I refocused my gaze and was startled by sudden gunshots that flew over my head crashing into the opposite wall where I seemed to black out without realization. The idea that I had been positioned as I was for a specific amount of unknown time was to say the least – worrisome.
Before I had decided to undertake this trip, before I broke my own heart, I hadn’t slept since my recreation. In fact, from what we knew – our kind wasn’t able to sleep. It was nothing like the fairytale stories you heard of Dracula when you where younger. My kind didn’t burn from holy water and speckled sun spots. We didn’t go look for a coffin when the glimmers of night slid onto its sides and hid in between the floor boards - when the morning birds came out with a twitter.
Our main separation from humanity was that of our diet. Yes, we where pale, very pale, abnormally pale – like powder but we could still “survive” – mingle. In these parts of Africa, some people referred to us as Achromia, an illness classified as disambiguation (Albino derived from the Latin word albus meaning white) – which could be both a gift, yet a curse.
Whilst the sun didn’t affect us as per the mythological explanation that we grew up with it was still a risk as continued exposure would be detrimental – it slowly dissolved you. It was kinda like peeling layers and layers of skin off you – so the longer you stayed there – exposed , the greater the chance that in the end there would be nothing left but a puddle of blood – and it wouldn’t even be your own blood.
BACK TO REALITY …. I cursed as I flew out my shelter – covering my face with the piece of cloth that had become part of my every day attire. It seemed like everywhere I went someone was fighting a war for some cause. By now, my body had become accustomed to survival and I had gone through days without any food, without any relief. With that thought in mind I whirled up to the top of the broken floor and scuttled to the edge of the once familiar room. It was still confusing to understand that people built houses and other people came around to break them down. I was so use to living a civilized type of lifestyle even though I hadn’t been human for so long.
I peeked over the edge of the wall to reflect on where the gunfire came from and was settled with the realization that it was not intended for me. Refugee’s from Ethiopia and Chad had flocked to this city in an effort to escape the more uncivilized parts of the country, it was mayhem in majority of the areas you went to since this so-called “flocking” created slums that resembled decades of poverty.
I swept down to the ground floor and disbursed myself into the air, flowing down hill on the breeze. I regrouped myself at the bottom of a staircase and shuddered as my body clenched back into shape. There was a faint rustle towards the end of the staircase and I noticed a spotted animal lazily tugging at some scraps leaning closer to the edge of the building. Its ears moved backwards and forward in an attempt to pick up anything interesting. For now though the gunfire had died down and it sounded as if nothing had disturbed the peace in the first place.
Far off in the distance I could hear music and laughter, the sounds tingled through my body as it would when you are sitting in a situation where you have to concentrate on one thing but you actually wanted to be somewhere “Happier”.
I again tried to refocus my efforts on the way forward but was caught off guard when I listened closer to the animal that was still sniffing through the piles and piles of rubble.
I found his presence “offish” it was as if the whole world was in a “dwang” yet here was this animal - peculiar in form; strolling through piles of garbage as if nothing was wrong. I sniffed the air, as did he – scanting our lines. His presence made me aware, weary in a way; his no care attitude was mocking me, luring me closer.
The air smelled familiar, yet peculiar at the same time. It had the smell of iron mixed with a sweetness that I wasn’t able to place. The only positive side to it I finally decided was that there wasn’t any sign of a threat, not one I recognized in any way. There was a faint smell of hesitation, but that could be interpreted from both sides.
I kneeled down into the dust and held out my hand towards the weary animal. It was tall with approximately 28 kilograms of weight to it. It’s fur resembled something like a painted or maybe spotted dog, some would maybe even say it resembled a type of wolf, an African wolf covered in familiar shades of tribal colors. He scuttled over to where I was standing and sniffed the air in a no care way. His eyes whilst weary and focused remained calm in an unnatural brown – yellow glow.
I kept my hand straight, waiting for his reaction but there was nothing - nothing I noticed at the time. He looked up towards my arm, lingered for a while longer and then turned around and ran off as if something reminded him to go into hiding.
I gushed over the events and plodded further into the rubble, mystified at what just happened. Having lived abroad for all those years made me unaware of various species. The realization scared me a bit, as I was not sure what I was in for. Africa was fierce and no one really knew what mysteries she held until it was too late. The one’s that did, never lived to tell the tale. It was as if they had been sucked up into the sand to never whisper its secrets, which was frightening even for someone my age.
I tried to foresee the next bend in my adventure but was blocked with a fogginess that I wasn’t able to interpret. And then … in the distance I could feel something surrounding my presence. It lurked in the darkness and whistled soft growls. The sensation wasn’t forthcoming; it also didn’t come from one direction. I was consumed by it. At first, it was panting, a rhythm, a ritual. It lured in the shadows yet approached with caution, step by step – breath by breath.
I started choking; my mouth was baked and desiccated. I tried to dispel the sensation, but emotions consumed the constant internal monologue. My muscles coiled as I plodded through the few thorny moments before my muscles recoiled into it’s familiar posture. My lips pulled back and without hesitation, they parted with a fierce growl that even shook my own mind. I hadn’t recoiled like this since Egypt and the effort made my body shiver in exasperation.
The wind protruded their chants and in the distance, I could hear them whisper: -
“Sisi kutoa firewater kutupa nchi yako,
"Mtu nyeupe kuongea na ndimi zilizogawanyika",
lakini pia marehemu sasa kuanza kulalamika,
“We give you firewater you give us your land, white man speak with forked tongue, but it’s too late now to start complaining, too late”
The distaste in white genres was still new to me, it was always around, no matter where you went but in Africa, the obviousness of the situation was much more protruding than elsewhere. There was a silent hate amongst many tribes and cultures and yet; there had been others that would accept you with open arms.
The silent hymn didn’t die down, it circled and twisted luring, pacing between the fog I could feel the tension of a dance, an attack. I gushed my internal organs together and tried to disburse but there was nothing. It was as if chains had bound me to the ground and a warlike song hypnotized my senses.
It was a growling stomp that echoed in unison and I could sense fur and sweat mixed with adrenaline. The rush of blood and thumbing hearts was a fierce spin. I saw everyone as collateral damage. Fur, black bodies, blood gushing; silent swaying mixed with silent stumps and twirling dust until suddenly, abruptly the chanting stopped. Once the dust clouds and cloudiness evaporated, my senses recoiled back into place and I pulled back from my previous stance. I restructured my facial expression and pulled back my lips parting them politely at the big figure that finally took stance in front of me.
“Habari” (Hello); the furry human whispered as if part of the wind.
“Habari” (Hello); I nodded in silent distaste.
“Jina lako ni nani?” (What’s your name?) ; He asked with another gush.
“Jina langu ni Chase” (My name is Chase) my voice came back in a almost whisper.
“Nafurahi kukuona” (pleased to meet you) he smiled back broadly.
“Kadhalika” (Like wise) the conversation continued.
He held out his hand but I hovered with mine struggling back the fierce burn down my throat. I hadn’t fed well in days and this new smell engulfed my existence. I wanted to feed on it. The thrill and exuberant idea of something wild sliding down my throat, delving my thrust stretched my tension into oblivion. I pulled at the tension, wrapping it up, gushing it back into it’s evil pit.
The road was long enough without having any additional enemies to watch out for. We had to come back and I would rather have allies than enemies my thorny mind tilted.
“Unatoka wapi?” (Where are you from?) He politely requested.
“Nimekuja kutoka nchi ya maadui ni kidogo na maisha ni rahisi, ikushoto heert yangu katika sehemu ya kusini ya nchi yako nasafari yangu ni kuelekea nyuma hii” (I come from a land where enemies are less and life is easier, I left my heart in the Southern parts of your country and my journey is back towards this) I blubbered in an effort to become a friend.
“Wewe ni hapa kwa sababu ya mwanamke” (You are here because of a woman?) he half said half asked. He smiled back towards the members of his tribe, grinning sarcastically as if the issue was a common day thing.
I nodded in agreement suddenly shy about this whole situation. But then again, wasn’t love part of everyone’s journey? Wasn’t it just part of life?
“Kama ni kila mtu” (As is everyone) I whispered.
He started laughing and pulled my arm closer gripping my body into a hug like form. I pulled at the air in a hope to extinguish the new fire that struck my throat from his closeness.
He grinned back at his party and shook his head.
“Wote kwa ajili ya mwanamke, kila kitu siku zote juu ya mwanamke” (All for a woman; everything's always about the woman) he muttered as he pulled me behind him. The men all started smiling back, relieved at the failure of an attack.
I wasn’t sure what they knew about me.
He continued with the joke and bolstered my embarrassment.
“Natumaini kwamba matiti yake ni kama milima na midomo yakekama maziwa kwa sababu bila kuwa mtu wanatamani kuwaalitaka” (I hope that her breasts are like mountains and her lips like milk because without that a man will crave to be wanted) he laughed back towards everyone.
I answered in poetic form, remembering what it is that I longed for.
“Midomo yake ya kuvutia, kusema maneno tu wa wema.
Macho yake lovely, kutafuta nzuri tu katika watu.
Uzuri wake si katika
Nguo yeye wears, au takwimu yeye hubeba,
Hata katika njia yeye anasafisha nywele zake.
Uzuri wake ni kuonekana kwa macho yake,
na kwamba ni mlango wa moyo wake,
mahali ambapo upendo anakaa.
Uzuri wake si katika mole usoni,
lakini kweli inaonekana ndani ya nafsi yake.”
(Her attractive lips, speak only words of kindness.
Her lovely eyes, seek out only the good in people.
Her beauty is not in
the clothes she wears, or the figure she carries,
not even in the way she combs her hair.
Her beauty is seen from her eyes,
and that is the doorway to her heart,
the place where love resides.
Her beauty is not in a facial mole,
but truly reflected within her soul.)
The earthly figure looked back at me and nodded towards his fellows.
“Tu upendo wa kweli na ushirikiano wanaweza kushikilia mtu huyudharau” (Only true love and partnership can hold a man this contempt)
“Yeye lazima kuzimu ya mwanamke” (She must be a hell of a woman) he continued gushing at my feeble attempts of explaining
“Yeye ni wa kutosha kujaza milele” (She is enough to fill eternity) I answered with a sigh remembering how short eternity could be.