Excerpts from Halfway Between Nairobi & Dundori
By Muthoni Garland
And with too much money in too few hands, in a land of too many people wanting, Naivasha has become a magnet for highway robbers, ethnic tension, and women.
He doesn’t understand that to me Dundori is not a place to grow but a vacuum of a place that sucks the answers out of a father leaving him nothing to offer his children. A rural nowhere so bereft of challenge or entertainment that it thrives on a mother’s cruel testimonies.
“Do you think it coincidence that these clashes happen immediately after the season of circumcision when teenage boys are brainwashed into believing they’re warriors?”
Come the 1997 clashes…the battle lines were drawn as cleanly and dramatically as the fault-line that created the Great Rift Valley.
Murage’s ‘whatever’ suggests that whether I am right or wrong, my point of view bothers him less than any old jiggers infesting anybody’s toes. I am about to lash back when Murage turns over on the bed, presents me with his back. It is shaking. I am shaking. I should crawl into the bed so we can shake together. I want to, and I know it is what Murage needs, but the eight steps between where I stand and where he lies seem greater than the distance between Nairobi and Dundori.
“She’s like those women who keep threatening to leave their husbands by saying their hair will never turn grey in his house while all along making sure to avoid the mirror!”
But in Nairobi a slip can be a great fall.
Clearly, a drowning man will even grasp at a hollow potato.
“As if I can’t afford to go to KU or NU and buy myself a certificate. Even a P Hesh D.”
“Put Him Down…that kind of P Hesh D, right?”
He graduated from Nairobi U-you wouldn’t guess an urban planner from the lack of direction in his life…
…maybe a new baby would only create new worries to drown the old ones.
Accusation has consequence, am I ready for that?
Of course, she named Njoroge after our father, but it wasn’t enough to save Gladys from his fury when she got pregnant again. Especially after Fafa sent an emissary to enquire in the carefully worded ways of the Kikuyu what the man intended to do now that he had invaded a neighbor’s farm and broken the leg of a favourite goat. The man answered, ‘It was already broken’.
When she sprays herself with a perfume she once claimed could only be purchased in dollars, what pops into my mind is that not even foreign incense can disguise something rotten.
His face is dry, and flaking in a way that makes me itch to rub it with a dallop of Vaseline, roughly, like Mama used to rub mine.
…telling him she’s not ashamed of her God-given assets. As though that is good reason to flaunt them.
Guess Gladys knows younger Acacia trees are thornier to protect themselves from being over-consumed.
Gladys and I stare at each other, our history recent and old…young and ancient, clothed and naked. Needy. She, who was so powerful in my house, is a sad old act in this party of young girls and rich white men…and I, who felt so helpless in my home, have the power to destroy her. The stink of our fears stops us from taking this any further. It is better to lose my eyes, I realize, than to lose my heart.