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“Sasquatch Wekesa!” He raised his hand half way feeling old, melancholic and resentful. Not because of the faint giggles coming from the rest of students, but because he hated that name with passion. Until recently, he used to hide in the washrooms during all class roll calls until he got reprimanded. He had always thought that name belonged to some rogue character somewhere back in history. It was more dreadful trying to find out, so he avoided researching for it would only add grief to his sorrows. “What were my parents thinking giving a child a name like that? Sasquatch!” he often wondered. He had promised himself that he was going to change that name once he was mature and stable enough. He couldn’t imagine carrying a name that bruised his born dignity for the rest of his life.
Sasquatch was a fourteen year old introvert who preferred his own company. He loved poetry and had read many sonnets and ancient poetry. His biggest dream was to become a renowned poet and an intellect of sorts. He always thought the world blazes with strange meanings that demanded his attention. From the majestic trees, sweet scent from the grass and flowers, the hot silent sun, the shimmering moon, the intricate wheel-work of frozen stars, the list was endless. He had discovered that virtual life was deeper than science. He had a personal journal where he loved penning down his poetry as well as his perceived brinks of revelations. He’d discovered in poetry, love has an immense and humbling power. It was the true nature of poetry.
Sasquatch had never allowed himself to feel anything for any girl. He always thought that the world today, hoarded madness in the name of ‘love’. He’d heard about husbands beating their wives, girlfriends stabbing their boyfriends so much cheat and deceit! ‘Fools’. He wrote over and over again at the back of his journal. So whenever he spotted two students losing all sense of emotion and discipline, he drew out his journal and at the back; he scribbled the word ‘Fools’. Sasquatch produced good grades which made other students respect him. However, he was particularly interested in the English lessons taught by Ms. Andrews; the boys in class loved her. In fact, he had scrawled the word ‘Fools’ many times during most English lessons. However, he couldn’t wait for the next day’s English lesson to analyse George Herbert’s poem, ‘The Altar’. He’d read widely about him and he knew so much his life, particularly his devotional life.
Finally the day arrived, his favourite subject that mattered more than anything. He was alert and wide eyed as an owl after Ms. Andrews walked in. Sasquatch thought her face was always sweetened by the endless love of the sun. She had big beautiful radiant eyes that stretched their stare to infinity and inspired a smile. She also had total discipline for her body, which contained all qualities akin to beauty. Those which forced other boys sit with feigned concentration and all consuming fantasy. She wrote the names ‘George Herbert’ on the board and started towards where he was seated. “Sasquatch, tell the class a little about George Herbert.” She suggested.
Sasquatch’s heart pounded like a fist after Ms. Andrews’s placed her soft, delicate hand on his arm. He shivered and tried in vain to flinch from the prickling pleasure that ran goose bumps all over his body. He laboured to speak in that state of enchantment but could only make a small frustrated bird’s cry. The presence working through him was a gale, storm that blackened his mind. He couldn’t speak. He couldn’t fight the irrepressible delight that was consuming him. He felt dizzy, weightless as if floating. Long after she let go her hand, he could still feel it running through his body, causing tremors that faded his vision. “What is happening to me?” he wondered, horrified. “Stop it!” he shouted pooling silence in class as they all stared at him in shock.
Njoki looked tired, hungry, old and full of grief as she sat under the shade of that huge Mugumo Tree. But I can’t really tell whether she was old because constant hunger and grief forces one to appear somehow old. Clouds hung black and heavy all day these days as if they reflected what she felt inside. Mwangi, her husband had gone to war, just as the sons and husbands of many other women who were living with her, in that forced concentrated village. Their homes, land, livestock and all crops had been taken away by the white men. Njoki couldn’t hold back the memories of her early marriage from slamming into her. Together with her husband, they had barely stayed married three seasons. Happiness and thrill filled her innocent heart those days for starting a family, her very own home. Those feelings could not be contained then, just as the rising and setting of the sun. It was a blissful beginning.
As Njoki let these memories run through her mind like a bird from one branch to the next, she had a sickening feeling in her now pregnant stomach. She was now a small fly trapped in a big spider’s web. She was weak and vulnerable. How was she going to welcome and raise this baby all by herself in this pathetic environment? She did not think life was ugly and unkind until now. But she held on to those lasts whispers from her husband. “I will be back for you; it’s going to be okay”. Those were the words that kept Njoki alive and gave meaning to her empty life. They were the magical flickering flames of a dying candle. They were delicate and safe inside her heart. She thought she had a thump, a kick! The baby kicked for the first and second time and she felt it! Her heart softened with a squash. She was fighting back hard the tears that were now shamelessly wetting her eyes. Was it joy? Was she wallowing? She didn’t have the right words to define that bittersweet moment.