August 9, 2010


Nanteeza gave the little boy a coin but the boy never even stared at his palm, but instead looked straight at her eyes, with eyes that desired something beyond what he felt in his little palm. He must have been standing by the roadside and sitting alternately staring at people moving about. His attention had previously been on people moving in groups and pairs, before his eyes shifted on the loner Nanteeza.

He shook his head in approval and spoke in calm “Thank you!” But Nanteeza was long gone to respond to him and when she looked back, she saw the boy’s eyes follow her perhaps to eternity. She moved on wondering why such people were always there to draw people to a state of pity, though their conditions were sometimes faked to look so needy. This, she could not understand as she moved on.

When she found herself out of the boy’s sight, Nanteeza gave herself credit for having moved faster, and thus, gave in to such a heave.
“You are Mary?” A voice inquired as the owner emerged from a squeezed out filthy tavern. “You are Virg…Virg… Mary?” The voice stammered, leaving it for Nanteeza to figure out what was to be said. She looked with mixed confusion, wondering why such a question would be addressed to her. The owner of the voice finally emerged out: A woman dressed nearly in rags, with her feet embraced by jiggers, her hair scattered allover and flies dealing accordingly with the wounds at her ankle. She was shorter than Nanteeza and thus, she could see scars on her head.

“They call me mad woman, but I am not. Or if I am, who is not?” She spoke as she scratched her thighs harshly. “Yesterday – are you Mary?”
Mary? Nanteeza moved away in utter amazement but soon the voice followed her: “I need some minutes with you.” She ignored the voice. “Okay, just a minute. I am not mad.”
Nanteeza moved on, thinking conclusively: “They all behave alike and can never agree the fact they are mad”
“If I am, who is not?” Nanteeza heard the voice re-echo in her mind. She could not believe it. A mad woman denounces the fact of her state?
She moved on and found her pathway a little flooded but passable. As she crossed through the little pool of water she felt a twitch by her right ankle and could not know whether it was a stick or something else that had pricked her.
No sooner had she moved across than she felt paralysed on her right leg. She sat by the roadside and examined her ankle, only to find out the marks left on her were no doubt a snake’s biting.

A motorist passed by and gave not a notice to Nanteeza’s waving. A cyclist came by and Nanteeza called for his attention. “Ssebo! Ssebo!” She yelled to the cyclist.

“I am late for the market” retorted the cyclist. “Perhaps on my way back” he endeavored to let Nanteeza know. She was feeling weaker and weaker, yet the two people who had ignored her would have saved her from the pain she felt. In her attempt to stand up, Nanteeza woke up from her sleep and disrupted a dream that would have seen her dead perhaps. She sat on her bed and thanked God that it was a dream, but later realized that there are several people in this world to whom we should give the minutes they need.

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