The Battlefields

If my face is the Earth then there is an active volcano, the very Mt. Nyiragongo, ready to ooze out with the lava of pus on the continent of my right cheek. This much I see in the mirrors stacked on the shelf. I am returned from the corporate battlefields and waiting for my sister to come and get me.

I walk down the aisles of the supermarket. My favourite Gillette Shaving Foams are standing to attention in a neat line. The Nivea Aftershaves, dressed in blue and white stripes, are posed like disciplined Kenya Navy cadets waiting for orders on a serious Mogadishu beach. And there are other men like me prowling the aisles and some I have to admit are even more messed up then I am and they are crashing like wild waves on the supermarket shelf beaches. Adidas Aftershave Balms fall to the supermarket floor, their bottles crack on impact and balm liquid oozes out.

At the checkout counters, I silently stand in line with my fellow men and wait my turn at the cashiers. I look past them and see the carnage we have left on the aisles – the supermarket floor awash with spills of Bokomo Oats, the fizzy lakes of Coca-Cola in between overturned tubs of Toss Detergent. Yet another battlefield.

And I hope my fellow men are waiting for their sisters too. Or their girlfriends, or their mothers. Otherwise, I have seen men sing about Jesus Christ in crazy ways in the streets where our battlefields are, the men who are now dead again and mad with bible in hand, nailed to corporate crosses and not even a mother, sister or lover around to watch their crucifixion. Dead again.

My sister comes. She holds me by the hand. Warmth on my palm. Sisters of my fellow men come. They hold the silence of the supermarket and crush it with gripping gossip.

“So today morning, the self-appointed chairperson of the house asked me for the utilities money, I gave it to her and said, ‘next time please show me the bill.’”

“You should ask for the bills, don’t pay without seeing them.”

“So she came to the office and told the admin that I called her a thief.”

“What did he say?”

“He says wait for the MD to come kesho.”

“This guy has no powers.”

“I kept to the topic of the bills but she kept trying to assassinate my character.”

“You should not react.”

“Are you kidding? She was shouting at me then she called me stupid then she hit me with the door.”

My sister takes me home. We drive through the nightime Nairobi and the sky is perfect black because the stars are all shining down here at city level. Traffic lights, headlights, building lights, disco lights; driving deep, deep into the Saturday lights. When we come home she cooks me a dinner. She dances before the kitchen stove. I think of how she makes the world small like this, turns it into the five hundred square foot size that is this house. The dimensions of home. How she eliminates the sprawling battlefields out there so that I can now lie on the sofa and smell the haldi scents and hear the mirch popping in the frying pan.

Over steaming palak murg she asks, “How was your day?”

I say, “I don’t know.”

I dream, in the deep night, of Kenya Defence Forces submarines parking themselves inside Lake Victoria. Then an Eastleigh built petrol-tanker is struck by underwater to surface missiles outside Jinja. As a result, Rwandan macroeconomics faces instability. Then ten million cubic meters of natural gas catch fire underground in South Kordofan. And twelve Tanzanian managers of the gas field are immolated. In retaliation, a computer virus manufactured in a Dar-es-Salaam suburb attacks and immobilises all Apple laptops in downtown Nairobi. Mombasa banks loan two billion US dollars to the Khartoum government. Kampala is evacuated.

I can’t sleep well. My Mt. Nyiragongo is itchy. I walk to the steps outside the house. My sister is seated there. It’s a pure dawn. The sun is giving birth to shade. Nairobi is asleep and birds are singing and a breeze rustles tree leaves. My sister has always sat here on Sunday mornings, being nothing but peace. Like this the Kenya Defence Forces submarines dissolve into water, missiles evaporate into wind, Mombasa banks turn into sandy beaches and there is celebration in Kampala. We don’t even say a word. She is simply my Sunday morning.

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One comment

  1. Jacob Aliet · May 7, 2012

    Nice one. What of ur review of Urban Zoning?

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