“Anita. Anita! Ani!” Mama’s voice called from the window. I woke from my deep slumber and tiptoed between my two siblings to open the door for her. Her voice was laden with pain, the kind of pain you experience when salt has been sprinkled on an open wound and instead of screaming, you talk it out, your voice almost choking you.
“Welcome mama, I’ll get your food.” I offered. She held on to me for support. Coldness crept into the house for a few seconds the door was open. She rarely meets my eyes. Not since she sat me down to tell me about the nature of her job. I served her the small portion of ugali and mchicha (cornmeal and veggies) that we preserved in my younger brother’s school tin and she munched it down before she whispered “thank you.” She sleeps by the door, to shield us children from the cold. She comes back home every night, resigned.
She’s what the holy book, in some verses, calls a harlot. During our prayer sessions on Saturdays at noon she asks God to bless her as He did Ruth. She says, “May I lay and wake at the feet of your chosen one for me. An anointed one by the Lord, that he may save me from this shame.” I noticed this frequent prayer when I was about thirteen when I started to ask questions with my eyes and loud chuckles. When my chest grew ‘fruits’ and the neighbour next door grabbed me behind his house, fondled my fruits and whispered “Jaber, mia mana matin.” I knew he was wrong, because of the way he shoved me away when the noisy opening of the door was heard.
“Give me a little something”. The words replayed in my mind as I convinced myself they could mean anything. Maybe he was thirsty, or hungry, so he asked if I could feed him. He called me beautiful because he was being kind, or so I thought. Boys at school had pressed poorly written letters in my hands, winking and licking their lips. They all did it, it must be what they saw on TV since most of them never waited a minute to run home to their big screens to watch soap operas and listen to ‘the beat’. In these letters, they called me beautiful. In fact, Bogi had written “Good morning, the most beautiful girl with blue eyes, chiselled jawline, infectious smile and teeth so white, fit for a toothpaste advertisement.” I laughed because even though he’d copied it word for word from a magazine, he couldn’t get the spelling right. Lies.
Mama came home in the company of a man the night after, Geoffrey. He had white hair on his nose. So white that it was noticeable at night. His head was bare like the late president’s bald head and everything on his face was big, large, huge, make it extra. His nostrils looked like they had a back door at the end of his face. His lips threatened to tear into his cheeks, always white; like he’s been licking on glucose or flour and rusty and chapped. His eyes never closed at night, I know because he lay with mama, next to the door and I took the mat and spread it next to the kitchen area, where the jiko and old rusted sufurias were hurled.
“Children, please sit down, I need to introduce you to someone,” Mama said as she cleared the floor with their beddings. The huge man was seated on the chair, his eyes looking around, observing everything conclusively. His face tried to curve into a smile when mama said ‘someone’. I’m pretty sure the sight of his face could scare children into sleep, or doing whatever has been ordered because quite frankly, he looked like a living scarecrow.
“Anita, Maddie and Egans, this is Mr Geoffrey. He is a pastor, my friend, the Lord’s servant and my answered prayer. He will be your father, he will be living with us,” she smiled, proudly. My heart crawled out of my body and I almost threw up. Ain’t no way in the world that’s mama’s answered prayer. I wanted to say it, but Geoffrey spoke before I did.
“Anita, my daughter, you are so beautiful. The Lord loves you and has entrusted you in my care. Good morning?”
Confusion hovered all over me. I knew a lot about science and I knew he didn’t make me, why should I call him my father? Mama snapped her fingers and I knew her patience was running out.
“Thank you, Mr Geoffrey,” I answered confusingly. I met mama’s red hot eyes and I quickly added, “Dad. Thank you, Daddy.”
Egans jumped in ecstasy. “Mama! Asante! Thank you for bringing me a daddy. I now have a daddy too!” He exclaimed. He pinched Maddie, an Egan’s classic and then smiled broadly “We also have a daddy Maddie! I will go and tell Aisha!” He ran off and mama whispered something under her breath. She was happy, truly happy. But Maddie was confused, she examined Geoffrey’s face and her face formed a disgusted smirk, the one she does when washing Egans after he’s shitted himself. We should have taken seriously Maddie’s face because it was the first indication that Geoffrey was shit!
We went to Mr Geoffrey’s church the next Sunday. A shack to be precise, built of old iron sheets with holes and reeking of rust. It was hot. Its insides felt like we were in an oven, baking. The mix of sweet, cheap perfume and tears sickened me. The women called him ‘baba’ and curtsied in front of him. He introduced us, his new family to the church. The women clapped happily while some ululated, invoking God in all of the noise. They greeted mama, congratulating her for finding God’s favour. She smiled with contentment, even her walking style had changed, she was living the dream.
Male congregants in the church were a handful. They rarely showed up for Tuesday fellowship at the church and when they did, special attention was directed to them. We moved to a different house, a two-bedroom, barely a month after Geoffrey married our mother. Mama was over the moon, but something kept tugging. I stole glances from the corners of my eyes when Geoffrey was in the house. He was up to something.
Mama’s deepest prayer was that the good Lord would get her off the streets. She’d come home bruised on some nights because when she couldn’t pay the policemen for ‘Kiwanja’ so she had to pay with her body, after all, it was her business. They would press her on a wall, as rusty as the one at the church, or she’d have to lay in the sand, somewhere, anywhere, for the policeman (or policemen) to collect his pay. On bad business days, she would come home in a terrible mood, throwing things at us, cursing and wishing she never gave birth to us.
She once got into a fight at the Kiwanja, where they waited for clients. This prettier, younger woman was taking up most of her clients and they couldn’t agree on how to ensure that they all get business.
“You are an old hag now. Focus on raising your bustard children!” The voluptuous wench implored mama. Her body is nicely sculptured. It’s evident why mama’s clients preferred her. She’s appealing to the eyes.
“Ujana ni Moshi. You will age, and the same shall be said to you,” Mama replied in her coastal accent, downcast.
On such occasions. She’d throw things at us. She’d throw in a few things about our deadbeat fathers. But most of all, she prayed. Geoffrey, was a result of her prayers like she’s been saying for most of the time. I’ve been relieved since he came. I don’t have to stay up at night waiting for her, or listen and wipe her tears and mine too, as she tells me about work. Geoffrey relieved me of the emotional baggage mama dumped on me from such a young age.
It’s been lovely to see mama’s face when I get back from school. Even when the previous night we could hear a commotion in their room and Geoffrey hurling insults at her, she wakes up, happy, because she doesn’t have to sell sex anymore. She makes us pray every night in our rooms, and when she does, she never forgets to thank God for our new life. Something about mama’s prayers is that she reveals her secrets in prayer.
Last night, as she asked for God’s intercession in our lives, she prayed about the virus. I gasped, loudly. She paused her prayers, before continuing with lots of confusion.
“Heal my husband, your servant of the virus Lord. We believe in your healing power, more than in western medication.” There it was. The price mama has to pay for a husband.
Did Geoffrey hide behind religion, to talk mama into marriage, knowing very well he’s infected and not take preventive measures? I know Mama’s desperation for a husband overrides everything else, but did he have to use this to his advantage? For how long will it be safe for us in our new home?
His Opinion On HIV/AIDS Jeorpadized Our Relationship Especially When The Virus Came Knocking On His Door
My Sister’s Marriage Ended In Tears Because Of Lust And Boredom
The Singlehood Series: My Husband Was Sleeping With Our Marriage Counsellor
The Singlehood Series: My Situationship Turned Into A Marriage That Ruined My Life
The Burden Of The Past Unexpectedly Poses A Dilemma On A Budding Love
Lust In The Time Of Coronavirus
Her Clingy Ex-Boyfriend’s Revealed Secrets That Could Break Up Her Marriage
A Love Circus – Confronting Promiscuity Reveals Weighty Secrets