Coated Yeast

Tuesday, August 04, 2015
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COATED YEAST

You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You’ll learn things you never knew you never knew
~VENESSA WILLIAMS

Afrika jinga! Punda-mlia pita pande hii!” Khan Patel Kubaf, a petite Indian lady, ordered on top of her voice.

Manasseh, an ebony darker than the darkest thing you’ve ever seen, followed obediently. It was from the insults that he ate. The insults had become the register at the Indian’s curio shop. Khan Patel Kubaf was better than Ndombolo. A man darker than Manasseh but with a white heart. Had he not done several bleachings to his beautiful skin only to end up with decorations that looked like those beautiful things the cheetah has on its body? They were beautiful and impressive on the animal but not on Ndombolo the half-man-half-beast.

Manasseh would remain black. Original. He hated not a human being. He knew he was not different from any other person. He believed skin-colour was among the many beautiful decorations everyone was born with. He imagined of it this way: what if all of us were born colourless? With skins that revealed the components underneath. How would we look like? And something else he had in mind.

“An albino.”

What about an albino, Manasseh?

“How do you tell the difference between an American albino and an Indian albino? Is there any way one can tell that this is a Saudi Arabian albino and that one is an albino from South Sudan?”

!??

“I’ll answer that! This colour thing is just in our heads. Look at Ndombolo. What is with the white lessons? ‘You Africans are just as stupid as Indians; learn to behave like whites!’ white this; white that. White here; white there. Yet he himself is black … oh! He was no specific colour from the bleaching that backfired. He wanted to be white. Even some whites don’t behave like him. See, there’s Catherina from England. You could mistake her for a black Kenyan. Only the skin betrays her. Very polite lady though she owns the soda processing company. Oh! Her husband, George is a demon! Rumours have it that he poisoned Matayo, the manager to his wife’s company. He wanted the position secured for the current manager. A Black American. And gorge from Italy and the Black American are one thing. They think the same.”

“Manasseh, can you attend to the customers, you black goat!” yelled Ndombolo. “Be as fast as the wazungu. White people don’t behave like slugs!”

“You see, I told you! He has forgotten he is Kenyan. I pity him. But one day I’ll disapprove them. Yes, I will.”

One day? You have said that since you began slaving in the curio shop; from independence!

“Just wait. You’ll see for yourself.”

★★★★★

This was an odd morning at the curio shop five floors above the ground. Everyone was tensed. Khan Patel Kubaf, Ndombolo and Manasseh could not imagine what they were seeing. A well-fed rope of a snake. Beautifully decorated like Ndombolo’s body. It hissed death while it stuck out its red forked tongue. They were not amazed with the beauty on the beast but the fact that the snake was slithering towards Kush Gereshna Mangi. Khan’s daughter and only relative on this planet.

“What do we do?" cried the owner of Khan Curio.

“Mummy, I’ll die!” Kush said with a tone that painfully said she was not ready to die.

“Snakes are dangerous,” Ndombolo, the self-proclaimed zoologist, cautioned.

Who does not know that snakes are dangerous?

The rope made towards the future-owner-of-Khan-Curio-cum-prey. She made backward steps but it did not help, she had reached the wall.

Manasseh pitied Kush. She was closer to him than the owner of Khan Curio. In fact when he wanted his salary to move two or three steps towards the positive side of the number-line, the twenty-three-year-old was his speaker. And did Ndombolo not suspect that the two had a thing? The way the two behaved when the ‘big madam’ was not within vicinity was kind of not very welcoming according to him. Was love blossoming between an African and an Asian? Ah! Both cannot act like the whites. They just think the same.

Manasseh did the unexpected. He flew like a flea and landed on the dangerous live rope with the guts of a superhero. Was he nuts? Did he think he was some knight in shining amour or what? The plane called Manasseh landed with no safety on the serpent’s head. The human neck enjoyed a hate-bite from the thing of the wild. Kush was no child to wait to be told to crush the adversary. Without permission, she took the heavy golden micro-statue of a woman next to her and hit the thing before it crushed the next prey.

Foam oozed out of the black hero’s mouth. The poison had worked! So the two enemies, Manasseh and the untamed animal slept forever next to each other. Like a man and his pet. Kush was breath less. She had just lost a friend … er … and who knows who? That fast and simple.

"You see," gasped Ndombolo. “Africans are very stupid! He should have used better ways to …”

“Shut up!” Khan quipped. “Afrika pana jinga! Veve jinga, cockroach! If you knew better ways to smash the thing, why didn’t you do it instead? Aren’t you hurt that we’ve lost a core worker and friend? And look through his valour, Kush is alive. Om shanti, Om shanti!"

“Valour?” he fumed. “And your silly daughter just broke a golden micro-statue worth a fortune! In the name of killing a snake. Don’t you see you Indians and Africans are same? Learn to behave like wazungu! Nkt!”

“FIRED!!!”

“Where am I?”

Wow! So the poison had not worked after all?

“Ouch! Hospital.”

★★★★★

Adapted from
Man of The Cloth and Other Stories
An Anthology of Short Stories
by Brady Kenya
©2014
First Edition

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