I confess to Almighty God and to you, Father, that I have sinned. My last confession was sixteen years ago. Since then, I have committed mortal sins. This is the truth. My truth, as I remember it, to the best of my memory. I shall leave no part out, lest you say I have sanitized everything to make myself pure.
My name is Pamela Tindi, daughter of Oucho Juma, former wife and slave of the Prophet Elias Bwire of the Jerusalem Israel Repentance Ministries in Webuye. I was married to the Prophet Elias Bwire at the fine age of nineteen against my wishes, but I am not complaining. He was just a farmer, then, not a Prophet. And my father -rest his soul- was glad to be rid of his daughter and gain cows and grain. So arrangements were made and one day, when I came home from washing, I found men sitting under the tree outside. They watched me with blatant courage, given that my father was present and was known to have a hot temper.
Three weeks later, I was asked not to leave the house, that visitors were coming for me, and that I should pay keen attention to the youngest of them as he wanted to marry me. All this on the day the visitors were to come.
“Your mother will tell you what to do,” Papa said. “Do not embarrass me.”
Papa’s house was not a democracy; when he ordered, you obeyed, or he would beat you. I was tensed. I knew I would eventually get married, but not that soon. Certainly not to a man I had never talked to. I thought I would go to college for a secretarial course and get a job at a government office, with my own typewriter, writing important letters to high offices. If not, I would be a teacher at a primary school, an important job teaching children English and mathematics and listen to them chorus answers like we did. But marriage, not yet. I was not ready to be a wife and carry myself like my mother and not the girl I was. I was not ready to wear headwraps and entertain guests and be in charge of the homestead.
I was not ready to have a man come between my thighs, no.But I had Papa to contend with, and his word was law. So I went and sat by Mama’s side and started crying.
“Pampam, stop crying. Women are the anchors of the house,” Mama said. “You will have to be a grown up now.”
“I don’t want to get married right now, Mama,” I said.
“If it was my will, I would have you around until after college. I didn’t even know of this until three weeks ago, and your father refused to confirm things until yesterday. You know how he is. Wipe your tears and help me cook. Set your mind on happiness.”
That was the day I became a woman. Mama told me how her own day was, how polite and handsome my father had been. Later, a few women came and helped us cook and sometimes, I forgot the enormity of the day. They tried to tell me how a man is to be treated at home, all that respect and subservience and obedience nonsense but Mama hushed them and said there would be a day for that. She knows me best, my Mama. She knows what would make me anxious and how to protect me.
Then the men came. I did not see them, but their voices were clear. Strong voices, like those used to bark orders and have them followed. I wondered if the young man would speak, but they tend not to at these ceremonies. Those women who fall in love and arrange their marriages are lucky; at least they know how the man behaves. The rest of us have to wait for a surprise and hope for the best. So imagine marrying a man you barely know yet he expects you to make him happy and lie down as a chicken would for a cock.
But like I said, Papa was no democrat. After the guests had eaten, I was called and asked if I agreed to be married to Elias. Papa said it all menacing-like, so I kept my eyes on the ground and said yes. The men laughed and congratulated themselves as if they were the ones getting married. I was sent away, but not before I stole a look at my would-be husband. He was a fine fellow, that. Strong hands, strong shoulders. A working man. His face was not so bad, but I hated the smug grin on his face. Like he knew I had no choice. I should have done what my grandmother did back in her day, all things considered. She wasn’t asked if she agreed. She washed the hands of the guests but when she got to my grandfather, she splashed water on his face and ran away and hid. Of course, she was dragged out and beaten and carried away to grandfather’s house.
Don’t interrupt me, Father-man. I need to tell my story today. Now, where was I?
Ah! The men. They drank their busaa and made merry. A couple of weeks later, women from Elias’ village came for me, all happy and singing and dancing. It’s a tiresome thing, Father. You wouldn’t know; you’re not married. You have to smile and be the centre of attention and be at your best behaviour and pretend to be happy while in real sense, you have a panic. You get to your husband’s village and find food and celebration. Some women are taken straight to the kitchen, but I was not. There were many people telling me their names, which I immediately forgot. Many, many people.
Then night came and Elias led me to his house. His first words were: “This is now your house. You are not a visitor. In the morning we shall talk, but I must lay with my wife tonight.” Then he removed his clothes, and all this time, my heart was pounding. I faced the wall so that I don’t see his thing and very, very slowly, started unbuttoning. I don’t know how long he had been waiting for this, but he didn’t want to wait a moment longer, so he reached out and unbuttoned my dress for me. Those days we did not have brassieres, so I only had my panties on. He tried to remove them but I held on as tightly as I would hold a jembe. I did not know this man well enough to let him see everything.
He smiled, my Elias. He smiled and lay me on the bed and grabbed my breasts. I had heard from my older friends that sex was sweeter than peanut soup, but I tasted nothing in my mouth. I was trembling. I was afraid. I wanted to run back to my mother’s house, but I feared Papa’s wrath, so I just lay there. Then Elias got on top of me and I felt his thing enter me from where I urinate, and not the navel as I had thought while growing up. The pain! You wouldn’t understand, Father; you have never slept with a man! It was so painful I couldn’t even scream. And Elias was just there, going about his business like he was ploughing the shamba.
What’s that, Father? Am I making you uncomfortable? Okay, sorry bas.
Marriage wasn’t quite as bad as I thought. Unfortunately, Father, you won’t experience it. Don’t you ever get curious about how it feels like to have a wife or two, and little children running around and making noise and pooping everywhere and you spending evenings drinking busaa? You should try it. My in-laws were wonderful. They all visited with smiles and sat with me and beat stories like I was their sister. And even though for some time it was uncomfortable when Elias ploughed me at night, ploughing, ploughing like nobody’s business, eventually, I started to like it. I started to feel the sweetness of peanut soup in my mouth and I enjoyed it so much that I forgot that I hadn’t seen my moon. I only noticed it because I was vomiting in the morning and the smell of mushrooms made me sick.
When I told Elias, he was overjoyed. He went and told his mother and father and sisters and brothers and everyone treated me like I was an egg, like I was something that would break when tired. So Elias commanded me to work less and stay at home more so that I do not harm his son. I did not ask him if he was God, if he could see inside my stomach and know if I had a girl or a boy in me. He just knew it was a son. So I shut up and smiled and hoped I would not disappoint him. First born children are important to the Luhya, and most of them want sons.
But he still ploughed me up until my stomach was big and I could not see my toes. Because I did not enjoy it anymore, I told him to stop or else his son would come out with white hair. So he stopped. And his mood started to change. He wanted to make sure I was healthy, but he also sulked because he was not sleeping with me. Actually, when he said he wanted to get someone to help me around the house, I was not surprised.
“Another wife?” I asked.
“A helper,” he said.
“I could ask one of my relatives to come,” I said.
“No, I want someone whom I can direct without relations being hurt,” he said.
“Your sisters could help,” I said.
“No, my sisters have their families to take care of,” he said.
“So you want another wife?” I asked.
“Woman, I shall get you help. I have told you,” he said.
I told my Elias that I come from a lineage of strong women, that my grandmother who splashed my grandfather with water gave birth to my father at first crow, and by the time the sun woke up, she was at the shamba preparing land for planting. But Elias told me to shut up and I did. These men, they can plough you one minute and thrash you the next. And there is nowhere you will go because even if you run away to your mother’s house, they will take you back to your husband the next day. Luhyas marry for life.
So when elders started visiting Elias, I knew it was not to ask if my stomach was healthy. They were plotting. I wondered who the woman would be. My Elias was a proud and handsome man, so I knew it would not just be any takataka. He would look for a woman whose beauty could be compared to mine. And I’m beautiful, Father-man. If you weren’t behind there, or if you knew me in my youth, you would know.
`I don’t want to talk about how he negotiated for his second wife, or how he and his friends constructed a hut for her, but when Auma came, she was gorgeous. I will not describe her to you because her arrival sealed my fate and led me here. As usual, Elias’ relatives came and welcomed her and treated her like a small queen. Just like they had treated me. How could they love her the same way they love me? There ought to be a difference, Father. There ought to be a difference. The junior wife should be loved in a junior way. But as expected of me, I smiled and welcomed her warmly, as if I was marrying her. The only consolation was that I would have someone to boss around.
I felt lonely when Elias did not sleep by my side that night. He was in Auma’s hut that night, and many more nights after that. The next day, by the time I woke up, the compound was clean, porridge had been made and Auma was basking in the sun, looking as if she owned the entire village. The woman meant business. I wanted to show her who was who, but my Elias…our Elias…was there with her, looking as satisfied as a dog after a feast.
‘You just wait until the day he does not want to plough you,’ I thought to myself as I greeted them. Auma even brought me porridge, that perfect little cow.
A week later, I finally gave birth and became the centre of attention again. Thankfully, it was a son, whom we named Apollo Bwire, after my husband’s father. People came and visited and brought presents and sang and danced mwana wa mberi and I was happy. Out of the corner of my eye -because she was not worth my full gaze- I saw Auma looking jealous. If there was a root she could chew and give birth the next day, she would have found it. But she would just have to wait as I soaked in all the glory and became the favourite wife again.
But of course, my husband could not yet sleep with me because I was not yet healed.
A few months later, small-small things happened and we thought someone had come in the night and danced naked in our compound and bewitched us. Apollo fell sick, and I thought my boy was going to die. It was a strange disease that made him breathe as if he was whistling while herding cows. Elias took him to the medicine-man but no root could cure my boy. At that time, there was no clinic around. The nearest one was more than half a day’s walk. So Elias and I set out the day after the medicine-man told us the ancestors were calling Apollo’s name.
We hoped the clinic would save our boy.
All this time we were walking, my boy was whistling and I was crying and Elias was asking me to stop. But he walked faster and faster and I knew he was also worried. The sun was not even overhead when Apollo stopped whistling. Elias pinched him and shook him to wake him up but Apollo was asleep. The ancestors had called him home. Do you believe in ancestors, Father? All I remember was that I wailed and wailed and people came to see what was happening and held me firmly to stop me from rolling on the ground.
My boy was buried before he could speak, Father. There is no greater pain. No greater pain than that.
After that, Elias kept away from me, like somehow, it was my fault that his son died, like it was me who infected him. He spent all his nights in Auma’s hut, and while she gloated because she had become the favourite wife, her stomach did not grow. And I was happy. I knew our Elias was frustrated, ploughing ploughing Auma and nothing was happening.
Then the rains failed and all the crop we had planted withered and died. There was no food except that which was in the granary. Elias was frustrated because a man is judged by how well he can feed his family, and he had nothing. He took to praying and offering sacrifices he could not afford. He started coming to this church. We all did. He walked around with a Bible and said if God could feed the birds of the air, he could feed Elias and his wives. He was just praying and praying and praying and praying.
Then one day, he said that God had spoken to him and told him to open a prophetic church. And so our Elias, as we knew him, died, and the Prophet Elias Bwire of the Jerusalem Israel Repentance Ministries was born.
Me, I sunk into depression. I had lost my son and my husband didn’t want to touch me and I felt like a dirty thing, like a plate on which a dog has vomited. I felt like no one wanted me, and I thought that maybe if I got pregnant again, my husband and his people would love me once more. So I tried and tried. I cooked better meals than Auma. I cooked pumpkin leaves and mushrooms and millet ugali, but our Elias only tasted my meal before concentrating on Auma’s sweet potatoes. Which Luhya man leaves ugali and pumpkin leaves and mushrooms and eats sweet potatoes? Tell me, Father, which man? I just wanted another child. A child would have made things better.
But our Elias did not touch me. He was like a mad man. He took a large portion of the farm and made a mud-walled church with holes for windows. Do you know where it is? Now, there are iron sheet walls, but then, the walls were uneven mud, but the Prophet Elias Bwire did not care. He was doing what God had commanded him in a dream. I wondered if the dream came to him while he was ploughing Auma, but I did not ask that question because I wanted him to see me as the obedient wife so that maybe one day he would sleep in my house and I would get pregnant chap chap. Auma’s womb is dry, but me, I am fertile, like the soil next to the river. Plant a seed inside me and it will grow immediately.
The Prophet Elias Bwire grew a beard and let his hair grow long and uncombed, like the prophets in the kitabu. The first Sunday of the opening of the church, it was only him and Auma and me, and I wondered why we had left the homestead only to come and be by ourselves when the Prophet Elias Bwire could preach right in the homestead. But our Elias preached as if the church was full, as if there were ten, twenty people in there urging him on with their shouts of, “Mwami!” and “Toto!”
“The workers are few but the harvest is plenty, amen?”
“Amen,” Auma and I replied.
“So you must go and look for the lost sheep, amen?”
“The suffering you endure on earth cannot be compared to the glory that is waiting for you in heaven, haleluya?”
He was like that, making us say amen so many times, even when it did not make sense; like when he said Saul persecuted Christians, amen? How does amen fit there? You wouldn’t know these things, Father. This your church has discipline: sit down, stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down, stick your tongue out.
The Prophet Elias Bwire was different. He did not even belong to us here on earth. That first Sunday, he even asked us for offering, like he had not given us money for offering that morning. He was just taking back what he had given us, and when he realized that he had not made any money, he started singing. And my, that man could sing! It was a strong baritone, and he beat his drum and stomped his feet and started walking out of the church, so we followed him, singing and stomping our feet like obedient wives. And soon, people started coming out of their homesteads to see what the music was about. Because you cannot listen to the beat of the isukuti and continue sleeping as if it was a cricket chirping. The isukuti calls you by name. It says: Pamela, remove yourself from your bed and shake your shoulders. And people came and came and they found themselves singing and stomping their feet like it was a celebration.
The Prophet Elias Bwire saw his opportunity and preached again, flailing his arms wildly and jumping up and down and waving the kitabu in the air like he was Moses with the stone tablets. And people listened attentively, because they had never seen our husband as animated as he was. Even when he started speaking in a strange language -and it was not Luhya- and started spinning and spinning and jumping, people did not leave. God must have possessed him. That day, he did not ask them for offering, but told them that God had told him to tell them to wear only white on Sunday because other colours are dirty and you cannot be dirty in the presence of God.
That whole week, our husband was restless. Again, I tried and tried to make him see me, but he was blind and I hated Auma for that. I think when she first came, she put medicine in his food so that my Elias would only see her. I know you don’t believe these things, Father, but have you ever seen a person whose stomach will not stop aching then the medicine-man comes and removes big bones from that stomach? No? These things are there, but you wouldn’t know.
When Sunday came, we put on white clothes and went to the church. At first, we were only three and our Elias was just a little warm, like he was tired yet it was only morning, but then people started coming one by one, two by two, whole families, and the fire under the Prophet’s feet was lit little by little until he could no longer stand in one spot and jumped and spun and danced around. When his voice started getting tired from the preaching and singing, which seemed to have no end, Manyasi the drum-maker took over the music. The Prophet Elias was relieved and just smiled and danced while saving his voice for the main preaching:
“God speaks to you through the prophets, haleluya?”
“He has chosen us and he sends us dreams, amen?”
“He has told me that a time is coming, amen?”
“A time is coming when, the harvest shall be plenty, amen?”
“Amen.” Say amen, Father.
“But the harvest shall only come if you repeeeeeeent and turn away from your sin!”
And the music started again. That day after the service, the Prophet Elias sent us out of the church to greet the people as he remained inside and counted the offering, just him and God. I found Manyasi and thanked him for helping us out because my throat was not quite well that day and Auma is really a crow that would have sent half the congregation outside had she opened her mouth. Manyasi looked down. I had not known he was shy, such a big man. No wonder he had not married.
Then the Prophet Elias Bwire came out of the church, beaming as if he was Moses coming down from the mountain, and I knew the offering had been good. He came and thanked Manyasi and invited him to come and eat with us, then told me that he would see me that night.
So I started beaming too, like I was already pregnant.
Let me tell you something, Father. This thing is sweet, I tell you, like a meal laced with poison. Once you taste it, you will want to eat and eat and eat. And when you know you have only one chance to make a baby, you have to prepare yourself like a shamba waiting to receive seeds. So that Sunday, I went and cooked yams because I hear they prepare the womb properly and you can even conceive twins. I cooked a lot of yams and sang and was very happy. I even gave Auma two pieces even though I knew her womb was as dry as smoked meat. Just to laugh at her inside my heart. And then I went to the river and bathed and bathed and bathed, even up to places I had never bothered with, because I wanted my Elias to see perfection and plough until he had no energy left for Auma. I was going to give him another son, but this time, our son would be named Oucho Juma after my father, because we had already used the name Apollo and you cannot give one name to two children from the same womb.
I could not wait for dusk to come fast enough. I sat in my hut and waited for my husband to come to me. It had been more than two years now since he last touched me, and I was already shaking my legs at the memory of the taste of peanut soup in my mouth.
Then he came and I washed his hands very carefully with warm water and a smile, and I served him millet ugali and pumpkin leaves and mushrooms and was even ready to feed him, but I just sat quietly and watched him eat it all up like he had never eaten before. He must have missed my food. I am an expert cook. I come from a lineage of strong women who cook really well.
After he had finished, I removed the dishes and sat to his side, remembering our first night when he could not wait to get rid of my clothes. I wanted him to do that now. Only, I would surprise him by removing my clothes even faster. Then he looked at me, and I felt like shaking my legs.
“My wife,” he began. I was even beyond thinking at that point. On other days, he simply called me Pamela. That day, I was his wife. Amen? Amen! “I have been meaning to talk to you about something. My prophetic ministry is growing…” Eish, he had come to make a baby, why was he talking about church like I was his fellow prophet? “…and I need more help. So I have decided to take another wife.”
Mayoo, Father, what would you have done if you were me? So I had bathed for nothing?
“I have eaten yams,” I said.
“What?” he asked.
“I have eaten yams. I am fertile for you.”
“Pamela, is your head okay? You thought I had come here to sleep with you when I have another beautiful wife? You are the first wife, you are supposed to run this homestead. That is all.”
“Auma is dry and you know it. You just want another wife so that you can plough whenever you want,” I said in my head. But I think my mouth betrayed me, because our Elias said that I was pinching a lion in the buttocks and if I was not careful, he would discipline me.
“King Solomon had many wives and they did not disturb him, who are you? I am a prophet, I shall live how men of God lived in the Old Testament. I shall take wives whenever I see the need, and concubines like King Solomon. It is my duty to tell you, and I have done that. Men will come and help me construct the hut in two weeks. Make sure they are fed.”
And with that, he went away into the darkness, into the waiting hands of Auma, who was probably happy. I would tell her in the morning. Sadness is meant to be shared. I sat there for a long time, wondering why God created yams.
The next morning, I was awake before Auma. I sat outside my hut and waited for her to wake up. Now that our Elias was getting a third wife and also becoming a prophet, I knew he would also want a hut of his own. As soon as Auma opened the door, I called her.
“Auma, come here. How was your night?”
“What do you think?” she sneered.
“Feel good. Our husband is getting a third wife.”
The sneer immediately disappeared. I smiled and went into my hut, leaving her standing there like a lost goat.
That week, Manyasi the shy drum-maker and other men came and held discussions with my husband. I think they were discussing who would make a suitable third wife. Men often do that, choosing as discarding as if women are tomatoes in the market. Then later in the week, our Elias marked out the outlines of his hut and the other woman’s hut and the men started working. It took only two days to build the huts, but the men ate as if their wives never cooked for them at home. Only Manyasi the drum-maker could eat as much as he wanted because he was not yet married, but the rest of the men, heh! I wanted to quarrel their wives. During this time, I saw Auma worried. She even made pumpkin leaves hoping to change our husband’s mind, but she could not manage it. I was both happy and sad. Happy that Auma was getting a taste of her own medicine, sad that I was not pregnant.
Now, Father, I am running out of time, so I will just tell you just the short short version of the story. But you see where I am coming from, don’t you?
That Sunday, we all went to church and the Prophet Elias Bwire preached about how God provides more than just food for his children who repent and pray. I knew he was preaching to me, and I was so angry that when people started singing, I beat one of the drums so hard it tore. But still people clapped their hands and stomped their feet and continued singing in such beautiful harmony that I became peaceful. Then as usual, the Prophet Elijah Bwire told us to get out of the church so that he could count the offering with God. The church was growing bigger. That day, there were over a hundred people because it was a different church. None of this Mary and Latin and white preacher thing you have in this your Catholic church. That Jerusalem Israel Repentance Ministries was closer to reality, and if you had been around back then, you would have seen a great exodus of people from the Catholic church to our husband’s church.
Again, the Prophet Elias Bwire came out glowing like a woman in early pregnancy and I knew that people had given their offering with one heart. Then he proclaimed that since I had torn the drum, it was my responsibility to get it fixed because in the kingdom of God, everyone carries their own burden. I wanted to remind him that I was his wife and my problem was his problem, but when I looked at him, I saw he was thinking he was in heaven, so I carried my small drum and went to see Manyasi the drum-maker.
I found him already at work, sitting amidst a lot of cow hides and goat hides and trunks of trees which he was carving out. I greeted him and he answered while looking at the ground. He was shy, this man. I told him that I needed the drum to be fixed but I would pay him with a sack of maize and he agreed and set to work. It is really easy, replacing the skin. It is easy but it needs a lot of skill so that the skin has the right tension. So he pulled skin here and tightened there and his strong hands made me watch and watch and want to tear more drums so that I could come and watch and watch. When he was done, I took the drum and then -and you have to believe me, Father, I had not planned this- I just grabbed his thing.
He was shocked! He took one step back but not out of reach of my hand. But you men are funny, you just stand up immediately. You don’t even shake your legs first. A woman touches you and you are already awake. Even a chameleon changes colour slowly. But I had not touched a man that way for over two years, and I had forgotten how it felt.
I smiled at him and went away, knowing he was too shy to tell anyone.
By now, I am sure that you suspect that I slept with Manyasi the drum-maker, and I can confirm that it is true. I cannot lie to a man of God. But it did not happen immediately. Manyasi still came to church as usual and danced as usual and repaired drums as usual.
I am really short of time now, and they might come for me any time now, so let me hurry up before that happens.
What happened was, many days after the incident with Manyasi, so many days that Auma had started throwing eyes at me as if I had told her my own things about the third wife, our husband, the Prophet Elias Bwire, married a third woman. I was mad! I was mad, mad, mad. It was a very big ceremony because by now our husband had become well known, so many people came. And we cooked and cooked to welcome someone that we didn’t even want. Auma almost cried. I wanted to console her and tell her to forget being ploughed and that the only peanut soup she would taste was the one she had cooked herself, but I shut up and let her suffer on her own as punishment for being so smug.
That new girl worried me. If she got pregnant, it would mean that she would be the favourite wife and then I would just be like a servant in the homestead, cooking and cleaning and farming and doing chores. My husband had become very happy. He walked around with the kitabu but that week he barely opened it. He spent a lot of time in the new wife’s hut and I heard a girlish laughter coming from in there and I was not so sure if it was his or hers because when he was ploughing me he usually had a woman’s voice and sometimes made as if he was sucking sugarcane.
But that is not important. I had gotten used to it when Auma came. What really annoyed me is that on Sunday when we went to church, our husband, the Prophet Elias Bwire, introduced only one of his wives, and that was that thing called Veronica Atsango. As if that was not enough, he went on to say many things about her, as if when he had married me he had never seen those things in me, as if I was his brother now.
“This is the woman God sent to me, amen?”
“I saw her in a dream and God spoke to me and said, amen?”
“He said, ‘My son, this is the woman I created for you’. And I asked God, because we speak as if we are friends, I asked God ‘where do I find her?’ Amen?”
“I asked God that because when he tells you to do anything, you should obey. Even if he says you should get in the mouth of a fish like Yohana, even if he says you should marry a prostitute like Hosea, even if he tells you to marry a third wife, you have to obey, amen?”
“So God told me to walk around her seven times, and just like the walls of Jericho came down, the walls hiding her location would fall down. And I did that in my dream and the walls fell, amen?”
Father, by this time, I was committing the sin of anger over and over in my head. I was hating Veronica Atsango and that her husband again and again. But still, the Prophet did not stop.
“Look at her, isn’t she beautiful? She is glowing like Jesus glowed on the mountain, amen?”
Mayooooo, Father! Have you ever felt like throwing a drum at someone? Because that is what I wanted to do. I wanted to stuff this Veronica Atsango in a drum and beat it with all my energy. Okay, she was beautiful, but that is not the point here. That day, I tore another drum and took it to Manyasi the drum-maker and told him to bring it home when he was done. Then I went to cook the evening meal.
Just when it had gotten dark and people were in their houses, there was a small knock on the door and I opened it and found Manyasi there with the drum. I took it and thanked him, but he stood there, looking at the ground. Our husband was with Veronica Atsango, but he could come out to urinate at any time. I knew what Manyasi wanted, and because I was frustrated and angry, I quickly pulled him inside the house. We did not even speak. My legs were trembling. He got on top of me and he ploughed me and I begged him to pour outside but he said it would invite a curse, but I think he had stayed for so long without ploughing. And when he was done, he went away.
In the morning, I regretted it. I regretted that first time I touched Manyasi and I regretted allowing him into my house. I was outside, sweeping the compound when Auma came and said she had seen someone enter my hut the day before and she knew it was not my husband. Of course, I denied it and told her to go and come back with that man and accuse me. I said it because I knew if Auma had known exactly who it was, she would not even have confronted me. She would have come with our husband and half the church to humiliate me.
But you cannot accuse someone without proof, so I was safe.
It was fourteen days after that when I realized I had not seen my moon. Do you know how scary that is, Father? If you were a woman, you would know. Imagine a prophet’s wife getting pregnant with another man’s child! The scandal! Now, I had two choices. Either boil that root that removes pregnancies and drink the soup, or keep the baby. I decided I would keep the baby. The problem was how to tell our husband. That would mean getting chased away from the village, me and Manyasi. And I felt that it was my fault that Manyasi woke up like that.
So I hatched a plan. I told Veronica Atsango to heat up our husband then say she was seeing her moon. Either she does that or I would poison her. I knew Auma was on her moon because I had monitored her for a long time to see if she would get pregnant, so I did not tell her. That meant only I, Pamela Tindi, was available for ploughing.
It worked like a charm. I told you, you men wake up and start running immediately. When my husband went to his hut to sleep, because somehow he had discovered that the kitabu told men not to touch a woman when she is on her moon, I went to him and said I wanted to talk to him. Then I did not talk. I just touched him and his thing was awake like that and he ploughed me.
A month later, Veronica Atsango was declared her pregnancy and so did I. The Prophet Elias Bwire was untouchable. The last time I had seen him this happy was when I was pregnant with our first child. Now he had two on the way. Well, only one was his, but he did not know. I gave birth to Manyasi’s son a month before Veronica Atsango gave birth to her daughter. I called my baby Oucho Juma after my father. Now, the thing with children is that you are never sure whom they are going to look like. After a few weeks, my Oucho started taking the shape of Manyasi’s flat head and ears as sharp as a bat’s and nose as curved as a chicken’s beak. Our Elias looked at him with a puzzled look, as if trying to figure out which of his ancestors had come to play tricks. But he never questioned me because a prophet’s wife can never cheat.
That was ten years ago.
Now, today morning, our husband came to my hut and said that Manyasi’s wife, because he finally married, had come and said that Oucho was no son of the Prophet’s. He did not even let me speak. He just took anointing oil, poured a little on his hand and slapped me with it. Then he started praying and casting out the demon of adultery from me and slapping me with anointing oil. Again and again and again, and with each slap, I remembered the pain I had gone through to get him to love me, all the hurt and neglect and being looked at as if I was nothing. Then I just took a knife and stabbed him in the throat while he was still casting out demons, and stabbed him there again and again, and I stabbed him down there because that is the thing that would have prevented all this.
Then I left him dead in my hut and came here to talk to you. When I left, I think Veronica Atsango saw some blood on me because she ran towards my hut and I ran towards here, but I heard some screaming. I know they are coming for me. I can hear the shouts getting closer. I know someone must have seen me come to this church. And I know they will either kill me or take me to the askaris.
All I want, Father, is to use your typewriter, to just press those letters and feel the hardness and smell the ink. I want to write a verse from the kitabu, one that speaks about forgiveness and peace. Do you know one, Father? I want to hear the noise of the typewriter and imagine what life would have been like had I gone on to college and worked in a big government office writing important letters to important people. They are almost here now. Shall you allow me?
Or should I stand outside and wait for the angry village to arrive?