False msafiri fiction 138 I began tracing my steps back to look for landmarks that could tell me where I was. To my surprise, I recognised the Chipiri Hills and shivered. So I had strayed deep into the Kasungu National Park. The Kasungu National Park where there were plenty of lions and leopards and elephants. I climbed into a tree and waited for sunrise. ‘ Where have you spent the night?’ The sun had just risen as I arrived home, shivering as the cold seemed to bite to the core of my being. My nose was running and my teeth rattled. ‘ I couldn’t …’ I said, ‘ I couldn’t stand it.’ ‘ Stand what?’ my wife asked. ‘ Were you spying on us?’ ‘ My imagination was,’ I lied. ‘ Please, free your mind,’ she advised. ‘ Imagine nothing is happening. View this as a temporary solution to a longstanding problem, like swallowing bitter pills to cure a persistent illness – there is no pleasure in doing that. For honour, Chuma, yours and mine.’ I wanted to shout To hell with honour! I’ll have none of it! But I knew just what these few words could lead to, so I remained silent. After many months of mental torture, my wife told me one early morning: ‘ I’ve missed my period.’ I looked her in the eye. Her face was bright, very bright. She looked as pleased as a little child could be, the little child that was crying for a packet of biscuits and you had just given it to her. ‘ Does this mean Langi will stop coming?’ I asked. ‘ Is that all you can say?’ she protested, her voice rising. ‘ For how long have we waited for this moment? And after all that torturous wait, is that all you can say?’ I wanted to tell her that I felt defeated as a man; that she went into an experiment in which I was the control, and she had come out with the findings she was hoping for, thereby vindicating herself; that I couldn’t stand all that. ‘ Congratulations,’ I said instead, not really sounding congratulatory. Strangely, the child was born on the 29th of February, thus condemned to celebrating a birthday once in four years. My wife’s excitement had reached a climax. She called the baby Yankho – ‘ Answer’, and tried her best to liken me to the baby whenever she was showing it off to her friends. ‘ Look at the nose – a replica of his father’s,’ she would say. Some of her over- zealous friends incredibly found that the baby’s cheeks looked like mine, and so did the lips. But for all I knew, the only thing common between me and the baby boy was that both of us were male. At first I didn’t like to be associated with the baby in any way. It took me three weeks before I reluctantly agreed to carry the baby in my hands for the first time. I looked at it with disdain, as I might at some specimen of humanity. It began to cry, but I just looked at it. At another time, another place, I could have sung a beautiful lullaby. As the baby’s tears streamed down its cheeks, I asked myself: Should the child be hated, this little, innocent child? Or should it be fathered by someone who did not procreate it? Question chased question in my heart. On the first day, I failed to make a decision. But as time passed, my love for little Yankho grew on its own. Privately I called him Mphatso – ‘ Gift’. Someone had given him to me. I carried him around at every opportunity. Some men in the village looked at me with curiosity as men of Chipiri consider carrying babies around a feminine job. Personally, however, I did not mind. My love for this little creature was natural; no traditional beliefs would dissuade me from showing my love to him.
False Space If this space as attracted your attention, it’s been put to good use. But think what it could do for your business if you used this space to draw the attention of the other passengers on this flight to your products or services. Could the person sitting next to you be a potential customer for your business? More than two million people fly on Kenya Airways every year. Isn’t it worth attracting their attention for your benefit? To find out more about advertising in msafiri magazine, contact: KENYA, TANZANIA AND UGANDA: Esther Ngomeli- Ruhiu, Media Edge Interactive Ltd, tel + 254 ( 0) 20 2711747 / 2710814/ 5/ 6/ 9, email info@ mediaedgeint. com REST OF THE WORLD: Dave Southwood, Travel Africa Ltd, tel + 44 ( 0) 1844 278883, email msafiri@ travelafricamag. com