As an African person raised with conservative Christian values, I do not celebrate Halloween. As a person who enjoys fantasy and creating fictional worlds, Halloween sounds like fun. The costumes, the candy, the parties. I especially like the movie Hocus Pocus. I can’t watch it with my parents though, because of, you know, witchcraft.
Anyway, this Halloween falls on a Sunday. A good Sunday too – the weather is lovely (sunny with a hint of cumulonimbus here and there), and the internet is stable. The internet thing is a big deal because, on Sundays, the net is usually crappy in the morning. Like the evil one doesn’t want us to watch our church Livestream. It usually starts acting up just as the preacher steps up to the pulpit and that kind of behavior has swiftly been reported to Jesus.
As I was saying – wow, I haven’t written in this notebook for so long my handwriting has significantly deteriorated and I have made unmentionable typos. Wow! I blame the pen. As I was saying, it was shaping up to b a pretty good Sunday. The sermon was great and, pardon my Christianese, really edifying. After listening to the Word, Eve and I usually waste an hour or two on random YouTube videos. I like the top ten varieties (film, comics, anime), Eve likes the serial killer kind of videos. What is it with women and their obsession with true crime stories? Are you guys okay? Do you need therapy – no, you definitely need therapy. This Sunday, however, we have a guest coming over. By we I mean Eve (because I don’t have guests). Eve is super excited and I’m just like meh.
But, like the supportive husband that I am, I help her out and bring out the vacuum. Vacuuming is my jam! I really enjoy seeing the particles on the floor disappear into the vortex of lint inside the machine. I envision a random town in the middle of nowhere – close to Eustace’s and Muriel’s farm – where a tornado sweeps through and tears up trees and a few cars, sucking them into the air. But it leaves the people alone because it’s selective in its destruction.
What the heck is up with all these typos?
Anyway, I get ready for this therapy session and just as I plug in the machine, I hear a knock on the door. There’s a lady standing on the other side cradling a child in her arms, so I think, ‘It’s probably one of the neighbors,’ because two of my neighbors have recent babies. Babies that can’t speak or walk or control their bowels. Probably one of them needs help lifting something heavy, or the key to the stima place where I almost died.
I open the door and say, “Hi.”
The lady says, “Ako wapi?”
Now I’m confused because the response to Hi is usually Hi. But I let it go because I am a recently edified human being.
“Nani huyo?” I ask.
“Madam ako wapi?” She asks. Her voice is shaky like she’s been crying but her face is stone cold.
Also, she’s not our neighbor.
“Yuko around. What do you need?” I say.
“Nilikuwa nataka anishikie mtoto,” she says. [For my English friends, she wanted my wife to hold her baby].
Red flags pop up everywhere. Maybe it’s the way she says it. With a finality that sounds ominous. Something about it is off but I can’t quite put my finger on it.
“Akushike mtoto?” I say
“Yes. For like ten minutes. I have an emergency,” she says.
Everything about that sounds wrong. You, madame, are a stranger and you want to leave your baby with other strangers? You don’t even live here!
“Umm… She’s actually in the shower,” I say. I lie. Eve is in the kitchen doing the dishes and blasting Maverick City Music in her ears. Blissfully unaware of this woman who apparently wants to bestow her child upon us. I am praying that she doesn’t pop into the living room and spoil my lie. And yes, I am aware that I shouldn’t lie but wewe ungefanya?
The lady’s face changes into a sneer. She says, “Nevermind. Ni sawa.” And I watch her walk away and out of the gate into the great unknown. I call Eve and explain this story to her. I describe the lady to the best of my ability (which isn’t great, to be honest. How am I even a writer?) but she has no idea who I am talking about. I have resolved to interrogate anyone else who knocks on my door because I cannot imagine if that woman left us a child and never came back for her. I assume it was a girl because I have noticed that the men around here have been donating the X chromosome a lot).
What would we even do? Where would we go? To whom would we have run? And what if (in my overactive imagination) the mother spun a story against us and said we took her child by force. That we kidnapped her. What if she demands a ransom or something?
Anyway, let me get back to vacuuming.