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The Dream

Monday, April 01, 2013

Purchase -THE DREAM-by AP Von K'ORY</titlw>


BOUND TO TRADITION - THE DREAM is novel authored by the prominent German (Born Kenya) author A.P. Von K'Ory. Like in all her other collections, A.P. Von K'Ory presents a culturally mixed scenario in order to give the reader the taste of each of the cultures implied. We hope you will enjoy your read. Thank you for purchasing


Brooke Bond Tea Estate, Kenya 1950It was another Monday morning in the last week of June, 1950. One more Monday when Elizabeth had yet another weekend, with her husband at home all day, behind her. The long rains were here again and heavier in the Highlands than in any other part of Kenya. The Highland rains, like the nights, were colder than Elizabeth was used to.
A Monday that would establish the destiny of an unborn child.
"Don't forget to go to the dispensary, Mami-na," Enos Oganga said to his pubescent wife as he prepared to go for work at seven in the morning. They were in their small bedroom and could hear the rain pattering on the window and hammering on the corrugated iron roof. Enos pulled on his Wellingtons, then stood close to the girl. "And don't tax yourself too much with housework. Leave all that to the housemaid."
"I've heard," she said. She was fourteen and had been married to Enos for six months. She was six months pregnant. The timing of their wedding had been carefully planned. Luos are meteorologists when planning a daughter’s wedding night. The weather has to be conducive to the results of the first casting of seeds. After the wedding night the bride returns to live with her previous family for weeks or even months –


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                              ********************PROLOGUE CONT**********************
...choice is left to the bride; possibly the only unique Luo form of women’s rights.
He was twenty-six, with the tall broad-shouldered stature of the Nilotes; his taut musculature tinted a yellowish brown, proud of bearing and handsome.
"You delight my heart, Jaherana." He touched his cheeks on the beaded braids on her forehead. Elizabeth repeated the same words to him and met his gaze for the briefest moment. So brief he would never be sure he had not imagined it. The beads braided in her hair sighed mysteries. He smiled at them; he smiled at her. Then he picked up his umbrella and left their two-roomed brick house without another word.
He didn't say goodbye.
Elizabeth went back to bed and slept for two hours. When she finally got up again and went to the second room – their sitting room – to have breakfast, she discovered that Enos had forgotten to take his tea thermos flask. Since she would be going to the dispensary later that morning and his work place was near the dispensary, she decided to leave immediately to bring her husband his tea first. She had a quick breakfast of tea and buttered bread with jam, then left. It was almost nine in the morning. The rain continued intermittently.
This particular morning, Wa Mugirango felt even more drunk than he had been the previous night. He growled at his colleague, one of the five men with whom he shared his rondavel, who was endeavouring to wake him up. It was shortly before six this same morning. The men were all tea-pickers in Brooke Bond Tea Estate, Kericho.
Out in the narrow alleyways they joined other fellow tea-pickers trekking to their places of work, their feet making squashing noises in the slush.
Wa Mugirango and the other tea-pickers had this trick where they picked not only tea-leaves, but also stones and rocks to tip the scales - if they were not caught at their misdemeanour by the clerk who weighed their tea baskets. Wa
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Mugirango had been caught a few times with several rocks amidst his tea leaves. But this morning he had to risk it again. He hated the drizzling rain as much as he hated the squashing noises his bare feet made in the slush as he went about picking his tea. He had the rudest companion threatening to murder him – if a hangover could be termed a companion – and all the singing from his jovial colleagues made him feel like killing something large himself. Like that nosy Luo clerk. Unlike his predecessor, the son of a whore was so arrogant he never joined his workers to share the brew at the native’s off-licence. As if he was a European himself, good for sipping a baby amount glass of gin and tonic at the Country Club.
When Elizabeth arrived at the roofed platform outside the tea warehouse where her husband worked, she noticed that the first tea-pickers were already lined up to have their tea baskets weighed. She stopped a few yards away, smiling to herself as she remembered the hilarious stories her husband told her about some of the tea-pickers who tried to cheat by hiding stones in their tea leaves to augment the weight. The tea-pickers stood in a crooked line with their baskets full of freshly picked tea still strapped to their backs. Several Bedford lorries with their skeletal frameworks were waiting to transport the tea to Brooke Bond Tea Factory. The rain had stopped for a moment and the sun was jostling for its firmament rights.
Elizabeth leaned on the wall of the warehouse, hoping not to be noticed by the men. She watched them, trying to put names to the faces that her husband had so often described to her. Jarabuon, Okello, Wa Mugirango, Daudi, Abdallah, even Maintain – so named because he was always reminding the others to “maintain” a proper line up while waiting to have their tea baskets weighed. “Maintain, maintain a proper line, men,” she heard Maintain shouting, leaning sideways and waving his hand at them. That must be Wa Mugirango, with his pot belly and spindly legs sticking out of his perpetual red shorts. Elizabeth giggled to herself at the man’s looks. She saw
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him stop chatting with a driver as his turn to climb up to the platform came. He unslung his basket and deftly hooked it onto the large suspended scale, his face turning up to watch the needle quiver on the circular face of it to fifty pounds...
The rain began to drizzle hesitantly again, but the awning kept Elizabeth dry.
"Good morning, Wa Gusii," said the clerk, her husband, as his eyes scanned the register he held in his hands, turning to the right page with the tea-picker's name. "Had a roaring weekend, what?" She burst into laughter at that, covering her mouth with a hand.
These uncircumcised Luos! Enos had told her was Wa Mugirango’s favourite abuse whenever he was annoyed by a Luo. Wa Mugirango was a Kisii. A Wa Gusii.
But Elizabeth couldn’t eavesdrop what the man was thinking: That this was his first basket of the day. Surely he wasn’t suspect already? Normally the clerk became suspicious when the midday sun was hot and the workers tiring. She heard Wa Mugirango grunt something in reply to the greeting. He was still bristling for the bloodiest of battlefields. Even Elizabeth could sense his aggression from watching his body language.
Perhaps it was Wa Mugirango's cheerlessness. But Enos Oganga, the clerk, looked at him and smiled mirthlessly. "Wa Gusii, we haven't been up to any tricks now, have we?"
Mothers-in-law be bedded! "What are you talking about, omera?"
Elizabeth almost dropped the thermos flask, she was shaking with giggles. She was witnessing what her husband had told her again and again. Seeing and hearing it made the whole thing more ludicrous.
"You do know what I'm talking about. Take your basket down and shake out your tea-leaves on the canvas over there," suggested Enos, pointing with his pen to the spread canvas.
Wa Mugirango unhooked his basket from the suspended scale forcing a smile on his face, "Well, chief, you know. A
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couple of little stones may have found their way into my basket.”
Enos’s expression got more dour. "Then we'd better make sure that they find their way out of your basket. Next!"
The next man in line hitched his basket onto the scale. Meanwhile Wa Mugirango fished in his basket for the several small stones he had thrown in among his tea-leaves, but again and again his nervous hands only came into contact with the large rock. The rock was about seven pounds in weight. He needed the rock!
"Wa Gusii,” her husband said to the man who was furiously rummaging in his basket, “shake the contents of your basket on the canvas, it would make things a lot easier for you." He must have been watching Wa Mugirango in between conducting his duties. She felt so proud of him, observing him at his duties, the men bowing to him when their baskets had been weighed and the pounds noted down in the register against their names.
The culprit gave up. He fished out a big rock and held it in both hands with an embarrassed smile. "It looks like it's only one large rock, chief."
"It looks like that, but I want to be quite sure. I'll assist you." Enos put his register and pen aside and stooped to scoop up Wa Mugirango's basket and empty its contents on the canvas.
Elizabeth’s giggles stopped instantly. She dropped the thermos flask. For a moment she was glued on the spot and everything seemed to be happening in slow motion. Wa Mugirango raised the rock in his hands and smashed it down on her husband’s head. Elizabeth screamed. The man brought the rock down on the head again. Enos collapsed with the half emptied basket on the canvas, blood welling up and running over the wet tea-leaves. Elizabeth sprinted to the platform, still screaming. Pandemonium broke out as the tea-pickers wrestled the rock out of Wa Mugirango's hands when the man raised the rock for a third assault. She couldn’t see her husband now, owing to the dozens of men mingling and pushing. But she
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knew where he had collapsed so she pushed her way in that direction.
Wa Mugirango fell backwards, pulling some of the men who were wrestling the rock out of his hands down with him. For a split second there was enough space for Elizabeth to glimpse at her husband bleeding on the tea leaves. A few men knelt next to him screaming something about dispensary. She tripped on some of the fallen men, paid no attention to that and scrambled to her feet again, pushing her way to Enos. She didn’t even notice it when Wa Mugirango gave up and sprinted off across the pine coppices in the direction of the vast tea plantation. It was still drizzling. Some men were shouting about the British policemen who would “let their dogs tear him to pieces if they caught up with him.”
By the time Elizabeth reached the spot where her husband had collapsed, he was already in the hands of several men who carried him between them to the dispensary several dozen yards away. She trotted alongside them. She had stopped screaming but sobbed aloud, tears streaming down her face.
The dispensary was a two-roomed stone building staffed by Dr Gudraj Shah and Nurse Rachel Kipkorir. The Union Jack flapped in the drizzle with a distinct lack of dignity in the middle of a flowerbed ringed in white-washed boulders in front of the dispensary.
Waiting for treatment was a throng of people, mostly women and children, huddled in the drizzling rain along the eaves of the dispensary. Elizabeth Lali Oganga would have been among them, waiting to be examined, had her husband not forgotten his tea thermos flask.
Enos’s bearers pushed and shouted to be let through, staggering under the weight of the big man. Elizabeth joined them in pushing and shouting to fight her way through the throng. The excited crowd was not easy to get out of the way. They not only wanted to know who it was coming in for emergency treatment, they also wanted to know what had happened, and this in detail. Elizabeth fought them off like a lioness protecting her cub.
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Finally she reached the consultation room with her husband, and identified herself as his wife. That’s when she saw him again. Her warrior was placed on a stretcher, bathed in blood. She held his large hands, shaking with sobs. She heard the tea-pickers narrate what had happened to Dr Shah and the nurse. Elizabeth’s sobs turned into a single animal cry, calling her husband by his warrior name. It was the first and last time she would utter that name to the ears of strangers. She began mumbling inaudible words in hoarse whispers.
Dr Shah continued examining and doctoring the smashed skull. After doing whatever he could for the clerk, Dr Shah sent the still unconscious man to Kericho District Hospital in the ambulance that called daily to transport his more serious cases to the hospital emergency room for more professional attention. That raised Elizabeth’s hopes. The European doctors at the District Hospital whom her husband had told her about, had said would help deliver their baby when her time came. Surely they would save her Enos. The British administration was meticulous about the organisation of medical care for the native workers. The Crown Colony was run like clockwork. Elizabeth accompanied her husband to the hospital, still sobbing and mumbling. On reaching the hospital which was about twenty miles away, Enos Oganga was pronounced dead.
Elizabeth did not cry again.
Her fourteen-year-old heart was irreparably broken. She remembered their parting that morning. He had not said goodbye. He had not left her, and inside her was their child. She would have her beloved warrior until they reunite. She felt the baby move inside her and she smiled.
Enos was still with her.
Two days later, Bwana Williams, the district administrator, authorised a lorry to take the body of Enos Oganga accompanied by his pubescent wife, the housemaid and their household goods together with a few of the dead man's friends and clansmen back to his village in Alego, Nyanza Province.
Wa Mugirango was never seen nor heard of again.
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There were five weeks of formal funeral celebrations and rituals. Elizabeth’s family, including her father Solomon Jaoko with his wives, children and grandchildren were all present at the funeral. When the rites and rituals were over, the Burial Feast eaten, Elizabeth declared that she would rather return with her parents back to her maiden location in Kipkarren River than marry any of her husband's brothers as the customs and traditions of the Luos dictated.
The brothers, their families and the entire clan were sorely insulted. But they could not force Elizabeth against her will. An unwilling wife was a heap of joylessness that would completely ruin a husband’s day or night, and an incomprehensible unpleasantness to the children’s. Already she was giving the brothers looks that pumped a blizzard of poisoned arrows. End of negotiations. Elizabeth’s parents had to pay back the bride price, plus an extra "fine" decided upon in lieu of the unborn baby she carried, and this done, she returned to her original home with her parents.
When her time came three months later she gave birth to a baby girl. She named her Khira, meaning: Broadcast me, sow me. Her husband's beloved was born out of her. Nothing would ever again get in or out of her. Until reunion with Enos.
Khira was born on the morning of September the twenty-seventh, 1950, exactly three months and three days after the morning her father was killed.
Elizabeth sat inside her cool mud and brick hut - the only hut in the compound, for Elizabeth's parents hoped that she would marry again and therefore move to her new husband's home - holding the baby to her breast. Outside the November heat was dry and scorching at midmorning. The doorway to the hut suddenly darkened, the sunlight cut off. She looked up to see Barry and his mother enter. Mother and son exchanged happy greetings with Elizabeth and sat next to her on her narrow bed. Barry was six. His father owned the farm next to Solomon's. Immediately the boy was fascinated by the suckling
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infant. He held her little hand and she held onto his finger tightly, blinking at him while suckling.
"She's a nectar," said Barry staring at her. He added to his mother, "I love her, Mah."
The women laughed, slapping each other's backs and thighs gently, knowingly. Heaven couldn’t have done it better.
Three months later Barry and Khira were betrothed with the befitting ceremonies, the one six years, the other five months old.
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