“A friend left the door open and was lucky, doesn't mean you should”

Submitted into Contest #38 in response to: Write a story about two neighbors talking from their yards, windows, balconies, etc. ... view prompt

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I had been peeping outside my window now for the last hour. Still no sign of Siku. With the heavy rains, I couldn’t just dash over to their house even though her mistress was away! Besides, if I did, I would have to carry little Exavier around now that he had discovered crawling and was now all over the place! Leaving him behind was no longer an option, now that schools were closed and Wilson would report me to my mistress. Where was Siku? I sat back down and continued to watch my favorite tamthilia (soap)


This season it was like the floodgates of heaven had been open. I checked again and I saw Siku outside their porch. I almost hurt my little toe at the door thanks to the momentum I dashed out with. Standing on the porch I shouted;


Siku!!..........Sikudhani!!!


Eeeh! What's up?


Fine. Where have you been? Are you hiding from me?


What? What's up with you? Why would I be hiding from you?


Never mind that. Are you done with your work?


So you have been waiting for me to ask me if am done with my work? You are really not serious.


I thought your mistress was out. What’s with the attitude? Now that you are traveling all over, you are giving me attitude?


Jamani, so when my mistress is in I have attitude problems? What about you, Miss high and mighty? You usually act so politely, you would think you have a polite bone in your body!! mmm! You are just being jealous.


Hahaha, don’t be like that Siku. I was just messing okay? It’s because I had missed you. I had no one to talk to. You came back from vacation and I haven’t seen you. Come on, how was it? How was it like flying for your first time? God your mistress is so good! I don’t know if I will ever fly in my life! ……Of course, am jealous!


You missed me or you wanted umbeya (stories)? hahaha, hallo!!


Okay, be like that… I will not tell you what Juma said. He came looking for you. Come on..how was it?


Juma was here? What did he want? Did he come to bring me a New Year gift? If not, I don’t want to see him again! Where did he come from?


Make up your mind already! Do you want to hear about Juma or not? I know you do. But I asked first. You tell me about your trip and then I will tell you about your boyfriend.


Don’t you dare call that goat my boyfriend. He is so 2016! This is a new year and am upgrading. Anyways… When we left, we went by bus to Dodoma, and then spent a night there. The next day we took a bus to Mwanza. From Dar, I sat next to this man who kept looking at me. I acted like I didn’t know, but I knew he was looking at me. I even started chatting Juma so that this man could see. It worked…


What? hmmm!! No wonder Juma came here! Hmmm Siku! Just wait a minute. Exavier is crying too much now. Let me pick him. He thinks am his mother?

Ehe? Then what happened?


Then Festo…


Wait…! What? You already know his name? Truly, it is the New Year! Go on…


So as I was saying; Festo told me I had beautiful fingers and nails. I was so shy. I giggled. He is so handsome. He is medium height, very dark. He has a buzz cut and looks like those boys you take home to your mama. You know not a Mohawk like Juma’s.


I cannot believe men. How do they fall for that shy routine of yours every time?


He smelled so good. Not like Juma. He told me he works in a bank. Imagine! Hee. I think I will marry him. Imagine being married to someone who works in a bank! He will definitely have a lot of money. My sisters will be so jealous. At least my mother might start liking me a bit more.


Focus Siku, focus. The story, please…! He smells good and he works in a bank…


Yes. He was on his way home to see his mother. He lives in Dodoma.


He is a Mgogo? (tribe)


Yes. He is. I think Wagogo’s are not bad? We chatted the whole way!


But I thought you had been ignoring him, how could you have chatted the whole way?


He started chatting with me from Bagamoyo. So you see it’s as if we chat the whole way!


You are so blessed! If it was me, my mistress would have made sure I sat next to her, and Wilson would be put next to the boy chatting me. So did you get his number?


Have you met me? Of course, I have his number. I refused to give him my number, so he took my phone and then saved his number. Then he called his phone. Very sharp. He bought me mishkakis and zege (chips and eggs) and even soda. He even bought me airtime. If I wasn’t on safari, I would have nini


Really? How long did that last? Did you not say that you would not be opening your legs for 6 months 2 weeks ago? If you have to keep opening them legs, then at least take some pillsOne day you will want those babies you are aborting and you will not be able to get any! And people think am rude! If they only knew what you do!


This is why I hate talking to you. There you go judging me again as usual. Do you want to listen to the story or do you want to assemble a jury?


All am saying is that if you want Festo to marry you, don’t put out so fast! Let him chase you for a bit. Why would someone buy a cow if they can get free milk? Are you not tired of being a house-help? How can you be tired? Your mistress treats you like royalty. This is why you are not serious about the men you meet. One day they will dry up, am telling you. You put out to Festo, but once you are done with him, if he even looks at me sideways once, I will marry him. I am warning you.

Wait, this baby is too heavy. Let me get a khanga and carry him on my back. It might even help him sleep. It is his nap time.


Jamani! I hear you! Festo has been texting me every day! When my credit runs out, he buys me more bundles. He says he doesn’t want me to lack airtime. He is very sweet. I think I will concentrate on him as you said.


Hmmm..! I sure hope so, I never understand why men don’t see thru your “innocence”. You are so selfish! You only care about one thing. Money! Such men never come to me. I just need love. Oh God, why not me?


Maybe you should try politeness for once. You always look like you are ready to attack a man. Even if a man wanted to suggest anything, he thinks his safety is more important and moves on. Maybe if you try being polite, I can ask Festo if he has a good friend who is like him. Then he can bring his friend over and you can check him out.


Always your saving grace! Your kind heart. Okay, I will try and be polite, but not to my mistress. That woman is insufferable! Who knows I might marry Festo’s friend….Now tell me about the flight and the airport. We shall continue about Festo and Juma later.


My friend Glory! First of all the road to Mwanza airport is so beautiful! We even stopped by Mwanza rocks and took pictures. We arrived at the airport and there are these small carts. They look like those carts at the supermarket, only they are open. You put your luggage there and push those carts. You don’t pay anyone to carry your luggage. Imagine. Not like going by bus. Then you stand in a straight line and you and your luggage are scanned by a machine. You know like the one at Mlimani City?


Yes, at the entrance? Yes, I know it!


Yes like that one. If they see something they don’t like, they pull you aside and you have to open your luggage and they check everything. I hear that’s how they know who is carrying drugs. Using those machines.


So did you see anyone get stopped?


Yes, there was this lady who was told to empty her handbag. Imagine! She was so embarrassed. They found she had some deodorant spray. They threw it in a garbage bin. She almost cried. My mistress said it must have been her first time and no one warned her. So you hear? You never carry anything more than 100ml in your handbag when you are flying. You will leave it at the airport. If I was working there, I would be so rich! I would sell all those things people have to throw away, or I would take them all home.

After that, you go make another queue. This one is for having your ticket checked. Like what they do at the bus stand. Then they take your heavy luggage and put a sticker on it. After that, you go and make another queue.


How many queues are there?


I was joking! After that, you go to the waiting bay. This is like the bay at Kigamboni (Ferry). Only more posh. There is AC, a restaurant and lots of food. But it’s not as nice as the one in Dar. I will come back to that later. You wait in this area until they call your flight.


How do you know your flight? It’s not like the buses where they call out ‘Dar Express?!’ Or do the planes have names too like buses?


No. Your ticket says your flight number. I asked my mistress the same question and she showed me. Ours was TC-101. A lady's voice announces on the intercom that flight TC-101 flying Mwanza-Dar is ready to depart and says you can now board. People walk in a very professional fashion, not like at the bus station. Everyone is so posh and polite. At the door of the plane, there is one more person who checks each person’s ticket and shows you the direction of your seat. Imagine even in planes, there are different classes. The front is for the rich and its business class. My mistress explained to me. She said we sat in economy. If you asked me, it all looked posh and all the same to me. The only difference is in the business class, the seats are 2 on each side, while in economy they are 3 on each side.


WOW! So where did you seat? I am trying to imagine the whole picture in my mind. Did you have to share a seat with George or the baby?


We sat somewhere in the middle. I was told that in the plane it is not like the bus. Each one had their own seat. I was so shocked! Even Alvin.


What? But he is only 1 and a half years old!!


They had a special like seat for babies that they add to the seat and Alvin sat on it. The only problem is they tell you to switch off your phones, tablets, and computers. They even walk around to check that everyone has done that. I sneaked and switched on my phone, but there was no service. For a whole hour, I couldn’t chat Festo! My mistress said that on the planes that fly to other countries, each seat has a TV in front and you can watch movies. This one did not have any. Many people slept.


Yeah, I bet you missed him so much! Please... Tell me serious stuff like were you not scared? How can you sleep in the air? First of all you are not telling me how it goes up.


Once you are all seated, this voice comes on and tells us to put our seatbelts on. Then the plane starts moving slowly, it gradually increases speed and the next thing you see it has started going up. The motion is slanted like how you see my hand. It is not fully vertical. At first, you see the houses, and then you don’t see them anymore. All you see are clouds. They look like cotton wool. You almost feel like you want to reach your hand out and touch them. When you reach a place with dark clouds, it feels like you hit a pothole. It is so weird. The plane is so stable; you can even drink hot tea up there in the air. I wasn’t even scared. Oh I forgot, there is a toilet with running water and soap and tissue. I just went in so I could make sure I explored everything. I didn’t even use it. I flushed the toilet and washed my hands. It was so cool. I wanted to know where the pee and poop go. I felt embarrassed to ask my mistress.


I am jealous all over again. Let me put Exavier on the bed. He is already asleep. I will be right back.

So you drank hot tea on the plane?


No. I drank soda and had a sandwich. It was so cool… The plane then starts going down slowly and then you feel a slight bump and you are already on the ground. When it hits the tarmac it is going so fast. Slowly it slows down until it stops.


So how do you get your luggage when you drop off?


There is this circle with a belt like thingy going round. People stand beside the circle, holding those carts I told you about. They wait until one sees their bag. The bags all look alike; I don’t even know how people know their bags. Me, I was sitting on the seats holding Alvin waiting for mama. Finally, when you get your bag, you go and queue. They re-check your bags. I asked my mistress why and she said they were making sure that the guys on the other side did not miss anything. Once we were done we pushed our luggage all the way outside where baba Alvin was waiting for us. I found many missed calls and messages from Festo when we got into the car.


So that’s why you have been indoors the whole day! You have been chatting with Festo. You will confuse that poor boy until he will lose his job. What is it that draws men to you? I am so jealous of you. Flying, getting a good man…Would you at least make sure you keep this one this time around?


Glory, I will try okay? But not before I play around with Juma and see if I can get some money from him…


Mama Alvin - "Hello girls. Hamjambo? Glory how’s mama Xavier? Is she in?"


Glory - 'Shikamoo mama Alvin. Mama Exavier is not in. She went to a funeral. She said she would be back late today.'



Mama Alvin - "Okay. Please tell her I said hi."


Glory, I have to go now, see you tomorrow.


Bye Siku, tomorrow.


I cannot believe how blessed Siku is. Maybe I should really try and be polite. I wasn’t always this way. Living in the city with the likes of mama Exavier had taken a toll on me. I even forgot who I was before all this. Perhaps if I tried to remember who I was, I could marry Festo’s friend. The way I was talking, you would think it was a done deal.


Glory, didn’t your grandma use to say 'Bahati ya mwenzio usiilalie mlango wazi?' (A friend left the door open and was lucky, doesn't mean you should.) I chided myself… Yep! I have to believe that my time will come sooner or else what am I without hope? 

April 22, 2020 14:24

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2 comments

21:10 Apr 27, 2020

'Jambo! I loved this story! I was in Tanzania in 2007 and recognized Dodoma and Dar and realized it was a story from Tanzania. It was so great to read about TZ again after all these years! So well described, too!

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Naomie K
04:15 May 01, 2020

Hey Asher! So nice to hear from someone who has been to my home country and appreciates! Many thanks and Karibu tena :-)

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