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False msafiri fiction 142 Kenya Airways is not involved in the judging of The Caine Prize and the views expressed in these stories are not those of Kenya Airways or the Publisher of msafiri. The stories are published in the interests of promoting African literature. For Honour, by Malawian Stanley Onjezani Kenani, was published in ‘ African Pens’, published by Spearhead, an imprint of New Africa Books, Cape Town, 2007 ( www. sapen. co. za). It was one of five stories shortlisted in the 2008- 9 Caine Prize, for which 90 entries were submitted. THE CAINE PRIZE The Caine Prize for African Writing is named after the late Sir Michael Caine, former Chairman of Booker plc and Chairman of the Booker Prize management committee for nearly 25 years. It has become the showcase for African creative writing. The winner is announced at a dinner in Oxford, England, in July each year. In addition to a £ 10,000 prize, the winner of the competition is also awarded a month as writer-in- residence at Georgetown University, Washington DC. The Prize has been able to expand, thanks to generous sponsorship, and has set up writers’ workshops in Africa. Kenya Airways is a corporate sponsor of The Caine Prize. Q www. caineprize. com Jekapu, ‘ and the spirit to Him that gave it. We must not mourn like the hopeless, for we have hope in life after death …’ Eranive and I were made to perform the ritual of pouring handfuls of red soil into the grave, just before they started burying the little one, lest his spirit come back to haunt us. Langi did not attend the funeral. He too had developed the strange sores under his left armpit. Those that had seen him lately said he had become as thin as a bamboo. Was he the one who passed on the flesh-eating disease to the little one? I would never know for sure. My wife never recovered from the shock of losing Yankho. The grief and the bad cough made her lose weight all the more. In no time, she developed the strange sores, too, around her neck. And then Langi died. Eranive did not attend the funeral. She was too weak. She could now spend the whole day sleeping on the mat in our home. A cold hand of fear gripped my heart. Was I next? There seemed to be a strange equation linking the three. Was it some plague unleashed by an angry god? But recently there has been talk in the village that a strange, incurable, sexually transmitted disease is ravaging the country. They say it is found in blood and that it makes its victims pine away. Already whispers are linking Eranive and Langi to the disease. But can this be true? These days when I am passing through the village, where two or three people are gathered to chat, talk dies down, only to resume after I have passed. Even the way they look at you, you know there are stories behind those stares. Ours is one of those villages where victims of such a disease as this one are regarded as more sinful and more adulterous than any other. To survive, therefore, I have developed a thick skin around myself through which no whispers can permeate.