The phone rang. Mama picked. Three minutes after ‘hello’ she was still listening.
“Thank you,” she finally said.
She then went to her bedroom and came out shortly wearing her fur coat.
“Come on, we have to go mandicate your brother at the morgue”.
“Mandicate? What does that mean?” I asked as Ben and I followed her to the car.
She gave me the money.
“Tell him to give you a quarter of a kilogramme.”
I took the money from her hand and her long pinkie finger nail scratched my thumb. It always did, every time I took something from her hand. I believed and still believe that it has a life of its own, separate from mama’s.
Money in hand I went into the morgue and the man with the apron and the chef’s hat was standing over a grill. There were several grills. Each had a name tag. Meat, liver, intestines, male privates, female breasts and other organs were roasting and on the side of all the grills was a bowl and a tiny brush, like a paint brush.
Lucky for me the man was standing at the grill whose tag read, Name of Deceased: Mwachaku Alonso. That was my brother. I gave the man the Kshs 500 note.
“Mama said to get a quarter of a kilogramme,” I told him.
He took the money.
“Should I slice it into pieces?”
“I guess you should,” I said.
He dipped the brush into the bowl, brushed the quarter of a kilogramme with the liquid and sliced it into pieces with a knife. After placing it on a platter and covering it with a stainless steel clinical bowl, he licked the grease from his fingers and handed the ‘corpse’ to me.
“Here you go. My condolences to your family”.
Mama and Ben were eager to see the contents.
She complained as usual. “Ah, you’ve been conned. These pieces are not as chunky as they should be. Your brother was a fleshy man.”
Ben said nothing. Instead he picked a piece and munched it. I thought that was unnatural, one hundred percent abnormal. I looked at mama and she seemed okay with it. She even took a piece of Alonso, slipped it into her mouth and swallowed it without chewing.
“Go on, eat up!” She yelled at me.
“I hope your father and his mistress get here before we are done.”
Ben was eating Alonso like he would eat grilled chicken. Licking his lips and pausing to pick the best pieces.
I picked a piece ate it and within two minutes saliva welled up in my mouth. Salty saliva. Tears struggled out of my eyes. My throat hurt like hell, it usually does when I am about to vomit. Alonso came out, painfully, together with other yucky things.
Mother was furious.
“You do know that there is no more land left for burying the dead, don’t you?”
“Yes mama but…”
“Eat up! At least you get to keep a bit of your brother in you before the bar and restaurant people come to make their bids.”
Take two did not work either. This time I did not swallow the meat. My hands, chucked it from my mouth. Mama pulled my ears and watched my mouth curve into a yell and deflate into muffled sobs.
They ate the rest of the quarter of a kilogramme, returned the platter and bowl and we went back home. Mama’s fur coat was catching a cold and she complained.