The Guilt Trip

Spoiling myself, I bought four new incredibly hot outfits. When I saw them, it was love at first sight, so I didn’t bother fitting. I simply pictured myself in them, and that was enough. Now, here is the disappointing part, when I got home, they simply didn’t fit. Even worse, they are my size, the last size in the shop. A sad reality hit me; I had to return all of them. I hate returning merchandise; the tellers have a way of making you feel like you committed the worse crime of the century, an unforgivable sin. There I was, walking stupidly feeling nervous and scared like a kid called into the principal’s office for being mischievous. I told myself that I was going to put up a straight face just to make sure those cashiers don’t make silly comments that will lead to worse guilt than I already felt. I joined the long queue , and endured each passing second and minute with the sound of the ticking clock in my head. By that time, I so strongly wished I were done and on my way to the exit. The queue moved in its slowest pace, and by the grace of higher powers, I reached the cashiers. “Good morning, how can I help you?” The nice lady asked with a sweet smile. “Hi, I would like to return these please.” I told her as I handed over the items. The nice lady’s face changed to a mean lady’s face, reminding me of my grandmother’s face when I accidentally knocked over her Sunday lunch salad. “All of them?” She asked in awe. “Yes, they don’t fit.” I said, half scared and half trying to put on a brave face. “Returns and Exchanges are done upstairs on the second floor.” She said, pointing me to the direction of the escalators. Great, I had to go and join another long que for a good thirty minutes. Just when I was about to go next, some woman and her husband cut in front of me. I was so angry and irritated. The woman noticed, and felt the need to explain, “sorry about this, we were in the queue downstairs and we were told to come here.” Why didn’t I do that? Yes, my guilt wouldn’t allow me. I had to release the tension on my face and look more understanding. I waited patiently for them to finish. I was skeptical of going back to the line thinking it would cause tension with the other customers, so I just stood in the middle of the isle feeling embarrassed. I was trying to divert my attention to something else when I felt the pang in my stomach. Yes, I was hungry. My head began to pound, the bright naked lights in the store made me feel dizzy and sick. I wanted to sit down so badly. I looked at the lady and her husband again, to see how far they were. To my surprise, they were doing the same thing I was about to do. The worst part for them was that their account had reached its limit and they couldn’t take items on credit. They had to return a full basket, imagine, a full basket! I felt a bit sad for them since they also had to return baby food, poor baby. They left the counter empty handed, and I moved closer. The teller slowly got up from her chair and limped around returning some of the items to their respective shelves. “Couldn’t she have done this some other time?” I asked myself in half a whisper completely annoyed. The teller had a bandage on her uncle, hence the limping. I couldn’t understand why she had to be macho and do the task, neither did her fellow colleagues who told her to stop. “Are you exchanging?” she asked as she half dragged her lower body sitting on the high chair behind the counter. “No, returning.” I said, pushing the items to her. “They don’t fit the person I was buying them for.” I explained further just to avoid follow-up questions. I saw her lips shaping into half a pout and I could swear she was about to yawn as she scanned the items one by one. A snail could have done the job much faster than she did, but I wasn’t exactly in the position to complain. I had my fingers crossed and prayed internally for her to finish without complaining or saying there is a problem with the items. She finally finished, and I had my cash in my hand. As I made my way out of the store I had to fight the urge to run, scared that I would be called back and told that there is a problem with the merchandise. If the shopping center didn’t happen to be so packed, I would have shouted “free at last!” on my way out.

Her world

The sun was shining and the birds were singing on that day. There she was, across the street. She sat on the pavement as though waiting for something or someone. Day in and day out I watched her but no one came. Seasons came and left but still she did not move. On one summer day, she stood and stared into space as though looking toward a future she once had.

One morning, I did my usual routine and thought just maybe it were time for me to talk to her. I paced up and down the stairs not knowing what I would say to and whether or not she would even talk to me. I ran to the door and stood there for an hour, then a day and before I knew it I had been standing there for an entire week.

“Tina! Are you there?” It was Mrs. Cook. She comes to see me every day. I do not know why she comes because she never has anything to say to me besides the usually “hi Tina” and the “the weather is so beautiful outside”. She scares me. It is as though she knows my fear and is pushing me to face and maybe conquer them. “TINA!” She carried on knocking.  For a sixty five year old she knocks very hard and loud. I went up stairs to change and ran back down the stairs and stood at the door.

“Mrs.Cook! What a lovely surprised. I was not expecting to see you.” That’s what I would say to her all the time. She must have known my script the same way I know hers. Today she looked different, I could not put my finger on what it was but I sensed that she was not here for a casual visit. “Oh Tina, I just came to say goodbye.  My husband and I moving into a nice little cottage at a retirement home on the other side of town.” She said. I stood there startled. I had dreamt of this day for as long as I can remember but never had I thought she was going to leave me.

A month after Mrs.Cook left, stepped out the door and went to the girl across the road. She took my hand and held it. Before I could say a word to her she said “set me free, it is time. Do not hold on to me. You need to move on from this scene in your life. I can not sit on this pavement forever”. “What are you talking about? I do not know you. Who are you?” I said to her. She stood up and stared into my eyes and said “I am the little girl trapped in that cage you call a heart. I am the memories that bring tears to your face. I am the one holding you back from yourself. It took you long to come and face me because you did not want to let me go.” At this moment I thought she was a deranged young girl who was doing drugs. She fixed herself up and started walking away. “Wait! I didn’t get your name” I shouted as she disappeared into the light.

“Tina” a voice whispered in my ear multiple times. “Wake up sweet,  it’s time to go home now” the voice continued. I opened my eyes and saw my mother standing before me. “All her stuff are in this bag. She has come a long way and she is ready to go home now.” a nurse said to my mother. “Did you hear that Tina, you are coming home with me.” my mother said as she hugged me. “Let’s go home mum.” I said.

Memoirs of a Dog

I recall how willing I was to reclaim our territory. Full of vigor and youth, we would venture at least thrice per moon cycle to realms beyond our own. By paw or by machine, we journeyed along the blackened paths, navigating our way through uncharted lands. One of our favourite prospects was known as the Land of The Dozens. It was a lush field of grassland complimented by sloping mounds and scattered foliage. A vast expanse of land which required a vantage point in order to scope the entire arena. Many artificial lookout posts had been erected and were utilized by their young. They would scurry and climb, slide and swing, quickly learning the essential rules of play. Upon entering the Land of The Dozens, one would be greeted by hordes of enemies. Often I would see the familiar mug, and a new face from time to time, but all with the same look in their eye, that same sheer desire to lay claim to that land as their own. But none before had been able to establish a settlement within the hallowed grounds, so each cycle bore opportunity. The atmosphere within the picketed walls would teem with unrest, culminating in a tension so electric, it was palpable. In my impudence, I would rush onto the battlefield, bellowing the ancient call of my kind, paying homage to the most primordial of games! We were on the hunt!

As a wee whelp, my mother would tell my siblings and I stories of how our relationship with the Bipedal Ones came to be. Tales told by our elders of how our ancestors domesticated them. For the ancestors were fascinated by how these hairless creatures lacked any significant natural weaponry, yet fashioned artificial claws and teeth in order to compensate. We taught them how to bring our young eats and drink, and in return we aided them with protection from predators and lent them our keen sense of smell when tracking prey. It was theorized that since they lack any true proboscis, they are reliant solely on their eyesight and opposable thumbs, yet they were a proud warrior race. A formidable partnership had been born and as its success grew, we moved into their settlements and shared migration patterns. But not all of our ancestors left their wild ways; many stayed and procreated, and to this day, inhabit immense outcrops of territory in lands far away. Their progeny are our cousins, the Wolvian kind. My descendants were farmers in the hills of western-central Europe, shepherds by trade. My great, great, great, great, great, great, great uncle told his family of how he had had a brief conversion with an old wolf whom had told him that the Bipedals were not only slaughtering one another but also the local population of wolves as well. They had betrayed the scared oath. But these are lore of old, now the Bipedals seem too amused by distractions and our kind made too soft by their comforts, too obsessed with worldly possessions to heed the call of the explorer. Too often on my return from expeditions with my bipedal, ten settlements before our own, one would hear the mut at the end of the path hollering, “Sound the alarm gentlemen! An intruder is in our midst!” Had they the decency to introduce themselves, I would have lost the hubris air with which I walked. Their taunts were directed at our freedom. I basked in it.

For generations we had watched them grow as a species. Under our tutorage, they made remarkable advancements in development and exploration. One of our most notable achievements was sending the honourable Laika into space. However, it seems that they no longer rule their tools, but rather their tools rule them. My own Bipedal would spend copious amounts of time staring at the moving pictures on the wall, a veil of static seemingly able to reach within his being and subject him to aimlessly sitting on the couch for hours on end, transfixed by a random pattern generator. But that was not the worst of his worries; he was addicted to a luminescent box which he kept on his person religiously. Every time it cried he would run to its aid, every time it flashed he would respond. Pavlov would be proud!

Perhaps the reason for their downfall was in fact the very essence of what made them successful. They seemed so intent on creating a utopia that they forgot they were living in one. I remember my alarm when I first noticed that my Bipedal kept mutilated fowl and beef in the cold box. I thought to myself, “Good gracious man! What will stop him from doing the same to me? I mean they do do it in East Asia don’t they!? How could he desecrate another living creature like that? I’ll have to end it whilst he’s sleeping…” But soon I learnt that this was just one of the many forms of their superstimuli. But not all of their stimuli have been disastrous. They have a keen sense for companionship, one surely developed long before they had even met us. It is the very thread which holds them together. The last shred of love in their rapidly deteriorating world. I pray for the day when I can tell them that a caterpillar emits the same signature as a butterfly.

Persephone and Zeus

Question? You ask me if I love you or just admire the hell out of you. I have this to say in return.

I like you. Your eyes house collections of self-portraits of every kind of material possession imaginable. Almosts. All I have are gorgeous almosts. Forgive me; I am afraid I may have already drunk the poison that was meant for the rats. It was an accident. The waves of a good man like Zeus will always come with a map. Some kind of atlas. A succession of cloud people will learn to tolerate you because the man who has fallen for you not only has an intellect but has empires too. There is something written in him.

Your hair was as thick as syrup. Your hair is a swarm of bees that awaits the fortunate villagers. Your hair was a specific colour. Dark and sometime I would see our children in your hair. As if, your hair was something otherworldly, ethereal and magical. You are my heart’s assignment. The object of my affection. Sometimes when I dream I see that the fishermen have caught malignant fish in their nets. You saw the girl inside me. Destroyed her in the end. I already know the ending to this story. I feel as if I have wasted something.

All along, I knew you would break my heart, even though I called you beloved. I can see you in the dark with your pig’s heart. I asked you quite timidly. Are you done with me now? You said, I am quite done with you now. I have no further use for you. Do not love me if the only thing you are going to do is break my heart? Do not love me if all you are going to do is the proof a hypothesis. The stars unite with the night. The details were left up to you. Completely up to you. You were the one who had to include me in your life.

All I want to remember is pleasure and the pleasure that you give me but it is never quite enough. I long to be loved and admired by both men and women. I tell myself that this is no big deal. It is what everyone wants but I know at the heart of it all it is not so. Heterosexual women want to be desired by heterosexual men and not by other women. I never wanted to be anointed or a prophet. Do not go on so. As if, it is a big deal or something. I change. With each autumn’s birthday that approaches, I change. It is comforting to believe we are just bodies.

With every fall, with every friendship, with every city or country that I move to, with every Kafkaesque movement inside my head, you, my blonde gravedigger one day I am afraid I will have to give you up to your children. I know the gist of your knowledge. I know the translations of your language and I want to be lost in neither. I slip into your skin. Afternoon delight. I slip into your skin. I become a woman. When I finally give up your butch flesh, sweat, tears, blood, bone, straw I become a girl again.

It is wonderful to be a girl and to see the world through the eyes of a girl even though you are a woman. There are the details of us in the grass. The outline of our bodies. Yours crashing and crashing like waves into mine repeatedly until we are one. Solidity. Anchor. I think of words like that when you are with me. You deliver your messages with such confidence that I just have to kiss your sweet face. I know that one day I will return to this ground. I will walk here but you will have passed on to the hereafter never to be seen from a distance again or heard from again.

I saw you. Love at first sight. I buried themes in the ground hoping that you would find them and when you did that, first you would find my eyes and put them to good use. Wear them as if you would wear rose coloured glasses and see the world through my perspective. I am elated that at my age I have discovered love. The love of mountains and of dogs. I will never forget that day that you made for a bed for me out of a field. I can hear you breathing and it is the most beautiful sound in the world to me. This journey has been strange.

I want to waste nothing of the sweetness of it. All I can remember of your passing through my life to the other side is your mouth and from here on out that is all I have been searching for. Duplicates of it. There was something so comforting lying down next to you, putting my arm around your waist, and feeling you breathe in and breathe out. It reminded me of childhood except we were not children. We were grown women. I was older. You were younger but at the end of the day, it did not matter. We were women in love.

Nothing could camouflage that. The shadow of pain lasts and lasts and lasts. For a while, whenever you lingered and I languished in your arms it was forgotten but only briefly. Let us build a home in the desert and we could make love all afternoon there if we wanted, you said. Your breath smelled like cake. What did my breath smell like? I was a late bloomer. You showed me photographs of you and your family. In one, you are posing with all of your friends in swimming costumes. You were the bravest one out of them all. You were wearing a bikini.

You hardly had any breasts late bloomer but you looked at the camera zooming in on you with a swagger and an honest confidence. I was finished.


They do not know. No one really does. She keeps all at arms length. Never letting anyone in too close- too near. She let’s them see what she wants them to see… but slowly the armour is starting to shatter. The rust is becoming visible and soon she is uncomfortable. She still wears her mask.

She struggles being afforded with compliments and praise or others viewing her positively but secretly she yearns for more acknowledgement. She is a complex being. She is both strong and fragile. She does not know who she really is but she is not who she use to be… but what she does not know is that she has changed. She has been shaped by her experiences. She still wears her mask.

why does she wear this mask, all too often? why can she not take it off and bear her soul? Is she afraid of her reality? Possibly. She is overwhelmed by her thoughts and the pressure she puts on herself. She is afraid of her dreams. She is both proud of who and what she is and terrified by her being at the same time. She still wears her mask.

Does anyone truly care, she asks? In the true essence of the word. She still wears her mask. She tries to slowly peel off her mask, but this sparks tears, fuels an undesirable unwanted uncomfortable feeling. She still wears her mask. She feels protected with her mask on. No one will ever know about her. She feels in control. Why then does this mask not make her happy? She still wears her mask. She stands lethargically alone staring at this mask she wears in the mirror. She is tired. She is weary. She is afraid… but she has also come to the realisation that as the years have passed, she has outgrown this mask. It no longer serves her. In fact, it never did. She starts to slowly remove it, welcoming any unpleasantness it brings as the tears roll down her cheeks.

She breaks as she falls to the floor, unable to face herself in the mirror. She indulges this feeling and chooses not to fight with herself anymore. She reluctantly forces herself to get up again, to stand and face the truth she sees in the mirror. The tears start flowing again but this time, because of an awakening. A catharsis unfolds. She sees reflected back at her, the strength she gained from adversity, the love she has for others and herself, the pride of how far she has come and the contentment of realising she is worthy of an abundance of blessings she has received and those that are yet to come.

She still battles with this new feeling, with not having on her armour but she is on a journey, okay with knowing that she does not always have to be okay… okay with accepting the misfortunes of the past and letting that fuel her growth… She is learning to be okay with herself…

She no longer wears her mask

LOVE (The Weird Dream)


Everytime he saw her, she would throw a grin at him when he’ll do the same from first they met. It became ocassional for Sam to pass by Ben’s house, certain she’ll find him as if, he was expecting her. Ben’s house was positioned on a corner between two busy lanes people used to get to the super market which was side opposite to his home. It was more like something they’ve planned, Ben knew when to get outside and wait for Sam to pass, blash to each other silently with a hand wave followed by a grin, it seemed a routine they both enjoyed but surprisingly they never said a word to each other. The super market seemed a perfect excuse for Sam to pass by Ben’s every single day, once, twice or trice sometimes, she just seemed not to get enough of seeing Ben’s face, either was Ben.
As time pass, Ben then realised he was in love with someone he berely knew, but it seemed he wasn’t intending to make an effort of getting to know her better; approaching her and ask for a name at least or numbers, he desperately relied on seeing her passing by his home to the market. Sometimes he would sadden himself with scenarios like, what would happen if the super market closes, that would mean Sam won’t have to pass by anymore to flash that grin. Or what if she happens to runs out of cents to just crab something at the markert, she wont be able to come to the market and he won’t be able to see her, he somehow knew that he was the reason Sam appeard so often to his side and just a thought of Sam’s absence, was enough to shatter his feelings and darken most of his day till Sam would appear.


It was tueday when a day had went dawn with no sign of Sam anywere. Ben was sad that whole day, he set the whole night secretly crying for not seeing Sam it was hard for him to catch a sleep with all the wonders why she didn’t show that day. About 3am in the morning, he unexpectetly fell to sleep with tears all over his face.
Next day same thing happened, Sam didn’t pitch like she usually does, and that really hurt Ben’s heart so much that he locked himself in his room till he fell to sleep. That same day he woke up and went outside to pee, he didn’t really notice what time it was or else he wasn’t to go outside at that time. After peeing he zipped his pants, when he was about to turn to the door back inside the house, there she was, Sam in the middle of the night, in the dark passing by Ben’s. As usual, she flashed a grin and waved, stared at Ben. Ben was gazed for some seconds and blinked, to his suprise she wasn’t there anymore. Ben looked all sides but had no luck tracing where she had dissappeard. He then went back to the house and realised after checking on the time it was too late for someone to be roaming out in the street, or for someone to be peeing outside that late, he was just confused but then, went to bed. By sunrise, he sit outside determined to break the silence between him and Sam so he can ask why she didn’t come to check up on him like it was an appointment, but still she didn’t show.
Ben had slept for some hours during the day when he was woke by a dream again, a dream where Sam was flashing a grin at him, waving hand saying goodbye with an empty voice. He was confused and couldn’t really understand the dream, but he thought maybe she had left the township maybe. Thoughts kept flowing but then decided he will go out and try to track her. Suddenly the weather changed and became rainy. Looking through the window from his room, there she was again in a stormy weather, alone in the streets. Ben then rashed to her for the first time, the routine then he hollered; “hey, what are you doing in such a weather?”, asked Ben with rain drops flowin off his face. Sam smiled staring at him and didn’t reply. “Are you okay? Do you wanna come inside maybe, it’s raining out here”.
“I can see, Ben. I can see”, replied Sam.
“Then why are you out here, geez how you know my name..we never spoke”,said Ben as he attempted to hold Sam, but he couldn’t touch her.
“Stop that Ben, you can’t hold me..i wish i could hold you in my arms and never let you go but…i can’t”, said Sam with a tear dropping off her face down her chin, but rain drops modyfied her tears. Ben couldn’t understand what Sam was saying really, then he asked with a sore heart.
“What do you mean i can’t touch you, just let me come close and feel you..”.
“You can’t!”, Sam interupted. “I reckon you dreamnt of me today”
“What…how did you know that, are you a ghost or something?”
“That was a way of me saying goodbye ’cause you’ll never see me again Ben. I LOVE YOU!”.
“But…bu..i never even got a chance to know you..i”, he then woke up tears shed from his eyes.


Next morning he managed to track and enters Sam’s home looking for her.
“Oh, you must be a friend of Sam who she used to always talk of recently in the house”, said Sam’s aunt to Ben.
“Oh really, she used to..and now, don’t she mentions me anymore?”, asked Ben with an impotent voice. Sam’s aunt saw love written all over Ben’s face and she knew how, probably the two were deeply in love with each other so she defended her statement; “when i say used to, is when she was still here, right now she’s not here she’s home”.
“Oh, for a visit?”
“Yes..something like that.”
“But she didn’t tell me”
“I’m sorry, it’s just that she told me that you guys never speak you are afraid of each other, somehow”
“Oh, i’ll come back when she comes back then. Stay well miss”
“Ok, boy”, a tear dropped from Aunty’s face watching Ben leaving in despair. She thought to her self it was too early to let Ben know that his loved one had a car accident with her mom and dad, and no one made it alive, even Sam’s pet.
“But i just wanna tell her that i love her”, Ben murmmered to himself with face down as he leaves Sam’s house, he could feel something was not right but kept on a hope that Sam returns home sooner so to tell her his feelings on her.

The Worst Foul

The two young men walked leisurely along one of the busiest street in Nairobi. The city popularly referred to by most people as the – city in the sun. It was around nine in the morning. And it was their second week in the city, having come all the way from down coast.

Omari and Sudi had really enjoyed their stay, and had toured various places of interest since their arrival. Everything they saw to them was amazing. The people hurriedly walking to their destinations and somehow, minding their own business.

Unlike Lamu town, where they came from, Nairobi was absolutely different. They were overwhelmed by the many cars they saw, moving mostly along the three lane avenues. A sight they were not used to back home. This made them even have difficulties, when crossing the roads. For back home, the mode of transport they were used to, was mostly the mules carrying heavy luggage on their backs, striding on narrow streets.

“Oh, look at that car,” Omari said, looking at a sleek Mercedes car passing by. It was a very long one, and a rare one to find where they come from. It was the type usually used by presidents. His face, beaming with great joy, he slowly shook his head in amusement.

“This is wonderful,” his companion, Sudi said. “I’ve never seen this before. This is quite a rare car to me. This is great.”

They both stood to see it pass. It moved on slowly in the midst of the other vehicles. The traffic at that morning hour was so heavy. They watched it as it moved slowly, until it was out of sight. And they turned to go on with their walk.

“Let’s visit one of the markets today,” said Omari , putting his hands in his hip pockets. “I want to see how they are, and see what I can buy.”

“Aah, why can’t we go to the library,” said Sudi, “we can try the markets in our final days here.”

“What is there in the library?” queried Omari.

Sudi looked at him with a smile. “At least we can go and look around, see what magazines and books they have. I love libraries, you know.”

“Ooh,” Omari said with a jeering smile. “I see no point in your view. I don’t see why we should come all the way from Lamu, just to while our time in a library. You see, we are here on a real tour. Not to visit libraries.” He paused. “So far, I know we have visited places, in the one week we have been here. And we still have plenty of time.” He looked at his friend, who had been gazing down, as they walked along the pavements.

“I think libraries will be the last places to visit in our last days here. That is once we are through with all the other places.” Omari concluded.

Sudi did not see any use, arguing with him. Furthermore, it was him who financed almost everything in their tour. It was him, who took him as a companion in the tour to the lovely city. And he saw it wise to side with his suggestions, without any argument.

“Okay,” he said, patting him on his back, “you are the boss,” he smiled, facing him. “I have no objection, we can do as you wish.” He knew, as the people always say; the boss is always right.

They walked in silence for a moment. Crossing the wide roads and streets here and there. Everything they saw was beautiful, and they really liked it. They enjoyed everything. Indeed, this was the real city-in-the sun.

It was a relief to them, when they arrived at Muthurwa Market. They had really had a long walk, and they were tired and very thirsty. The market was jammed with people everywhere. Everyone looked busy doing something. They settled to a nearby kiosk to relax, and have some drinks.

“Hey, hey, hey, this place is far,” said Omari, sitting on a stool with a bottle of soda. They had both ordered the drinks to quench their thirst, and the kiosk owner had served them well.

They relaxed, sipping their drinks as they watched people going around the place. Muthurwa Market was a very big place, with all sorts of businesses. Most traders there, were small time people; in other words, they were the young and up-coming business people, starting with small businesses. They sold almost everything – farm produce, clothes, utensils, and many more merchandize. There were those who sold their wares in the kiosks, scattered everywhere. But most traders displayed their goods on pavements. Some were mobile, moving about with all types of assorted goods, selling them to people all around on their way.

“I think we can now move around, and see what the market has,” Omari said at last, paying their bill. They had relaxed enough and had gathered enough strength to move on.

They slowly left the kiosk, thanking the owner for his service. They moved on. The sun was now slowly taking over the chilly morning. But it was still cool and the two-some, seemed to be on their grounds, and very well relaxed, enjoying themselves. They were indeed so happy with what they saw in the market. Everything to them was so peculiar, and quite different to what they were used to back home in Lamu.

Soon they were at another kiosk, that sold mainly T-shirts, and men’s trousers. And Omari was really moved and attracted by a T-shirt, which was well placed there.

“Let’s have a look at these T-shirts,” he said to Sudi. There were an assorted type of T-shirts, very well arranged in order. “They look so nice to me.” They calmly moved on to the kiosk, and the owner welcomed them, with a very wide grin. He looked so friendly, cheerful, and no one could suspect him of anything.

“Oh, young men,” he said, “You are very much welcomed.” He stepped aside to let them in. He was a huge man, with a protruding belly, gentle and with much respect.

The kiosk was really big, and very well stocked. It had a variety of T-shirts, most carrying the names of big English Premier League soccer teams, well printed on them. And Omari was very much attracted with the red one, with the name of his favorite club —Manchester United. He really loved it, and it was of very good quality.

“How much is this?” he asked the owner.

“That goes for five hundred shillings,” he said, moving towards him, smiling.

“That’s too much,” Omari said, holding the T-shirt, and examining it closely, turning it on both side and feeling the texture with his fingers.

“Oh, my friend,” the owner said, “This is of very high quality .You can hardly get it anywhere, apart from me. This is imported stuff, not the locally made ones you find in most places. No one else here in this Market has this kind of stuff. This is original material, young man.”

“You see,” he continued, holding the other side of the T-shirt. “You can feel the quality yourself.”

“What is the last price?” Omari finally said, a grin on his face, absolutely satisfied with the stuff. It was really good.

“That’s the last price, young man .In fact, I reduced the price just recently, they used to go at eight hundred.”

Without hesitating, he took his wallet, and got the five hundred shilling note the seller had asked, and handed it to him. The man took the T-shirt from him, and immediately moved to an inner room, partitioned by a large curtain. “Let me go in and wrap it for you.” He said.

It took him some minutes to do so. He came back with a hard brown paper, neatly wrapped, and handed it to Omari.

“Here is your property, young man,” the seller said, jovially.

Omari was so much pleased with the man and his service, and took the well wrapped parcel from him. He didn’t even bother to look at what was wrapped. He confidently knew that what was wrapped in the paper was the T-shirt he had bought, and nothing else. He thanked him so much for his service, and they left.

They went on with their rounds in the city. It was now some hours after they had left the Market, and they decided to take a break. It was past noon.

“I think we can have some lunch somewhere,” said Omari, looking around to spot a cafeteria nearby. And as they walked, they spotted one across the road, and they hurriedly crossed towards it.

It was a fine cafe, and the waiters were busy serving people. They settled down at a table near the door, close to the cashier’s counter. And as they waited to be served, Omari decided to have a look at the T-shirt he had bought. He slowly and cautiously opened the tightly wrapped parcel. By that time, the waiter had turned up, and was waiting for them to give their orders.

Omari didn’t believe what he was seeing in that bundle. “What is this?” He said to himself. There in that bundle, was a bunch of green vegetables, and not the T-shirt he had bought.

“Ooh, my God!” he exclaimed a bit louder his eyes wide opened in disappointment. “Do clothes in Nairobi turn out to be vegetables .What is this?” He slowly removed them from the hard brown paper.

The people around the café, were all looking at him, wondering what could have happened to the young man. The waiter still stood, waiting to serve them. He himself couldn’t understand at that moment, what the young man was up to or what could have happened to him.

“What’s the problem young man?” he asked him, looking at the green stuff Omari was holding. His companion, Sudi watched with his mouth wide, disappointed and unable to understand what could have gone wrong .He couldn’t believe what he was seeing himself.

“I thought we bought a T-shirt,” Omari said, his mouth slowly shaking in shock.

“Of course we did,” Sudi replied, slowly shaking his head. “I can’t believe what I am seeing here.”

“What happened?” The waiter insisted.

“We have just come from the market at Muthurwa, where my colleague here, bought a T-shirt. But what we have here is unbelievable.” Sudi said, trying to explain the situation. “How come the seller gave us the vegetables?”

At that moment the waiter, going by his experience with life in the city, understood what had happened to the young man. He was a longtime resident in the city. Such occurrences were not new to him, and were very common. He understood that the young men were new in Nairobi. And the seller must have taken advantage of that fact.

“You seem to be new here in the city, are you?” he asked them to confirm that fact.

“Of course we are?” Omari replied, his hand still shaking with the green stuff. “We are here on tour… we are touring.”

The waiter and everybody in the café, felt sorry and pitied him a lot. They knew the boys must have fallen victims to the very notorious games of the city.

“You see, we happened to be at a market, when I saw a very nice T-shirt that attracted me so much,” Omari tried to explain the incident. “The man operating the kiosk was friendly, and welcoming. I didn’t expect him to do such a thing at all to me.” He paused and bitterly swallowed hard.

He continued, “I asked for the price and without bargaining much, I paid him five hundred shillings, he had asked for. He took the T-shirt from me, and entered an inner room, partitioned by a large sheet, telling me that he was going to look for a paper to wrap it for me.

“We waited for some minutes, and when he came back, the package was tightly and neatly wrapped. I never bothered to look at what was wrapped at that time, for I precisely knew it was the T-shirt I had bought —

“Young man,” an old man, seated next to them interrupted him, “That was the worst foul you made. This is Nairobi, you must remember that. Such happenings are common here. You only need to be cautious when dealing with people.”

“But the seller —” Omari tried to say something. But he didn’t know what he really wanted to say, for he was completely lost and buffled with what happened to him.

“Where do you come from, young man?” The old man inquired calmly, a feeling of pity all showing on his face.

“We are from Lamu,” he replied. “Down Coast. We are here on holiday This is our second week here.”

“Why didn’t you check the package when the seller handed it to you?” the waiter standing by, asked.

“Aah I trusted him, and I didn’t expect him to do anything silly like this.” He glanced at the bundle of vegetables he was still holding.

The waiter slowly shook his head, and again he really felt sorry for him. Other people around the cafe felt the same, having comprehended the nature of the problem he was already in.

Omari was now in deep thought, figuring what to do. He could hardly believe on what was happening to him. He sadly looked at the bunch of vegetables still held in his hand. Is this real? He thought to himself, shaking his head.

He abruptly said, “Sudi let’s get back to that market and see that stupid man again. He must give me back my money, or I get my T-shirt.” He almost stumbled as he tried to get up.

“Aha, my friend,” the waiter said, stunned, “Do not dare, young man. Don’t do that. It can be fatal.”

“Why?” Omari queried in bewilderment. “How can it be fatal? I must get my money back!” He yelled. “I can’t let it go just like that.” He was so bitter.

“As I’ve said, it could be fatal to do that .You may end up losing your own life, young man.” The waiter kept on saying.

“But how?” Omari wondered, his eyes wide opened. He just couldn’t understand, how his action of going to claim back his money from a rogue businessman, could be fatal. He was really confused, and in great anguish.

The old man, on seeing where the argument was heading, decided to be of some use to him. Much as he had so far known that the young man was new in the city, he thought it wise to explain to him about the situation he was in.

“You see, young man,” the old man said. “What this gentleman here is trying to say,” he glanced to the waiter’s direction, “is that you may go back there, and find yourself still in more problems than you are already in.” He paused, looking at him.

“You see,” he went on, “I can tell you a story of a certain man, who happened to be in the same situation just like you.”

“A man went to buy a trouser at a market. But as the seller tried to wrap the trouser for him, the man pardoned himself, and went to buy a cigarette at a shop, just across the street. When he came back, just in a couple of minutes, he found the trouser already wrapped in a paper by the seller. He paid the seller his amount, took his package and left.” Almost everybody in that café, listened to the old man.

“Hours later,” the old man continued, “the man returned and in a very furious mood.” He paused, “You see, here in the city, most thugs work in cahoots, with other people, and in particular those doing business like the ones you saw at the market you’ve just come from. The markets are full of them.

The old man went on. “The man came shouting that the seller had sold him rags, and indeed it was true. The seller did not wrap the trouser he had bought. Instead, he had put rags in the package. This is a very common game here, especially to visitors like you.

“The man did not believe on what happened to him, next. A mayhem broke out, and no one wanted to listen to the other. A fight followed, and the other people around, mostly idlers, sided with the seller, calling the man who came with the rags, a thief. The man was rounded up, and beaten mercilessly. As we are talking now, the man is not alive. He died hours later, when the police who happened to be patrolling around, came to his rescue.

“That’s how it is here. You may go back there, and find yourself in a similar situation. And it can be too bad.” he paused a bit, looking at the young man. He could see a state of panic and anxiety, all on his face.

He continued. “What I can say to you, and this is for your own good, is that take what has happened to you easy. Don’t risk your life. Some of these places are extremely very dangerous. Just leave whatever has happened to you to God, and He will take care of everything.”

Omari was now at a cross-road. The old man’s story was so shocking to him, that he could feel a terrible fear taking control of him. He just didn’t know what to do at that moment. But the old man’s words, of leaving all that has happened to him to God, really touched and consoled him. The story the old man narrated to him was terrible.

He looked at his friend, Sudi, and he could see him having the same mood just like him. He regretted, why he did not heed his suggestion of going to the library that day. At least, he wouldn’t have found himself in such a terrible situation.

Oh, my God, he thought. What is all this?

They quietly gave their orders to the waiter. And as they waited for their meal, they could both be seen to be in a very irritating mood. They hurriedly ate their meal, and left, leaving the green vegetables on the table.

To Omari, it was a very devastating experience that he had undergone. And as they walked back to the hotel they were staying, he sadly tried to think about it.

How could such a thing happen to me? He thought, all throughout his life, such a thing has never happened to him. He tried to figure out the man who had sold him the T-Shirt, but he could not even recall his image. His looks faded, immediately they left his kiosk. Even if they were to trace their way back to the place, they could hardly find it, for they were so many of them. The man had been calm and very friendly. He could hardly imagine him to be a con.

“You know what?” He finally said to Sudi, who had been calm all throughout the way. “Once we are back at the hotel, we shall pack up, and travel back home.”

“Today?” Sudi said, puzzled.

“Of course, today” Omari said. “I cannot keep on staying in a place where people are conned in broad day-light. This is foolish.”

Once back in their hotel, they calmly gathered their belongings in their bags, paid their hotel bills. And immediately left – the city in the sun, back to their ancient town of Lamu. The land of mules, narrow streets, and the vast beautiful Indian Ocean.

– END –

Two Sisters: Bhavam and Katha

Centuries ago an evil demon kidnapped twin sisters from their widowed mother because she wouldn’t return his love. In order that she would never find them again, he left the one in North India and the other in South India, Tamil Nandu, with strangers, whom he thought would kill them. The strangers however fell in love with the girls and adopted them as their own. The one sister from Tamil Nandu was named Bhavam, which means expression as the little girl always serious and expressed her emotions through her face and the other sister from North India was named Katha as she was always telling tall tales.

Both sisters were very different though. Bhavam, who was raised in a strict religious home, worshipped the gods in her dance and was a meticulous and disciplined dancer. Katha, raised in a less strict home was very mischievous and naughty. She too though worshipped the gods in dance but would frequently forget her steps and then just make her own up as the music played. Bhavam desired only to maintain her family’s good name by being a good daughter and the gods appreciated her soulful dancing and blessed her parents because of her. Katha however gave her parents many headaches, abandoning their rules as she saw fit and thoroughly entertained and annoyed the gods with her reckless ways. Their mother however never forgot about her daughters and searched for them relentlessly. Seeing her pain, gods eventually managed to convince the demon to reveals the girls’ whereabouts by tricking him with promises of great riches. The daughters were returned to their mother but sadly they didn’t like her or each other. Too much time had passed and neither could speak the other’s language. The playful Katha found Bhavam too boring and Bhavam couldn’t handle the energetic Katha. Their mother’s dream of reuniting with her daughters were crushed and she wept bitterly at her ill-fate. But, a very poor pedlar, who had loved their mother all his life, couldn’t bear to see her cry and he started playing his Tabla, just had he’d done when she was pregnant with the girls. Immediately both girls started moving their feet, as if magic. Bhavam moved to dance steps carefully thought out and was graceful as she danced to the music, while Katha just made up the steps as she went along, but was equally graceful. And it was in their dancing that they started to smile and play together. Every day they would wake up and dance to the pedlar’s drum, learning each other’s ways and their love for each other grew. When it was finally time for them to go home the sisters cried bitterly but made a vow that they would never remain apart again. Their love for their mother grew and eventually she and the pedlar married in their old age. While the girls and their mother forgave the evil demon, the gods sentenced him to eternally sit and watch the girls dance and live happy lives. Bhavam would eventually become the mother of Bharatanatyam while Kathak, the mother of Kathak.

Today disciples of both dance forms are spread all across the world. Both dance forms celebrate love, light and victory of good over evil. And just like the sisters, both dances prove that our souls will never forget where it comes from and its only real goal in life is to bring joy to all who see it.

By Jacqueline Friedman

Survived the storm-2

Friends dont steal from each other but the one i had was an absolute the opposite,We would share anything but mine was for a big catch for her, I remember telling her about my new man and she was laghing hardly at how ugly the man was but i loved him anyway and i was not willing to sacrifice losing him for my single friend who would joke of him everytime we were out for some fun.It is crazy how this particular friend of mine felt deep down inside about this man,she had the hearts for him and was willing to do everything in his power to sbatch him from me,so one day i was on my way home when i accidentaly saw my friend and my man together laughing their lungs out and the fact of the matter is they never saw me.That very moment i pinched myself hard because i couldnt believe my eyes,I was shockely terrified.That day i knew it was over for me.

I went home,tried to call him and when he answered i said ‘Are you in love with her?’ and he said ‘yes so wat?The begging of good things was now the end.I thought i was somehow reckless but then i remember the words my mother told me ‘good man cant be stolen’ and that menute i was strong again and i was willing to move on to better things and forget the bitter past.

Two years later i met someone and i wasnt sure if i wana be more than friends with them ,i didnt wana experience heart ache again, back when i comprehend the words,which had sailed through my ears of the man i love,that rejection was somehow strangling me to death and i have never felt that in my intire life.It was clear he was leaving me for someone else ,he was leaving me for my so called friend…

I had dreams like everyone else but mine were so hard for me to fulfill because of the friends i keep.I had hope that one day i would meet someone who would make me forget every sad chapter in my life and speaking of who:There was this Martin guy one hell hotty a girl would want to have ,he was the who purchase and we met one day.I felt the connection there,we would chat for long hours,text each other daily and the was no doupt in my mind he was the one but i had to be sure first.

But who was i kidding because i ended up with him anyway now the very same girl who stole my boyfriend had kept her distance but not for long.He came to my place begging for forgiveness because she finally saw i had moved on and she wanted to know what she was missing and because i am a happy soul i forgave her and we were back at being friends.This time around she was acting all innocent and i was convinced that she was indeed changed.we started hanging out together as we used to.Trust me when i say some people never change and my friend was one of them…

My friend was heartless and didnt care for other people but only herself,she made my life a living hell.This time she was flirting with my new man on social media as unknown until my man asked her who she was,she told him and when asked why she was doing that whreas we are friends: she told my man that i wasnt a woman enough for my man and when Martin refused to play along she decided to create false stories about me and that lie had a huge impact on my current relationship.

Men are so complicated sometimes because instead of confronting me he decided to fade away ,he was distant,he stoped texting and his silence was killing me until one day he decided to tell me ‘baby you are beatiful and smart im sure you are happy with your current man so leave me alone and concentrate on your man and a baby’.What a fat lie he heard from my so called friend and again this time i had lost him for no reason.

I Thought to myself that happiness was not part of me because it didnt last,i thought i was meant to live a lonely life and that i deserve to be hurt.Thathat very moment i chose to live my life with no friends and i decided that my friends will be my mother and my siblings until one day i came across i very motivative ,it was answering all my questions and i was ready to start a new chapter of my life.

I was happy and i thought common now the man who deserve me happiness is this one i have friendzoned all this time.
You how free you are to tell your friend(man) about the man you are dating and he is always there to listen and sometimes its funnuy how they able to hide their feelings knowing that they would lose you if they ever tried to tell you how they really feel.And it funny how we started and emmedietly he swa me crying he hugged me tied and told me,its gona be ok and then we kissed ,Thats how i survived the storm bacause he was not planning to leave anytime soon he was there from the begging through thick and thin,Today we have a beatiful daughter by the name of Hope and our love is still going strong.


James O’Connor
Edna Braithwaite was a slim, dark haired woman, intense, very much inside herself. Outwardly she appeared conventional and fitting into the desired norms of her social circle, but inside she was different, seething with unexpressed desires and feelings.
Now, as she stood on the long veranda of her High Constantia home, looking out over the bright lights of the Cape that lay like sparkling jewels on the black velvet of the night, she thought to herself that she had the things that most of the people she knew desired and yet she was not satisfied. She craved something, she did not know what. Excitement perhaps, perhaps fulfilment of some sort.
This dichotomy caused her to be irritable sometimes and moody and her husband would wonder what had got into her. He was more straightforward and uncomplicated and this showed in his candid manner and blonde, open face, which was different from her slightly sharp features .
“We’re so different, Edna and I. That’s why we get on so well,” she had once overheard him saying to a friend.
Her inner conflict caused her also to rebel and was part of the reason for her taking a lover. She was at a time of her life when she was particularly bored with her married life and dissatisfied with the conventional ideas of their friends and acquaintances.
It was a hot night and Richard, her husband, sat nearby, sipping a gin and tonic. His blonde hair and the light complexion of his open face gleamed in the light from the lamp above him.
“You’re sure you won’t have a g and t?” he asked, repeating the question he had asked when he had poured one for himself.
“I told you no,” she said over her shoulder in a snappy tone and then a moment later regretted her rudeness. She knew she could be as spiky as the hedge hog that had wandered into their garden one night.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound so rude,” she said, turning to her husband.
He said, nothing, merely nodding his head in acknowledgement. How good natured he was, she thought. She had always admired him for making a big success of his business without being arrogant or pushy. The furniture business was pretty cutthroat, yet he was not hard, as some of their friends in business could be. Although a shrewd businessman he was honest, straightforward and uncomplicated, she knew.
“Don’t forget to go in to Stevenson’s tomorrow to have a look at that BM cabriolet I’d like to buy for you,” he said.
“Thanks. No I won’t forget.”
When he had finished his drink they went inside, locked up and went to bed.

The BM was sleek, silver grey, a honey. The salesman was attentive, keen to sell the expensive car, especially now that sales of used cars were so bad. He was in his thirties, fairly good looking, in a slightly disreputable way, his hair greased and combed back and she noticed that as he looked at her his eyes seemed to narrow slightly. There was something sexually suggestive in the look. This irritated her, she was not used to car salesmen being familiar with her, they normally adopted a respectful attitude, and yet she was pleased by it.
When she left she told him that she liked the car but hadn’t made up her mind yet.
“You’re welcome to test drive it any time you like, Mrs Braithwaite,”
Back at home that afternoon she worked on her roses a bit, fertilising and spraying them and found herself thinking of the salesman. A picture of him with that slightly insinuating look would come to her. Scornfully she said to herself that he was just a cut-rate Casanova. Yet he excited her and a certain tension gripped her loins at thought of him.
She tried to put the thoughts of the salesman out of her mind, but two days later she was sitting in the lounge reading Vogue when suddenly she stood up and walked to the bedroom to get the handbag in which she had put the business card the salesman had given her.
David Jordan it read. She picked up the phone and asked for him in the confident tone of a woman of her position.
There was a moment’s wait and then his voice came over the phone. For a second she felt uncertainty, almost fear. Then she said who she was.
“I would like to road test the car. Would you bring it out to my house?” she asked him.
He brought it that morning. From her window she watched the casual, skilful way he parked it, like a man obviously used to all sorts of cars. She wondered if he handled women that way, but although his eyes still held a trace of that narrowed look, he spoke to her in a businesslike way. Perhaps he was short-sighted and narrowed his eyes merely to focus better, she thought, but she noticed he had not worn glasses to drive or to read from the sales pamphlets he had brought.
She drove through the quiet, tree lined roads of the area, noting that the car handled very well and conscious all the time of his presence next to her.
“Would you like to take it on the Blue Route? Open it up a bit?” Jordan asked.
“Yes. Good idea.”
On the freeway she drove fairly fast, the top down and the wind beating in her hair. It made her feel young, driving with this man in an open car. The words of Peter Gabriel’s song about the woman driving through Paris with the wind in her hair came to her. She wondered what the salesman, David Jordan, was thinking.
When she pulled in at her gates she felt flushed and invigorated and her normally slightly dull complexion glowed a little. If Richard had seen her at that moment he would have felt a slight unease, even if he had not been able to pinpoint exactly why. Turning in her seat towards David Jordan she brushed her hair out of her eyes with her hand. “I like the car, but I’ll think about it.”
“I knew you’d like the car once you’d driven it. Let me know when you’ve decided, Mrs Braithwaite. You’ve got my number.”
At times during the week end she thought about him and ways to go about meeting him. This was not something she had done before. She had to be very careful. It was strange, she had had fantasies before of meeting some charming, handsome Richard Gere look-alike, a leading lawyer perhaps or a surgeon, but never of a rather seedy car salesman, and yet she found herself pulled towards this man. It would be a big risk. Her friends wouldn’t like the idea, but she would have to see that they never found out
On the Monday morning, after she had eaten breakfast on the patio, she brought her laptop out to the table and emailed the address on his business card.
I want to discuss buying the BM. Can we meet somewhere not too public?
She felt on edge after she had sent the email and a couple of times she checked her laptop to see if there was an answer.
That afternoon when she checked again there was an answer:
My flat, 7 Cranbrooke Mansions, Adelphi Road, Claremont, would be the least public. 5.15 pm tomorrow. Try to park behind the trees in the car park.
Her stomach trembled slightly as she read the email. She was nervous about betraying Richard like this but it was also sexual excitement that gripped her. She hadn’t felt like this since the early days of her courting by Richard. The nervous feeling stayed with her and she had to try hard to hide it from Richard that evening and the Tuesday morning.
That afternoon she drove to David Jordan’s flat. It was a nondescript block and as she drove in to the parking lot she thought she would hate to live in one of these boxes. She noticed that the trees hid her car from the view of passers-by.
After a few minutes David drove in. When they entered his flat she noted with slight distaste the drab vulgarity of the furnishings and the gaudy print of the woman on the wall, which looked as if it had been bought from a bazaar. She wondered if it was indicative of his taste in women. She had a moment of doubt but as he took her in his arms that quickly began to fade away.
David Jordan was obviously not of much class, but the way she felt, that perhaps added to his attraction.
Because of the nature of his work David was able to move around fairly freely and she began to meet him at his flat regularly. There was no question of his coming to the house, that was too dangerous, there were the servants and the CCTV cameras, the neighbours and the friends who visited. Also, she would not have felt right, betraying Richard in his own house. She was careful to keep up the lunches and teas with her women friends; to discontinue them would arouse suspicions.
She realised how much better a man Richard was, how different they were. David had fewer scruples, was less responsible. Even his looks were very different. Where Richard was a little stout, David was a little thin, where Richard was fair David was dark. And, of course, David was younger.
It was risky but it was the best of both worlds, a good, stable marriage to a successful, loving businessman and an exciting relationship with another man. And she deceived herself by thinking that she was not really being unfaithful to Richard, after all she didn’t love David, he was just an adventure to her. This was one of the oldest clichés in the world, she knew, the older, wealthier woman falling for the physical attraction of a younger man socially beneath her. She smiled slightly at the irony, he might be beneath her, but the way things were nowadays she was often beneath him.

She had from the beginning felt the prickings of conscience but in the heat of desire had put them out of her mind. After a while her misgivings began to plague her. She tried to shake them off but they stuck like the burs in the fields near her house. Eventually she resolved to give David up. She did not visit him or even phone and wandered around the house, bored and distracted. After a few days her thighs almost ached with desire for him. Sex with her husband was not unpleasant but it was not the same as with David, there was not the same dizzying excitement as she had felt when riding pillion on a motorbike in her student days. With David she felt as if she were diving into a sea of ecstasy. Having the two different kinds of men and sex, the reliable, pleasant calm and the wild, almost wicked, stimulated her. She felt that she was a highly desirable, attractive woman, wanted by two men. Lying in Richard’s arms she thought of David and lying in David’s bed she sometimes thought of Richard. And this excited her even more.
David, she thought, had no qualms of conscience. Basically he was not a very decent fellow, she knew. But then, she supposed, she wasn’t perfect herself, was she?
One cool autumn day, after an afternoon of lovemaking, she lay on David’s bed thinking that she knew so little about him. She raised herself up on one slender arm, the sheet falling back as she did so, to reveal her pale, naked body with the slight looseness of middle age.
“Have you ever been married, David?” she asked.
He was standing naked at the chest of drawers, his body not well muscled but still firm, and turned to look at her as she asked. She seemed to see a slight resentment in his eyes at her question.
“Yes,” he said, “I’m divorced.”
“Divorced?” she repeated. “Where is your wife?”
“In East London.” He did not seem eager to discuss it and she did not ask him anything else about it.
The fact that he had been married before interested her though and the following week at his flat as they were drinking the good instant coffee she had bought, not liking the cheap coffee he usually bought, she asked if he had children.
“Yes, a boy.”
“You didn’t mention him when I asked if you’d been married.”
“You didn’t ask,” he said, as if that was all there was to it.
His answer seemed so uncaring and she wondered if he would feel just as uncaring if he never saw her again. He probably would, she thought, but the idea did not upset her.
The trouble with the relationship was she had to be so damned careful. Once, after, she had spent part of the afternoon with David, her husband asked her that evening what she had done that day.
“Oh, I did some shopping at Woolworths,” she said, and went on reading her magazine, trying to hide the sudden tension in her.
“Is the food still good at their tea room?” her husband asked a few moments later.
She looked up at him blankly. “Whose tea room?” she asked.
He looked at her puzzledly. “Woolworths. You’ve just said you were there.”
“Oh,” she said, almost blushing, “I didn’t have tea there. I just shopped.”
Fuck, she thought, I hope he doesn’t ask what I bought. But he didn’t question her any further.
Sometimes she said she had been with a woman friend, and often this was true but there were times when she left the women early to be with David, who worked irregular hours. She knew she could get caught out if the women mentioned in front of Richard what time she had left them. It was not very likely but it was possible. At times she felt the way she thought a spy must feel, leading a double life. She felt caught up in the deception, carried along by it as if it had a power of its own, like a strong river that carried you downstream to a soft, sandy beach, or perhaps out to sea to be lost forever. But when David spoke to her on the phone and she heard that slightly roguish sounding voice she could not wait to be with him again and all the scheming and the deviousness and tension seemed worth it.

Now the Cape winter began, bringing its days of rain and cold and Richard suggested they holiday in England and France. The idea didn’t appeal to Edna at all, she didn’t want to leave David, but she couldn’t think of an excuse not to go. So they left in June, midsummer in England.
In London they went to the theatres and visited the Tower and the other historical sites and she thought of David and his lovemaking and missed him. Then they moved to a hotel in the Lake District and one beautiful day, looking out over the masses of daffodils, the calm lake shining in the distance, her husband beside her, she suddenly realised that she was no longer thinking of David.
Later they visited old friends in France and it was exciting and warming to see them again and remember the times they had spent together in South Africa when they were younger. It made them feel young again.
After a few days with their friends they left to visit Provence. They drove through the hot countryside, with its green vineyards and leafy orchards, thinking how it reminded them of the Boland of the Western Cape, and it seemed she had forgotten David altogether.
When they got back to Cape Town, though, and Richard returned to work, she began to think of David again. One day she phoned him and the next day as she drove to his flat she felt that stomach tingling, thigh tightening excitement of before. They began meeting regularly again.
At home sometimes she felt so excited by the prospect of being with David or by having been with him that she wondered if Richard could see it in her. She felt exposed, like a fish in a bowl. The effort of trying to suppress the signs of excitement in her made her seem cold and aloof at times.
It was the afternoon of a cold, windy day and she was lying in bed with David. Outside you could hear the rain dripping dismally down and it was warm and comfortable in bed. David was lying on his back with his hands clasped under his head. He spoke without turning to her.
“Do you think you could lend me ten thousand rands?”
“Ten thousand rands! What for?”
He was silent for a moment. “I’ve got a business scheme I want to develop. I need the money to help start it up.”
“Where would I get ten thousand rands?”
“Oh, come on, that’s nothing to you.”
“My husband may have a good business, but that doesn’t mean I’ve got money of my own.”
He turned to look at her. “Does that mean you won’t lend it to me?”
“No, it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t lend it to you, if I could. It means I haven’t got it to lend you.”
David turned away and lay looking up at the ceiling. After a while he said, “And if I went to your husband? You wouldn’t like that, would you?”
She could not believe that she had understood him properly. “That almost sounds like blackmail.”
“Oh come on.” His tone was hard. You can’t tell me you haven’t got ten thousand rands. It’s not as if you won’t get it back. It would be better for you to lend it to me than for me to go to him for it.”
“Why would he lend it to you?”
He smiled, a nasty smile. “I’m sure he wouldn’t want the whole of Cape Town to know about us.”
She was aghast. A coldness came over her limbs. She was by now sitting up, looking into his eyes and she saw that he meant it.
“You know, up to this moment I didn’t know what a shit you are.”
She rose from the bed and pulled her clothes on, feeling suddenly degraded by his seeing her so.
When she walked out of the door he was lying with his back to her. They did not say a word to each other. What a fool I have been she was thinking. Even the sight of the rumpled bed and the creased sheets as she closed the door repelled her. They seemed like the props of a porn film. To have given herself, her body and feelings to a man like this, what had been wrong with her? What had happened to all her fine ideals? What must Richard think of her if he ever found out? And now it came to her in an icy flash, he could easily find out. Or be told by this common little man.
When she got home she quickly showered and changed to get rid of the smells of sex that might betray her, but also to rid herself of the feel of him on her, as a woman who has been raped would wish to. Although she had certainly not been raped, she had freely given herself to this bastard, even chased him, she knew.
She was so upset that she could not think clearly. Should she forestall David by speaking to Richard before David got to him or should she say nothing? Perhaps David would not go to him. Thinking about it she ran her hands through her hair despondently.
When Richard came home he said to her, “You’re not looking well. You should go to bed. Perhaps you’re getting flu.” There was genuine concern in his voice and on his face.
“Perhaps. I’ll go to bed early.”
For the next few weeks she was on tenterhooks for signs that David had approached Richard, but she tried not to show it. The tension was wearing her down. One Friday evening after supper she was having a drink with Richard in the lounge. There was a Tchaikovsky piano concerto CD playing, the mood was relaxed and she felt that she had to speak to Richard now or she would never be able to. She would tell him that she had made a terrible mistake and was more sorry than she could say. Perhaps he would leave her, get a divorce, but she had to confess.
She had her back half turned to him, facing the Regency striped wall paper. “Richard,” she began.
She could not turn to face him. The stripes seemed to converge and move in on her and she had to blink to clear her mind before speaking.
“Are we still going to the Grangers on Monday?”
“Yes, if it’s all right with you.”
“Yes, it’s fine. It’ll be nice.”
For the next few weeks the tension continued for her. She pedalled furiously on the exercise bike so that her T- shirt was soaked with sweat, but it relieved her only temporarily. Secretly she watched Richard for any sign that he knew of the affair but she was unable to pick up anything. All desire for David had left her but what he might do worried her.
She decided that she must try to find out if David had approached Richard or spoken to anyone else about the affair. About six weeks after she had left David she drove to his flat.
There was another name on his letter box. She knocked on the caretaker’s door.
“Mr Jordan left about two weeks ago. He went to Jo’burg, I think,” the little, elderly man who answered the door said in response to her enquiry.

During the following weeks she felt even more mixed up and full of unexpressed emotions than she had been before the affair. Somewhere she had read or heard that it was healing to put your feelings down on paper and she began to sit down every day and write.
For the first few days she wrote about her feelings during the affair with David and after. She carefully tore up these writings into small bits, wet them well and threw them into the garbage bin. Then she began to write about anything else that came into her mind. Memories of her childhood in Kenya came to her and gradually a theme began to fall into place and the words took form. She wrote of a fictional white family in Kenya and used those childhood memories as background.
The writing brought her some relief and after more than a year she showed it to a publisher friend. He read a little of it at her house; said it seemed good and asked if he could take it home to read. She thought perhaps he was just being nice but he phoned to tell her that he was impressed and wanted to keep it a little longer.
Eight months later, and after a little revision, it was published, to some acclaim. She began her next book, finding that the writing was cathartic and gave her a sense of fulfilment. Her feelings of rebellion lessened, she no longer felt the need for a lover and she mixed with her friends and acquaintances more acceptingly.
She began to devote more time and care to Richard and he seemed healthier and happier. She too became happier and more contented.
However, she found that the second book was more difficult to write and that she felt more anxious about her writing, whereas she had written the first book with no burden of expectation, nobody to please but herself. Now doubts came upon her, there were times when she did not know how to continue. She confided her doubts to her friend the publisher, who looked through what she had written.
“Just relax,” he said, “and write as you feel. Don’t try to be literary.”
She tried to follow his advice. It was hard going. There were still some doubts and anxieties in her but finally she managed to write more freely.
The second book was greeted enthusiastically. Second book better than the first. Edna Braithwaite exceeds expectations, the Cape Times review headline read and the Argus and the Johannesburg papers echoed that. She continued writing and in the years that followed Edna Braithwaite became a well known and respected name in South African literary circles and Richard seemed proud of her.
He never mentioned David to her or gave any indication that he had known about the affair and years later she still sometimes wondered about it. Many scenarios crossed her mind. Perhaps David had approached him but Richard wasn’t interested enough in her to worry about it. Perhaps Richard had been having an affair himself at the time and had been only too glad that she was involved with another man, so that she was too busy to notice and he was therefore spared the constant vigilance and the lying and deception. After all, she had neglected him at the time. Possibly Richard had even been sorry that her affair with David had ended. Perhaps none of these were true and he would have been deeply hurt if he had learned of her deception.
There was also the rather Hollywoodish possibility that David had approached Richard for the money and that Richard had paid him to leave, but surely, she thought, if that were the case Richard would have mentioned it at some time.
Sometimes, as they grew older, they sat together in the lounge reading, watching TV or listening to music and they made a pleasant picture, a happy couple enjoying simple pleasures together. Unlike some people whose mild faults seem to grow worse with the years, she had mellowed and even her face had grown fuller and warmer looking as if to express physically what had changed in her emotionally.
All the years of her life she wondered if Richard had ever found out, but she could never bring herself to ask.
The end