YOU NEED THE WILL TO…

I wake up in the morning and it takes me awhile to recover my identity and everything else that gives this all thing a meaning. I sit there and wonder if it will be a lovely day. I stand in the doubt’s shoes and try to catch confidence flying about. It’s easier for me to fall back asleep and give myself a dream where I rule the world and everything follows my command. But neighbors, these strange community members with  whom I share space, have been going up and down, living their lives and disrupting my sleep.

Time has to come to write and my thoughts and the words are floating around, refusing to gather themselves in a logical order and put coherence into my life. I have to stop with this navel gazing and reach to the other. Escape self and meet the Other. Even if it means leaving a Happy Bday on facebook, getting into a discussion on twitter, or just stand on the porch and wave at the neighbor who always seem surprised to see me. Yes, it could because he hasn’t understood the light within my brown self, but hey I have sometimes the same reaction when I look in the mirror in the morning.

As the day goes by, I find something to hang on to. Something that makes my space on Earth significant. It could be the driver who let me pass by. It could be the single by headstrung that I have on replay. Listening to its kick and drum speak for me in more assertive ways than I can allow myself to speak. All I have to do is to have awareness of the arms I move, of the legs I throw to advance; of the brain that records and analyzes the images I feed it, of what I put in my mouth and what comes out of it. All I have to do is to be where I am. Doing what I am doing. Living the life  I am living. And just maybe, just maybe, all this will start making sense.

 

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Daddy’s little girl

He felt pepper in his eyes before tears flooded his eyes

her lively and lush scent had rewired his wants and needs

the small creature in his arms proved to be the center of his world

“Daddy’s little girl”

She stole his heart right away and eclipsed his “I shall have only boys” speech

1 pm he spilled his coffee

3 pm she went into contractions

3:05 pm she called him

3:05:30 his heart started pumping more blood to his brain so he may think more clearly

9:00pm the baby put her arm out her mother like she was reaching for him

9:00:30 he lost conscience

9:01 pm he came back when he heard her cry

9:02 pm father and daughter were both crying

tears to say hello to this little angel who breached her way into this world

she came, she stole their heart, and made their world spin left

he was to replay those moments when her hand reached out of her mother

when she fell to the ground and cried for Papa

when he was too busy at work and she refused to sleep before Papa made it home

when her classmates teased her and she threatened to bring Papa

when she scored a goal in a soccer game and looked at the stands for Papa

But in her 16th year of existence, on the day, at the hour, at the minute she had made her unforgettable entrance in this world,

mama crumbled their world:

it was on a hot summer night, nine months before Angel was born

Daddy hadn’t talked to mommy for a month so mommy grew some horns

Daddy’s best friend became mommy’s one time lover and Angel’s father

Daddy always knew but hoped Angel will keep them glued

but on her 16th year, on that day, at the hour, at the minute she entered the world

mama crumbled their world:

She let her one time lover come to his daughter’s birthday

Daddy beat the man like God beat Adam out of clay

no charges were pressed and no biological father ever came around

Daddy took Angel and left mommy

Angel never asked for mommy because she was and will always be

Daddy’s little girl.

Is it love or Voodoo? Part II

If you didn’t get a chance to read part I , click here.

He didn’t get a reply the next day. But Malaika was distracted during class and more than one instructor asked where she was. Kimia knew the answer to that question and he would have gladly raised his hand to respond, if the instructors weren’t in the habit of using the stick for those who answered questions that had nothing to do with them. He tried to read her face or somehow send a signal when they passed each other and said hello, but she seemed completely oblivious to him and then 3 days later she said just as they were about to leave school:

“So about that note, what do you want?”

He was taken by surprise by that question. she might as well had asked to find the precise location of God. What did he want? It’s her he wanted. Wasn’t it obvious?

“I want to talk.”

“Well we are talking, but I have to go pick up my brother in elementary school and rush home because my mom wants me to help her at the market. But you can walk me home if you want to.”

“Oh yeah? ok, just let me tell the chauffeur that I will take a cab to get home and then come with you.”

“Hurry up then.”

He got to meet her younger brother who liked him right away because he had candies for him. Kimia has never been to her neighborhood Matope where the smell of trash invaded your nostrils before you saw it. There was no such thing as trash collecting so people just left it in the center of the neighborhood and burned it once it was full. People and cars drove around it. Those who lived there, had stopped noticing the smell and they have come to understand that the government saw them as that pile of trash too. More than once the mayor Munoko has given them empowering, change the world speeches that moved no one except himself that he will bring change to the neighborhood: Water, electricity and trash collecting. People have come to joke between themselves that Jesus would return sooner before they saw any of these things. Kimia has never been in that neighborhood before so his face was screwed up as he tried to stop the smell from disrupting and dissolving his thoughts process, she laughed at his attempts. What did he want?

“You will get used to it after awhile.”

He smiled. The smell was a small sacrifice to be next to her, but that was going to be the least of his problem. When his mother found out that it was for a girl that he had been coming home late for lunch and that she came from Matope, she decided that Malaika had bewitched him. Fasts, prayer sessions and pastoral advices rotated around Kimia to protect her family from gold diggers and witches. Kimia didn’t know that father was cheating on mother. Mother didn’t know that either but suspected and hoped these spiritual exercises were going to shed the light on the nocturnal activities of her husband.

Since Kimia persisted in his belief that he was in love, she decided to surprise him at school by coming to pick him up. And as the chauffeur pulled in the parking lot, she saw him talking to a pretty girl holding a young kid by the hand. She asked the chauffeur if that was her and he confirmed. “What about the kid?”

“Oh that’s her brother, madam”

“How come he’s so plain?”

“I hear she’s the only pretty one in her family.”

“Of course she would be.”

she got out the car and took large steps to meet them.

“you, get in the car and you, I’m going to have a word with you.”

“But mom, we are just talking.”

“Don’t you dare talk back at me, I said in the car.”

He complied and he kept looking back as the two women stared at each other. Kimia was surprised that Malaika stood her ground and didn’t even blink.

“Listen to me very well, little girl because I am going to say this only once: you are not to speak to my son or come close to my family ever again. I don’t know what kind of witchcraft you did on him, but that will stop today. I am a child of God and nothing that you do shall stand against me!”

Students and teachers were now interested in what was going and she didn’t care. Malaika looked around and saw lips moving.

“So what if I am a witch? What will you do about it? It’s not me who went after your son, it’s him who came after me, I never asked for any of this!”

“You witch!!I knew it!” and she raised her hand to strike her, but Malaika took off with her brother who pulled his tongue at her.

And that’s how Malaika who was pretty but poor became known as the witch around the school, except in her neighborhood  where no one cared if you were a witch or not as long as you never stole anything. Then you were likely to be burnt to death with a tire. The police station was too far away and only came if there was money to be made.

A month went by and Kimia obeyed his mother’s instructions to stay away because his father proved himself quite convincing with the belt. It happened that Kimia and Malaika were the only two left at finishing an exam on finals day. Malaika finished first and left. When Kimia got out, he saw her waiting at the door for him. He couldn’t avoid her.

“What happened to you? I mean I know what people say behind my back, but I thought you knew better.”

“I…Listen, I didn’t want to believe it, but the way you talked to my mom on that day, that was…Allright, just tell me now: Is it true? Is it true what you told my mom on that day?”

Her heart fell to the ground in pieces and the wind carried it away. She leaned in closer to his face:

“Why can’t you say it? Is it too hard for you to say “Witch”? So what if I am one? What if I am the one who flies at night, eat babies and kill old people in their sleep? What if I am the one, not poverty, not disease, not hunger but me, Malaika who makes people sick? Yes I know I’m poor, I know my life is miserable and that maybe it’s pointless for me to go to school when all I will be good for is to cook, clean and make babies just like my mom, but that’s my life. What I want to know is why do you care whether or not I am a witch? Please tell me why would you care?”

Big, salty tears were streaming down her cheeks. A teacher who was walking by asked if she was ok. She didn’t reply and she left. Kimia was asked what he had done to her. He replied:

“I bewitched her but now she hates me.”

The teacher shook his head and left him alone thinking to himself: “kids these days.”

THE END

This is for all these children who have become homeless in Kinshasa, DRC because they have been called witches.

Is it Love or Voodoo? Part I

He just didn’t have a chance. Everyone could tell, except him. Well everyone was wrong too, except him. It wasn’t just because his mother as well as all the women in her family thought she was a witch. It wasn’t either because his father was a successful businessman and owned a couple of alimentary product stores while her father was a talented mechanic who barely made ends meet. It was much more simple that. Kimia Matumboli Jr was plain while Malaika was beautiful. Kimia was very much aware of his physical limitations while Malaika was very much aware of her social limitations, but Kimia had only eyes for Malaika. Kimia first saw her when he was in 9th grade at Tanga Malamu high school. she was sitting right in front of him and anytime the wind blew, he could smell her. Instructor’s reports to his parents always said: “Very smart but daydreams in class, needs to apply himself at school”. Despite the fact that he was in the top 5 of his class, his father Matumboli the First, tried to interrogate him the way he always did. He would be calm at first and then gradually inflame himself into a rage until he had to go grab a belt to release his anger by giving the person a good beating. Luckily his wife intervened most of the time to diffuse him by pulling his attention to other priorities: his health, his cigarettes, his beer, his food, etc.

All his friends knew that it was Malaika in the morning, Malaika at noon and Malaika in the evening and they kept making fun of him for not talking to her. His best friend Cedric had a sitdown with him at the end of the school year.

“Look, I know you are shy and all, but I promise you she doesn’t bite.Look I even ask her if she likes you?”

“You did what? I told you not to say anything?”

“It’s ok. Don’t you want to hear what she said?”

“What did she say?’

“She said you are nice guy.”

“A nice guy? That’s all?”

“hey, look here, the sad truth is you are not exactly the best looking guy in school, ok? And I have to say, I don’t understand what you see in this girl, yes she is cute but so is Francesca, you know her friend? Francesca’s parents are good friends to your parents, she dresses nice and she seems to like you.”

“I told you to stop talking to me about Francesca, why don’t you talk her yourself? And thanks for the reminder that I am not the best looking guy.”

He got up and left. Cedric didn’t say it, but he knew that he meant that they moved in different worlds, but he felt and knew that his world was nothing without his angel, Malaika.

One year went by and Kimia finally wrote her note to officially state what everyone knew:

“Malaika, I needed an angel to save me and I am sure that you are the answer to my prayers. Would you be my angel and save this lonely soul?” Kimia was no writer at all, so it took him the whole summer vacation to come up with that. When school started in September, he waited for the second week of class just as she was about to go home, he called her up and said:

“Hey, Malaika. I have got something for you.”

He handed her an envelope.

“What is it?”

“Oh it’s just few poems I found here and there, but there’s this one poem I wrote. I know how you are the best in school hands down when it comes to literature and poetry so don’t expect me to be Moliere or Corneille, but I want to hear from you what you think.”

Malaika blushed, but even her light, chocolate skin that sends Kimia into convulsions every time they brushed by each other, wouldn’t let him see that she blushed.

“thank you, I will read it and let you know.” And she left.

Kimia might have not been poet, but he had to come to appreciate the rhythm of her hips, the fullness of her lips and the music in her speech so when she said: “I will read and let you know” that was the only thing that his mind put on replay for him for the rest of the day….

PART II Coming soon, but please feel free to comment and tell me where you think this is going….

A very, very short love story

We started at hello

and ended at sayonara

she was straight to the point:

I want a man

she said I want a man the same way

she says I want chocolate

rich, creamy, melting softness

for her to mold like clay into greatness

but i was a mountain

and she was a bird

you can climb me up

but you can’t move me

and stonewall I did

it was one of those short love stories

where lovers are losers

and haters are winners

forget les je t’aime

when I can’t even say your name

it’s nothing personal

but we were both in denial

putting each other on trial

always ready to push each other’s dial

i know we stay honest, we can’t fail

me, you, us can’t fail

we can make this work

keep me, you, us on the scale

until our children hear our tale

that mom and dad tried and didn’t fail

we started at hello

and ended at sayonara

I was a mountain

she was a bird

and we made each other happy.

O Belinda !

“Just shut up!!! I said shut up!! I said shut your mother…” The hands were already around her neck.

“This time I will take your head off!” said her sister.

“NO YOU NOT!!”

I was watching the two teenagers tear, pull, pinch each other apart and I didn’t know what to do. This was my first time in Belinda’s house and this was my future lover’s territory. I prayed and hoped that none of them was Belinda. O Belinda, sweet, proud, beautiful Belinda. The Sun woke up and slept to Belinda. The only problem is that I have seen her from afar and my friend who was her classmate had arranged for me to finally meet her. I had put on my Sunday clothes and asked the barbed to make me into a beau.

I was pulled back to reality when I saw a man come out in white shirt, black plants, a belt in hand, and the fury of God in his eyes. The top of his head was polished and shining with pearls of sweat. I knew that was the dad. I wished at that moment for the power of invisibility. It took me some serious effort not to laugh at the scene of the two sisters rearranging each other’s dress and hair as if nothing had happened. The father was fuming, but the scene of his two daughters attending to each other seemed to have done the trick because he sent them to their room in a low and ugly voice. He finally noticed that I was standing there.

“Who are you and what do you want?”

“I’m…I’m…I’m Felix and I’m here to see Belinda. I’m a friend.” What’s that supposed to mean I am a friend?

He looked me up and down and judged me safe enough to yell in the hallway; Beeeelinda!!! His booming voice left me unbalanced and unsure as to whether I should be here.

Then she appeared. Doubts flew away and a twenty pound stone lodged in my throat.

“What?” she said. She noticed her book in my arm. “Oh you brought me the chemistry book?” I handed it to her.

“You are Felix right? like Felix Wazekwa. Franco told me about you. Did anyone ever told you guys to make a band in memory of those iconic musicians you carry the names?” I smiled. She wasn’t the first to say that. I pumped my chest and said:

“Well you will have to convince Franco because I have been trying to get him to do that.”

“Really? Can you sing?”

” No, but I write lyrics and play a little bit of piano.”

“Wow. I would love to hear you guys play one of these days. I’m sure Tony would too.”

“Tony?”

“You know Tony?”

Who didn’t know Tony? Tony to whom Heaven and Earth belonged: Rich parents Tony. Captain of the soccer team Tony. Straight A student Tony. Most popular guy Tony.

“Yeah I know him.”

“Yes he’s been telling me how he’s been thinking about picking up the drums one day.”

“Fascinating. Listen, I have to go but see you at school all right?”

“Sure thanks for the book and say hi to Franco for me.”

O how I hated my Sunday clothes! How I hated Tony Mukendi Wakwetu. One of the sisters seemed to have noticed my frustration as I went to the door. She handed me a note and then ran as fast as her little legs could carry her back to the house. I opened it and read written with lipsticks in bold:

I heart you.

I looked back at the window to see her giving me a toothless smile; I couldn’t help myself but smile back and went home feeling a little bit better.