Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 5,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

Love Stories(1)

FROM WHERE HE IS SEATED, at the rooftop of Petley’s Inn, the low, cold breeze ruffles his long, straight blond hair and flushes his puffy cheeks. Down below, on the small concrete pavement at the seafront, hurried pattering footsteps of men running to the mosque to answer the call of the muezzin to prayers. Only three days here and he is able to know, without glancing at the Apple Watch on his wrist, that the incessant prolonged braying of the donkeys tell what time it is. He is able too, by twitching his aquiline nose towards where the wind blows, to distinguish the smells of the mahamri, vitumbua, mandazi and the other delicacies fried by the Swahili women when dusk leaps upon the island. The wind blows again—colder this time—and he hears the ocean whisper a soulful melancholic tune, interspersed with the roaring of the speedboats as they split the waters to ferry passengers to and from Manda Island or Shela Island.
“Oh fuck!” He finds himself jumping from his seat and as a result, spills his glass of Tusker on the table. The glass, now empty, rolls off the table and shatters into a hundred or more tiny pieces. His lips tremble as he fumbles an apology to no one in particular. He does feel stupid. A single text message from her and he is wreaking havoc. He leaves a crisp thousand shillings note on the table, hoping it makes up for the trouble, then leaps out of the bar, down the steep staircase, and disappears into the dimly lit alleyways.
Until two days ago, he did not know she existed. And, however much he tries to conjure the memory of meeting her, nothing but a haziness in his mind, seems to provoke remembrance. He has tried, without much success, to retrace his steps on this small piece of rock with ancient buildings sprouting from everywhere and the endless corridors that leads you everywhere but nowhere, just so he is able to remember where he met her. It’s not at the town square. Neither is it at the Museum. Nor at the donkey sanctuary. Where then?
Her name, she told him on their first night together, is Ze’ena or Zuena; that too, he cannot seem to recollect clearly. It is something towards those
28
lines though. Her silky hair feels like water through his bony fingers. Her scent, a delicious strawberry and maple syrup concoction, is the perfume that Jean-Baptiste Grenouille sought to gift mankind.
And tonight, as the cheese-blue light of the moon seeps into their hotel room, he stares longingly into Ze’ena or Zuena’s eyes and tells her that he wants her. She whispers, in her voice which is a guitar string about to snap into two, that she has never been with a mzungu (or any man for that matter). He tells her they don’t have to do it if she’s uncomfortable, but she leans closer, her pointy breasts that part in the middle like in disagreement, rubbing against his clean-shaven face. The tip of his index finger trails the ridge between them down to her navel and further. Their lips lock and then she pulls away, grabs his hand and stares at his red face.
“Not there. Papa says that’s for Hakeem when he comes back from Mogadishu.”
Kneeling on the bed, staring at her round and supple butt raised towards him, he wonders who the fuck Hakeem is and why she gets to keep the best part for him.

**************

About the Author:

Troy Onyango is a Kenyan writer and Lawyer. His fiction has appeared in various journals and magazines including Transition Magazine’s Issue 121, for which his short story, “The Transfiguration,” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His short story, “For What Are Butterflies Without Their Wings?” won the fiction inaugural Nyanza Literary Festival Prize. He has been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Foundation Scholarship. Currently, he is the managing editor of Enkare Review.

*****

Troy Onyango’s “A Lamu Affair” first appeared in Love Stories from Africa, a Brittle Paper-published anthology of flash fiction edited by Nonso Anyanwu and with an Introduction by Helon Habila.

Download and read Love Stories From Africa.

Tags: ,

About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize and the 2019 Miles Morland Writing Scholarships. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He attended the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he got an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies and English & Literary Studies. He taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Publications | Troy Onyango - December 1, 2017

    […] “A Lamu Affair” in Love Stories From Africa Anthology, Brittle […]

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

Johary Ravaloson’s Return to the Enchanted Island Is the Second Novel from Madagascar to Be Translated into English

johary ravaloson - winds from elsewhere - graph (1)

In May 2018, we brought news of the first novel by a writer from Madagascar to be translated into English: […]

Sundays at Saint Steven’s | Davina Philomena Kawuma | Poetry

unsplash3

when god runs out of money (how, no one says) once a week, these days, we come to where the […]

Read the First Excerpt from Petina Gappah’s New Novel, Out of Darkness, Shining Light

petina gappah - out of darkness, shining light - graph

Petina Gappah‘s new novel Out of Darkness, Shining Light was released on 10 September by Simon & Schuster imprint Scribner. […]

We Need To Talk | Muriel Adhiambo | Fiction

unsplash4

IT WAS A warm, humid night in the lakeside city of Kisumu. Under a starless sky, the women, seated on […]

For World Diabetes Day, Miss BloodSugar Calls for Entries to Competition & Anthology Sponsored by Bella Naija

mbs final edit

Press release: What’s your diabetes story? Are you diabetic? Have you been impacted by the experiences of a family/friend/patient with […]

The Hour of Judgment | Edith Knight Magak | Fiction

unsplash1

THE HOUR OF judgment has come upon me, and my hope for redemption is pegged on a needle, sorcery, and […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.