Sensibility!

“Masculinity is a hard, small cage and we put boys in this cage.”
_Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

I want to embrace my womanhood. To thrive in it and let it thrive in me. My liberal womanhood. I really want to soak myself in it’s lustre but I’m as worried as I shouldn’t be.


Woman is defined as an adult human female.

Man is defined as an adult human male.


When my breasts had just begun being sensitive to touch-as they do when you are nine or thirteen, whichever, these two beautiful stubborn mounds of wonder- I noticed that most adult female people preferred the title “lady” to the title “woman”, they’d rather be “girl” for the rest of their lives than be “woman”. I noticed the spite and dissatisfaction with which an adult female person would look at anyone calling them “woman”. At a tender pubescent age I was made by my surroundings to know that the adjective/noun “woman” is to be associated with impurity, promiscuity, obscenity, vulgarity, degradation and old age among many other despicable nouns. I grew up speaking Swahili and some English. The ridicule poured generously on the noun woman is more pronounced in Swahili. Woman in Swahili is Mwanamke and I know it is not a much appreciated noun. Several times I have seen people use it as a derogatory term. To insult and injure. Each of these times I have been hurt and angered. Yet with all this scorn surrounding the term “woman”, there’s all that delight with which it’s antonym “man” is being addressed with. I see boys as young as nine trying hard to be addressed as men. Initiation rites in most parts of the world are mostly all about converting “boys” into “men” with so much glee and dance and food and celebration. It’s usually a season of immense pride for the boy and his parents especially because being referred to as a “man” is so elevating, empowering, so purifying that every male teenager must look forward to. Look forward to being a man, pontifical and noble yet dangerously lascivious. How euphoric! It’s the same in Swahili. The Swahili word for man is Mwanamume and oh hail the Mwanamume! We exalt you! You are a sublime noun that every young male wants. You are infallible! How grand! Just how! I find this subjectivity extremely appalling. Dear beautiful adult female, please allow yourself to be a woman and remember to call me if it hurts. Find me and slap me twice across the face and tell me that it ached to be a woman that it scorched, that it made you filthy. I might withdraw my opinions. I also know that there is a significant number of women(I love using this word. I want to use it. I also want you to not feel tainted by it my love) prefer to be addressed as “MS.”, “Miss…” or as “Mrs….” I choose not to be bothered by your wish to have a preference. You have not much choice I know. We have to choose one if we must have an honorific before our name. However, it does bother me that there was need for having three different titles for the female human being each of which is wholly dependent upon her marital status I won’t pretend that I like being asked to clarify whether I’m a MS., Miss. or Mrs.. I have to choose. Unlike my brother who was a Mr. from birth, unlike my father whose salutation is in no way affected by my mother’s existence. Why? And so we raise boys with all this assumption of masculine superiority and feminine inferiority heaped upon their little backs. We call them lions and tell them to be men, breathing sphinxes. Not that it’s bad to call boys lions, how I adore those big cats with their stunning mane! There is nothing wrong with it, except that we insist, that we remind them that if they fail in life then they have killed their parents. Wow! This is the small cage that we put boys in. We tell their sisters to be pretty and to get some education to be gentle and less noisy, to be sweet and prayerful, to keep quiet when a man speaks, to have a walking style that will attract a “man”, to wake up at 6 o’clock because girls shouldn’t oversleep, then they’ll find a good man who will appreciate their morally permissible selves and take good care of them. How sweet! We don’t realise what we are doing though, do we? When we preach “Mwanamke ni tabia na Mwanamume ni jasho!” This loosely translates to “A woman is defined by her character and morals while a man is defined by his sweat which is in his toil and earnings”, do we realise the mistake we are making? We(gender notwithstanding) Should All Be Feminists doesn’t translate to all of us wearing lip gloss and stiletto heels. It simply means that we, here I mean everybody regardless of gender, should raise both boys and girls with equal enthusiasm. Tell girls to work their best, tell her that decorum is commendable but certainly not the definition of her success as woman. Tell her that she can sleep till 8 o’clock and work till 10 o’clock in the night, tell them that flaunting and trading their bodies for favours and approval is disgusting and in fact degrading. Tell boys that they are not to kill themselves trying to please girls, and that when they grow into men(correct definition of men) they shouldn’t walk on blades to please women(correct definition of women) who want to lazy around and be moral. Damn girl, be pretty and industrious. Teach boys to let themselves own failure if and when it happens, to cry when overwhelmed with emotions because we all have tears, whoever told them that tears were only found in girls’ tear ducts lied to them. Teach them how to say “I love you” and tell them that they are not obligated to muscle up and that being lighter skinned is not emasculating. Tell sons that it’s the duty of all human beings to do house chores in their respective houses regardless of the number of girls and women in that house, tell him that sexualizing girls and women is contemptible, tell him that men should raise their babies as much as women do and that doing so is not an achievement, not a favour to the woman but a duty, an obligation to parenting. Tell men to relax. Please teach girls to be independent, tell them that it is not required of them to be dependent on a man. That she can be a politician or a plumber…it doesn’t matter. That both her and her partner should be equally able to pay for dates. That she can speak out, that she is not bound to letting only her brothers, father or husband make decisions for her. That when she is an adult she will be a beautiful woman. That being a woman is as glorious as being alive.

I strongly think that the definition of “Woman” as a peremptory/offensive form of address to a woman should be scrapped out of existence.

Be comfortable with being a woman you amazing adult human female.

I want to be Ms. Nambuya

Certainly I will raise feminist, egalitarian children.

YOURS TRULY

Painfully She placed her bosom on the window stool. She did not care that the aged wood hurt her young breasts. She did not want to feel. To feel weakened. Rested on her elbows, her delicate elbows with thin, unharmed skin, she stared into the distance, across the yard, past the graves. She looked, with divine concentration, at the raging storm. She fixed her eyes at the vegetable patch. Her eyes, glassy soft asparagus with the longest lashes. Yolama was in love, she was brutally in love with how the hail hit the leaves, with how the hail tore the leaves into shreds. “That’s what happens when there is no one to protect you.” She thought. Subconsciously she brushed her finger on her thigh, over her scar, this scar that lives. This scar that controls and breathes like an unforgiving adder. A possi of dung beetles scurried past, impatiently looking for a place to shelter. That too awed her, she laughed at their hopelessness. She lived for such moments. She lived to witness suffering. She was one with misery. She laughed at their affliction, she laughed so hard her ribs hurt. Then suddenly, like lightning, her past flooded back, tugging on her wretched heart like a bloody sickle. She cringed. She looked over to the grave, her grandmother’s grave. For the 77th time that month, Yolama wished she could bring her back to life. Her pillar…

On that 7th day, under the skies,

under heavens and the stars, God’s spies,

On that 7th day of knowing him,

partly as a lover, I gave him my heart.

Khuzwayo. My muse. My fairytale. My pact.

Well, I had loved him, for 7 years.

I just hadn’t been able to tell him. Fears. Insecurities.

See, this man gave colour to my nondescript existence.

The sinister curve of his lips.

Bondage. Pestilence.

Khuzwayo . My Khuzwayo with the eyes of a jaguar.

“Don’t just drink any water because it was drawn from a stream Yola!” My grand mother had insisted.

Ignorance, naivety maybe, whichever. My idenity.

That night still lives in my memories.

With how much futility have I tried , tried to erase,

to get rid of these lucid memories. Lethal memories.

Khuzwayo had stumbled into my apartment.

Reeking of exotic rum and tropical fruits.

He drunkenly pulled me to him. My canibal.

As he strangled my scrawny neck I teared. Hugs were banal.

On this day however, he strangled harder. Oblivious.

I teared. Desire. I chocked. His masochist.

“Like the rest of them you haven’t helped! You haven’t driven out my demons! You couldn’t heal my soul. Yolama I want to kill your selfish self. I thought you’d save me!” He rumbled.

I stood dumbfounded. Hapless. Confused.

My tattoo, tribute to him gleamed painfully, ominously,

against my toffee skin. ‘YOURS TRULY KHUZWAYO’

I wished for something deeper than death.

Something more perfect. More ridding.

I couldn’t come to terms with these facts.

That he had only been using me.

That I had been his catharsis…

Catharsis is more beautiful a word even.

He had expected of me a rehabilitation of some sort.

An acquiscent masochist. An asylum.

I remembered with contempt those nights,

those nights in his father’s house.

Those cold nights when he’d tie me against a pillar.

When he’d whip my lovestruck body into a bloody mess.

Then, with the tenderness of a cub,

he’d lick off all my shed blood. He’d cry. Like a lad.

And here I was, failed at being therapeutic.

Failed at healing. I hated myself, I loathed him.

He let go of my throat, I gasped hard. For the acrid air.

I was just about to reach for the door.

I wanted to run, to disappear, to die.

I was just about to reach for the damned door when,

with the might of the wind he pushed me to the bed.

I saw death, I smiled.

He grabbed me by my thighs. His nails dug deep.

They dug so deep into my skin I bled. The pain.

That pain tasted like flowers.

He was determined to drain my life out.

Perhaps he wanted to turn me into a destructed being,

Like he. Just maybe. I already was a masochist.

I was for his sake. By his hand. By his command.

…and as he cut through my left thigh, as he ravished,

as he resurrected by my blood. I couldn’t help but hate.

Hate on life, on humans with their lies so furnished.

…and as life flew past my eyes, I saw in the emptiness,

in the gloom, my grandmother’s eyes shut.

I saw them shut for her eternal sleep….

“Yola darling, because all water is not pure water…”

This scar that lives, this scar that possesses. She wiped a tear that had fallen on the window stool. Only her left eye teared these days. She hoped that her grandmother had pardoned her ignorance. Yolama hoped also that her grandmother understood and did not question the way she lived her life these days. Some day when the reaper comes for her troubled soul, maybe she will meet her grandmother. Maybe Yola would tell her just how much she hated mirrors, just how much the rising sun saddened her…

Nambuya Embalabala

2019

I LOVE YOU, I’M SORRY THAT I DO

I came to in a room so brightly lit it was blinding. My eyes, only wont to blankness shut themselves

Just for a few seconds, minutes, maybe hours or days; I don’t really recall

Honestly I don’t care, not even slightly. Or so think. Perhaps I don’t want to.

Next I opened up my eyes, I was met with a blinding darkness…

The kind that gives you the ecstasy of fear and helplessness. The sweet sensation of vulnerability.

Still fuzzy, confused by the sudden change of the environment. Frankly I preferred this one more; it felt comforting, relaxing.

I tried to move my limbs, that were limp at the moment. No movement. Restraints. Ropes cutting deep into my wrists and ankles, preventing blood flow. Making them numb. Or they just weren’t there anymore.

Frustrated, knowing they still were. I smiled, if only the restraints were tight enough to burst the veins…

Heavy footsteps brought me out of my reverie. They approached slowly but loudly, as if being dragged.

Quickly, a hood I hadn’t noticed before was yanked, impatiently, off my head.

The acrid stench of dried blood assaulted my nose,,, followed by a putrid smell of decaying flesh.

Too much, I couldn’t help but take a long deep breathe. It smelled like fresh roses – of death, newly dug soil and grief. I was smitten…

That’s when I heard the silence; the haunting type, ideal for meditating. Gore images floated in my mind then the familiar screams started. I had come back…

I snapped open my eyes,

Cobwebs decorated the room,

Old rope nooses hanging like Christmas ribbons,

Bats suspended on rusted iron bars

Filth and grime cushioning the rough floor

Slimy, thick fluids leaking from the roof

Wet walls covered with algae

Such an elegant sight, ignored beauty. This is the house, where it all happened…

The memories came rushing in, nearly exploding my dazed mind, slowly the images rearranged to make some sense of the insanity.

I had brought her here, blindfolded, as a surprise.

The giggles of amusement she had made,

The smiles, she was jovial. The glint in her eyes that said “I trust you” when I was just about to blindfold her, how beautifully pathetic.

Little had she known…“I love you so much it hurts,” I had told her. Right before I removed the blindfold, just in time for her to see the axe and mallet crash down on her skull, brains splattered…

A grin of satisfaction, of a proud twisted lover.

She was the most beautiful person ever, I loved her – still do, and for that I had crushed her skull, because I loved her brain more, killed her… the love of my life.

Now I realized the mistake I had made, the reason why I had been brought here and what was to come next…

I could hear my heart thumping through my ears.

I felt the beats of my heart crashing against my ribs, wanting a release from the cage; because it knew it belonged to her.

It wanted to go to her. The force…

My vision blurred because my eyes were meant only for her…

Horror struck me, when I realised that the darkness that lurked deep within had broken free and was devouring my hidden fears and buried desires,

Feeding the monsters I had starved for years; the guilt, the human conscience…

Dread crawled on my skin like maggots, reminding me I was dead inside and rotting rapidly.

I needed to do this, I deserved it after what I had done to her. I know it won’t change the past but I have to.

I close my eyes, I’m surrounded by a lucid light so white,

I open my eyes, I see the axe and the mallet rapidly coming down.

I love you, I am sorry that I do, I think and mean it…

Redemption. Blackness overtakes me. Emptiness. Finality

She lays in a sepulchre in his room

He wishes to free his soul…

It is as beautiful as it is bloody.

His imported casket sits royally in his dressing room.

He awaits his demise staunchly.

***

Published with rights from the author, Ipsy Satricon the ageless stranger .

Appreciation to Ipsy Satricon, the ageless stranger for writing this piece. My edits are just a glitter or two to your masterpiece sir.

BURNT SKIN!

It’s seven minutes past four.

The street was grey, soulless to the core.

The murk soothed my bones. For the crickets,

indifferently I wished death. For peace death begets.

Their mourns, not song to me. Lamentations. Woes.

I passed by a night club. These need be shut down.

It beats me, still, what fun people see in noise. Clowns.

My Scorpion crackles. My Yamaha xs1100. Only one in town.

Through a dark alley. This alley was as dark as it was filthy.

I smiled at the darkness. On the filth lay a woman…

She was asleep, I didn’t care to be stealthy.

She, for some nasty reason, reminded me of Ahera.

She, for some dirty gut reason.

The nostalgia, the wistfullness. The terror.

I wanted so bad to run her over. I saw it, like a vision.

That if I ran her over, that if she bled to death,

That if…forget about it. All horror.

Ahera, the woman who raised me. Or seized my soul?

The woman who gave me all my scars.

All these scars that define my entire person.

I remembered how she’d brand my young body with swastikas and crosses.

I could still taste, bitterly, the acrid smell of my burning skin.

I was her effigy. On my skin she had her legacy trademarked.

On my skin…names, slogans, symbols…burning skin.

Ahera, the only kin I had had…burnt my skin.

The wistfullness, on the eve of my 16th birthday.

How I had locked her in the shack we called home,

and in her home, her shack, I did set her on fire.

The pungent smell of burning flesh. Burning skin.

I was doing the burning. I was sated. What joy.

I remember the smirk on my face. That Monday morning.

That Monday morning that I was arrested. Justice they said.

Justice, for so many years I had sought. I laughed.

Yes. I pleaded guilty. Prison, I thought, was my justice.

“I might find peace in prison, maybe I wouldn’t slit my wrists or tie up a noose…guilty your ladyship!”

These I remember with unwelcome nostalgia…

I’m on the stretch leading to my house.

My fears crop up. This house…

This house, unappolgetically makes my blood curdle

Should I? I contemplate drowning. I see a puddle…

Screw my meaningless life. Screw. Manila. Screw.

I fear her. I love her. I dread her. Manila. My death, cue?

The stench of methamphetamine, the reek of cannabis.

Manila’s body was a hard drugs’ refuge.

She was expecting my baby. See, her body was my church.

She never wanted kids. She hated me. She loved me. She.

She, the love of my life. She, brutal recluse.

Her gory present borne of her gruesome past…

The rape…

Manila…my anorexic seraph. How I loved her dead eyes.

I, this time with stealth, pushed open my front door.

On the wooden floor she lay. Limp. Maybe lifeless…

On her left, a blood stained bayonet glimmered..

Manila!!

My world as seen through insanity

NambuyaEmbalabala

Special thanks to Jabulile Sigola ☆☆☆

A LETTER TO MY GREAT GRANDMOTHER

Dear ma,

Hello great grandmother, am sorry it has been decades and I have never reached out, am sorry. Pardon my recalcitrance, you probably are wondering which of your great grandchildren I could be. I am Nambuya, well there are so many of us with that name, but I am the less fair skinned one. My skin is Dark Chocolate , like my father’s. It could be that you have no idea what chocolate is, probably the British consumed it but would never let Kenyans access it, I’m just guessing, I hear they claimed that it’s plant, cocoa can not thrive in East Africa, anyway , my skin roughly has the colour of a grass thatch after the rains. I am that Nambuya. My grandfather was your second son. I hope you did not raise a fist and lament of having a disrespectful great granddaughter who does not care to introduce herself to her elders. Well, too much of my silly introductions, by the way do you know that I’m such a clown? You would have whipped my behind a million times had you been alive. Forget about that…

How is the after-life? Is it another life or just an after life? Is their time and nights? I’m overly curious you see. The world isn’t anything that you left of it except for the fact that human beings and animals still make babies in the same old fashioned way. Today most people own cars and the white man does not rule over any black man, well unlesss they both have reached such a bizarre agreement whose occurrence is highly unlikely. Did I tell you that school is mandatory? Of course I didn’t, but it sure is. I have been learning for all the years that I have been conscious. I bet you think it should be boring, well it is; but I have to work for the kind of future I want. I talk to my cousins in The Netherlands, a far away country, I bet you are wondrring how I do it, well we have phones these days, mobile phones. Some devices that eased communication, they are quite easy to use, and they have cameras through which video calls are made, and you get to hear someone speaking through it from wherever they are. People no longer write letters ma. Can I tell you a secret? You promise not to tell? Well, I have a boyfriend, he was born in Lesotho and raised in Greece. His mother is from the land of Arabs, Pakistan. A boyfriend basically means a male lover. He is kind and has long hair in locks. We could get married and have children or just keep pets instead. Or have one child and one tiger cub. That’s what people do these days. Granny people do the weirdest of things.There is this tiny box, or large if you must have, that shows us people and events across the entire world, it is called a Television Set, just TV works well though. These latter days we see human beings of sane minds touching these boxes just to get healing, I laugh at the whole idea you know. Not because I’m not pious but because I do know that it never works that way, and that most preachers of today are pretentious and suckers for fame and money.

I have been told you were a shrewd critique, you probably would have dismissed these pastors. There is so much corruption and impunity you should be grateful that you are not physically here to witness all these.

I should be going now ma’, I have to go to the mall. It’s like a market place , only that it is not open air. It exists in a big building. My next door neighbour saw your picture hanging on my wall and he thought you must have been witty…he is a friendly man called Albert, his fiance is a military man called Stanley. They are in love. Such is life ma…

Bye.

I must be insane to be writing letters to the dead.

But who cares?

Me, Nambuya with the chocolate skin.

I KNOW WE SHALL PERISH, AND I AM AFRAID, BUT I AM IN LOVE WITH YOU

We are gathered here with our cameras held high and and our selfie sticks held higher to witness the union of people we’ll gossip about later. We are the mirror they can never ignore, there is nothing but fairness in our eyes. We set prisons they are kept bound to with invisible chains of normalcy and uniform expectations.We wish you well but we don’t really want to see you succeed.

_society

Staxx and Black Licorice, you can now exchange your vows and we will pretend to care about what you say and then wait for your separation to make more stories.

•••

I, Staxx , do take you Black Licorice, to be my bae to live together in the covenant of social norms. I have no idea why I have to tell you about buying you the moon when I can’t mend my broken heart. I do promise to comfort you even when you hide things from me. Prophecy is a power I do not have so I promise to only solve the issues you bring to my partially clouded attention. I vow to keep you for better or worse but I promise to bring hell when we hit our worst because honestly I only anticipate the best.

Vows aside, I’ve battled soo many love wars and I don’t want you to be another casualty of my broken heart. I carry too much weight and I’m asking you to help me ease the burden. I have no time to play bae goals when your goal is to please your friends who don’t know how deep my pockets go. My love for you is as deep as how shallow their perceptions of us are. I promise to love you until I hate you enough to love again and risk losing it all even it means putting my happiness on the line for yours. What I can’t promise is that I won’t hurt you because being in a relationship with me is a risk on it’s own. Through thick and thin, I’ll get jealous, mad and poker face time to time for reasons I won’t be able to explain. Frankly, that’s not all, I’ll get annoyed when you entertain other men, I might take your phone away just to have a conversation without interferences.I wish to buy you everything considered to be romantic but my wallet is no pot of gold. But believe me when I say I love you, because my love flows way past my heart because I’m only left with my soul to give.

Certainly we shall perish, but I am in love with you.

•••

I Black Licorice, do take you Staxx, to be my so much appreciated boyfriend. Do take up this role because it best fits you. I promise to be dotting but please don’t expect me to be a doll. Darling, I wil love you and only you but am afraid I might overdo it. Well I hope that you will not find it displeasing. You all of people know that am a freak, so don’t expect your friends to find me normal. Allow them to to enjoy the bliss of astonishment your girl brings to them. I promise to be as sweet as I need be, I’d hate to be a boring cold female. I might get irritable and overly sentimental, I might, but I must promise we will manage it. Through the struggles of this world, through pain…Baby boy I will not be okay if you flirted with females around-or abroad – either way. I will not be okay if you do not listen to me. I promise to be loyal and faithful to only you. I will be your partner but not your puppet. I hope you will be able to ignore the fact that I talk to myself sometimes and that I will swear to kill you if you break my heart. The killing is a threat that you have to act like you never heard but must remember always. I promise not to share my silly jokes that make you laugh with your friends, they will be only for you. I might be forced to confide in my bestfriend if you keep hurting me. So please make sure to prevent it because you do know that he will always listen. Anyway, darling I promise to treasure you, to love you and to please you. I do not promise to starve myself into a size 6 with an hour glass figure, but I could keep my size on check. Promise me that you will not be fooled into thinking that money is the solution to everything. Please.
You must know that I will be a bad ass queen and a baby too. Don’t hurt me beacause I will cry, don’t irk me I will sharpen a dagger. I vow to be yours, to love and to fight with, In tolerance and under cupid’s portion.

Certainly we shall perish, but I am in love with you

•••

•••

Cameras off now! We can now call this official, we hope you are official, you do not look any bit like official but we do not care, do we? Nothing lasts these days my acquaintances. Or maybe fate is a relative to you two, who knows. Of course we know. We are your mirror.

Random thoughts

Jabulile Sigola

Nambuya Embalabala

Soliloquy at midnight

It is midnight. I stare at my bathroom mirror…could be odd that I spend so much time staring at this young woman in my mirror. She is naked too…she looks back at me. She stares icily. I know she has something to say. She always has had. Did I mention that I was scared of her? That she made me so weak I could pass out? She had venom in her eyes. These eyes that in so many ways seemed to have the gentleness of The Madonna’s. My wall clock tics and tocs, it’s three minutes past midnight. She hasn’t spoken yet. I wait….

“Child, the world is quite dynamic, isn’t it? Look at how much you’ve grown…I realised too that you had so many friends…” she started then paused and gave a smirk…I hated every second of this suspense she was creating. “…you should know that very few humans wish you well…two, maybe three or four, could be five but I doubt. You have people out here who wish you failure. You have, yes I said that. Some consciously while others quite unconsciously. They do not hate you, no they do not. They are just being human. I could give you a funny example if you want to hear one- well I don’t really care about whether you want to hear it or not-here it goes…you have about two male humans, or four or maybe sixteen but I doubt; that you ignore every single day. Whose advances you blatantly turn down, you call it curving I heard. Well do you think these guys wish you well? Could be that they think they do, and you also think they do. But listen darling, their alter egos are waiting for you to fail at everything; at life, at marriage, at work…the list is endless…” At this moment I longed to sit. I could have sat already if I could. But she likes it when am standing. She is dominant. She could be vile. “Do you know why? I’m certain that you don’t. You probably think am quite irrational tonight. Well I had rum for breakfast this morning. Could be that am a little frenzied, but you should listen anyway. Well, unfortunately they might find themselves using you as reference. I’m certain they will find it exciting to tell their families about how they lured you with Toyotas but you brushed them off because you preferred Porsches (needless to say that he had no idea as to how driving is done). Another will be telling his younger sisters how they should never have ego or they will end up like a woman he once knew, unmarried, lapsed and childless. (He definitely remembers that you dismissed him after he texted you ‘gud9t’) These men will not forget to add that you are suffering as a spinster. One will even be heard saying that you believed you were royalty, well because you wore your class up high. Funny isn’t it?” She paused and touched my palm…”All am trying to say is be aware that not so many people wish you prosperity.” It is seven minutes past midnight. I realise I have had my shower running all these seven minutes. This young woman in my mirror. She grabs her towel. I still didn’t get why she called me child though, weren’t we us? Me? These voices in my head…

nambuyaembalabala

Monologues in my head.

Residents in my mind