‘Everyone lives through the night. Let the moon guide you, but do not follow it.’
I should’ve listened.
Here begins another miserable night, one night after a thousand. I was sure the moon was my very own even when I saw it shining for everyone. An uncanny paradox. A festering sore. A vacillating delusion.
A black moon shines for me. Why? A red sun sinks behind the great Mavoyati. How? Two burnt roses grew on my beard. She plucked them out and and drank wine from the pores. Bitter. Sweet. Gone.
Some nights you forget, some nights you don’t want to remember.
An owl hoots on the window sill, bidding me to count the stars. Has God forsaken this path? Is this my ‘valley of the shadow of death’? I refused to heed the protests inside my head. Hoe-ly hypocrites! Spineless spirits!
My father and my fathers before him were vicious sorcerers—tukavu warriors. Who’s afraid of the night when it only begets the sun? Must I be scared of the wind that blows higher the flames on my bamboo torch? I must live! I must love! You guys are girly gir—alas! The owl again.
The night is tall and throbbing, like masalais dancing on dry banana leaves. A firefly implored me to make a wish. It is my grandfather coming back, my wasman. I grabbed it and wished for the night to pass and you-me to last.
But what is a wish to the dead? My bubu is dead. The moment is dead. It has lost its sweetness. All these memories are but the carcass of a beautiful lie.
I’m alone now. I recalled loving you just three seconds ago. Time! Treacherous! Torturous!
My mama didn’t ask papa for jewellery; she wanted a kaukau garden. She didn’t expect roses; she was content with kapul meat. No promises were made; they sang tumbuna songs by the firelight.
I got you rings and chocolates and wrote you beautiful poems. We had long romantic walks every afternoon, longer phone calls in the night and much longer chats on WhatsApp filled with emojis. Sweet. Bitter. Gone.
Even my posin cannot keep us forever. There’s a new powerful posin. Tonight I admit defeat.
We gathered the shreds of our promises from the floor to clothe our torn egos. There is no us. When we made love, it was on a bed of deceit, wrapped in the inanity of youthful dreams.
Our orgasms betrayed our emotions; we conceived hate in love and lay back exhausted as if we had just arrived at the top of Mavoyati after hours of climbing.
We gave too much of ourselves. I saved too little for myself. You left with everything: my pride, my prestige, my privileges…. I am left only with my screwed virginity and a glass of remorse which I am forced to drink slowly.
Like a saint drunk from a vestal’s vaginal champagne, overdosed from her toxic spells, I stumbled onto the street, an unvirgined innocence creating a halo over my head. I remembered clearly now what my father told me.
The night was married to a foreign morning. Everyone lives through the night. If you live it now, live it carefully. Live it wisely. Let the moon guide you, but do not follow it. Do not true—never!
There’s no moon for tonight. There’s no sun for tomorrow. I am stuck in this night, the product of a thousand nights of childhood fantasies and coveted fairy-tales. Snow White was actually black. She’s from Kelerakwa mix Kairuku. There was no prince. A Big Man rode on two fat pigs and swept her away to Wapenamanda. The end.
I survived to write this story. Now bury me in the shades of the pikus where we once played papas and mamas.
bubu – grandfather or grandmother
Kairuku – an area in the Kairuku-Hiri district of Central Province
kapul – cuscus (possum)
kaukau – sweet potato
Kelerakwa – a village in the Aroma District of Central Province
masalais – demons or gods of trees, lakes, mountains etc.
Mavoyati – a mountain located in Yagusa village of Okapa District, Eastern Highlands Province
papas and mamas – a game where children pretend to be parents; daddies and mummies
pikus – a tropical parasitic plant believed to be haunted by masalais
posin – a sorcerous spell or potion; literally ‘poison’
tukavu – a form of sorcery popular in the Okapa District of Eastern Highlands Province
tumbuna – ancestor, ancient
Wapenamanda – a district and town in Enga Province
wasman – guardian