In the idyllic island of Rusinga, a feast prepares, one royalties would be jealous of. Folk music plays in the heavily garnished compound; grass spotless green, paths strewn in flowers and bodies groove in anticipation of a good day. What beats a fiesta welcoming an heir trying to cement his place on earth. Validating his position as a cultured son who was resilient enough to withstand the profane nature of the city.
“Do you think your people will like my shirt?” she asks crooning.
You look at her shirt because you weren’t invested enough to notice her fabric’s intricacies, not like you would what’s under. A virgin white T shirt tainted with a graphic picture of a face and a caption that reads Locked Out Of Heaven. The captions clues you in, it’s Bruno Mars’ face on her shirt, just there winking on her bust. She fits into it snuggly like it was made bespoke for her, arms poking out, a tribal tattoo on her right bicep. A slit cuts slightly diagonally on her denim skirt. Her svelte frame capped off by black shiny boots. Your hand moves from her lap to the gear.
“I don’t think my people care about shirts,” you chuckle, “i like it though.”
You drive along the curly terrain overlooking the picturesque Rift Valley escarpment; down there are miniscule huts, windmills and a newly built railway hoisted above the ground. Everything contrasted against thick thickets and trees. Who even lives there. It would take an extremely asocial person to live in such a place, in all probability someone psychopathic – the type to sit alone at a corner in a bar looking around smoking in a non designated smoking zone. The type that would walk naked in the biting cold of dawn and brush their teeth out the house. Someone who probably has bodies in his basement. Or a creepy guy that keeps buying black trash bags, duct tape and Sulphuric acid, you think, presuming the grimness of the land yonder. As you turn to the Maai Mahiu – Narok highway, she lowers her window sticking out her hand against the wind, breeze filling the car, like you’d see in movie end scenes, only yours is starting.
You drive into your parent’s compound 7 hours later and some geezer in traditional regalia blows a horn, a literal rustic horn. You halt to a stop and walk out feeling lethargic from the laborious journey, her by your side. The horn bearing man embraces you and introduces himself as an uncle, you know, those uncles from shags who you never quite know but around there you don’t have to know someone, everyone is related. He says he’s a nephew to your mom’s step sister to whom a niece of a 2nd aunt is related to. It is not verbatim, it plays to show you how deep and distant the family tree was rooted, not like you give a shit. He takes offence because you can’t remember him yet he baby sat you when you were what, 2 years of age? Mom, saves you from his scorn and tells him off. She smiles at your betrothed and gives you both a collective hug like she’s running low on them and has to spare some for when you leave. Then she does what mothers do and starts poking your body to check if there’s enough flesh on your bones, there isn’t, never has been. It’s always been that way, a replica of your father – a tall lanky fella with strong facial structures but she’ll dramatically shake her head and Nahla, your fiancé, will feel victimized.
Your dad approaches, collected as his norm and shakes your hand firmly with a grip, like most African dads are, he’s not a hugger, doesn’t believe a tad in affection.
Inside the quaint interior of the house you notice something queer – dad’s frames are not on the wall. Your parents had separated some months back but you didn’t know it was this bad. He lives in a beach house now in scenery of the lake and the tales it holds of men who sailed off and never returned, figurative of his own moving out. The table is set with all kinds of delicacies, savours occupying the air. Everyone settles around the mahogany table and you mother asks you to pray, a test of some sorts to reassure herself that your religious foot is still rooted into the ground. You say a frail prayer but just strong enough to make a pass. She then asks Nahla to pray. Your eyes lock as if trying to give a non verbal cue but she smiles, pauses and ignores you and there and then pandora’s box opens.
“Sorry ma’am but I’m an atheist,” she will say.
A strained moment will ensue. Some uncles and aunts start rumbling. Even your dad, that hasn’t set foot in a church in years will choke.
“Theist – atheist, whatever you just said. What does it mean?” mom asks, curiosity wallowing In her voice.
You prod her to prevent her from saying anything more but how mistaken you are, she’s not the type to cower – not for what she is. This situation wasn’t foreseen.
“It means I don’t believe in a god,” she prompts.
Your mother holds her hands to the back of her head to mourn her son’s choice and blame your father’s secularism for how you turned out. In the tense ambience the horn bearing man points Nahla’s tattoo with his a fork and you yank it away in her defence. Your dad stares, a little surprise and not too bothered simultaneously, the only thing he wants are grandchildren – doesn’t matter if they drop like manna from the heavens. And then, you think about her T shirt and its caption and what your people really think of it now. She knows the answer.