Dunia’s fear of darkness and fire worsen with time. What kind of cruel spirit possessed her? She needed to do her part to run the By the Road restaurant she opened alongside Kimina.
She wondered how much longer Kimina would be patient with her. There was no rational way to explain her sudden fear for the fire. She would get panic attacks if she attempted to put more charcoal on the stove. As soon as the tiny little sparks flew out of the fire she would jump back. And she felt like she was being choked by the air refusing to come out of her throat.
No matter how wide she opened her mouth or how much she gasped for air, she felt as if she was suffocating. The ground came closer, her hands were on fire. She was going mad. That is the only way she could explain her situation to herself.
“ I am so sorry Walalo, sister sorry that I can’t help you with the cooking, but I promise I will cut all the veggies and me, meat for you,” Dunia says. Kimina was understanding and helpful but the poor girl had her hands full. “You can go fetch water for us and I can cook.” Kimina proposed. Kimina had her own fear.
Kimina was terrified of the river, the well and The Ocean. Anywhere a body of water gathered she did not like. But she had to fetch water from the river none the less.
“You girls go together and fetch us water I will watch the kids,” said aunt Mano Fay.
They looked at each other holding each other’s gaze for a while. Then Dunia turned around and said, “Kimina has her period she should stay home I will fetch us water.”
Kimina sighed and smiled then turned around and held her stomach. Any woman knows the pain of having their period. “aah miskiin Eddo, my poor child, don’t worry after your third child you will not suffer in pain.” Mano Fay said walking out of their hut.
“third child?” Kimina crossed her legs making a terrified face. “na kir, stop Playing” Dunia says and throws her scarf at Kimina.
The girls got used to one another finding the sister they never had in one another.
One of the nights Dunia forced Kimina to sleep outside the hut. “it is too warm inside and the sky is most beautiful at night.” Dunia said.
“what if a Lion is watching us while we watch the sky?” Kimina asked. They had their kids sleeping in between them on the plastic floor mat. “well alhamdulillah thank God I am not the only One with fat on their bone now am I?” Dunia says and chuckled.
Kimina laughed and laid back staring at the open sky. It was dark. Few houses had their paraffin lamps turned on. They had prayed isha the night-time prayer. The stars sparkled taking turns as if they were communicating.
“I wish my mother is up there amongst the stars,” Kimina said Dunia lifted her head up and looked at Kimina. She didn’t see her face fully. “I pray May Allah grant Jannah to our mothers,” Dunia said.
It was the first time they had spoken about their parents. After a while, they were each taking turn telling One another of their stories.
“I never met my mother she passed away when she gave birth to me” Dunia said looking at stars
“aaah, I am so sorry to hear that abaayo, sister, may your mother quench her thirst in paradise,” Kimina said drawing her son closer. She lays her scarf on him like a blanket. A soft wind breeze howled. One could hear hyenas laughing somewhere far.
Dunia continued talking.”I was raised by my brothers and nannies. My father used to love me.” Dunia’s voice cracked. She swallowed back the little cry that tried to escape from her mouth. Aabo used to love me but now look at me… Kimina was used to Dunia’s habit to think out loud. She listened not wanting to interrupt her friend’s storytelling.
It isn’t right to pretend like You love your kids the same. They all lied to me. Dunia said Biting her under the lip.
“I don’t know much about my father,” Kimina said. Dunia did not hear her, she was lost in thoughts.
“I wish I had gone to Bosaso with my aunt that summer. But no I had to stay home with my brothers. To what Goodness? it just made it easier for me to pay attention to him.”
Dunia remembered the first time she paid attention to Ali-Asbro. He was her biggest sin. Falling in love was a sin. Had she went with her aunt as planned she would have come back in one piece and marry the man her father arranged for her to marry. Instead, she was married to a man. Only her vessel belonged to the man she was forced to marry. Her heart was a cheater. “I understand Why girls are kept guarded it is to protect them from being reviled to options,” Dunia said.
Kimina had no idea what she was talking about but she kept quiet and waited.
“if I had not given my heart to that boy, today I would have had a place in my father’s house. And my brothers would avenge the blood I have lost in the hands of that old man they gave me away to.” I sure look like an old hag myself. Dunia thought to herself.
“haha You know he sang like a horse that boy had an ugly voice which everyone made sure to tell him but he did not care.” Dunia dragged the headscarf and let her hair down. No one can see us in the dark she thought to herself. The wind felt like a soft touch on her neck. She sighed pulled her knees up and wrapped her arms around them while sitting. She moves back and forth.
Kimna sat up and looked around. Lions make noise right? She shook off her fear and looked at her friend. She felt sorry for her but also envious. Kimina felt unfamiliar feeling hit her like a wave. At least You had a father who loved You and brothers. Mine didn’t care for me and my mother died when I was a kid. “audublilah minasheydan rajiim” Kimina was quick to rebuke the devil. She didn’t like feeling the way she did.
Dunia didn’t notice. She continued “yeah he sang loud from his lungs. that and he was a joker he talked and joked with my brothers but held back with me so I approached him one day when my brothers sat at our café, well my father’s café.” Dunia corrected herself.
It was never hers, the café and the house, the car garage. None of these things was actually hers. Her brothers, however, had right to refer to those things as their’s for they would inherit them at the end. If she had birthed sons they would inherit her husband’s possessions. A woman had nothing to inherit. But if she was a lioness like her auntie, a woman could make a name for herself and work hard. Her aunt had a blooming successful business in importing and exporting goods.
“stop singing so loud you sound like a horse,” I told him. Dunia smiled by the memory. “You should have seen the look in his face. He was no longer the smiley joker guy. He looked at me as if He had seen a ghost. Then ignored me completely. I went around the car and he said to leave him alone.” what did he expect from a spoiled brat? I just went back until he was ok to joke and make fun of my chubby hands.” Dunia lifted her hands in the air. They were not chubby but had burn marks.
“Why did your family not approve of him?” Kimina was curious she could relate to the feeling of being unwanted.
“he was,” Dunia paused. “he was found in front of a mosque as an infant and a Nice couple raised him as their own. Nobody knows who his birth parents are. So.” she looked at Kimina’s direction. She could see the shape of her face. Kimina nodded. She understood that a child left like that was born out of wedlock.
“but you loved him still?” Kimina asked carefully. Dunia wrapped her arms around herself. “of course I loved him, of course, I loved him” she said in a whisper. “what is there not to love? He was a good person. He prayed, he was Nice to his parents and to children. He worked hard and he had no addiction.” but he truly was kind to me. I felt safe and loved with him.
“so, did You marry him in secret or?” Kimina asked hoping she wasn’t bothering her friend with all her Questions. But she felt like she was taking a break from her own insanity by listening to Dunia’s story.
“we were going to. We were going to elope to Jigjiga and get married. He would find a job in a car mechanic garage. And I would teach maths. But someone told my brothers about our plan and they caught me running towards the bus station.
Dunia blamed herself for everything. “now an elder woman must live as a baron once again because of me. Her only son would have been killed if he had stayed in Hargeisa.” who was going to stand up and fight for his justice he was poor and a nobody but to me he was my everything.
Dunia laid back on the plastic floor mat. She put her scarf on her daughters. “my husband was never happy with having me. He took it upon him to punish me for loving Ali-Asbro. He said I was a cheater and unfaithful. I didn’t know that I was given away to him. Who told me?”
Kimina was surprised by how much Dunia was opening up to her. And how she herself felt safe outside their hut under the open sky.
“I would have forgotten about him if Khalid was not so cruel and jealous. He would talk about a man who never laid next to me as if he did.” but he kissed you Dunia thought to herself
and it was a kiss from hell. Just like it’s told hell flames burn You. so were the feelings that kiss awoke. And Dunia was certain that it was a secret she was going to carry to her grave. She denied any physical contact when her brothers brought her back home. Her aunt grilled her. “we didn’t hold hands” she insisted.
She was reminded constantly of someone she was denied to think about.
“what was his name Ali-Asbro was that his name?” Kimina felt like a fist hit her gut. She jumped up from the mat and made a piping sound “iiiiiiiiiii” Dunia jumped out of her dreamland “what? did a snake bite You? Where where?” she was ready to pick her twins and run. But Kimina jumped towards her. “maya maya, No, listen I know him.” she said
Dunia was confused “You know who?”
Kimina nodded her head in yes, “Ali-Asbro, or I think I have met him”
Dunia burst into laughter making the sleeping kids turn around on the plastic floor mat. “Impossible that you have not met him like it is to return the good days. I think we have had enough about me, now tell me your story” she said still laughing.
Kimina was Grateful to have One person she told all her Secrets to. And she was going to the river to fetch water from them while Kimina looked after their children.
Madka-Kher was glad to see his two best friends at the bus station.
“ooh boy look at the rasta man without a guitar or a wife” Abdalla was quick to comment on Madka’s look.
“I am glad you didn’t find her looking like this, the poor girl would have had a heart attack,” he said giving Madka a hand to get off the bus. Which Madka responded to by slapping his hand away.
Song named Xalay saqdi dhexe ~ in the middle of the night
Sang by Hibo Maxamed