Four O’clock Tea

She held the tray in her hand calmly as she walked into the room.

Five men were seated a midst her boss, ranting on carelessly about the current state of affairs in the country. They were politicians you see, and they were among the best in the country.

This was not the first time she saw such dignitaries in this home. She was in her sixth year of service in this home. She remembered how the madam was patient with her in her first year of service. Fresh from the countryside, she believed sugar was added to tea when cooking and not according to people’s portions. She also believed that food that would be boiled for long hours would be done under firewood and not the gas. She did not see the need to use aprons, or change her work attire everyday, it was all a waste. But the madam saw potential in her and was patient with her.

Now it was hard to imagine Naomi was the same person. She woke up at five thirty and performed her tasks with ease. She knew the boss loved his Daily Nation on the top left of the dining table, and all other papers after. She knew he loved boiled eggs with coffee and toasted bread; the bread had to be toasted once he sat on the table, he loved it hot.

Naomi knew the madam would have tea first once she got home. She knew the madam always soaked her feet in warm water every Thursday at seven o’clock in the evening. She knew madam loved  a compliment on Sunday’s before leaving leaving for church, it was after all, the day she would show off her latest attire to her less fortunate friends.

Yes, knowing all this made Naomi efficient at her work, and thus the longest serving maid in this house hold. And she was happy with her job, and the person she had become.

But today was different. Her boss was discussing very serious issues in regards to the country. The state of security was terrible in the country and there was a new plan of action brewing. Her boss said the government was not doing enough to protect it’s people, his ally laughed saying the people themselves did nothing to protect themselves. He said there were whispers, there were people gaining more with the current state than if people were protected. Why, some large organizations were more than happy to sponsor terrorism, and there were rumors that the government itself used these so called ‘terrorists’ to tests out their new warfare equipment on the citizens, just so to determine their impact.

Two of the big men were shaking their heads in disbelief. Another said he was not happy with the current state, but his security firm had never experienced such profits with the current state. He said he understood the tyranny of numbers but he hoped something could be done to reduce the violence.

“How many sugars sir?” Naomi asked the guests, politely interrupting the conversation.

“One, thank you,” said one man as he shifted back to the conversation.

Her boss was excited by the talk, you could see the gleam in his eyes, like this was going to be his big break to make a change in the country. Naomi always thought he was a wise man and a good leader, she wished nothing but the best for him.

She picked up her tray and exited the room to leave the men debating. From the look of things, these men would stay on for supper. She picked up the kitchen phone and called the madam upstairs to inquire what to cook for supper. She sounded busy, probably winding up on her speech for the women’s conference.

She wanted fish with a hearty vegetable side and rice. Naomi nodded and put the receiver down. She walked to the fridge and took out the vegetable in order to prepare them. Then she remembered Sara, the new maid who had joined a month ago. Madam had put Sara under Naomi’s care, she was to teach the girl how things were run. She thought this would be a good time to show her how madam loved the vegetables steamed.

But the girl was not in the kitchen. She walked into Sara’s room only to find her bags and belongings gone. Startled, she rushed to the gate to find out from the watchman if Sara had left. He said she had not come near the gate the entire day. At that same time, the gardener approached them with a long sheet tied to a rope. He said he found the rope by the back wall, it was as if someone was trying to make an escape.

Naomi was very confused now. Suddenly, a huge cry came from the house. They all ran to the house to find out what had happened. The five men stood in the living room making frantic calls. Madam was on the floor clenching the boss’s lifeless body. He had been poisoned they said.

Naomi was in shock. It couldn’t be, just a few minutes back she had served them all tea, she left them talking about the current state of security. She had left the kitchen with the tea prepared by Sara, and in less than an hour, the boss was dead!

“You!”shouted one of them men pointing at Naomi, “You did this. You served him tea and he died! We were all to die, only that we opted for coffee! Askari!”He shouted facing the soldier. “Detain this woman until the police come!”

“But I…”Naomi said as she was dragged away. “Madam, madam! You have to tell them I am innocent, I would never harm you nor the boss, madam!”

But her cries fell on deaf ears as she got dragged into one of the stores.

Soon, Naomi would understand how bad the state of security was in the country.

The Ultimate Sacrifice

The men sat around the traditional brew, each with straw in hand. They were chatting casually, happy for the new occasion. Today, one of their own would be a greater man, Ibraahim was about to be a father.

Ayaan was seeing scurrying from the hut to the kitchen with a bowl and a piece of cloth. There was blood, lots of it.

“Ayaan, everything is good? How is Alma?” Ibraahim asked grasping the attention of all the men.

Ayaan stopped and smiled at her brother in law. “She is a strong woman, she is doing well.”

The men smiled and two pat Ibrahaam on the back. There was no need for alarm., they said. First time fathers were always nervous but things always turned out great. From thereon a few started sharing their experiences and Ayaan managed to slip away.

Ayaan rushed into the kitchen and rinsed the dirty cloth with warm water and detergent. Auntie wanted the cloth clean and hot water accompanying it.

As she carried the pail she thought of her sister, how two years back she never thought she’d be married let alone giving birth. Mother was proud, father had given her two cows and promised five more if she had a son. And the village doctor had foreseen a son already. Alma was therefore a great honor to her family now. She thought of herself, of her own future…she hoped that Mohammed would keep his word and marry her soon.

A shriek brought her back to reality. Alma was sweating heavily now and was trying to get up. Auntie kept forcing her down, saying that it was the best position to deliver from.

“Push child, push!”they kept shouting at her.

Alma was in tears now. She said that she could not do it, that the pain was too much.

The women in the room chastised her for that comment, but mother moved closer to her and held her hand.

“Alma my child,”she said soothingly stroking her hair, “You cannot give up. Allah has blessed you child, H e has given you a responsibility, a duty to this life. You must push and let him live.”

“But mama, it’s too painful….I think something’s wrong,”she said gasping for breathe. “I want to see Ibraahim…”

Auntie spit on the ground. “No such thing will happen! No man ever walks in here during childbirth, it is taboo! Now, you will be strong, for your child and for your honor!”

Alma started crying a fresh as contractions came on. She had to push, had to breath, had to push….

The bowl with hot water was picked from Ayaan’s hands. She stood there, motionless. She was scared for her sister. She remembered how they used to talk of child birth a while back. The school they used to attend said that hospitals help, that women can give birth in a less painful way, that they shall be nursed back yo health….she wished that Ibraahim had not listened to the elders now, that he had taken her to hospital where they could perform a C-section. She heard that the C-section was painless. That the doctor put a gas mask on the woman’s face, she’d fall asleep and wake up with a baby, no pain, no fuss…

“Pass the bark Ayaan, she needs to bite on something,”said mum lifting Alma’s back gently.

Ayaan picked the bark and walked towards her sister. She took her mother’s position and gently arched her back as she put the bark in her sister’s mouth.

Auntie told her to give one strong push with all her strength. Ayaan could feel the pain and tension her sister felt. She clenched her fists tightly onto the bed and lay stiff, focusing all her strength into pushing.

Suddenly auntie told her to stop. Mother stood and walked towards auntie. Something was wrong, something had to be wrong.

Alma was too tired to notice the whispers. Auntie and the rest of the women started talking then mother covered her mouth as she gasped.

Ayaan was worried now, but did not want her sister to panic. Mother walked out quickly. Auntie came and held Alma’s hand, assured her that she would be fine, that they had sent for a pick up to send her to the clinic. The baby was inverted and it would therefore be a risky birth.

They knew what that meant. Darwu, their neighbor’s daughter had an inverted child and only one life could be saved. The same had happened to Halima, Khadija and Neema. They knew that only the children ever made it alive.

Ayaan was still hopeful. She held her sister’s hand strongly but firmly. She would be fine, she said, the pick up would be here sooner than they thought.

But an hour passed and Alma now looked sickly. She asked for auntie. She said that she had accepted her fate, that the child should not die as well. Mother just stood there, looking at her daughter with tears in her eyes. She said she would be back, that she had gone to look for the pick up.

Outside, commotion was heard. It was Ibraahim, he had been told what was going on. He wanted to see his wife, make sure she was fine. Tell her she was more important than the child, tell her that she should not give up on herself.

But the women would not let him pass. It was taboo they said, he would bring a curse on himself and his family. And the men agreed and pulled him away as he shouted in anger.

Alma lifted her weak hang and nudged her sister. She smiled at her. “Be good to my child Ayaan. Love her as you loved me. Her name is Bello…”

“But the village doctor said it’s a boy…”she said forcing her tears back on.

“She’s Bello,”she said sighing, “I know in my heart she’s a girl.”

Auntie shouted and asked for a knife. She had managed to grab a leg and needed to make an exit for the child. As auntie lowered the knife, Alma whimpered in pain. Ayaan cried freely on realization of what was coming.

The child was out, it was a girl. She let out a huge cry and the ululations from outside begun.

Alma held her baby placed on her chest smiling. She was right, she whispered, Bello was beautiful.

At that moment, mother walked in saying the pick up had arrived. She needed Alma carried in the car immediately.

Three men walked in and carried Alma on her mattress. She was covered, except her face. Ibraahim was waiting outside the hut. He held his wife’s car as they boarded the back of the pick up.

Ayaan watched them as they drove off towards the next town. She prayed to Allah that her sister make it back safely.

But suddenly from a distance they saw the car stopped.

Ayaan dropped to the ground, her legs too weak to support her then. She knew that her sister was gone like the rest of them.

 

 

 

 

Thika Road

Image

Mark drove recklessly along the super highway. 

Kenyans have the weirdest driving habits, he thought to himself. Everyone knew the right lane was for over taking, and yet here, in the super highway he trailed behind a Peugeot 504 that was in need of an early retirement.

“C’mon!!!”he shouted, hooting at the car. The driver in front did not seem deterred, he did not increase his pace. Instead he lowered his window and with his hand, asked Mark to slow down.

Mark saw an opportunity to overtake them man and took it happily. On the side of the mirror, he could see the Peugeot driver give him a thumbs up. He couldn’t help but smile. That man was so calm, so relaxed…Mark wondered if he would turn out like that in future.

You see, Mark was rushing to the hospital, his long term girlfriend, Angela, was in labor. The baby they had waited for was finally here, and he was scared.

For the longest time ever, Mark had been afraid of commitment. Although he had dated Angela for six years, she knew that she was not his only girlfriend and she took it. She always said that one day he would realize that she was enough for him.

The day he found out she was pregnant, the baby was five months and she vehemently refused an abortion. His boys laughed at him, saying that Angela had finally found a way to trap in. The pregnancy could not have come in a worse time, Mark had begun falling for his colleague at work, Wanda. She had the biggest eyes he had ever seen. With her, she always had an opinion and stood her ground, unlike Angela, who’s answers to serious debates was always, ‘I don’t know, what do you think?’

But he was a father now, and he was going to do right by his family. Just two weeks ago, he had called it off with Angela. He would never admit it to anyone, but he cried that day upon losing her. But he knew he was doing the right thing, and that Angela was a good woman too.

The hospital smelt of urine and heavy disinfectant. He could taste quinine in his mouth from the mixture of the smells. He wanted to throw up. He took out his mobile and called Angela’s sister, they were on the fourth wing.

He rushed to the ward, with his heart beating heavy, ready to meet his child.

When Salome saw him, she stood up and hugged him. She was with her other as well. Angela was sleeping and the baby was in the nursery.

“It’s a girl,”Salome told him excitedly. “Congratulations…”

He let out a nervous laugh. Girls were difficult and complicated, and he knew he would get manipulated easily. But he was glad she would bring tenderness to his heart.

“Have you seen her?”he asked somewhat excited.

“No, not yet, but the nurse is bringing her any time soon.”

Five minutes lapsed and their mother decided to go get some milk.

As soon as she left, the little angel was brought in and put in her father’s arms.

She was so small and angelic in her sleep. He could only see her face but he could tell she was going to be a beauty.

Angela stirred from her sleep, she smiled on seeing Mark and the baby. Mark smiled back at her.

“She got your skin tone,” he said smiling. A nurse in the background let out a huge laughter and immediately suppressed it. She excused herself from the room.

“What’s wrong with her?”asked Salome somewhat offended. But they soon got in on the joke when Mark uncovered the baby’s head.

The child’s hair was soft, almost Caucasian. Mark was taken a back. He then realized the child was abnormally light, as if white.

“But how…”he asked himself looking at the child then looking at Angela.

Angela was confused. She had not seen the child either. She had passed out after labor and was unsure of what was going on until she saw the child. She gasped. The baby looked Chinese.

“Heh…Angela, what did you do? What did you do?!”he asked, his voice louder than he intended. “You picked a Chinese contractor from the super highway as well? Heh!”

 Mark gave the child to Salome and faced the wall. He remembered his sweet Wanda and how he hurt her over a family that wasn’t hers.

Angela was crying now, saying that she had no idea, that she did not mean to, that she had been possessed by an evil to hurt him, that she never thought… 

He couldn’t take it any more. He stormed out.

On his way out he met Angela’s mother.

“And where do you think you’re going?”she asked surprised. “Are you leaving your future wife and child alone?”

“No mum,” he said with a smile on his face. “I think the father you are looking for is somewhere along Thika road constructing the Super Highway!

Bills and Marriages

“Wololo…to say the truth, I never thought that madam could do such a thing. I have worked in this house hold since I quit high school, and as you can see, I’ve become an old man with children himself,”he said laughing out loud.

Image

Njenga wore rubber gumboots, faded khaki shorts and a white T-shirt he had acquired from political campaigns six  years ago. For the past two days there had been commotion about his boss’ home. The media always came to fish for information but were always chased of by Wande, the boss’ daughter. But today she was asleep, and the crew had offered him two thousand shillings to speak. They had promised that only his voice would appear on TV.

With two thousand shillings, he had five hundred bob to buy a round at the busaa joint, he could buy mama Wanjau the showl she had been coveting for the past few days and he could also afford a chicken for his family. Two thousand shillings was a good deal to speak out what everyone would know eventually.

They wanted to know the dynamics around the family.

“I have known the Melitas for twenty five years now. I had been working for John’s dad before he passed away and then John took over. I knew even before he married madam. They have always been happy together. I mean, they have four children, isn’t that a sign of a happy marriage or what? he he he….”

They wanted to know when trouble begun.

“My friend,”he said tapping the shoulder of one of the reporters, “Trouble always begins with the money. It is always the money. My mother always used to say that money is the root of all evil. But we can all do with a little evil in our lives….My boss got a job with the United Nations, they started calling him an expert, or was it exprastiate….I don’t know. All I know is that he was a big man making big money. Family trips were reduced from going to the country to going to Malindi, sometimes outside the country…My friend, my status even went high in my group. I was the employee of an expert..exprastiate, I could afford to buy a round of busaa myself…

Then my boss went away to Congo for a year. Madam could not go with him, she had her medical practice and their first born was graduating in the same year, they simply could not move yet. That was when the trouble started.

I understand why mheshimiwa did what he did. It is not easy for a man of his stature to be in a foreign country alone. Try to imagine mheshimiwa doing his own ironing, cooking and laundry, it is unimaginable. And taking on a maid to delegate duties to is also humiliating for mheshimiwa…You know, a man has certain needs that need to be fulfilled. There are certain tasks that only a woman can do. I mean, he and I are not on the same level, but even I have a woman to cater to my needs…”

“So you are saying he took on a lover?”asked one of the reporters.

“If you ask me, she was more than that. But nonetheless, that was how it started off. Ah…this woman, this woman knew her way about mheshimiwa. He was drunk with love for this woman. Not that he neglected his family, but it was evident when he came back that his heart was somewhere else. But you see, there was no mention of the Congolese, therefore there was no proof of infidelity.

Then the marriage bill came. It stated that under customary law, a man may take on a second wife without consent from the first. Most people would think mheshimiwa married in church or in a civil way, but theirs was ‘come we stay’ or is it ‘come we try’ as they youth call it nowadays.

When he heard of the bill, he did not wait, he was like a teenager in love. He told madam that he was bringing in a second wife, and that the law backed him.

Madam knew that they would have a heated argument that night, so she sent the children to he sister’s place nearby. Mama Wanjau, my wife, was in the house cooking dinner when the debate started. They like their privacy you see, so when the argument got heated, madam came to the shed to bring me my dinner. We were seated by the fire when we heard mheshimiwa shouting at his wife to stop. The she was screaming at the top of her lungs. we rushed into the house to find mheshimiwa John on the floor, in a pool of his own blood, with the madam on top of him with the knife still in her hands…”

There were gasps from the media as the cameras flashed.

“Weh, si we agreed that there would be no photographs?”

“Michael, put that thing away,” hissed a reporter at the camera man.

Suddenly there was commotion in the main house. Wande was awake.

“Eh…the young madam is awake, I have to go. She specifically told us not to talk to you and I, for one, like my job a lot.”

With that, Njenga picked his bucket and rushed off into the cowshed as if nothing had happened.

Little did he know that he was going to become an overnight sensation, and a witness against someone he had cared for over the years.

 

 

 

 

 

From the skies.

They say angels come from the sky, that they are mysterious, beautiful and mystical. Jeff knew one, but she had fallen from the sky.

He could still hear her words loud, ringing in his head, haunting him, like her words, her smile, her beauty her touch…

She had called him, beckoned him to their love nest, but something was wrong. She was agitated and uneasy, like a person high on cocaine, begging for more…

He knew something was wrong, and he wanted her to let it all out before he held her. He wanted to take the pain away. But she, she wanted more, did not want to talk. But he forced her, for the first time ever, he refused to let her have her way.

“You don’t want me any more and I know it. You’ve turned into Phil, seeing nothing good in me,”she had said, the pain in her voice making her sound hoarse and ugly.

It had been bad for them both whenever she drank. She believed she was no longer beautiful, desirable, when all the while he felt lucky that she could smile at him, for him.

She shouted about Phil, cried, then talked about him. She did not want him near any more. She was filth, and did not deserve anything in this world.

Filth, garbage, a whore. A married whore with a married lover.

She had to go, good bye she said, and ran out of their little home.

He heard the screams immediately after, walked out, saw a crowd gathering on the ground floor.

And there, a midst them all, lay the body of his angel, fallen from the sky.

Death.

Julie had just tucked the kids into bed and was cleaning up the dishes. It was quiet. The kind of quiet that eats you up. Nothing but the clanging of the dishes could be heard.

She scrubbed them with anger, as if they felt the pain she did. She felt a tear fall from her eye. Then another. And another. And another. She could not hold the tears in again. She let go of the dishes and sat on the kitchen floor, succumbing to her emotions. She cried freely now, with no sound, just the tears flowing out.

She had been waging a war against herself for so long she forgot how it was to feel again. But today, today she could not hold it in, she had to cry.

A few minutes passed by and she composed herself, and picked up her phone to call her friend Ann.

“Do it,” she said with conviction. “Get me the men who can do the job.”

“Julie, I-”

“I am sure Ann,” she said in a calm voice. “I mean it this time.”

*********************************************

It is eleven o’clock in the morning. Ann walks into Julie’s boutique with two muscular men, the kind who look like nothing but trouble.

Julie sizes them up and she seems content.

“Do you have any weapons? I would like to see them, just to be sure before I pay anything.”

One of the men, tall, dark with huge red eyes took a gun from his leather jacket and placed it on her desk. She did not react, no fear was in her. She picked up the weapon and confirmed it real. It was, after all, metal.

She reached for her drawer and passed on an envelope to the men.

“The rest of the installment shall be paid once the job is done. And I will need proof.”

The man reached for his gun and envelope, nodded, and walked off.

Julie was finally alone with Ann.

“Julie,”said Ann fidgeting.”I know things have been tough but are you sure this is the only way to solve it all?”

Julie smiled. “You know nothing Ann. You, and your perfect job, perfect children and husband…you know nothing at all.”

“True Julie, I may not have gone through what you have first hand but I know others who have gone through the same as you and with time, have managed to find forgiveness in their heart…”

“If it were forgiveness or counselling I needed, I would’ve gone to church. What I need is no more suffering and pain in my life. And you, you are supposed to be my friend…”

“I am your friend, and that’s why I want to make sure that the decision you are making is the right one-”

“Right or not, it’s the only decision that will give me the peace that I deserve.”

*******************************************

Job was at his local pub, Njuguna’s, and as always, he was about to leave his entire pay slip there. He was merry, with Mary in his arms.

It was about midnight and everyone was tipsy and merry.

Two strange men walked into the pub and everyone went silent. Their presence was felt but that did not deter them from walking in, surveying the room and identifying a place to sit. Once they ordered a round, everyone went about their own business.

They talked among themselves before asking one of the bar maids to approach someone on their behalf.

Job was surprised and very cautious of the two. They did, after all, look like very dangerous men.

They told him about the plot, the money, the anger. They told him they were undercover policemen and he need not worry.

They told him what he could not believe. That Julie, his own wife, wanted him dead. He wanted to punish her, beat her, and at the same time, he could not understand what kind of hate she had that she would wish him dead.

He turned to look at Mary. For the first time in his life, he felt that he had made the right choice being with her.

He agreed with the police, he would comply with whatever they said.

***********************************************

Mid day on a cold rainy day. Julie was in her boutique. It was a slow day, no customers came by. Then she saw them, the two men, with a paper in hand.

She stood up, with the anticipation building up in her. She knew, from the look in their eyes that they had done it.

She did not wait for any communication but instantly grabbed the bag from the man’s hand and tore it open.

In her hands she held her husband’s jacket, the one he wore last, with blood stains on it. His identification card was there as well, just so to confirm they got the right man.

She sighed and sat on her chair. It was done, he was dead. No more infedility, lies and debts, she was free of him for good.

She opened her drawer and took out another envelope, fatter than the previous one. She did not even look up at the men as they counted the money, she was staring at the jacket, full of mixed emotions.

He was dead.

“This is the full amount for killing your husband, we have no more debt,” the man said loudly.

“Shh!” she hissed. “Someone may hear you. Yes, the job was done. Now go, we have no more business.”

“Yes we do,” said the man reaching for something in his back pocket.

Hand cuffs. He said he was the police. He said she was under arrest for the attempted murder of Job Kariuki. He said that she would be locked away for a very long long time.

She was dazed, in shock as she was escorted out of her shop. Despite the rain, the vendors still had time to stand out and watch her shame.

In the police car, her friend Ann sat, with head down, full of shame.

As she entered the car, she could see him from a distant, with that woman in hand. They were watching her, laughing at her in their heads.

A tear drop left her eye.

It was all for nothing.

Innocence.

They say that madness comes with a price, that a part, a systems of ones being has to succumb, to accept the madness, and let it engulf them For madness to take it’s full form, one must think over and over and over again about it until the madness becomes the person.

That is what little Beatrice had become; mad.

She sat outside their little home, hiding her face in the shade of the house while her bare feet lay out in the hot sun. She was singing a nursery rhyme now, twinkle twinkle little star.

Mary, the health worker walked past the girl with her mother into their home. On the walls hung pictures of the girl outside, happy, jovial, normal.

The mother was happy to have a guest, explaining the significance of each photo that hung on their humble wall; her wedding photo, Beatrice’s first day in school, her prize giving day, her visit to her grandma…

They sat down and immediately, Mary took out her pen and paper.

The girl’s mother sighed. “I see no point in all of this…I have done this before and my words won’t change.”

“From the beginning ma’am,” said Mary formally. “This is my first time with you.”

She sighed again. “Okay. It was on the 5th of July, last year. Beatrice was thirteen at the time. She came home around three in the afternoon. She had been playing with the neighbor’s child at her place when the girl’s father sent his daughter to the river to fetch some water. Seeing that my daughter had completed her chores, she chose not to go with her friend, instead, the girl’s father allowed Beatrice into the house to watch TV, which she was excited  about.

So my daughter went into the house. She came out half an hour later, with dried tears and rushed home. She said that our neighbor, headmaster Mathayo, had touched her inappropriately. She said that the man had raped her.

I told her to keep quiet, to shut her mouth. That spreading such rumors about a respectable man in society would cause her harm, but she kept on saying it. So I beat her. I beat her and made her promise not to tell a soul.

But my child, she had a stubborn spirit. She walked five kilometers to the nearest police station and asked to speak to an officer. They told her to state her problem at the lobby, where everyone was listening. And the girl whispered that she had been raped.

The officers asked her to speak out loud, and she said the headmaster had raped her. The station went quiet and only one woman went to her rescue. She asked that the police stop ridiculing her, that she needed a room where she could talk, that she had to write a statement, that it was her right to be heard.

The police not only refused to give her the statement form, but they shunned her in public for spreading such lies. They said she had no proof, and if it were true, she should have blood, unless she was a slut who gave herself willingly.

She ran back home to me, and cried the whole night.

We never spoke of it again until three months later when we realized she was pregnant. She was shunned and expelled from school. None of her peers wanted to be seen with her. She was an outcast and she grew distant.

By the time my girl was giving birth, she had lost her mind. She did not want the baby, she did not act normal. She grew wild, and mad. Sometimes we had to tie her up to prevent her from harming herself. And all the while she kept on screaming, ‘he raped me, the headmaster took my life from me!’

She became completely mad I tell you, there is nothing more to do for her. Every day, she sits outside the house, looking at the chicken, singing her songs, and in the afternoon, she walks round the town shouting at whoever will listen that her life was taken from her, that the headmaster raped her.”

“Ma’am, I’m sorry, but from the tone of your voice, it sounds like you don’t believe her.”

“What happened to my child is a curse. She became mad as a punishment from the gods, for lying about the headmaster. The baby she got, only she knows the boy she was fooling around with-”

“But ma’am-” interjected Mary.

“No, no. All of you social workers think you’ll come here and make a difference, give us hope. But what happened to Beatrice is a curse, nobody gets pregnant from rape. All we can do is pray for her.”

Mary closed her book and stood up. “Thank you, I think I’ve had enough.”

“Not a problem,” she responded smiling. “Tell the next one they send to be as brief as you are.”

Mary walked out of the house furious.

As she opened the door, she looked at the girl seated on the ground. She was facing her now, smiling.

“He raped me you know,” she said softly. “The headmaster. He took away my life.”