A short story by Muni_Mar
Kimina sits on the bus with her son on her lap, seventeen years of age a divorcee on one talaq. She decided she didn’t want to wait around until Madka-Kher had said the rest.
“I divorce you” Madka-Kher had said through the tears with both his hands on his head as if he couldn’t believe what just came out of his mouth. “Madka, Madka” she didn’t manage to compose other words or beg him to not say the words talaq that would untie their holy bond in marriage. Kimina was standing between the mother and son while the rest of his family just stood and watched.
His mother held two fingers in the air “choose one, choose one, a curse or a blessing.” his mother insisted Madka-Kher begged his mother “hooyo please, please don’t make me divorce my wife I love her, please hooyo.”
Still, with her index finger and middle finger out, his mother insisted he chooses either her curse or blessing.
And being the obedient son she reached out and held the index finger with his hand “I chose your blessing hooyo” Madka says through the snorts mixed with tears.
As soon as the word “talaq” slipped through his lips Kimina froze in shock, her body went into hot then freezing cold.
“elelelel” his mother chanted for joy but she wasn’t satisfied. He had to say Talaq continuously three times in order for Kimina to be a divorced woman and her son to be free from her spell. His family believed that Kimina must have bewitched him because he was blindly in love with her.
Kimina the petite olive-skinned beauty was prideful. She decided to leave with the remaining honor she had before any further humiliation. Although she loved Madka- Kher she was determined to walk away before he had said the remaining two talaqs. She picked up her eight months old son threw him on her back like African mothers are known to do, tied him safe and walked away as Madka-Kher continued to beg his mother.
This was not the first time his family demanded him to divorce Kimina and send her back to “wherever she came from” as they said.
They were not happy in the choice of bride their son had made. She was half Somali half something else, she did not behave properly like a Somali girl is required to. She laughed loud, she did not cover her hair properly with a tiny see-through scarf her curls were everywhere. She ran and jumped like boys. She was nothing like the proper nomadic strong boned girls of Madka-Kher’s family. Besides, the family had a suitable bride in mind. His cousin back in Gode was right for him and honourable partner to carry his children.
Last time Kimina decided she was going to leave the Madka-Kher’s family house. Madka-Kher threatened he would leave the family too and swore he would move out of the country. The family calmed down. But they never accepted her as a suitable bride for their golden son.
Madka-Kher was the eldest amongst his brothers and the only one with a job. At the age of seventeen, he worked as an interpreter for foreigners who came to Mogadishu to extend a helping hand as nurses and doctors. He spoke four languages fluently and rode a Yamaha motorbike which made him an attractive and suitable employee to hire. He showed up in time on short notice assignments.
He would drive in and out of the city to nearby villages for assignments. Despite his maturity by being the family’s sole source of income, he was also a teenager and a flirt.
Destiny has its way of connecting people. One day Madka-Kher was sent on an assignment to a refugee camp an hour motor ride from the city.
He was not feeling well for it was the third day of Ramadan. His body had not adjusted to the hunger yet. But the family needed the cash he would bring right after he had finished working at a refugee camp.
He got up from the resting hut and hopped on his motorbike.
He arrived in time, the nurse had started checking up on the newcomers at the refugee camp. The refugees were also Somalis just from around the areas where drought had concurred. Nomads that were not able to move towards the rainy places any longer since places they used to lay their camels now were enemy territories or divided by maps that did not exist before.
The nurse waved to Madka-Kher “come here” Besides the short blond-haired nurse sat a girl, she was holding a boy around four years old. But she could impossibly be his mother she didn’t seem any older than fourteen years.
“Habari” Madka-Kher said to the nurse; by this the girl gasped for air and almost lost the kid sitting on her lap as stood up quickly. Both the nurse and Madka-Kher looked at the girl surprised. “what just happened?” the nurse said in English. “I don’t know, but she looks scared” Madka-Kher replied and turned to the girl “assalamu alaikum abaayo, ma nabad qabta?” but the girl did not respond she immediately started crying.
“Madka-Kher, do you know this girl? why is she scared of you?” the nurse put down her tools and went to the girl to comfort her, which made the girl cry even harder.
“I, I don’t know her, I promise I have never seen her” he answers and steps back shocked. He asked himself whether he had seen her before. could she be a girl I joked with? it wasn’t unusual for Madka-Kher and his friends to whistle at girls and get a stone or a sandal thrown after them. By searching for her image in his mind nothing came up.
“uliongea Kiswahili” she finally said through the tears. This is the first Kiswahili speaking girl he had seen since he came back from Kenya where he grew up.
By this the nurse sat on the floor holding the girl’s hand and said “yes we speak Swahili, who are you beautiful girl, and why are you alone here with this baby?” as she stroke on the silky hair on the boy’s head. “my name is Kimina, and this is my baby brother Fitah, we are orphans. and this is supposed to be where our parents came from but I know no one here and I want to go back home.
where is home? the nurse asked.
Dar es Salam said the girl wiping tears away from her chins. “That is a long way from here,” he said by this Kimina looked up at him with wide brown eyes. “Masha Allah” ~ protect you from the evil eye said Madka-Kher through his breath unable to look away.
Kimina was fifteen years old nothing and like the girls, Madka flirted with who would throw a sandal or two at him. He heard that she smacked down a guy visiting someone at the refugee camp, just for touching her shoulder.
“just because I am an orphan motherless girl does not mean I am to mess with.” She said and smacked him down. When the guy tried to fight her she ran like the wind, gathered stones and started throwing at the guy. She did not miss a spot on his legs.
“sorry, I give up, I won’t fight or touch your shoulders again.” the guy had begged.
“say wallahi” she demanded, waving the next stone she was ready to throw at him, “say wallahi may I choke on my tongue and die”
“wallahi, I promise” the guy said and before he knew it another stone hit him on the leg. “Ouuu ok, may I choke and die on my tongue I swear I won’t fight you or touch you.”
Kimina was soon popular amongst the foreigners for being an ambitious and hard worker. She would ask them to teach her what they are doing and in return, she would cook for them and serve tea.
She fought like a man and ran like the wind. Soon she made her mark on the refugee camp. She got herself a job as interpreter and cleaner.
Madka-Kher would think of her when he is home or out with his friends at the cinema to watch the latest Hindi movie on the screen. Amitabh Bachan aka Gacmodhere/ Longarms was his favourite actor.
“why are you here every day don’t you have a home and family?” Kimina asked him one day.
“I have a family but you are missing from the flock.” he said with a smile. “next time you come to visit the camp without an assignment bring my baby brother something okay,” she said washing clothes for the sick elder lady.
“ I love you Kimina and I want to marry you,” he said one day.
She was not aware then but she too had fallen in love with Madka-Kher and after a year they got married without the blessing of his family. And yet he brought her to his family as any proper son does.
A year of slaving for the family by doing all the house chores, fetching water and cooking for them and a grandson did not convince the family that Kimina was a suitable wife for their son.
Kimina sat on the first bus out of Mogadishu without a destination in mind. but away with the cursed heart of hearts. Why was she cursed? everyone she ever loved either died or was taken away from her. she thought of her baby brother who was snatched away from her two years ago. His uncles came and took him. “our son won’t live in a refugee camp while we are alive” they had said. “please uncle don’t separate us, let me come along, I will work for you and you won’t have to pay me, please my brother is all I have left don’t take him from me.” but the tall Arab man was not convinced. “no dear, your father is a Somali. You belong here.” and just like that, she was left alone at the refugee camp.
The sunset and rose while she sat at the same spot. Kimina stopped crying and stopped eating for weeks until Madka-Kher managed to remind her of God and her brother. “listen think about Fitah he will go to school, eat three times a day and sleep in a house and not in a tent. You would like that right?” Kimina nodded yes. “and when he comes looking for you, you ought to be alive and well right?” she nodded again.
Madka- Kher proved himself to be an honourable young man ready for marriage and to settle down. He treated her like a queen. Soon all his friends looked after Kimina and run errands for her.
Sitting on the bus kimina remembered what her mother had told her. “the women in our family are cursed. we are not blessed to have a love marriage. I loved your father, but my family disapproved so we eloped to Tanzania and had you. After years of peaceful life, my brothers found me and took me away. That is why I am now married to this man who is the father of your brother.”
Her father was rejected for his Somali blood and yet not even in her Somalia was she Somali enough.
The bus drove out of the city and on the radio played a song sending Kimina on a rollercoaster ride of emotions as tears run down her chins.
Song by Ahmed Naji – Hawa aduun (The tribulations of life)
a Short story by Muni_mar