Swahilific : Diary of Campus girl ~ pt 68

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Mimih had made plans to take Zuhura and a few other girls to a famous shawarma joint in Hurlingham, and Zuhura was all for it, considering the embarrassment she had had earlier.

Wah, shawarma just reminds me so much of home,” she told Mimih.

“And Swaleh!”

“No, darling,” Zuhura punched Mimih’s shoulder. “Shawarma doesn’t remind me of him.”

“I mean, he’s sweet right?” Mimih laughed. “Like you are supposed to think of him every time you eat Shawarma. Alafu Kwani you guys never went out while in Mombasa?”

“Heh, the last time I saw him was years back even before I knew what love is,” she said. “And you don’t know how it is growing up in a Swahili household,” Zuhura continued. “You can never be seen out with a boy because people will start talking and by the end of the day what started off as a casual smile or a mutual talk becomes so blown up one would think you committed an abomination.”

“At times I wonder how you guys make it through all that conservativeness,” Mimih said. “It’s suffocating, you know.”

“Quite the contrary,” Zuhura said. “That conservativeness keeps us in check.”

“Funny you are defending it now. You are always against it.”

“What I am against is Swahili men treating women as if they are destined to just be housewives. Like a Muslim woman cannot go to university and have a career of her own besides bringing up kids and doing house chores.”

“Tell me, If I had grown up in a Swahili homestead, do you think I would have turned out any better?” Mimih asked.

“Nope!” Zuhura said, shaking her head. “Kunguru hafugiki.”

Shetani wewe,” Mimih clicked. “Ebu let’s go for shawarma before I change my mind.”

While Zuhura powdered her face and stuck pins in her headscarf to keep it in check, Mimih fitted her frame into a blue mini skirt from which emerged a pair of well toned legs. Unlike other days when she would have rocked the mini with matching heels, she slipped on a pair of sandals.

“Aih, Mimih?” Zuhura said, shaking her head.

“What? My body my choice,” Mimih said, spinning around and slapping her bums.

“You remember the last time you wore like this and we were having pizza and a particular man just couldn’t keep his eyes off you?”

“Yes,” she said, looking at her reflection in the mirror. “Far as I know, I am very well dressed. African women used to walk naked around a hundred years back. Besides, if men want to keep staring at my ass, let them!”

Twenty minutes later, the two were getting into a taxi that Mimih had taken the liberty to call, even after Zuhura had asked her to call an Uber. Mimih always travelled in this same taxi whenever she wasn’t been picked up.

“I trust Kimani,” she always told Zuhura. “I don’t know why I fear this Uber thingies. Besides, Kimani has a family too and they need to eat.

“So,” she patted Zuhura on the knee as they settled in Kimani’s Toyota Corolla. “Who is this Muadh you were to tell me about?”

“Ah, Muadh?” she laughed. “I don’t know this Muadh, but I’ve heard of another one.”

“An ex?”

“Hardly,” she said. “You know my uncle Jaffar from Dar, sio?

“Yes, the one who wants you to marry his son?”

“That one,” Zuhura said. “Since I turned down his offer to marry his son, he is now shamelessly pimping me out to his pals and their eligible sons.”

Halal pimping now, huh?” Mimih laughed.

Nakwambia!” she said. “So on Friday when you were away, Uncle Hassan came over. Uncle Jaffar had been calling him, asking him to speak to mama on his behalf because a young man he knows was looking for a wife and he felt obliged to give me away to him. I presume it’s because I am well mannered and obedient. Perfect wife material.”

“Huh, as if you are some kind of item on a buy one get one free offer!”

“Imagine,” she said, shaking her head. “Uncle Hassan told me the guy is called Muadh and he is currently living or studying in Nairobi.”

“Same Muadh?”

“Hard to tell. Could be a coincidence.”

“But what if it isn’t?” Mimih asked. “What if the Muadh who is a friend of your lover is the same one your uncle is pimping you out to?”

“Then I don’t know what I’ll do,” she said.

“This keeps getting better every time!”

“And interesting too,” she sighed, sinking lower into the seat. “Why can’t they just let me be?”

“Because you are beautiful, ambitious and stubborn.” Mimih said. “That, my friend, is a recipe that your people will want to see stewing in matrimony.”

“It’s not like I have a choice. I’ll eventually get married.”

“You always have a choice,” Mimih said. “Si you become a lesbian?”

Esh, kwenda huko!”

“But seriously, what will you do if this is the same Muadh, considering that perhaps he already has the 4-1-1 on you?”

“I’ll just let things be,” Zuhura said. “Whatever was meant to be, will be.”

“I have an idea,” Mimih said, smiling mischievously.

“Nope,” Zuhura shook her head. “I know that face and I know all too well that what will come out of it will be totally outrageous.”

“No, for real. Just hear me out.”

“Okay then,”

“Swaleh hasn’t given you any clear indication that he intends to marry you, right?”

“Right.”

“And based on what you’ve told me, he should have at least made that intention clear, considering that he is a sheikh and sheikhs don’t do hit and run, right?”

“Right.”

“Have you considered that perhaps he is gay?”

“Mimh, ebu stop that nonsense,”

“Okay. Let’s assume he is as straight as a flag post,” she continued, giggling.

Sasa wewe?”

“Come on, it’s funny,” Mimih laughed. “Straight as a flag post!”

“Let’s hear your idea already.”

Sawa. Why not teach Swaleh a lesson?”

“How, and to what end?”

“That boy is taking you for granted,” Mimih pointed out. “We should make the hunt harder for him.”

“How?”

“By bringing Muadh into the scene,” Mimih said, settling back into the seat. “The perfect three-some!”

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Abu Amirah

Abu-Amirah is a Mombasa-based writer whose story “The swahilification of Mutembei” was shortlisted for the Writivism 2016 short story prize. He is currently working on getting his first short-story anthology published.