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Little Thirst -Ray Mwihaki

“Naskia vibaya,” Sniggered the little girl after her mother’s wake up call.
“Maree, usinisumbue, Eeh!… Unaskia? Amka uende shule!” Her mother screamed as she parted the gunny sack that parted the bed area and the living area. She tenderly placed the back of her hand on the little girl’s forehead. Tenderness isn’t for the lazy.
“Ata huna fever! Amka!!”
The four fingers that could pushed against the girl’s head. The blanket was pulled away. A tear travelled down the girl’s face.

Her little sister sat opposite her on the threadbare mat that served as a bed for her. Sucking on tea soaked bread. She was already dressed for school. Maree slept in her uniform. She sat up on the worn two seater chair, stretched for tea and bread that rested on a stool next to the jiko. She barely had time to gobble down the watery tea with about a few spoons of milk when they heard their father stir in the bed.

Their mother grabbed their bags and woolen hats. Out the door they flew almost at the same time. They nearly got stuck in the frame. Their mother, wide as a hilux with full saggy breasts and a truly African seat got out of the door with a pop. No one was to wake mzee before noon. He was left to snore and gurgle the previous night’s ũhuruto. Only billowing flames were allowed to wake him. Otherwise, there would be wailing in the minutes that followed his rude awakening.

The little girl Maree, wondered why she couldn’t sleep like daddy. She wanted to drink ũhuruto and have a temper so no one would bother her in the morning. One day. One day, but today, she had to go to school, sulking and crying and red swollen ears throbbing.

“We! Hebu kimbia ama nikuchape wewe!” The hulking, angry mother screamed. “Unajua unafaa kua shule saa mbili, sasa ni saa tatu inaelekea na uko kwa barabara nyumbani.”

Silence. Sob. Sulk.

The mother, with her youngest daughter holding her arm in a half sprint as to keep up, uprooted a thin stemed overgrown shrub and waved it threateningly at the girl lagging behind.
“Kimbiza miguu ama nitakucharaza hapo hapo kwa hizo miguu na bado utakimbia!”

Little Maree didn’t make any effort. She lowered her head further, inflated her cheeks and put her hands in her jacket pocket. Murderous thoughts fleeting in her mind and dancing with the thoughts of ũhuruto and her hate for school. Me sitaki shule, Inabore! Aki si kuna baridi… She thought. She had to catch up, if she was to get her monkey cap. Is it worth it? Nikikimbia, nitaskia joto na atanichapa nikiwafikia. Aah!

“Sikungoji! Baki huko ukijifurisha kama mandazi za Gikomba! Wacha nifike shule mbele yako, utaniambia!” Her sister couldn’t dare look back or try walking with her. She was still very young and wasn’t used to the lashings her mother gave without measure.

Maree just kept her pace and watched them get further and further away. She had twenty shillings in her pocket; ũhuruto costs ten shillings a mug.

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