The following story is part of SmokeLong Quarterly‘s Global Flash Series. The English translation follows the original, which is in Kiswahili.
Goldman alikuwa na mapenzi ya kumpatia Mariagoli pesa za kuwafanyia walichozoea kukiita ‘shopping’ wazazi wao. Daima alimwamini akawa hana shaka hata chembe naye.
Siku iliyotangulia alifika mapema nyumbani Kapsoya, Eldoret, akamwarifu mkewe jambo lisilo la kawaida.
“Mariagoli, kesho tutaenda kwetu na turudi, halafu, keshokutwa tutaenda kwenu.”
Siku ilikwisha, usiku ukaingia, wakala wakalala. Asubuhi walijiandaa kuondoka kwa ajili ya safari ya kwenda Kidundu, Maragoli. Mwendo wa saa tatu Goldman alianzisha gari likapate joto kabla ya safari. Punde tu Mariagoli alikamilisha matayarisho yake yote. Aliabiri gari mbele, kama kawaida, wakaondoka. Kufika mjini Goldman alipata mahali pa kuiegesha Prado yake mpya nyeusi kama lami. Akampa Mariagoli shilingi elfu tano akaende kuwafanyia ‘shopping’ wazazi wake.
“Naenda hapo sokini, tukutanie hapa,” Goldman alimpa uhuru.
Mariagoli aliingia katika duka kubwa la Tuskeys akatoka ndani akiwa na kifuko kilichokuwa na ‘shopping’ ya sukari kilo moja, majani chai, mkate, chumvi na vitu vingine vidogovidogo kama sabuni, kiberiti na dawa ya meno. Akawa amewafanyia wavyele ‘shopping’!
Goldman aliporudi alimkuta Mariagoli amesimama karibu na ile Prado mpya nyeusi kama lami. Alikiona kile kifuko kilichokuwa na ‘shopping’ akamakia rohoni, “‘Shopping’ ya wazazi wangu mimi! Wazazi walionizaa mimi?” Alifika hapo akaifungua milango ya Prado kwa kifaa cha kubonyeza akimwelekeza mkewe, “Ingia hapo nyuma na hiyo ‘shopping’,” akitabasamu.
Safari ya kutoka Eldoret ikang’oa nanga huku Mariagoli akiwa amejituliza kwenye kiti cha nyuma. Wakafika Mbale. Kukaribia kituo cha magari, Goldman alipunguza kasi ya gari na kufungua kidogo madirisha ya gari. Huyo, akabeta kulia, akashika njia ya kuelekea Demesi. Wacha Mariagoli apige ukwenzi! “Tunaenda wapi? Si ulisema tunaenda kwenu kwanza? Mbona twende kwetu na hii ‘shopping’? Hii si ‘shopping’ ya kwenda nayo kwetu. Sijawahi kwenda kwetu na kifuko. Mimi huenda kwetu na makasha! Utanitia aibu gani?”
“Umenifanya nibadilishe ratiba. Tupeleke ‘shopping’ ya shilingi elfu tano kwenu halafu kama ni ya elfu moja tutaenda nayo kwetu mimi, huko Kidundu, Vihiga,” Goldman alisherehekea.
Punde tu, wageni waliingia Mbihi, mjini kwao Mariagoli ambaye hakutaka kushuka kutoka garini. Licha ya mumewe kuifungua wazi kabisa milango ya gari na kuwa ameingia nyumbani kwa makaribisho ya mashemeji zake na wavyele wake, Mariagoli alidindia garini. Ikabidi waulizie kisa cha umbu lao na binti yao, mtawalia, kukatalia garini.
“Nitataka nilijibie swali hilo papa hapa mumu humu Mariagoli akiwa hapa humu,” Goldman alicheka akifanya mchezo.
Wavyele kwa sauti moja walibadilika wakimtaka Kagai, kaka yake Mariagoli, kumleta binti yao ndani ya nyumba kutoka garini.
“Umekosa uaminifu ama ni nini?” Kagai alimchemkia Mariagoli. “Na, la mno, una nini? Kwikwi zako hazina maana. Njoo twende ndani tupate jibu la swali lililopo.”
Bila uso, Mariagoli alijipakua garini akamfuata Kagai. Alijipa mahali pa kuketi karibu na mama yake, huku amejiinamia. Mara baba akapasua anga, “Unatuonyesha nini? Kwa nini unakatalia ndani ya gari? Umetukana ndoa?”
“Sasa niko radhi,” Goldman alifugua roho akatimiza ahadi. “Naam, leo asubuhi nimempa Mariagoli shilingi elfu tano za kuwanunulia wavyele wangu vitu vya matumizi ya nyumbani. Nilikuwa sina shaka ni wavyele wake pia. Nilikuwa nimemwambia vizuri kabisa, ‘Tutaenda kwetu kwanza na turudi. Kisha, kesho kutwa tutaenda kwenu.’ Nilipokiona kifuko cha vitu alivyovinunulia vivyere wenu, wakwe zangu, nilijichekea nikabadilisha ratiba. Nikaona tuje hapa kwanza ndipo baadaye twende kwetu. Nilitaka mnisaidie nimjue huyu binti yenu badala ya kumfahamu tu. Na hii ndiyo ‘shopping’ aliyowafanyia wazazi wangu. ‘Shopping’ ya shilingi elfu tano.” Akamkabidhi baba mtu kile kifuko cha ‘shopping’ akikibeba kwa vidole viwili.
Translated from Kiswahili by John O. Ndavula
The day before their visit to his parents’ home, Goldman reminded his wife about the trip. “We shall visit my parents tomorrow and then drop in on your parents the following day.”
Early the next morning, they set off for Kidundu, Maragoli where his parents lived. They stopped in Eldoret town to buy a gift for them. Goldman gave his wife five thousand shillings for this purpose. He took a short a walk while she went off to the nearby Tuskeys Supermarket and they agreed to meet back at the car.
Not long after, his wife emerged from the supermarket with a small shopping bag containing a kilo of sugar, tea leaves, a loaf of bread, salt and other small items.
Goldman returned shortly after and found her waiting for him by the car with the small bag of groceries. He mused at its size and few contents but said nothing to his wife. He knew where the conversation would lead and did not want to go there.
He unlocked the car doors and got in. His wife tossed the small bag in the back seat and sat beside him.
“We have a long way to go,” he said to her. “You should try and nap in the back seat.”
She obliged willingly and clambered into the roomy back where she stretched out and soon nodded off.
Goldman drove with the windows down, enjoying the breeze and thinking about his parents receiving the gift his wife had bought them. He had always trusted his wife with money for shopping, but Mariagoli had always done the same thing every time they visited his parents. By the time he got to Mbale, he knew what he was going to do about it. He took a right turn instead of left and drove on to Demesi.
Mariagoli stirred awake in the back seat when the car wobbled on the rough road.
“Where are we going?” she asked with a yawn. “This is not the way to your parents’ home.”
“I changed my mind,” said Goldman with a grin. “I thought we could start with your parents instead.”
Mariagoli sat up quickly, wide awake now.
“My parents? But we can’t go to my parents empty-handed,” she said. “You know that’s not customary.”
“But we are not empty-handed,” Goldman said smiling. “We have that.” He pointed over his shoulder to the small bag.
“That? But that’s nothing!” she protested. “I’ve never been home with nothing before, it’s shameful!”
Goldman ignored her protests, and took the next turn to Mbihi. “I’m sure whatever you got in that bag will be sufficient for them. It was enough for my parents after all,” he said with a smirk.
Soon they were driving into her parents’ compound. He stopped the car, got out and opened the back door for his wife but she refused to come out.
He left her there and made his way to her parents’ house, where he was warmly received. They enquired about their daughter and Goldman told them she was still in the car, refusing to get out. When they asked why he said, “I will answer that question when Mariagoli is here.”
Kagai, Mariagoli’s brother, was called in to get her.
“What’s this about?” Kagai asked Mariagoli once at the car. “Did you have a fight with Goldman?”
Mariagoli sat back with tears streaming down her face.
“There is no use of crying now. Let’s get inside the house and solve this,” Kagai said.
Mariagoli picked up the bag and followed her brother into the house. She sat down by the door with the shopping bag in her hands and her head bowed.
“Why did you refuse to get out of the car? Have you dishonored your marriage?” asked her father.
“Let me explain,” Goldman interjected, quickly. “I gave Mariagoli five thousand shillings to get a gift for my parents today. But when I saw the handful of items she bought for them, I decided to come here first. I wanted her to understand how I felt.”
Goldman stood up from the rugged sofa, picked up the bag in his wife’s hand and gave it to his father-in-law.
Notes from Guest Reader John O. Ndavula
I chose the story because the writing was well handled even though hyperbolic in some instances. The writer balanced dialogue and exposition while creating suspense at the same time.