The Red Kanga

Friday Feature1Mystic woods

Prompt:

The Mystic Woods! What story do you see here?

The Red Kanga

Do you remember…?”

Kuria glanced at the woman perched on the stump in the middle of the clearing. She had a new red kanga tied around her hips. Her green blouse, made of soft silky fabric, clung to her curves. She’d covered her hair, that glorious long dark mess, hidden with a green headscarf. He couldn’t see her face because she was staring at the green grass at her feet. She held a stick, poking at the ground as though searching for answers in the soil nourishing the green blades.

“Do you remember we used to come here when we were kids?”

Nostalgia clung to her words; brought back memories.

“I remember,” Kuria said with a wistful smile. “I remember you never covered your hair those days.”

She chuckled, poking at the grass faster.

“I had time to play with a comb then. These days I’m too busy.”

“Busy is a state of mind, Shiro.”

Kuria shifted, pressing his back against the rough trunk a tall tree. Hundreds grew around them. He stuck a blade of grass between his teeth and stared up at the waving branches above. The sun sifted through, rays of light falling on the stump in the middle of the clearing, highlighting Shiro. It looked like a natural spotlight.

She paused in her poking to glance at him.

“Are you going to tell me why you called me?” she asked. “I left githeri cooking on the jiko.”

“You always have githeri cooking.” Kuria scowled. She never invited him to eat it. “Who are you cooking for this time?”

She shrugged.

“The house is full of people. Stop worrying about my githeri. What do you want to tell me?”

“I went to the shopping center to get charcoal earlier.” Kuria threw the blade of grass on the ground and crossed his arms against his chest. “I heard you were seen there with Chege. Are you two together now?”

Shiro scoffed.

“You’re like a woman. Why do you listen to gossip?”

“Is it true Chege bought you mangoes from Mama Nora, or not?”

“The mangoes looked good.”

Shiro tossed her stick and sat up straight, a frown dancing on her forehead.

“So he bought you mangoes?”

“Ah ha,” Shiro said with a nod. “What’s wrong with eating mangoes?”

“I bring you avocados from my mother’s tree and you sell them, but you ate the mangoes, didn’t you?”

“Chege paid good money for them,” Shiro said as though that should make sense.

Kuria frowned.

The woman was going to drive him insane.

She just didn’t see the point.

“I don’t want you to eat anything Chege buys you again.”

Shiro gaped.

“Did you hear me?”

Shiro stood up, her hands on her hips.

“You’re going mad, Kuria. You can’t stand there and dictate what I can or can’t eat. Who died and made you my master?”

“I’m warning you.”

“Warn away,” Shiro said. “Keep going and I will go find Chege and tell him to buy me all the fruits in the market.”

“I’ll kill him.”

“Then you’ll go to jail,” Shiro said. “Anything else you wanted to say?”

Kuria fumed, annoyed by her innocent expression. She had no idea how mad she got him. How angry he was that she dared talk with that Chege.

Why couldn’t she see how he felt about her? Why didn’t she care?

He thought about the avocados he took to her house. Three afternoons ago, he’d climbed the avocado tree behind his mother’s house and spent two solid hours picking each fruit with care. The trick with avocados was not to drop them from the tree. They bruised easy. Bruised avocados turned to rot.

Yes, he’d carefully picked each fruit, and hauled two large baskets down the tree. He’d taken one to his mother, the other he’d kept for Shiro.

She’d thanked him with a smile. Ah that smile…, he glanced at her face now. That smile was missing. She didn’t grace him with her smile too often, so when she’d smiled at him that day, he’d felt like he had won the lottery.

Yesterday, he’d gone to take milk to the dairy and he’d heard the women there talking about Shiro’s avocados. Shiro had sold all the avocados he’d given her. It had hurt to know she hadn’t even tried to eat one.

“If you’re going to scowl at me, I’m going home.”

Shiro’s irritation was clear and he pushed off the tree when she started to leave.

“Why did you sell my avocados? I brought them for you and your siblings to eat. Why sell them?”

“You brought a basket full. They would have gone bad in the house.”

“They weren’t ripe. You could have divided them and—

“I don’t like eating avocados.” Shiro sighed. “Don’t you have a fruit you don’t like?”

“No.” Kuria fumed. “You used to eat them fine when I gave you a slice over at our place.”

“That’s because I didn’t want to disappoint you.” Shiro shivered. “I don’t like the taste very much.”

“What kind of excuse is that? If you don’t like something just say it,” Kuria said confused. “Did you sell all the avocados?”

Shiro nodded. “I sold them all.”

Kuria scoffed and shook his head. “So much for my efforts.”

“Don’t look so disappointed. I used the money to buy this kanga. Do you like it?”

Kuria looked at the red kanga.

“My old one was fading.” Shiro smiled and his heart jumped the beat racing. Shiro’s smile had that effect on him.

“What do you think?” Shiro prompted, touching the red kanga.

“It looks good on you,” Kuria said, clearing his throat with a slight cough. He liked this pleased smile on Shiro’s lips. He wondered what else he could do to bring it back. “I can bring you more avocados if you like.”

“Will you?” Shiro asked in surprise.

“Yeah,” Kuria said thinking his mother wouldn’t notice one basket missing.

“Are you going to get mad if I don’t eat them?”

Kuria shrugged.

“No, as long as you don’t sell to Chege.”

Shiro laughed and turned to leave.

“I’m going to finish cooking my githeri. You’re welcome to come and eat it, if you like.”

Kuria grinned because that was the first time she’d ever invited him to eat her githeri. She left the clearing in quick strides, glancing back once to wave at him. He stared at the stump where she’d sat, and smiled.

Yes, he remembered. He remembered every time Shiro met him in this clearing. Every laugh, every smile, and every argument they’d had.

One of these days, Kuria thought, he was going to propose to Shiro right here, and she was going to say yes.

****

githeri – popular beans and maize traditional dish

kanga – colorful wrap

Read other Stories in the EA Friday Feature:

The Human Shrine

Never Complain, Never Explain

Dear Michael

The Haunting of Mystic Woods

*****

FREE READ – Download the EA Friday Feature August Anthology here.

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EA Friday Feature – September Prompt #1

The Prompt for September:

Friday Feature1

Write a story of only 1,000 words using the prompt given.  Post it on your blog on Fridays and share the posts of fellow bloggers participating in the feature.

September Prompt #1

Risk: What is your interpretation of Risk: A gamble on something

Last Prompt Responses:
Chocolate Cupcakes

The Girl with the Golden Smile – 1

Friday Feature1Prompt:

Rain, Rain, Rain: mail.google.com

The Girl with the Golden Smile

Thunder rumbled, dark clouds rolled in, large drops of rain drummed the iron sheet roof.
Nalia wondered if the creator was starting a band. The drops kept falling in fierce beats on the roof, like a doomsday rhythm.

She kept chopping onions, her eyes stinging. Tears slid down her cheeks.

Nalia wasn’t sure where the tears from the onions juice and the ones caused by sorrow met and melded.
Wiping her arm over her cheeks she finished chopping the onions and put them in the cooking pot. Adding oil, she turned on the fire on the gas cooker and banged the pot on the stand.

No one could hear the noise anyway.

Taking a wooden cooking spoon from a drawer, her gaze lingered over the chopped vegetables laid out in bowls on the counter. Carrots, potatoes, green pepper, cilantro and tomatoes…she sighed.

There was no meat today.

He wasn’t going to be happy.

Nalia shrugged a short elegant movement of her slender shoulders. Yet, instead of relief, a heavy weight settled in her stomach.

Malik liked his meat.

The onions started sizzling in the pot and she stirred them, her gaze barely seeing the browning onions. Her thoughts were on her husband, Malik Kanda. They married early.  She’d been eighteen, Malik twenty.

Children really, none of them had known much about life then.

Seven years going and Malik had turned into a stranger. He’d grown distrustful, edgy and over-ambitious.

It was his new job, Nalia thought.

The one he’d gotten a year ago.

Malik was managing a construction company for her uncle. The job paid good money. Her uncle had told her Malik was paid almost sixty thousand shillings every month. Twice the amount he’d gotten before.  She’d been happy for Malik then, thinking their home would grow, benefit from the good fortune.  But no, their lives were deteriorating. The money had gone to Malik’s head, making him prideful. He paid for nothing in the house.

Nalia sighed and started adding vegetables to the onions. The peppers first, then the tomatoes, followed by the carrots and potatoes.

“What to do?” she asked the sizzling vegetables.

Reaching for a container of mixed spices, Nalia sprinkled the right amount over the mix in the cooking pot.
Her thoughts returned to her latest dilemma.  Malik’s indifference to the well-being of their house worried her. He never had money to contribute to their expenses, yet he wanted to eat and sleep in comfort. He wanted neat clothes in his closet, good food and a clean house.

Her funds were stretched.

She was a primary school teacher. She taught English in class six at the local primary school. Her salary was a quarter of what Malik made. Yet she paid rent, the house bills, water and electricity as well as bought food for the house.
The end of the month was pure hell. She could barely afford things in the house yet Malik’s standards had to be met.
Covering the stew, Nalia picked up the plates and spoons she’d set aside earlier. She went to their small living room and started setting the small table they used for dinner.

There was no meat today.

Nalia’s hand shook as she placed a spoon on Malik’s plate.

Thunder rumbled in the distance and she pressed a hand to her chest.  She didn’t want a beating tonight, but the harder it rained, the more the rain rapped on the roof, the faster her hopes vanished.

Malik’s bad temper thrived on nights like these…rainy nights when no one would hear her scream.

The front door opened and she froze, her gaze flying to the man entering the house. He was soaking wet.
Malik slammed the door closed and Nalia’s heart squeezed tight in her chest. The moment his dark gaze settled on her, her blood ran cold.

****

“Damn it.”

Nicholas slapped the steering wheel and peered out the windshield of his car. He couldn’t see in the thick rain. For a moment he wondered if pulling over was better. At least then, he’d be sure of not taking a wrong turn.
The wipers on his black Isuzu pickup worked overtime, trying to keep the windshield clear.

The clock on the dashboard said it was almost nine o’clock in the evening. The map on his phone said he had thirty more minutes before he would arrive at the Villa Matiga. The sixty year old house he’d bought from a retiring expatriate. He wanted to renovate the villa and put it up for rent. His third jaunt into the real estate industry. So far, he hadn’t gone wrong, but this late night trips were murder.

“I should have started out earlier,” he murmured.

He was a lawyer by profession and worked for a successful law firm in the city of Nairobi. The pay was good the lifestyle exhausting, but he was happy. At thirty-two, his life was on the right track.  To a point, he thought when he remembered his girlfriend had gotten married a week ago to one of his wealthy clients.

The bitch, he thought.

She’d strung him a long for three whole years while she worked hard to hook a bigger fish. She was now a Runda estate housewife. Nicholas couldn’t help hoping she got fat and ugly soon. He cursed under his breath.

She’d turned him into a bitter bastard.

He drove over a bump too fast. The map on his phone said he needed to make a right turn soon, but where?  Peering outside, he frowned when all he saw were trees and bushes.

Great, Villa Martiga had to exist in the middle of nowhere.

Well, it wasn’t really nowhere; the Ngong area was turning into a prestigious area to live.

He braked hard when the dirt road he was supposed to take appeared to the right.  Thank God there were no vehicles behind him. He was driving like a maniac tonight. Taking the right turn, excitement swept through him and he pressed the gas pedal harder, eager for warmth.  A dark shadow streaked onto the road, and he hit the brakes in panic, afraid he was going to hit the woman ahead.

Read other EA Friday Feature Entries;

  1. Father’s Love
  2. The Man in the Rain

EA Friday Feature – Prompt Week #2

Friday Feature1

The EA Friday Feature:

Write a story of only 1,000 words using the prompt given.  Post it on your blog on Fridays and share the posts of fellow bloggers participating in the feature.

Participating Bloggers:

  1. Nilichoandika
  2. Flashes of Vice
  3. Children of Destiny Books
  4. Love in Nairobi

Week #2- Prompt is:

Places:

Beaches, Mountains, Forests or somewhere else you like…Write a story inspired by the place you like most.

The story is due on Friday, 14th August, 2015. 

This is an open entry Feature.  If you’d like to participate, simply write the 1,000 word story using the prompt, and leave a comment on this post to let us know to share your story.

Last week’s prompts responses:

  1. It Started with a Bump at the Busstop
  2. Holy Desire
  3. A Tail of Tissue Paper