Kimina was laughing so hard… “He said… He said” she attempts to finish the sentence without laughing, she fails. Hitting the ground with one leg, and slapping her thigh she tries again. “He said, dabadeed, her ass”
“get yourself together Kimina, everyone is looking at us,” says Dunia cutting the onions. She looks to her side and sees her daughters running around the tall tree. She smiles and looks back at Kimina who was still laughing at the man singing loud with angelic voice through the radio.
The man was claiming that he had fallen sick with illness- in love with a girl the first time he laid eyes on her. Kimina was enjoying the words saying “oh listen, he stopped eating and drinking because he was in love, he must not have been truly hungry what?” Kimna had said. Dunia admired how cheerful Kimina tried to stay. But she could hear the crack in her voice. And all of a sudden she started laughing.
Why she breaths – huuh why is a grown man singing about an ass? she finally asked. By that Dunia, giggled and shook her head. “he did not say anything about an ass” now is this ok or do you want the onions smaller?” asks Dunia stretching her back.
The four-legged short stools were not comfortable. Dunia was used to sitting on sofas, but she did not complain one bit. Her body did that all by its own. She was aching everywhere and felt heavier.
Dunia looks at the friend she made over the past 3 months. They have travelled from one village to another until they got off the 8th bus and found themselves in a small village near Jalalaqsi. They got off and decided it was the best place to start a new.
The villagers mostly farmers welcomed the girls as their own. The Somali hospitality was one they counted on. Kimina asked an elder lady who was travelling with them on the bus if she had a hut for rent. “we will pay you by working for a while until we settle.” she promised. The elder lady said she had a hut she used for the warmer days called “the resting hut” but it is very cold to live there now she had said. The hut is built under a tree covered with red mud to keep cool in the summertime.
“can we also lit a fire in the hut? asked Kimina. The elder lady laughed and said to Kimina that she had never seen such a persistent young girl. “fine come and stay with me”
Dunia would never dare to go to a stranger and bluntly ask them for a place to stay.
“naya ma walan tahay? are you totally out of your mind?” Dunia asked pulling Kimina to the side. “you don’t know her, what if” Dunia looks around and whispers “what if she eats us?” Kimina tightening the knot to hold her sleeping son steady on her back. says “well, she will start with the big one first won’t she” eyeing Dunia from the foot up and from the head down. She then laughs and says “I know people, and this mama all though she is big, she doesn’t scream evil. come now put your trust in Allah, now since when did someone lose by trusting God?”
Dunia chants a prayer “Hasbunallahu wa Ni’mal Wakeel” and walks behind the two ladies that seemed to get along. Luckily the lady who insisted they now called her aunt ManoFay, didn’t live far from the station.
She had two huts as she had told them. Behind her huts, one could see the miles and miles of farms. Both Dunia and Kimina stood and just admired the beauty their eyes were witnessing.
The red in the sunset, the dark green of the maize farms. The sheepherders one could glimpse running down the hill on their way back for the night. The houses all lighting their paraffin lamps. The sounds of ladies beating the crap out of the wheat flour mixture for tomorrow’s breakfast. It was a beautiful sight.
“don’t just stand there now ladies get inside the children will freeze” the lady who became like a mother to them was holding a paraffin lamp.
” you don’t need to chop the onion any more Dunia” says Kimina and takes the plate from her. She puts it on the cooking oil. The girls had decided they were going to run a little by the round restaurant. With only 7 stools to sit on. A charcoal stove and a big pot. They made enough money to buy milk for their children and pay the auntie. This way their children would not burn on their backs by working in the farms all day. Kimina was the social one who dared the travels to taste their food and not like it, while Dunia was the one to pour the food and collect the money. They found out that Kimina was the better cook.
” He did say ass, did you not hear?” Kimina giggles, “he said dabadeed” Kimina was surprised to hear Dunia laugh so loud, she had not seen Dunia laugh before. Only smile or make a polite sound in an attempt to laugh. She was happy to finally see Dunia laugh. She felt for her.
She was beautiful but she was insecure with the scars as she tried to hide under big batis. The colourful maxi dresses did not hide the scars one could see the marks on her neck and the burn marks on her legs and arms. Kimina admired how composed Dunia remained throughout the day. She spoke little but Kimina was determined to make her speak.
“dabadeed walalo means later on, or afterwards.” Dunia says with a smile reviling the thick red line on her teeth. “bacden, miyaa?” said Kimina suddenly the love song made complete sense to her. They interpreted for one another on the bus too. When Dunia didn’t understand the argument between the southern gentlemen on the bus, Kimina translated every word. And Dunia returned the favour when the northern accent went by Kimina’s ears and she looked confused.
Kimina wished she knew what has happened to Dunia. But she knew better than to ask bluntly. She could see how jumpy she gets by sundown.
The hut was warmer than they anticipated. And Aunt Monofay was kind enough to give them more sheets to cover themselves with. Aunt Manofay had lost her husband and her sons were married and lived on the other side of the village. ” I wish I had a daughter” Aunt ManoFay had said. Kimina knew what it was like to wish one had something they longed for. She longed for the warm embraces of her mother. She still remembers waving goodbye to her mother thinking she was coming back. She never did. She longed for her baby brother and wished she knew his whereabouts. She did not.
She longed for Madka-Kher the man who promised her that he was never going to live her side. “only death, only death will separate us my love.” he had said. And yet the one who gave him life by birthing him raced death to the match taking him back. “if my mother was alive I am sure she would have few words with her” Kimina said to herself. Looking to her side, her son laid blissfully. She threw her head back putting the tears back before they escape her eyes. Dunia and Kimina looked at each other and in silence continued with their chords. Each feeling old wounds reopened. Each sighing in pain.
Song by Abdiqadir Sanka – Sahra Ceebla