THE MALAVA TRAVELLERS 011

Updated: Oct 10, 2021

JOANA had prepared dinner and served the family at the table.


Let us remember that Joana is Syprosa’s elder sister, and the mother of the whining little one.


The family at table comprised the little one, Joana herself, the mother--but absent the man in the home. The mother, who initially was not troubled by Syp’s absence, now did not find flavour in the beef stew--her favorite-- that Joana had made.


African food | photo by Denis Chiedo on Afrilenstories
African food | photo by Denis Chiedo on Afrilenstories

She paused her eating. “Have you called her again?”


“Mama,” said Joana, feeding the little one, “I have called her more than fifty times since morning. Mostly it is off, the phone. When it rings, she does not pick.”


“Mhf!” said the mother. “What is wrong with this child?” she said of Syprosa. “Where is she?”


“I heard that she was seen with Bruno at the bus stage.”


“Which Bruno?”


“Bruno of Mama Pelela.”


“The witch?”


“Yes.”


The mother clapped her hands. “Mah! When did you hear? Why did you not tell me?”


“Mama, I have just heard a few minutes ago, while I was cooking. Somebody from the church sent me a text message.”


“With Bruno--of Mama Pelela? Mhf! Where were they going?”


“They were seen going to Kakamega. And let me surprise you more. They were with an old man--”


“An old man?”


“And a beautiful mzungu woman who had a dog.”


“Mah!”


*

OVER Kisumu City the night had fallen, but there was a crescent moon illuminating our friends as they strolled away from the lake.

Kisumu City | Photo by Denis Chiedo on Afrilenstories
Kisumu City | Photo by Denis Chiedo on Afrilenstories

“Do not touch my things again,” said Syp to Bruno, when they happened to move side by side.


“I shall not,” he said.


After a brief silence, she said, “Where are we going?”


“Rusinga Island.”


“Now? Is it not far?”


“It is.”


“So--”


Syp’s phone rang. It was Joana.


“Why don’t you answer it?” said Bruno.


She did. It was her mother on the line.


“My daughter.”


Syp stayed silent. The mother apologized for lashing out at her the other time; but maintained that, that alone could not be a reason enough for Syp to flee home. Whether Syprosa should roam the wide wide world, never would she find a home as homely as the one she and her father provided.


“Return home, please.”


“I will,” Syp said.


“When?”


Syp did not say.


“Are--are you with Bruno?”


This startled Syp; how did the mother know? Syp was now trailing our friends on their walk from the lake.


“I hear you are with Bruno, an old man and a mzungu. What are you doing together?”


“Nothing.”


“Nothing?”


“Nothing important.”


“Can I talk to Bruno? Eh..?” said the mother.


“I’m cutting the call now.”


“Wait, wait. Listen to me, it is not bad. They may be witches, but it is not bad.”


“What is not bad?”


“If you have decided to run away with Bruno, it is not bad. But what about the other boy? The one we know--”


“Ma.”


“--forget it--what matters is, you tell us that you are well--whatever you are doing. Can you tell me that?”


“I am well.”


“Are you telling me the truth?”


“Yes.”


“Come back home.”


Syp disconnected.


After the disconnection, the mother, pushing her dinner plate away, said aloud: “What a child! Mah. I scold her for leaving my grandson unattended, and what does she do? She runs. She makes our hearts run. Why can’t she be a normal child? What an egg”--to Joana--“she has taken after your father’s people.”


“Mama, don’t burst your heart,” said Joana.


“Eggs! Eggs! Eggs...”


The mother went to her bedroom, and began to cry.