Kimina squeezes the lemon hard to add it’s juice on the chilli chutney. It is noon, the sun was at it’s hottest and soon the buses passing by would stop. The travellers would ask for wudu water, wash and pray the noon prayer. They would then answer nature’s call and get something to eat.
“aren’t You glad that we opened a restaurant Dunia?” Kimina looks at Dunia washing the plates.
“I don’t think you could work as a farmers assistant Kimina, you would not reach the corns,” Dunia says and takes a hand full of water, throws at Kimina. Kimina throws at her the empty lemon skin which falls down at the dishwashing bowl. “see you can’t even throw right. How would you shoo away craws from the farm?” Dunia says taking out the lemon.
“I would run around and make noise,” Kimina says putting the chilli chutney aside. She starts chopping a banana. They had only 3 bananas to serve with the meal. Roasted rice cooked with saffron, cumin and Cardamom. A bowl of lamb meat soup. A small bowl of chilli chutney. And a jar of cold tamarind juice and a jar of lemonade. Yet all this would not be enough without a slice of banana to each bite. Somalis and their exquisite taste in food.
“yes, I am glad we are not working on farms though. We would have to carry our kids while we worked and they would burn in the heat.” Dunia says looking at her hands. The feeling of being burned is one she knew too well. All of a sudden Dunia felt as if the ground came closer to her face. She couldn’t breathe…
“she just started breathing as if she was running out of breath,” Kimina tells the imam of the Village who was by chance nearby. The Sheikh instructed the people that came to see what the fuss was about, to pick up Dunia and Put her under the tree for shade. “the heat at this hour is not good for your heads” he added. “it is the evil eye Sheikh read the Qurʼan over the poor girl” shouted an elder lady who had crossed the road limping just to see why people were gathering at the – by the road- restaurant. “waa il qumayo” an envious soul cast their eyes on her. The elder lady says, spitting air on her sides Allahuma najna God Forbid us this. She says while looking at Dunia’s motionless body.
Dunia woke up to the splashes of cold water on her face.
People agreed she was either possessed by a djin spirit or an evil eye. What they did not know is that Dunia was trapped in nightmares at nights lately.
She saw herself in a burning house. She didn’t dare to tell anyone for she was afraid people would think it was a sign that she was indeed going to hell.
But hell surely looked like a familiar house and the devil had the face of her estranged husband.
“abaayo, please go home, it isn’t much you can do here,” Kimina says looking concerned at Dunia. But Dunia was Stubborn and refused.
“the busses will arrive right before Duhur the call for Noon time prayer. I can’t leave you alone” Dunia says.
“if you really want to help take this food take our kids to shower them and rest with them.”
Dunia accepted Manofay’s offer to carry the twins as Dunia carrier Kamina’s son. They walked together to the resting hut that had become their New home. Living Kimina at – by the road restaurant.
Madka-Kher held tight to the side of the Lorry he was sitting on. The Lorry driver was in a hurry. Madka-Kher was glad they were speeding past Lion territories. But the heat and windless Journey made him wonder what on earth he was doing. I am the one who let her go, so Why am I so mad she left the city? The red sand and small bushes reminded him on the first time he and Kimina had travelled out of the city.
Kimina had heard that her brother was in Marka staying with a Yemeni family.
“upenda wango my love from now on you are not my husband but my brother okay?” Kimina says giving him a quick kiss. Madka-Kher did not like one bit of her idea. But he realized it was worth a try. The cars and buses passed them by, none stopped to give them a lift. They planned to hitch hike all the way to the other city. And save the little money they had for food and water. Madka-Kher agreed to hide behind a bush and let Kimina try to get someone to stop. Kimina was not standing alone for too long when a jeep stopped right next to her. ” where to? the little lady” asked the man sitting at the passenger seat. The jeep had only two seats but, it had a trunk open big enough to carry sacks of sugar and people on top of them. The trunk was empty too. ” I am going to Marka uncle,” Kimina said looking a bit scared. “call me brother and please hop on we ar driving just past there. ” – Oh thank you, we are so grateful she says and tilts her head towards the bush. Madka-Kher comes out running and stands by her.
“and who is this man?” asks the man on the passenger seat fixing his shirt. “this is my brother Madka-Kher. He is grew up in Kenya so he doesn’t speak Somali. “aah he is Somali siju Miya?” the man says “ but you don’t look alike” he adds eyeballing Madka-Kher. “we have the same father but not the same mother” Kimina says looking at Madka-Kher’s face. “ooh, ehehe, brother welcome welcome sit on the trunk Karibu astante , jambo” the man coughs all the Swahili words he had ever heard in an attempt to impress Madka-Kher. “listen beautifully, you could sit with me on the front but your brother is with you.” the man says and promises he will sit and drink tea with her brother in the next town.
Madka-Kher was furious, “he wants to drink tea with me because he fancies you, and properly thinks I can give you a way to him so he can marry you” ooh he was furious but also thankful that they had a trunk to themselves. Kimina would tease him and say “bradeh, my bradah.” but then comes close and lay her head on his chest. “nakupenda sana” he would say. She would look up at him with her big brown eyes and smile. ” I love you too, more than life itself.”
The lorry’s sudden stop threw Madka-Kher off balance and he fell back on the sugar and wheat-flour sacks.
Kimina kind of regretted that she had sent Dunia back to the hut. three busses and a jeep stopped by to pray and eat.
“do you know if there is a pharmacy in the area?” asked the man who came off the jeep. He was dressed with a white Khamis. Kimina had not seen anyone wear those since she came to Somalia. men back home in Dar Es Salam wore white long Khamis/dress on a daily basis. “I need aspirin, my head is killing me,” said the man. Kimina looked around to see if there was any kind villager to help her out. “I don’t think there is a pharmacy nearby. Perhaps in Jalalaqsi, there might be a kiosk,” she says pouring lemon juice on a tin-cup to serve the impatient customer.
“please if you take a seat on one of the stools, I will make you a mean cup of chai it will cure your headache,” Kimina says with a smile putting rice and meat on a plate to serve another inpatient customer.
The man takes a seat and watches Kimina work. Or he seemed like he was watching her but in fact he was mind traveling. For some odd reason she reminded him of someone. perhaps it was the purple scarf she wore. Kimina served him a plate of rice and meat with out him ordering and he ate it all. She brought him the cup of tea she promised too when men were already going back to their busses. he drank it and thanked her for it. All though it did not do much for his headache he appreciated the effort.
“I will now wash the dishes to prepare for the next araival of travelers brother if you don’t mind” Kimina says wondering why this man still sat on the stool, when people were getting ready to continue their journey. “thank you sister,” he says paying her handsomely and gets up.
As he walks he hums a familiar sound that Kimina had heard when she was little… but she didn’t dare to stop him and ask him if he was indeed thinking of a song her mother Fatma used to sing while comping her hair. The last time Kimina was trapped by her love for Kswahili language she fell in whole. So she bits her tongue and went ahead with her chords
The man’s driver shouts at him as he walks towards the jeep. “shall I start the car Ali -Abro?”
Old tarab song from Zanzibar