a rectangular box with two prongs, a small screen and dial. It was on later on, after David and I got married, that I learnt it was an electroconvulsive therapy machine, because we used it on Yaya too. She inherited her mood swings from her mother. That’s what David said.

Things got really bad in the seventh year, the year madam died. She would scream and bang things all day and night and pour paint on herself or finish a painting only to break it in half. None of us could stand the noise and her erratic behaviour. I think David gave up. He was never in the house. I only saw him on Sundays when he would come home with a blithe young lady called Mira who would spend the night and leave with him in the morning.

I started taking madam’s pills. Diazepam and Seroquel. They would knock me out for hours so that I didn’t have to deal with her loud banging and screams.

Then in September, I don’t remember the date, I found her dead. She had killed herself no doubt, but we never got to know how because David didn’t want an autopsy and her body was cremated the following day. He then moved into Old house with Mira and burnt down the guest house. Yaya continued to live with her grandmother.

I fell in love with David’s hands. They were the softest hands I’d ever touched. After we’d made love, I would take his palms and trace the lines and pretend to read his future. He was the first man I had ever been with. Furthermore, I had grown up in that house. I started working for them when I was sixteen so it was only natural for me to say yes when he asked me to marry him. That was four years after madam’s death and a year after his divorce with Mira.

It was so strange sleeping in the master bedroom, on the same bed where he’d made love to madam and Mira and now me. It made me so uncomfortable. I decided to remodel the whole room, replacing the colonial style furniture with more modern pieces. It was only then that it felt truly mine. I left the rest of the house exactly the way it was.

I named our daughter Ambrosia, after the substance Cupid gave to Psyche to make her immortal. When Ambrosia was two years old, Yaya moved back to the house and David went back to work as a law professor at University of Nairobi.

*

I am getting increasingly worn by this city. It’s filthy streets, the smells of exhaust, chips and sweat, perfume and despair. Blunted by its ugliness which has become an endless hum of white noise that paces my movements.

I am driving to my mother’s house. It’s been a year since I was released. Ambrosia refuses to live with me so I have to shuttle back and forth from Old house in Karen to Athi River to see her. My mother told me to give her time to get over it.

“It was rough for her Ray. It was such a public scandal. That story follows her everywhere she goes.”

I find Ambrosia studying in dining room. She took after David. Her lithe movements giving a regality that betrays my humble background. Her father was a voracious reader and lover of the arts, a trait that she inherited; such that on the rare times that she visits Old House, she cocoons herself in the study.

Ambrosia was ten years old when I killed David. She wasn’t in the house when it happened. She was close to her father and his death came as a shock to her. The fact that the public had their eyes trained on my trial and my family members, herself included, did not help the situation. She knew from long ago that I was responsible for David’s death and that was the genesis of her resentment towards me.

We speak for a very short time. Her responses are curt. She asks if I have found a job or if I intend to live off of her father’s inheritance. I tell her work in Nairobi is hard to come by, especially for a form two drop out who is also an ex-convict. Her disdain for me is so clear it hurts. I don’t understand why baby won’t forgive me.

*

Grief pays me a visit today, we are sitting on camping chairs in the ridiculous gazebo that David built. We decide to talk about why I killed him.

*

I never went into David’s study. It was his shrine and it felt blasphemous to even touch the door handle. That was until I found out about his affair with Alice, a precocious 23-year-old who volunteered at the private mental facility where Yaya stayed as she received treatment for bipolar disorder.

When I confronted him, he made snide remarks about my mental aptitude and taunted me with the fact that I was a maid before I was anything else and that if it wasn’t for my big rump and breasts, I would still be cleaning window sills. Later on, he’d come and apologize by taking Ambrosia and I on a holiday abroad or buying me a new car or expensive jewellery.

Then one day he announced that Alice was pregnant. The amusing thing about all this was how open he was about the affair: “Ati Alice was coming to live with us because she was pregnant. Hmmmh. Men aki.”

Anyway, I didn’t argue with him. Instead, I cleaned up Yaya’s old room for her. She moved in the following week.She spent her days in David’s study. That made me jealous because he was very categorical about the fact that no one was allowed in there. Even madam never went there. But here was Alice, walking in and out of that room like she owned it. I decided to find out what was in there that he never wanted the rest of us to see.

I chose a Sunday afternoon when they were both out of house. I retrieved the key from the bedside drawer. The study was just as I had imagined it. Tall shelves filled with books lined the walls. The parquetry was coloured a dark brown to match the chair and table. In the alcove was a piano and behind it a fresco of the Oath of the Horatii. After that day, I started spending my Sunday afternoons in there reading whatever interested me. I even humored myself by playing the piano.

Eight months after Alice’s daughter was born, I discovered madam’s file. It was then that I learnt her name was Rose Mwiti. The file contained notes from David’s conversations with her doctor and a list of her prescription drugs. There was a smaller folder that contained details of hospital visits for numerous fractures and two miscarriages and a police report filed by Rose dated December 14th 1984. I continued to rummage through the drawer and found her diary. I read an entry dated June 6th 1986, a month before her first suicide attempt.

“I cannot take this anymore. I don’t know this man. I have lost two children in his hands and now he regulates how much time I spend with Yaya. My own child. I don’t know where my mother is anymore. Dear God, maybe she thinks I abandoned her for this mzungu. How will I leave this place? I simply can’t take this anymore. He is poison. Did my love mean so little to him? Did I somehow seem insincere with my feelings? Why is he so careless with it? Everyday beating me, beating me, blowing hot cold. Mara I am the most beautiful woman he ever met, the next thing, I am a smelly bat who can’t even carry a child. But if I go, who will I leave Yaya with? Should I take her with me? But it won’t be fair, she is too young. But which is better? Leave her with this insane man or to take her with me when I go away? I have already lost two children in his hands. I cannot leave my baby with him. I will take her with me.”

I spent months with Rose. She would visit me on Sunday afternoons in the study and tell and retell her pain.

“Ray, you think I wanted to lock myself in there? Which idiot would want to do that? Locked away for months away from her child. He told me my mind was faulty. But he made me sick Ray! I was never like this, swinging from high to low like a monkey. I was twenty when he married me and brought me to Old House. A house haunted by ghosts of the women before me. Do you know what happened to Mira? Of course you don’t. He hurt her too. He beat her up so bad. Poor girl. Of course you didn’t notice the scars. He hit her back and the inside of her thighs. Poor girl, she left here so disillusioned and dead inside. Probably made her sick too.

“He has a type you know, young with nubile breasts. That’s what he told me when I asked him why he pushed me to my death. That my breasts were hanging like chapatis and I was a broken woman who couldn’t even carry a child. The younger they are, the easier they are to break. Malleable little things is what he calls them. Samaki mkunje angali mbichi. Insane man with his broken Kiswahili..

“Ray, you have to help Alice. Help her get out. Her abuse is just about start. Just like yours started when you gave birth to Ambrosia. You have to help me get justice too. I will show you what to do.”

Alice didn’t stay for long. She was more empowered than all of us because she had a paying job and was educated up to university level. Unlike the rest of us, she didn’t need David’s money.

“Listen Ray. This is what we will do,” said Rose when I went to see her three weeks before David died.

“He is going to beat you up three weeks from now. He’ll beat you up very badly and you will have a swollen eye and a broken rib. But don’t worry, you will survive. You will go away for a while because you killed a mzungu. The law in this country likes wazungus. They have money and even from the grave they have influence. Underneath the parquetry in the alcove, there is a false bottom to the right of the piano. That’s where he keeps his gun. Take it with you to the bedroom. Put it in your drawer. He will be so drunk on that day and won’t have very good balance. You will shoot and kill him. Okay? No, don’t be scared. Do it for me Ray, and for yourself and Mira. Don’t be scared.”

The trial was a blur. I was charged with the murder of David Schwartz. Ten years later, I appealed and was exonerated after new evidence revealed the extent of the abuse of Rose Mwiti Schwartz, Mira Schwartz and I.

*

David stopped visiting after two years because I refused to tell him why I killed him. Sometimes I miss him, other times I shudder with anger when I think about what he did. I live as a recluse in Old House now, with Grief as my only visitor.


Credits (JA01)

Editors (Part 1, Part 2): Anne Moraa, Tuelo Gabonewe, Kate Hampton.
Editors (Bonus section): Mehul Gohil, Tuelo Gabonewe.
Poetry Editor: Clifton Gachagua.
Kiswahili Editors: Ndinda Kioko, Clifton Gachagua.


Photography: Marziya Mohammedali.
Cover Art: “Mouth” by Ruth Bircham.
Cover Design: Kimberly Li.


Project concept by Keguro Macharia.


Published by:

Jalada Africa
P.O. Box 24683, Nairobi 00502, Kenya.
http://www.jalada.org
letters@jalada.org
@JaladaAfrica


Note: 2 texts that were originally published in this anthology have been withdrawn by the author.


Creative Commons Licence
“Sext Me poems and stories” by Jalada Africa is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://wp.me/p4hSPK-4K.

“Sex on a Train Wagon” by Richard Oduor

KR-092

Natasha sat at the corner of the wagon fidgeting with her phone, shuffling through “Jesus Daily” Facebook updates and typing “Amen” in the comment sections, prodding God to salvage humanity from tears and rot. It was early afternoon. Dust and exhaust soot settled on the shrubs clothing the abandoned train wagons under Tam-Tam Railway Bridge. City noise slapped the wagons and fell down on the spiky grasses, but only silence sat with Natasha in the corner of one wagon. This was KR-092—huge enough for an orgy of fifty, rusty inside, but largely stable. Most wagons were ankle deep in the marsh. They lay on their sides sporting bumps and bends. KR-092 stood on its feet, away from the marsh, with not a chink on its sides. Natasha was impressed that the double-doors had not been cut off and sold as scrap metal. They gave the wagon a safe freedom. She could lock herself inside if she sensed danger. She will lock herself inside when he arrives. Today…again.

Tommy’s mind wandered. He knew the wagons were not very safe. Just last month street urchins had discovered an unsightly situation in one. The police had to be called to do the necessary and chase the tens of wild dogs circling the scene. Natasha did not know this. He did not tell her. This would be their last time here, he told himself as he crossed the street, descended the steps built on the embankment and took a detour to the thickets hiding unused wagons. Brisk strides. Sweat leathered his face. Tommy was a man oblivious to the concept of lateness, especially when he had an important assignment pending. The latch of one of the doors was fastened, but the other wasn’t. Natasha crawled and hid behind the locked door. She watched his shadow enter, then the tips of his shoes, then the whole of him. His eyes caught a brown leather Pouchee lying at the usual corner, but not Natasha. When she began tiptoeing towards him, he turned and met her with a big grin, pulled her into her arms and planted a kiss on her lips.

Hey Tash!

Been waiting.

Tommy kicked the door closed and latched it. Four beams of light remained shooting through the spaces between the hinges on the left door.

Not much I guess. My watch says 2:45.

I know. Just missed you.

She knew what he was going to do: yank off her panties, lift and pin her to the wall, undo his belt and shake his waist till his jeans were scrambled on the floor, then bulldoze into her. Rough and wild. She liked it sometimes. She did not like it sometimes. Addiction is a bad thing. When one is addicted, one uses the same formula to solve the same equation. She was a girl of many formulas. She did not want it that way today. She pushed him away gently, just when the tip of his middle finger had thrown up her dress and was edging for her waistline.

No Amazon feast today.

Why?

I want something unscripted Tommy. We’ve been through this a million times. I want to be surprised.

A million? Haha! Be the Prof. today, then. Introduce me to new concepts.

Tommy stooped to undo his laces, shake off his shoes, and kick off his trousers. He was 5’9”, well-built and toned. Tommy’s ribs were not visible enough to count. Natasha ran her fingers over the ripples of muscle on his stomach. She was just 5’5”. She pulled his head down and kissed him. Short. Playful.

I won’t play Prof. I want you to surprise me, not me to surprise myself.

Tommy turned 27 last year. His experience with legs and breasts started when he was just stepping into his teen years. By that time, Amina had been his family’s house-help for three years. He was in Class 8 and Amina could not have been more than five years older. He assigned her an age three years older, to assuage his ego. Tommy knew there was a huge valley of experience between them but it did not take long before he proved himself to Amina. He had seen a good number of legs and breasts since then but had largely avoided romantic attachment.

But he was addicted to Natasha, though he tried to hide this from himself. She was just 22 and boundaryless like him. That scared him. It made his experience and certificates of sexual expertise inadequate. With Natasha, he wanted to become young again, to restructure the problem, introduce new equations and try out new combinations. He wanted to take his time, be the beloved tutor, assist her to arrive at her answer before reaching his own.

Natasha knew Tommy was better than the midget asymmetrical boy with the cricket-voice that was her boyfriend. Tommy’s hands were invisible hands. They moved at the speed of light and warmed every part of her body that they touched. Every dart of his fingers from one geographical region of her body to the other was received with an applause of sighs. Each of these sighs pumped him up. He was a naturally large man, so the sighs that would have made a small man adequate made him enormous. If an ant was to land on his enormousness, and prick it just a little, it would blow up.

She spread the leso on the hard metal floor and pushed him to sit on it. She stood legs apart and watched his eyes wet with desire. Tommy pulled her lithe body closer, one hand toying with her bush. She spread her legs wider, like a woman preparing to lift a basket of cassava to her head, until the lips of her vagina rested on Tommy’s waiting lips. She closed her eyes.

Take your time. You know I like when our classes are long. And please be creative while at it.  

Tash, can you shut up?

Her legs began to fail her. They shook and trembled like springs. He lowered her gently onto his lap and she swallowed him whole like the Whale swallowed Jonas. He was always glad to live inside her.

Cargo trains are long and fat. They spit soot into the air, soot which settles on shrubs concealing abandoned train wagons. The train chugged and chugged, snaking noisily on Tam-Tam Railway Bridge. The train noise drowned Tommy’s sex noise, but his swears were insistent. Obscene and loud swears became obscenest and loudest swears. Tommy’s swears drowned Natasha’s whimpers and moans as he pumped into her. Unafraid. Fearless. Invited. They chugged and chugged, accelerating as the cargo train nearing the station above slowed. They chugged and chugged, inside KR-092.


Richard Oduor (@RichieMaccs) is a poet and writer and other things which put food on the table. He holds a degree in Biomedical Science and Technology, and currently works as a Research Consultant in Nairobi, Kenya. His work has been published in Saraba Magazine, San Antonio Review, among others and also regularly commentates on The Star (Kenya). He is struggling to publish his first poetry collection while working on a novel and short stories. He is part of Hisia Zangu and the Jalada Africa writers’ collective.

“Rose Water” by Kate Hampton

Rose Water

Soft on my face
Pretty flower:
A rose by its own name
Has never smelt oh so sweet Oh
Rose without thorns
With your sweet water
Prick me.


Kate Hampton (@katechampton) is an editor at Kwani Trust and Jalada, and a writer of fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in The East African, The Chimurenga Chronic, ESC 5, Kwani? 07, Kwani? 08, Bakwa 6 and Jalada.

“Sext Me” by Aleya

Sext me

S: Last night was incredible. I am still tingling all over. If it wasn’t for the damn askaris…

Saved by the askaris. Not a good idea to be caught fucking in the parking lot in Westlands. What kind of a girl does that! What kind of a girl does that the first time she sleeps with a guy… Oh, but this guy…

K: I know. I wanted more. I wanted you so bad. I want you now.

S: Next time we must avoid parking lots. Somebody might see us. Also cops are bastards.

K: Agreed. I got carried away… you have the softest lips. Down there as well

Oh my! I knew I should have waxed. Did he notice?

K: And your labia is so sexy

What the? He moves fast! What on earth even makes a labia sexy? Who even uses that word labia when sexting????

S: What do you mean?

K: Your labia has all these sexy folds

Is that what men find sexy? Folds? Ass, breasts I get…but folds! Heh. Kumbe labias can be sexy.

S: Next time, I don’t know if I will be able to control myself

K: I loved the way you sat on my fingers. You are a baaad girl

Daaaaaaaaaaaamn!  I did? I don’t even remember. What ELSE did I do in the throes of my sluttish abandon? Does he think I am too forward?

Fuck it. Let’s play.

S: You don’t know just how bad…

K: Show me

S: You will have to find out for yourself. Think of it as a treasure hunt. You will have to caress, finger, lick and suck your way to the prize at the end

K: When? Date. Tomorrow?

What? Is that the end of the sexting? I was just getting started. Tomorrow. No! I have to wax and get a pedicure done. Also, am I ready to have sex with him? Propriety dictates we sext for at least 2 more weeks before meeting again! Shit. What do I say? If I say yes, he will know I am gagging for it, and maybe I am too easy. I should make him wait. But I AM gagging. Besides, who are we kidding. I am easy!

S: Next week…

K: Wear a dress. With nothing on underneath

Ati nothing on underneath. What is that? Some line from a 90s Hollywood B movie. Men, they don’t get we have bits that need holding in. THAT is what underwear is for! But whatever…if that floats his boat.

S: Deal! I keep getting flashbacks. You hard against me.

K: I loved the way you were grinding. You are just so damn sexy

He finds me sexy! Damn sexy! Nobody says “damn” unless they really mean it. Come on now. Channel Inner Sex Goddess. Turn him on.

S: I can’t wait for that moment. When you enter me. When I feel you slipping into me.

K: I want to tease you. Rub the head of my cock against your pussy. Slide it back and forth. Until you are gagging and begging for more

Oooooh…I really love when a man does that. Hmmmmmm. This could work. Ok. We are doing this. He said it.The C word and P words. We have officially crossed that line.

S: I reaaaaaaaaally like that! I want to grab your ass as you thrust into me. Nice and slow

K: You like it slow?

S: Sometimes. Sometimes I like it hard and fast. There are times when you just need to be fucked, you know

K: Like yesterday…

S: Yes. When it is sweaty and furious, and your toes curl, and your back arches, and…and…and... What do you like?

Please oh please let it not involve pissing. Of any sort!

K: Tying you up so I can explore every inch of your body with my tongue

Phew!!! That, I can dig. I think. Unless…oh shit, unless he turns out to be some serial killer, and I will be helpless all tied up. Mental note: must make back up plan to tell friend where I will be in case I need rescuing…except by the time she gets there, I will probably be some tiny article in the newspaper…Stupid Gullible Woman Gets Heart Broken (And Limbs Chopped Off) In Lurid Sex Game With Serial Killer.

K: What is your fantasy?

Will he think I am a freak if I tell him the truth? Gulp. Maybe it is too soon.

S: Fucking you somewhere we could get caught…

K: Damn! I wish I was there now. I want you on top, so I can suck on your nipples

Ohhhhhh yes!

S: I want to ride you, feel every ridge of your hard dick. Feel your naked skin against mine

I wonder if this is turning him on. For heaven’s sake shut up! Heaven. Is that blasphemous? Focus!

K: And you feel my balls slapping against your clit

Huh? Is that even anatomically possible in that position? Unless he has balls with supersonic pendulum powers. Or my clit moves up to my ass. Ignore.

S: My wet pussy sucking you in, as you thrust inside me, slow and deep.

K: I want to slip a finger in your ass.

Ok. That’s it. I lost my erection. What the fuck!? Now I can NEVER have sex with him. I don’t want to have to protect my ass the whole time. Why are some men so obsessed with that? Should I tell him? Honey. My holes are one way traffic only! Tell him! Or forever keep clenched.

S: I am not such a fan of that…

Shit. He’s gone all quiet. Quick, text something to make it less awkward. Got it. Blowjob. Men love blowjobs.

S: But I would love to taste you…to swirl my tongue and suck you deep in my mouth

K: Hmmm…. as I fuck you with my fingers, making you wetter

Really, what’s up with this dude? He keeps getting the positions mixed up! I am now sucking you. Focus. Either he has freakishly long arms, doesn’t understand how human anatomy works, or is just not paying attention. Keep up man!

S: You make me so wet. I am touching myself…Rubbing my clit with my fingertip, slowly in circles.

I hope he is taking notes. I hate when men jab, prod and poke like they’re pushing a bloody elevator button.

K: I am so hard

Ok. I am officially turned on. Is that all it takes? Knowing he is hard? Hard for me.

K: I want to lick you. Eat you. I have never tasted a Muhindi before

What the? Is that what this is…? Am I the token eroticised Muhindi chick he wants to try? Does he think brown chicks have vaginas that taste of curry or something? That we fuck different? But then again…who knows…maybe we do. What if I am not as good in bed as black chicks? Mental note: must enquire further.

This is fucking absurd! I can’t believe that even crossed my mind. As if it is a competition! But seriously…maybe culturally there is something they do to please men in a way I have never learned…or been taught. Maybe he expects me to whip out the Kamasutra!  Second mental note: must buy Kamasutra.

Come on! You are being even more ridiculous than he is. Stop focussing on having to perform for him. Make him work for you. Be woman!

S: Hmmm. So I will be popping your brown girl cherry?

K: Be gentle. Initiate me into the pleasures.

S: Oh I will be gentle…at first. Then it may get rough, and hard and fast…

K: Have you ever been with a black man?

Ohhhh…now I get it! What an idiot. He gets off on this, turned on by the taboo of deflowering desi. He probably has visions of dropping his trousers, proudly thrusting like a peacock, and me gasping in shock/desire/lust/fear when I see his big black…Huh! And here YOU thought he actually liked you.

Hmm….maybe I should mess with him a bit.

S: A black man…no. But black women…hmmmmmm


Aleya is a Kenyan writer and past producer of the Storymoja Hay Festival. She has written for Awaaz, Sahan Journal, and blogs at http://www.chanyado.wordpress.com which is a little haven for her self-indulgent literary musings.

She is also a performer, having moaned her way through the 2013 “Vagina Monologues”, and most recently as part of the cast of Sitawa Namwali’s acclaimed dramatized poetry show “Silence is a Woman.”

She is a voracious reader, with an ongoing love affair with yoga.

“Diaphoresis” by Victoria

Diaphoresis

Sweat—slicked, slipping in rivulets, reducing the friction between covered flesh—facilitated the avid, unexpected removal of clothing. 

Like a church chorus or a Mexican wave, a singular act had a causal effect. The reality of this mimicry, aside from fervid relief, was the jostling of humans, flesh gently crashing into each other. Arms in faces, elbows in crotches as humans sought freedom from humidity with indignant but unrelenting urgency. It was simultaneously erotic and invasive, the brief clash of glance on glance, the slender curve of him on her. 

For Sansa, whose body was being gently assaulted by a sequence of non-consensual collisions, the irony failed to elude her. After a night of promise crumpled like a fallen soufflé, that she would be so sensually stirred on her post-coital commute brought amusement along with surprise. Such tension preceded the event that Sansa found herself masturbating with a violent ferocity, fingering her fevered excitement.


Sweat—her poised form was not visibly marred by it. She sat poker straight in her seat, out of jostling’s reach, watching with distaste as moist unkempt sacks of flesh with curling clothes and horny faces bumbled about, twisting eagerly out of overcoats like plump middle-aged couples struggling to dance. 

He struggled to dance, he had once warned her, and clearly sex was a kind of dance for him for he struggled with that as well. He had been trying to make her smile that night as she stood, ignored and embarrassed, a housewife at a corporate party thrown by her husband. His own wife had been sensitive, if eager, diligently making promises with her eyes and fingertips as she too sought to make Desdemona smile. Last night his wife, as she lowered herself inexpertly onto Desdemona’s waiting body, was enthusiastic enough but not especially proficient. Desdemona had lain prone, more than a little insulted, as the continued fumbles of man and wife inevitably formed a rhythm of their own.

The next morning, her lip was still sore from being earnestly tugged in all directions. Her collarbone, though thoroughly doused of the splayed fingers and viscid tongues by a cashmere scarf and Chanel No. 5, still felt tingles of burgeoning rage. Despite being more sexually confident than either of them, she felt underpinnings of shame.

“Liberation” had been the uplifting promise of her assertive single friends as they marched her through the torrential downpour of her divorce. The banality of packing up one’s belongings, the inexplicable surprise at the reality of homelessness: a necessary sacrifice in order to ensure that what followed would in fact follow. Just as one had to pass through death to reach the afterlife and the glories that the Christian one promised, so one had to be kicked out of one’s comfortable mansion by one’s husband, lose one’s boudoir, finances and the precious dogs, all so that the invaluable fruits of agency would be made manifest. 

This, a threesome with her ex-husband’s colleague and his wife, was meant to be a symbol of reckoning. “Sexual exploration by means of simultaneous partners built on the bedrock of vengeance.” She had whispered the notion to excite herself and quench her anxiety. She had not had sex with anybody else besides her husband for fifteen years. Incidentally, her husband, whilst manipulative and patronising in other areas, had been a thoroughly satisfying partner. This had always been his way of luring her back, the sex and the purse strings. As her only lover, he was thus the benchmark by which she measured all future sexual encounters and because he was her husband, a man whose plethora of faults commanded, at this late stage, little besides melancholy, she had expected each following sexual experience would satisfy her as he had, at the very least.

As the cumbersome bag of an young earnest girl swayed dangerously close to her face, she found herself brought back to the staid numbness of her train seat. The dank dull walls proved no visual respite from the slithery discomfort that watching glutinous bodies struggle to slither from their clothing brought. Irate, she almost grabbed the girl by her dirty writhing bag but the thought of joining this provincial Dionysian exercise filled her with an inhibiting horror. Still, the girl turned to look. A frosty glare of resignation met a gleaming flush of excited youth as Desdemona and Sansa found themselves face to face. There was a pause where both expressions wavered, then the train jerked. A moment later, a barrel chested man tumbled into Sansa, knocking her, feculent bag first, into Desdemona’s lap.


Sweat—she gently wiped it from her cheekbones and slipped the handkerchief up her sleeve. Wincing slightly, she returned her clammy palm to her face as if to confirm her instincts. Last night’s bruises were beginning to rise; a slight swelling had dawned on her skin. By now she knew that he would hit her when she refused, yet something within compelled her to continue making her stand. She first left him, on a brittle sunless morning, as he lay half on the couch where he had drunkenly crumpled to sleep. Alicia had only begun limping as she reached the front door. Pinned, as she had been, beneath the velvet menace of his legs, she dared not use her feet. Instead, stinging her knees as she went, she crawled across the desiccant carpet until she knew she was out. Clutching the scant remnants of the purse he had emptied and thrown at her the night before, she left without risking a search for her shoes.

She watched a slight girl’s hefty bag crumple heavily onto an austere woman’s skirt, recalling with a shudder that her husband, drunk and unconscious still wearing her neon skirt, was the last thing she saw before she left. Alicia had not been at the threshold when she looked back; she had simply closed her eyes as she continued to crawl.

Now, her eyes were alert. She watched, hoping only for a distraction as the rhythmic jerks of the train commanded the corpus of bodies to become better acquainted. Through the translucency of sweat-soaked clothing, she followed the continuing interaction between the girl with the inordinately large bag and the seated woman with the pinched expression. By this point, the woman’s expression had relaxed into transitory surprise. She couldn’t hear what was undoubtedly a fumbling apology from the girl, to whom the woman swiftly directed her former hauteur. Alicia, watching with increasing awkwardness, pitied the young girl as the rapid movements of her hands nervously underlined her apology and the woman continually demurred, her face a frozen mask, attempting neutrality.

Unexpectedly, the woman caught sight of Alicia. Her expression thawed and Alicia, stunned at the surprise crumbling of this fourth wall, missed what transpired between the woman and the girl but, suddenly, the girl was staring at her too. For a moment, before the train gave an abrupt thrust, they shared a glance of hesitation. Then, yielding themselves up to the relentless pressure of the train, all three averted their eyes, resigned.


Victoria (@meditationxvii) is a recovering cynic, concupiscent absurdist, closet Romantic. She lives by Tertullian’s phrase, “memento mori,” and seeks equipoise in Nietzschean affirmation. Amor Fati.

“Honeymoon Suite / Dreaming” by Nkatha Obungu

Honeymoon Suite / Dreaming

Honeymoon Suite

I am an errant fire truck; scarlet engine; slipping brake pads,
rearing to slam into the trenches of your tightly-reined desire,
but my fervor frightens your Anglican fancies of subdued rapture
and you retreat into a mask of passivity; startled exodus,
Smothered shock at the flight of purse-lipped virgin from idealized halo,
You’re staring down the demons of Nephthys
as you try to remember if you mis-invoked her when you nibbled on my neck;
But even then, my skin was already coming apart; quicksand
trapping your teeth to sink into a red sea that you
did not know how to part;
Could not know how to part;
and so now
we lie side by side in pools of unchastised silence,
Sending dangerous vibrations to the ceiling.


Dreaming

In the shadowed hours after I have licked soap bubbles
trapped in the netted hairiness of your torso,
I dream that Janus has slipped into your mouth
and tilted your smile into a downward curve
of displeased dissent.
Sharp fangs sprout from misplaced dentata
Juxtaposed on androgynous replications
of the messy wetness that smears
the plum-stained beds of emotion we writhe in.

My name is a waterfall on your lips;
Even when you roar in pain,
Especially when you roar in pain.
As your bones snap one by one
Under the illumination of a sturgeon lunar
your eyes turn yellow with lunatic need.
I’m the paws you scratch against cellared stone,
Hunting down warm-blooded, rust-scented necks
that taste of self-immolation.
Tearing past linked chain into tender flesh.
The gurgling strangulation of bubbling anima;
Final leaps off infernal cliffs
rouse me to screaming streams of consciousness.

You beg me not to unrescue you,
And just now I realize
Our respective hells are sentries clutching onto twisted hilts of clashed spears,
The only respite; sleepless embrace.


Nkatha Obungu (@nkay9) is a lawyer and writer. She recently contributed to the “When Women Speak” Brainstorm Kenya e-book and blogs at Etchings on the Mirror.