“In the night, we die,” she says after taking a puff of cigarette.

The whirls of the smoke is annoying. I cough and shift my gaze to other side. I am now staring at myself in the mirror hung on the wall. The cigarette smoke is unpleasant. I hear her awkward giggles, and they upset me. Why is she laughing? Does she think it’s funny?

“Would you mind getting me some beer at the boutique,” she mumbles, patting my shoulders.

I turn to face her, “What do you think you are doing?”

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It is around seven in the morning. We are sitting on the couch in her living room. The purple toy car on the table looks like a pickup with shattered windscreen. A packet of cigarettes and match sticks are next to the toy car. She is still dressed in pajamas. Her cleavage is exposed. She swirls strands of her hair and let them cover her magnificent brown face. She looks bubbly, but I am wondering why she’s acting strange.

Neither of us is saying anything. The radio is playing some traditional Rwandan music that makes me want to dance, but instead I shake my head to the rhythm.

Sounds of footsteps are getting closer to the door. A boy suddenly draws the curtains and walks towards me. I smile, ready for a hug.

“Out now!” The woman screams and slaps the boy before he can hug me. She is the boy’s mother, I know it. But I am at sixes and sevens as to why she slaps him.

“Mama, I want some milk. I am hungry!” The boy says to her.

“Get out dumb kid, I don’t want any kid to get on my nerves,” she says and raises on her feet. The boy dashes out of the living room. I can hear him crying outside the house.

“Ziba wa cyana we! If I keep hearing your voice, I will come out there and kill you,” the woman calls out loudly,  almost yelling.

I stare at her in confusion. It is strange to see her like this. I have always known her to be polite and tolerant. But, today, she seems evil, and I am getting frightened of her. I clear my throat and ask her what is going on. She takes another puff of the cigarette without saying a word. She knows the smoking annoys me, so she is doing it all on purpose. I snatch the cigarette from her mouth, which gets her really mad. She is about to hit me with the toy, but I step out of the way. I grab the packet of cigarettes from the table and put it in the pocket of my cotton pant. She approaches me looking angry. I am getting pissed off, hoping she doesn’t hit me with the bottle of tequila.

“Are you handing over my cigarettes or not?”

“Just slow down sis, everything is gonna be fine…I promise.” I am trying to calm her down. She tries to slap me, but her arms are not long enough to reach my cheeks.

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“Is this the reason you called me? You wanted to show me how you smoke?” I ask.

“No. But hand me the cigarettes,” she pleads.

“You know I can’t do that, I don’t want to see my sister smoking.”

She pushes the table towards me. I try to escape, but ran right into the door, hitting my head. She chuckles and sticks her hand in my pocket. I don’t want her to get a hold of the cigarettes, so we begin to struggle, during which she tries to choke me but I push her on to the couch and hold her hands.

“Yububububuuu!” She yells for a while before she cools down. When I release her hand, she begins to sob as if I hit her.

“Sis, look at me, what is going on with you?” I plead.  She stares and whimpers. It hurts to see her cry like this. I look into her eyes and beg her to talk to me.

“You men are animals. I mean, monsters! Why do you treat us like idiots?” She blurts out as tears pour down her cheeks.

“What is that supposed to mean, sis?” I ask, holding her stare.

“Hmm! Why can’t you be faithful to your wives just for once? All you do is hurt women over and over again. What is wrong with you? Men never get satisfied. We give you everything but still, you cheat and let us down.”

“You are my brother and I love you but I really hate men.”

“Men are not all the same. Some men are faithful.”

“I don’t know why I even called you to come over here. My heart is completely shattered. Yesterday I caught him again with this filthy maid at the neighbors?”

“Where is him anyway?”

“He is in the room. You can go and talk to him,” she says as she wipes away her tears. Something about the say she says it makes me uneasy.

I push the bedroom door slowly. Right in front of me is a man with blood smeared all over his face. The white towel wrapped around his waist is soaked in blood as are his brown hairy legs. My heart is beating fast as I tiptoe towards him. I know him. It is Jeff, my sister’s husband. An iron and a broken bottle of Uganda Waragi lie beside his body. It appears they were used to smash his head.

My sister is still in the living room. She is smoking. She pours tequila in a shot glass and takes a drink. She takes two puffs of smoke in a row then glares at me.

“In the nights, we die. I am dead too. I did what I assured him I’d do. This was his fifth time cheating on me. I’ll be here waiting for the police as death lingers in my senses.”

She takes another puff.

 

*******

Photo by Javardh on Unsplash