It isn’t exactly darkness. It is a shade between night and green as the dull silvery light of the moon tries to rise above the shrubbery of the trees. It is that color when the witches come out.
I hear the door creak. I hear my mother padding about softly. I know she goes out every night. I have watched her from crack in my window. I see how she steps behind the big tree on the way to the latrine and strips naked, hiding her clothes in the branches. She then steps out as if having changed skin. Her breasts sag slightly towards the folds of fat that are starting to accumulate around her waist.
I have followed her out of the compound as she jogs down the street at 2am in the night. I feel like I should be ashamed and embarrassed for following behind my mother in her nudity, but something holds the indignity back. She runs so easily, so effortlessly, full of delight that lacks when I see her during the day.
I have seen her meet the others in the field by the primary school; watched them all. Men and women in their nudity sitting together unabashed. I wish to hear them talk but I can’t. I’m afraid I will be caught if I go too near.
Today, I follow. I have left my clothes behind. It feels so free. The night chill has made my tiny nipples erect. My breasts, which Kiki my friend says are like guavas since they have refused to fill out like other girls, feel hard. There is a thrill coursing through my body as I run gently behind my mother, taking care not to be heard.
Suddenly, someone grabs me from behind and clamps a hand on my mouth. It’s near the primary school.
“Do not struggle,” a man’s hoarse whisper scrapes my ears.
Hysteria possesses me. I stand rooted as my assailant pulls me closer. I can’t feel any clothes on the body. I remember that I’m also naked.
“Be calm.” He repeats again as I try to wiggle away, when he releases his hold a bit. Something that feels like a banana stalk is stuffed into my mouth, a gunny sack is placed over my head. I am carried between two people. One holding my shoulders and the other my legs. I am dying little deaths out of fear inside.
An eternity later, we stop. The sack is drawn. All around I’m surrounded by bodies. Naked bodies, pressing from every side I turn to. They have smeared white clay all over their bodies and they are unidentifiable.
“What should we do to her?” a woman asks.
“Let her be baptized,” another woman interdicts.
“But she is too young,” says the first woman.
“The potential has shown in her early. Let it be done.”
The men close in, grabbing me. For the first time, I behold their phalluses. Engorged and pulsing. Pointed at me like rifles in a public execution. Three of them hold me. I can feel their hardness pressing onto me. I’m not sure if I’m terrified or exited. I cannot explain the emotions coursing through my body.
The first woman steps out. In her hand she is holding a calabash. She puts it to my lips.
“Drink child!” She raises the calabash to my lips. What I drink tastes sour, and bitter, and cold.
It chokes me, burning a path down my throat. I feel it’s warmth in my stomach. I gasp for air, as it is withdrawn, tears forming at the corners of my eyes.
A heady feeling takes over. Now I know what I am feeling. My body reacts on its own volition. I can feel the hardness of the men who are holding me.
I stop struggling.
The first woman says, “Now we have a new member,” and moves closer to me. I look again and see my mother.
The second woman says, “We are growing in number.” It’s Kiki’s mother.
The faces are coming into focus. My English teacher, the carpenter, the catechist, that waitress by the corner shop and some faceless people I bump into daily.
“Now, let’s run!” my mother shouts.
Naked bodies fan out in every direction. I follow mother. Kiki’s mother runs with us. It is pure ecstasy. I look at mother, her buttocks trembling with every step, her breasts slapping against her chest. Kiki’s mother is slim and lithe; she runs like a cat. Down the street we go. Speeding as lights come on, in the houses we have passed to witness nothing but darkness.
We are already gone.
© Brian Moseti aka Babaaa
Kisii Correspondent for The Standard Group. Storyteller. Dancer. Lover of Kizomba, Odieros and all illegal smoke.
Following Mother – The Real G Inc.
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