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You see, son, there is Poverty—right over there, sitting by the colourful wall. And you must not ever look at her in the eye. You are not to talk to her. No matter how you feel she’s looking at you. She can be beautiful, I know. But—look around, son! See how she’s ruined our continent, tied our hands. And son, she’s not stopping. That strange knock you hear on our doors some nights? Son, I’ve never told you, but that’s her. She’s always dressed differently, good heavens…always...dressed differently. And I think since we weren’t opening our doors to her…she found another way to get to you. Son, tell me the truth, is she the one who’s been telling you things? Is she the one, son, asking you to be…a writer? Aah…I knew, I knew I should have told you before, but your mother and I thought you were too young for this sort of talk...but you know that Mzee Juma and his wife are no longer together, yes? It’s because Mzee Juma had been sleeping with her—with Poverty. Both him and his sculptures. Sleeping with our very murderer. His wife must now be happy, she is with Dr Mpumbala. They have two children, they are going to be architects.

I walked many kilometres to school every day in my time, and barefoot. I had decided that Poverty and I had nothing to say to each other; nowhere we could go. I worked my way up from the bottom, I was spat at by those above me, and you want to make that futile, son? See this house son, I worked hard. You need to be able to sustain a wife. Be a man, like this. Is it that you want your wife to sit on you? Will you sit back and watch her be your husband?

I know this is not you speaking, son, it must be Poverty seducing you. It happens a lot at adolescence. It’s understandable. You’ve always wanted to be an engineer, after all.

Will you disappoint your father now? I know you won’t. Will you?

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