It was dusk. The compound was more quiet compared to her neighbors. You could see the sun setting against the baobab tree, and she sat on a three legged stool next to her three stone fire cooking a meal for her family of three.
“Mum, mummy….where are you?” her daughter called excitedly from the front yard. She had a notebook, pen and bracelet in hand. It was from the mission. There was a white woman there who had taken fond of her daughter.
She gave her daughter a look as if to scold her. She had told her not to accept too many things from the lady, what would she think of their family?
“Mummy, I was with the other children. The missionaries gave us all. I tried to refuse but it looked bad…and when Rukia got a pink book and the beads on the pen, I wanted one. You know she’ll come with it to school, and so will the others and I’d be the only one without one….”
Aisha smiled at her daughter. She had a way with words, plus she was adorable. “Go put them in the house child, it’s okay,”she said smiling at her daughter. “And Rehema, there are two blankets under your bed, please bring them and put them behind the Baobab tree.”
A few meters from her, she saw her friend with shopping in hand walking casually.
“Aisha, how are you today,”she shouted. “Is that chicken you’re cooking?”
“If it were, you’d be the last to know!”she shouted back and they all started laughing.
“I left your husband at the Mnazi Place, he seems to be at a good place,”she said winking. “He’ll be home soon.”
“Thank you dear,” she said smiling back, “in that case, I’ll quicken my pace. See you tomorrow at the factory?”
“Ah, yes. See you then, I almost forgot Cashews are in season. Say a big hello to Rehema for me.”
Aisha’s mind was on her husband now. He would be home in about half an hour. She only had half an hour to prepare the home for her husband.
Hurriedly, she helped Rehema bath and change into warm clothes. She used to object due to the hot coastal weather, but of late, she understood it was for her own good.
The candles inside the house were lit. The bed was made, and dinner plates laid out with the rice and stew she had made.
She served Rehema some food and asked her to eat. Her father might be late, and she is a growing girl. She had school the next day and needed be ready for bed soon. She asked Rehema clean her plate once done. A girl is never too young to learn what is expected of her as a woman in society and in the home.
After the cleaning, Aisha took out her bible. They were reading the book of Daniel today. It was Rehema’s favorite. She loved how Daniel survived in the lion’s den. She always said that if God did that for Daniel, He would help them all get a better life. Aisha loved instilling hope in her daughter. It was important for her to know that God did not intend for them to suffer, nor live in poverty. She needed faith and confidence to have a better life than what they had now.
As they read on, they heard someone kick a bucket outside the compound and the goat bleat. He was here.
As if on impulse, she methodically stood up ad walked to the door. She opened the door with a smile on her face. “Welcome home my husband.”
“Someone left that bucket out and intentionally put it in my way, did they want me to fall, eh?”he slurred out. He smelt of urine and alcohol, and it had just been one day!
“I’m sure no one meant harm my love,”she answered politely. “Please come in, I’ve prepared dinner for you.”
He staggered into the house and slumped himself on the sofa. He then looked at his daughter and smiled.
“How is school treating you? You’re in class one now, aren’t you?”
“I’m in class four Papa,” she answered politely.
“Oh,”he said smiling as he picked the plate his wife had served him.”You kids grow up so fast these days…just the other day your mother would carry you on her back as she went to the factory….”
He took a handful of rice and soup and put it in his mouth. He’d always insist on eating with his hands as per their tradition. He then picked a piece of chicken and bit into it. He sighed in appreciation.
“Sweet Aisha! If there is one thing you know how to do, it’s took cook chicken,”he said biting onto another piece.
“Thank you Baba Rehema,”she said smiling and winking at her daughter. He then invited them to share the meal with them.
Aisha picked up two plates and served a meal for herself and Rehema. They ate quickly and in silence.
Papa asked for water. Aisha stood up and walked to the outside kitchen to fetch a jug.
As she walked back into the main house, she could hear the conversation between father and daughter, and she knew that the niceties were about to be over.
“Aisha, our daughter was busy telling me how you’ve single-handedly managed to pay her school fees for the past three years. You even managed to get her new uniforms for each year.”
“Rehema has made friends with the missionaries Baba,”she said calmly pouring some water in his glass, “they volunteered to sponsor her education. We visit the mission every three months before the reopening of school.”
“Oh, I see…and do the missionaries also pay for the chicken we are able to afford?”
“No Baba,that came from the money I make at the factory.”
“So you’re telling me the factory pays you enough money to buy chicken?”he asked a bit stern.
“No Baba, I just save up,”she said shakily. “I knew the chicken would make you happy therefore I thought-”
“Liar!”he shouted as he threw the glass against the wall.”You’ve become someone’s whore! You whore around for money thinking it will make you happier! You’ve been seen with that missionary man for long, you thought I wouldn’t know? You whore!”
With that, he took the jug and threw water at her. He walked towards her, and with the jug repeatedly hit her on the back and kicked her on the stomach.
“Get out of my house,”he shouted. “No whore sleeps in my home.”
“But Baba…”she cried while on the floor,”I have done nothing wrong. I work hard to make money to make us both happy…Baba, please listen to me. I would never betray you. Please don’t kick us out tonight…”
“Out. Toka!”he shouted. “You and your daughter sleep outside like the dogs you are!”
He was dragging her out as he said this. Aisha cried. She begged. She called onto God which infuriated her husband. He hit her and finally threw her out of the house. He called their daughter and asked her to follow her mother or face his wrath.
He then banged the door and locked it.
Aisha and her daughter were out in the cold, dark night-again. She hugged her daughter who was crying silently. She held her for two minutes and reminded her of how strong Daniel from the Bible was. She told her she needed to be strong, and that not all man were like her father. She asked her to pray for her father, that he may change his ways and be a good dad like Rukia’s or any of her friends. She asked her daughter to promise she would pray. Wiping off her tears, she promised she would pray for him.
She then sent her daughter to pick the blankets behind the Baobab tree as they moved to kitchen. They would have an early morning just to ensure nobody saw them.