Fiction

‘Twas the Devil: A Short Story by Sandra A. Mushi

Ni shetani!  Forgive me, it was the devil that tricked me!” He wailed out loudly, “I didn’t mean to!  I swear I didn’t mean to!  It was the devil.”

I watched him wailing.  His gushed fat lips quiver as he cried hysterically, while blood trickled down his naked chest.  Blood matted his chest hair. Mermerised, I watched the blood as it made its way down his pants.  He was half naked, apart from his torn bloodied pants.  Angry villagers had chased him out of his house, as he was frog marched to the Chief’s boma.

I watched his wife as she followed behind, confused, her hands on her head.  Half running, she cried and begged the villagers to let him go.  She tripped on her loose khanga, then got up and followed the crowd, parting the throng with her hands, trying to reach her husband who was being shoved and pushed angrily.

“Our enemies are at work!”  She tried to explain to the angry villagers.  “It’s the devil and our enemies at work!”

“Shut up woman!  Or we will beat you up too!”  Someone pushed her.  Like a sack of potatoes she slumped to the ground.

Quickly my eyes darted from her to him.  With a quivering hand he wiped blood off his face with the back of his palm.  He then coughed and made an agonizing sound as if his bleeding face hurt.  Closing his eyes, his lips then started moving rapidly as if he was having a conversation with an invisible person.

Nisameheni jamani!  Please forgive me!  It was the devil!”  down on his knees, he suddenly pleaded with the angry mob.  His swollem mouth quivering as he spoke and blood dribbling into his open mouth.

Wamezidi kuharibu watoto wa watu!  We should teach him a lesson for messing with others people’s kids!”  A woman shouted bitterly.

“Maybe we should get rid of what caused it!”  Someone suggested.

“Yes, hiyo ndio shetani mwenyewe!  Off with the devil!”  The crowd agreed as they started chanting, “off with the devil!”

The big crowd then moved around him, raising their fists angrily.  I heard him cry.  In a mad frenzy, the crowd rushed to the him with whatever weapon they could find and pounded on him.  At once, a hail of projectiles fell upon the condemned man.  A few times he attempted to stand up, but blinded by blood cascading down his petrified face he felt for support, but the rain of attacks knocked him down.  Bloody and broken, he wailed like a wild animal, falling to his end, his wails piercing the air like a blade.

His cries then became muffled as I heard the sounds of something heavy making contact with something, then a body slumping onto the earthen ground.  I closed my eyes tightly, wondering if they had thrown a brick at him.  Or was it a panga, no, it wasn’t a panga.  A panga would have made a swosh sound.  Or maybe a whack sound.  I couldn’t see with the crowd over and above him.

The angry voices then became quieter, satisfied maybe.  Justice had been achieved maybe.  His cries became softer and muffled.  Then quietened with the crowd dispersing, accompanied by quenched fury.

I remembered how it had started.  I had tried to feign a fit to avoid being beaten black and blue by my parents or teachers.  My eyes had whirled around and I had bit my tongue as they shook me angrily.  Following the rhythm of my whirling eyes, I had drummed my hands at the sides of my head as if trying to dslodge something.  A few people had moved away from me hesitantly to avoid being slapped accidentally.

“Let her faint!  She is not going to leave here until she tells us who is responsible for this!”  I had heard a voice bellowing beside me.

Voices had rang around me.  Big voices, small voices, angry voices, sad voices, surprised voices, excited voice, shrieking voices, bellowings voices, they had all spoken at the same time, making my head swim in dizziness.  Quickly I had moved my drumming hands from the sides of my head to cover my ears, but that didn’t help filtering the voices.  I had kept whirling my eyes, faster and faster.

Someone had poked me hard as if the poking will get her answers.  It had hurt terribly where I was poked.  Quickly I had removed my hands from my ears and tried to cover my stomach, but the bulging was too big to be protected.

“Don’t let him come inside you,” I remembered as Ashura had warned me sternly.  “He must pull out!  Whatever happens he must pull out!”

She was the one who had introduced me to him.  He smelt of tabacco and he had a big belly which made me giggle the first time I met him as I wondered how he did it.  Every Tuesday and Thursday we would meet and after our meeting he would give me pocket money for chips mayai and a soda.  Proudly at break time, I would queue with my school mates who could afford chips mayai, while others looked on hungrily.

“You want to eat chips at school, don’t you?”  She had asked me when I had first refused to meet him, “Besides everybody does it.”

A mosquito buzzed around my head.  Immediately I smacked it away and set off a ringing in my ear.  It was under the same tree, with mosquitoes buzzing around us, that I had confronted Ashura about my worries.

“The worst they can do is marry you off to him,” she had assured me, “imagine all the chips and chicken you will then eat when you are his wife!”

“But what if he refuses!”  I asked, uncertain.

“How can he if you say he raped you?  He will have no choice!”

Hugging my swollen belly, I watched his wife cry bitterly beside his slumped battered body with her teary eyes looking at me accusingly.

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