‘Mwenda: A Short Story’ by Guest Contributor Kalya

Mwenda was straddled on top of Qata, topless; plaits tousled, white cotton sheets on the rustic bed, crinkled. Her dainty hands were wrapped around his strong neck. He was looking up at her with a bemused look on his face, a mischievous smirk. “Or I just kill you right now,” she declared exasperatedly.


Qata had been Mwenda’s childhood crush, those years ago. He was then in his mid-twenties, she, a young teen. He used to visit her home once in a while, her home being a refuge for the villagers coming to the Capital to change their fortunes.

As she opened the door for him and welcomed him in, little did she know that years later, she would be opening up her legs for him and indeed, welcoming him in.

As they exchanged polite handshakes, little did she know that years later, their physical intimacy would go way, way beyond the customary shaking of hands.

As he gazed upon her asking about school, little did she know that years later, that same pair of eyes – eyes of charcoal and night sky – would be gazing upon her bare brown form.

Little did she know.


Years later on one fateful evening, Mwenda’s and Qata’s paths crossed. She was heading home from work when she heard a car honk. Instinct told her it was meant for her. She glanced around and there he was. Alas! Lo and behold! There he was, wearing a white shirt underneath a black suit, standing next to a white car with a black interior, white teeth gleaming from behind black lips. On noticing the duality at play, Mwenda could not help but consider the gray areas of life.

She was now in her mid-twenties, he, his late thirties. The unlikely reunion was genteel enough; diplomatic enquiries about family and work, work and family. He was now married with kids and had a white-collar job plus a blue-collar passion – farming; he was the sole supplier of the country’s one and only high-end organic grocery chain. The chit-chat ended with a courteous exchange of phone numbers – very innocent.

The chance meeting was followed by subsequent deliberate ones. A lunch date here, evening coffee there. Conversations about the village, politics and economics – very innocent.

Mwenda often wondered at which point their cordial relationship took a deeper turn. It was probably the evening he was driving her home and began sucking her fingers in the twilight darkness. She should have snatched her hand away in protest but no, it felt so damn good. She should have never had anything to do with him after that but no, they continued to meet for lunch and coffee until eventually they had dinner and breakfast together. And just like that, Mwenda became involved in a fully-fledged affair with Qata.


Their illicit romance led to this moment where she is half-naked, breasts a-jiggling, strangling him feebly, he feigning asphyxiation.

Mwenda stood up and sashayed to the wooden antique wardrobe across the bamboo floor. She could feel Qata’s eyes fixated on her flimsily covered onion behind. She retrieved something from her leather satchel and walked back to bed keeping the secret item hidden behind her. He asked her beautifully in their mother tongue what she was carrying. Direct translation: “My tempestuous temptress, what is that resting behind your waist?”

Mwenda straddled him again without responding, hands still behind her back. She revealed the secret object: a traditional dagger. The blade glinted in the light of the waxing gibbous moon whose rays were streaming in through the wispy curtains. Suddenly, she began stabbing his neck repeatedly.


One may wonder how Mwenda, an urban woman, would possess a weapon of that kind. Well, it was an heirloom she had inherited from her grandfather who used it in the war in Burma. Poor guga (grandpa); the Asians had never offended him but the colonial administration needed infantry – frontline soldiers who could be easily sacrificed like pawns. Indeed, they were black pawns. Now here she was, using a weapon that had not been used since World War II against a man she was hopelessly obsessed with.

Mwenda thought about the fictional nine circles of hell. If she had just remained with the sin of lust, her soul would have been destined to be blown back and forth in a stormy wind for eternity. Since she is violently taking away another’s life, she ought to get used to the idea of being at home at the outer ring of the seventh circle – immersion in a river of boiling blood and fire.

Qata’s blood stained the white bed sheets. They looked like heavy brushstroke paintings of big red flowers against white canvas. Qata had lost a lot of blood quickly and was consequently very weak. His slight inebriation and post-coitus lethargy made resistance futile. He lost consciousness. Mwenda was now free. She could feel the spell he had over her ebb away gradually.

Mwenda did not bother to wash up. She got dressed and left the hotel room. The July cold meant that she was fully covered up and looking like a balaclava-clad mercenary. There was nobody at the reception or anywhere else in the fancy lobby. She stepped into the night and saw one hotel taxi. She got in and instructed the groggy driver to alight a kilometer from her apartment building from where she walked home. It is unwise for a woman to walk alone at night but at that moment Mwenda was the least bit bothered.

Her finger prints would not be found in Qata’s car because she had been wearing gloves. Hair samples would also not be found as she had a winter hat on. Knowing the police never really secured crime scenes, the hotel room (which currently served as Qata’s temporary tomb) would be thronged with curious hotel staff, guests and aimless officers milling around. Who told the State not to heed calls for a forensic lab? Yet another unsolved crime/cold case in the offing.

As soon as she reached her penthouse, Mwenda got undressed, collapsed on the carpeted floor and sobbed the whole night.


Exactly a month after the incident, Mwenda was lounging in the living room listening to rhumba music. She remembered ruefully how Qata always used to tune in to 97.5 FM and drum his fingers against the steering. She was wearing Qata’s old basketball jersey and a pair of woolen socks, watching steam billow from her mug of fine coffee. She was nursing her guilt ridden self. Mwenda was drowning in the intense realization that she was a bona fide murderer.

Mwenda had been buying the newspaper faithfully for the obituaries. She never saw a picture of Qata staring back at her. Her culture dictated that once someone has died no one should ever mention him/her. It is possible that Qata’s family had done so, like other bereaved families from her village since time immemorial.

Suddenly, she heard a knock on the door. She assumed it was her sister who often visited unannounced. She sauntered to the door and opened it.

Qata was standing right in front of her, bandaged neck and all. He was staring at her with those eyes of charcoal and night sky, eyes which haunted her every day since that night. She approached him gingerly and traced her fingers along his dressed neck. He winced ever so slightly. She rested her forehead against his chest and cried. He enveloped her in his warm familiar embrace as she cried her eyes out, shuddering intermittently. Her released her a bit and kissed her desperately amidst her gushing tears. While still lip-locked and in each other’s arms, they stepped into her house and shut the door behind them.


                                                                                                                                       -The End-




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