After Robot. The Houghton streets are a peculiar place in the morning. Taxi-loads of pastel dressed women walk into houses like 1950’s American men would leave them, all at 8am. A woman calling herself Grace just got out of the taxi and headed to number 43. Of course Grace’s name wasn’t Grace. But Grace was a great name, and it went with her face. At least that’s what her first Madam, Jenny, had told her. For reference, the taxi that morning was filled with 3 Graces, 4 Joyces, 2 Patiences, 1 Happiness and 2 Mavises none of whom had the same name except for the two Leratos, Joyce and Mavis. Name changes were almost as essential to this industry as the ability to be invisible in a room where your 10-minute tea break is disrupted by a loud argument between Cherryl and her Trainer/Lover. Cherryl doesn’t want to have to explain herself, and you don’t really want to be explained at. In short, you never want to embarrass your Madam. That’s why Thembisile becomes Grace—because you don’t ever want a Madam to be confronted by the fact that she’s never before, in her 34 years of life, had to try to say ‘Thembisile’ before this.

Hello madam, it’s Grace. Grace wondered whether they had made the pedestrian gate solely for her use. No one else seemed to have ever used it. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. She opened the gate and went inside, then turned around and with a quick, solid movement, unrailed the main gate. Thembi walked into the house and greeted the madam. You smell wonderful Grace! I hope that’s not my perfume! I’ve been looking for it.  It wasn’t. Cherryl’s perfume was probably under her dressing table and smelled nothing like this one. This was Christian Dior and Cherryl’s was something cheaper. The perfume, Poison, Grace had bought yesterday with a small part of her R100 000 advance payment, another R30 000 of the payment went to Thembi’s children’s school fees. She always liked to wear perfume when she worked. Her first few jobs were a mess, but like anything else, practice made perfect. Thembi looked up at Cherryl and pushed a vase over onto the floor so it made a loud crash. Grace! This was the first time Cherryl actually looked up at Grace – and before Thembi made her next move, Cherryl noticed 2 things :

1.       Grace has lost a lot of weight.

2.      She has a surgical glove on her right hand.

 Thembi then pulled out a 4.5mm pistol from inside her uniform and shot Cherryl twice in the chest and once in the hip. Cherryl fell to floor immediately. No screams or drama. Just straight down like a puppet whose strings had been cut. Thembi took off Cherryl’s gold watch and slipped it into her pocket. She then picked up the house keys and walked straight out of the front door, pushed the de-railed gate a little open and walked down the road to catch a taxi. As soon as the driver had stopped, Thembi pushed the red button on the remote. He would get a call at work from the Security company, which meant that the job was done. A second later, the alarm of the house wined all the way down the neighborhood until it reached the light-blue taxi. She then slid the door of the Taxi closed and wondered how Grace or Thembi had ever been able to stand Cherryl at all.



Post image by Kana Natsuno via flickr

About the Author:

Portrait - NicMy name is Nicholas Nabil Tebogo Rawhani, a 21 year old photographer and electrical engineering student who also loves to write poetry and short stories. My work has been published in prufrock magazine and I have just finished an anthology called ‘Together Together’. I was voted at #8 on Superbalist’s list of 100 young creatives in SA. I make up one third of the “Uncultured Club”, along with Anthony Bila and Chisanga Mubanga, we are narrative artists who use different mediums to try challenge society’s conceptions and standards when it comes to expression.


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I'm finishing up a phd at Duke University where I study African novels, which I believe are some of the loveliest things ever written. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

3 Responses to “Hitmaid | by Nicholas Rawhani | An African Story” Subscribe

  1. seun 2015/11/23 at 1:20 am #

    Wooow! This is fresh! And nice profile photo too! 🙂

  2. L. Han 2015/11/23 at 2:06 am #

    I love the narrative voice, cool!

  3. Carl Terver 2015/11/25 at 12:51 am #

    What a killer narrative.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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