The Crazy Friend, Otieno Owino

[box type=”info” align=”aligncenter” ]This is one of the stories that came out of the  Writivism 2014, a  project of the Centre for African Cultural Excellence, with the assistance of several partner organisations, which identifies, trains and engages readers and writers in public discourse through literature. As part of this years activities, they will have The Writivism Festival from 18 – 22nd June 2014. Like the Facebook page for more updates

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The Crazy Friend

Fear gripped Jane. Evening was fast approaching and she couldn’t find her in the crowded beach. She walked from place to place asking everybody who cared to listen whether they had seen a little girl in a white tunic.

She had been careful; kept a keen eye on Maya, her stepdaughter, as she played among several young children. A phone call distracted her, and when she came back Maya was nowhere to be seen.

The first time Maya got lost, her man had nearly sent her packing. They didn’t have any children together. He loved Maya, whose mother had died while giving birth to her. Sometimes she felt jealous of the father-daughter love but she dared not show it. In those moments that Maya and her dad would play and laugh, running around the field outside their house, the sparkle in his eyes always dampened her spirits. Sometimes, in Jane’s moments of joy, Maya made everything complete. But when her moods shifted, Maya became the glaring symbol of something else.

That first time a year ago, Maya had been found with a group of children from the neighbourhood. She had been standing in front of them with a piece of charcoal. On the wall where she calmly ‘taught’ the children, letters of the alphabet were haphazardly thrown.  She had been only six.

Jane continued her search.  A young couple squatted beside their child who happily disturbed the blue waters at the banks. A few metres away, a group of children went round playing a game; snaking their way round groups of other children. Foreign tourists walked leisurely sniffing the salty air all around. She visited small curio businesses where haggling thrived, food stalls where seafood simmered and delicious aroma reigned, but Maya was nowhere.

Any group of children she went to brought hopes of finding Maya, but with every disappointment she became more and more dejected. Finally, she gave up. She sat on a bench by the beach and started crying. The once blue waters were now dark orange. The teeming group of teenagers earlier troubling the sea was nowhere to be seen. More activity was at the exit where hawkers made their last kill. The bench which had creaked with the weight of merry makers now seemed to be in need of company more than she did.

They had tried. He had taken her to the best doctors. They had tried all diets and taken unconventional herbs along the way to no avail. She blamed herself for not being able to give the man she loved a child of her own.

A gush of wind fluttered her scarf as she stood up from the lonely spot she had sunk into.   She trudged to the exit, her mind oblivious of the last minute hawkers, of the late joggers gleaming in sweat along the banks and the music flowing from the beach hotel on her way out.

As she passed by the crazy woman who begged at the bus stop, she noticed something strange. The woman was not in her usual dark flowing buibui. She was smartly dressed in a skirt and a matching blouse. Her hair, forever tied with a headband was let loose. She beckoned to Jane. Against her wishes and instincts, Jane followed her.

They walked together, through a dark alley illuminated only by a street light at one end. When they reached her ‘home,’ Maya jumped at her and held her legs in a compassionate embrace. Amidst her tears of joy Jane scanned this humble abode. A shattered window stuffed with cardboard, an old duvet riddled with holes and some cutlery of different colours crammed in one corner.  She bent down and held Maya in her bosom. The tightness of her little hands around her neck and the rhythmic heaving of Maya’s body with every sigh touched her. A new feeling surged through her. A peace she had never felt.

Despite meeting the crazy woman several times afterwards; Jane only told her husband about this incident a year later when she took him and their newborn son to that dark alley, to meet her crazy friend. Her life had changed on the day of that chance meeting with the crazy woman.

*End*

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Written by Otieno Owino

Otieno Owino is a 27 year-old Journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. I write to find myself and to confront the issues affecting my society. When not reading other African and global works, I love to take stock of what’s happening around the world. I am inspired by people’s daily hustles.

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