Writing by James Ouma

Day of Reckoning

It has been awhile since Anyiko Owoko and I went out for a date. I am planning to throw her a surprise. That is why I am having lunch at Wainaina & Sons Food Court where they use charcoal to write the menu on the wall.

There are two waiters; Wainaina and his very pregnant wife. She is so pregnant I expect her to give birth, right in front of me as she takes my order.

“I want a plate of kuku, ugali and soup,” I say, reading from the menu.

“That will be 100 shillings,” she replies in a way that makes it clear I have to pay in advance. It is like she knows her time to give birth is near. I give her the cash then watch as she laboriously walk to the kitchen.

A minute later, she emerges with a gigantic steaming cow foot, a piece of ugali and soup inside a blue tin cup on a greasy slab of wood. I watch as she uses a long knife to sculpture shreds of meat and cooked cow skin from what had been a cow’s foot, probably a day before.

A weak protest begins to build deep inside of me. I am just about to say I had ordered chicken when I notice Wainaina’s wife breathe through parted blood-engorged full lips. I try to recall the process of child birth. But all I can remember is that it involves yelling, “Push!”

“Is your food okay sir?” Wainaina asks, pushing two long knives against each other. I know he is sharpening the knives. I just don’t want him to discover an alternative use for them, if and when his wife experiences premature labor.

“It is perfect,” I reply chewing into a piece of cow skin that tastes like a pair of sandak shoes. I am relieved I haven’t come with Anyiko Owoko.

(CANDACE MWENDE continues)

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