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