Kimina woke up with a terrible headache. She had been up the night before afraid of hyenas. She never minded before, that the hut she and Dunia rented had no door. They had made their own door. Kimina picked up a few life hacks while she lived in the refugee camp.
They gathered big and strong tree branches and nailed them together. They then took an old sheet and wrapped it around the branches, making sure no eye could peek through. They then would lean their hand made door from the inside on the place where a door was meant to be.
That used to give Kimina a sense of security, but since Dunia took off. The hut felt too big for her little frame. Drawing her son closer to her chest she stayed up.
“Where are you going exactly?” his mother was standing at the gate. “mother I am going to work, you know that,” Madka-Kher said looking at the lines on her forehead. He felt conflicted, he knew what his mother went through with him.
He never stopped hearing about how difficult it was giving birth to him. She almost died. He was her first child. His mother Aawo was heavily pregnant with him while she was out watching the camels. The labour started out she was all alone. And had he not been laying sideways in her womb, she would have birthed him all alone. And brought a child back home that faithful afternoon. It wasn’t unusual for nomadic women to birth their children all alone. The children came when they were ready to come out. No one knew when that was.
So women went on and about their lives just like Aawo did that evening. When she didn’t come home with the camel herders, her husband worried she might have gone into labour. Aawo was prideful which he knew well. She went to another side of the valley to avoid pitting eyes of her growing stomach. And her slow like a turtle walk.
Madka-Kher’s father found his wife under tree blood running down her legs as she held tight to a branch. Camel herders sat or laid under a tree while the camels chewed feeding on bushes. Aawo cursed her husband wishing he didn’t come looking for her, for she felt defeated. She didn’t want to be known as the weak wife who couldn’t birth a child on her own. But her husband didn’t care nor did he listen to her. He carried her back to her mother’s hut. Where she spent another day in labour. Her mother was a child-deliverer. She helped massage through Aawo’s stomach until the child was in the right position to be pushed out.
“alla hooyoo, don’t you know I almost died giving birth to you?” Aawo said holding his chin. Holding one’s chin indicates one is pleading/ begging someone.” I almost lost you too my child, you were sick many years.” Madka-Kher grabbed his mother’s hands and kissed them. Looking at her face full of tears. “mother, I have told my friends to cover for me. Here is this month’s salary.” Madka-Kher put a roll of shilling in her hand. “If you run out ask Abdalla anything you need, he will run errands for the family on my behalf.” it pained him to see his mother in tears. He looked away. “Hoyo pray for me,” he says and goes behind her to get out of the gate.
“war maxay kugu akhisay hogye?” his mother was yelling behind him. What did she read upon you? His mother’s only way to make sense of the love between Madka-Kher and Kimina was to say, Kimina is a witch who put a spell on her son.
Kimna was wrong for Madka-Kher in every way. She was not the same clan, she didn’t dress properly in her see-through dira dresses. She barely spoke proper Somali and curls peeking out of her head wraps. She laughed out loud, ran like boys and she was an orphan. No one to claim her. If Aawo sent her away she had nowhere to go which made her linger near their home.
Aawo tried everything to make Kimina leave on her own. She didn’t like seeing her son visit her first when he came from work. She was new to his life but the boy was acting as if she was the one who nearly died giving birth to him. Madka-Kher didn’t know of course but to love blindly was rubbish and dangerous. A woman is to birth your children, raise them and look after the family. Aawo knew that and tried to save her son from making a huge mistake. But a man under a spell has no ears to hear the truth. Aawo thought to herself.
And now her son was gone to find and bring back that witch. “but as long as I live you shall not rest.” She said and spat on the sand.
“You can’t work on the farms with your son on your back Kimina, he will choke in the heat” Mano Fay was concerned. “I know I… I know” Kimina didn’t know what to do. She had to earn enough cash to afford a bus out of the Village. Mano Fay needed the resting hut for it was getting warmer. And The resting hut is cooler than the regular hut. Kimina knew Mano Fay meant it when she said “stay as long as you wish” but she hated feeling like a burden.
“I guess I could try to open a..” No Kimina shook her head refusing herself to say the words out loud. The restaurant was burned down. They even smashed the charcoal oven. Kimina had no money to buy sandals let alone a second-hand oven. And the buses drove past 20 more minutes to pray and dine in the city instead of the Village. For the only by the road, restaurant was no more.
“what shall I do auntie?” Kimina looked at Mano Fay, hoping she would come up with a solution to all her problems. She hoped that someone else would figure life out for her. For once auntie just for once tell me why am I cursed? Why is Allah punishing me? Is it something in my blood? Did my forefathers do things to bring curse on us?
Kimina would never ask those questions out loud and reveal how fragile her faith was. She prayed on time. She even woke up for the midnight prayer, but she felt agony and even more guilty for having such weak iman that she questioned her qadr. Above love and choices in life there was qadr, destiny perhaps Kimina was suffering because it was simply her destiny. But try and tell that to a broken heart. “You know auntie, a heart breaks the same in every language?”
Mano Fay looked at Kimina confused, but didn’t interrupt her.. “haa yes every crying eye shed tears, I promise you I have seen people cry in different languages. Their mouths said different words, but their eyes all spoke the same” Kimina said I guess tears don’t have a language of their own. A heart breaks the same in every language it is just the tribulations of life.
“She can’t stay, here she is a married woman” Dunia’s aunt was speaking on her behalf. But Dunia was not having it. “I can stay here for it is my father’s house, besides shouldn’t you go to your own house and husband? Why are you here every day?” No one expected Dunia to talk back but she spoke and to their surprise, she was ready to fight too. The first days she came back to Hargeisa, Dunia wouldn’t leave her father’s bedside. Her husband left the same afternoon he dropped her and her daughters off.
Dunia took him by surprise too. Travelling with children was not easy. They had to stop many times. The Journey took them many days. Dunia slept in the day time with one eye open. At night she was wide awake, in case his demons returned to finish what they had started. One day on the road he looked at her the way he did when he was up to no good. Dunia reached for the car door and before he had a chance to say anything she hit him hard.
Khalid drove out of the road and stopped with force. Dunia hit him again. “I am ready to die anytime, now are you?” she asked him. Khalid was shocked he had never seen Dunia angry let alone furious. “You are an old man, you have no power and you will die without fathering a son to carry your name further. Tell me is that what you want?” Dunia learned to use his weakness against him. She learned from the best after living with her abusive husband. “or are you going to be Nice and drive us back to my home city and marry a second wife in peace?” Khalid was holding his hands up in defence. Dunia was waving a piece of sheet she had cut from her dira dress. In it, she had three big stones. Something she learned from Kimina.” never goes anywhere without this. Always have stones and a piece of sheet ready to wrap around and tie them tight. If your gut tells you something is up, surprise the attacker before they surprise you.”
Kimina was always on guard and Dunia learned to be one.
Khalid said he was not looking for trouble and drove off in peace.
It didn’t bother her that Khalid had married a young nomadic girl. It didn’t bother her that people pointed fingers and talked about her. Or that her scars and burn marks were visible. She was standing taller than ever, since the day she stood up for herself.
Madka-Kher was counting the hours until he was close to the Village his lady was last seen. Imagine my wife is running her own restaurant. He smiled by the thought. His stomach growled by the thought of food, Kimina’s food. Oo I miss her chapati with her lamb chops soup. He missed her laughter and the way she would hit the ground with her tiny leg while laughing out loud and carefree.
He had never seen a human being with so many emotions. She cried for the poor, she cried when grateful, she cried when in pain. And she cried on behalf of others as well as for animals in pain. “look, Madka looks, that poor donkey can’t carry all that load poor thing” she used to point out things she found to be unfair.
But she also loved to have fun, talk with her friends and sneak out to the movies with him. They were married young and in love.
It seemed like the closer he got towards the Village the further he felt like he was from her.
“we are in Jalalaqsi in twenty-five minutes,” said the bus driver. Madka-Kher saw a Village in the horizon. “please stop in the Village” he yelled out. “we don’t stop before the city brother. Hold on we will be there soon.” Madka was not having it. “Stop I said or else,” he yelled.
The driver stopped.
Madka-Kher jumped off the bus. “Kiminaaaaaaa” he yelled out.
Kimina looked up from the burned down hut where she came to think of what to do next.
Madka-Kher looked around, there right in the middle of a burned down hut, sat the love of his life.