The Dead Body and the Fig Tree

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(An Extraction from the Girl with the Flawless Face and Other Horror Stories)

It was Shamim who found the body one hot mid morning; when she was coming from Kilifi beach, dressed in a modern Hijab. She had just passed the mosque, and a few yards, inside a well, she found the body. It was not yet clear why she thought of looking into an old abandoned well, or how she divagated from her way to the well; or how further she spotted the body, which was submerged halfway into the dark waters of the well, but either way she did. She gave out a violent start, jerked like a jet of water from a pipe, then collapsed to the ground.

‘Eh, what seems to be the problem?’ One young man asked as he rushed towards her for aid.

‘I am afraid she has fainted,’ another one cried as he bent towards her, and felt her pulse. ‘She is unconscious. I think she will be alright though.’

He turned to look about him, there were four to five people surrounding, among them were two women, and three men. ‘I should think both of you ought to carry her to a shade,’ he paused as he looked at the two women, who Muslims themselves quickly heeded, then moved aside. The two carried her into a silhouette, first of a Baobab tree, then seeing that its shade was of no major effect under the coastal heat of 90 °F, moved her to a Fig tree. It was a huge tree, which had a gap in the trunk, so that it appeared like a small cavern that an animal could comfortably live in. Yet upon closer observation of this cavern, one noted that there was a deep large hole at the centre, but because of the uncertainty of what one may find, no one ever ventured further, for in this coastal heat of 90 °F, anything could seek shelter including snakes.

There were small bushes growing around the tree, of Fuchsias which had small red flowers hanging delicately, and once in a while one of them cut and fell on the ground assiduously as a drop of rain before the commencement of a storm; of Potentilla that were orange in colour, and under the shade looked like a ripe lemon fruit that gave one a certain complacency about life; of Flower Carpet Rose that dangled with life as their pink colour captured the eye with beauty, which made one think of love: when one would have done anything to attain it; of the many Diosmas with their pink-white little flowers that shone in allurement, and if one were to look at them when feeling discontentedly, one’s soul would quiver in delight and ardour.

Yet of all this glamour that surrounded the tree, nobody seemed to notice as their attention was hooked in thoughts for Shamim. Ah, poor thing, she lay like a dead snake on the sand! All their eyes were glued onto her, as women onto a looking glass when they are about to go out for dinner with their sweetheart, and ponder for a heartbeat whether they are really in love or not, and when she came to, and found herself surrounded by people, she stood aghast in terror, like she had seen a vile livid ghoul. Her eyes popped out like two small balls floating on a pond with crystal clear water, as her skin became darker and paler, and seemed to make her look rather dull and grumblingly. One would fancy her as being sick. She wanted to say something, but she could not make herself to. Her tongue was tied.

‘I think she needs some water,’ cried one of the men. ‘Somebody please give her a glass.’

One of the women ran towards the direction of a house, came with a jar of water, and then poured her a glass. She did not flinch. Her body was a captive of paralysis. It held her as a magnet to a metal. Deluded with what was happening, she looked at the men grimly, then without any emotion, quickly shifted her gaze to the well.

‘Maybe she wants some water from this well instead,’ one man, upon seeing her sudden movement of her eye balls said benignantly, as he proceeded to walk to the edge of the well, and looked inside. It was pretty dark inside. He did not give the impression of seeing anything, thus he looked up, turned, and gave out a cheekily smile, ‘it is an abandoned well after all,’ he added derisively.

‘Tell us, what is wrong, why did you lose your consciousness?’ Enquired one woman benignly as she folded her Hijab slightly then wiped the sweat on her dark oily skin.

‘It must be the heat,’ observed one young man, ‘it has been unpleasantly hot lately. I am inclined to take ten baths, if not swim in the sea the greater part of the day.’ He faltered. He was a dark handsome lad of not more than twenty three years of age, who had removed his shirt and was only left with his blue shorts.

‘Yes it is dreadfully hot, that I agree with you. Like yesterday it was so hot that when we went out fishing, we sought refuge under the mast. In the end, we ended up catching little fish, it was a bad day.’ A second man, who was a fisherman, added. Yet as they went on talking, Shamim vocal cord suddenly opened, but as she was still in shock, the first thing that came out of her mouth was a sharp scream. Quickly, the men and women turned to look at her in alarm baffled by her cry.

‘What’s the matter?’ the young lad with the blue shorts asked with a startled look.

‘There is a body in the well!’ Shamim shrieked in horror. Everyone stood aghast.

© Nderitu Wahome


{Ndiritu Wahome was born on September 14, 1987. He started writing at the age of thirteen. At 19, immediately after high school, he published a volume of poetry: ‘The Voice from a Young Man under the Burning African Sun.’

As a young writer, he is passionate about the art of writing, and other forms of creative arts. Ndiritu believes that you can become anything you want on earth, as long as you have the willpower, determination, and passion to train the mind. When he is neither reading nor writing, he is actively swimming and lazing on the beach gazing at the meandering blue waves of the ocean.}

Facebook: Nderitu Wahome
Twitter: @Ndiritu5
Publications: The Sad Artist and Other Fairytales


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