When the sun rose that morning, the cock did not crow. The sun dragged itself noiselessly across the welcoming Bukokholo sky yet no one stirred in the village below. No one knows what happened to Shakespeare; that was the name bestowed upon the village cockerel by Makokha, who claimed to have studied for 3 months in a place named England. It was rumored that he had actually been vegetating in the jailhouse in Nairobi. Everyone woke up late that morning and that is when Nekesa’s end began.
Nekesa was one of Makokha’s daughters. She was his sixth and final child. Despite the fact that Makokha and her mother, Nighte, had gone to the witchdoctor under the cover of night to pray fervently for a son, Nekesa had been born a few months later. Her father had never forgiven either her or her mother. He had taken to drinking heavily and spending nights at the local prostitutes house or at the drinking hole where illicit brew flowed like water. Makokha had never touched his wife after Nekesa’s birth, 18 years past. He had never shown Nekesa any sort of affection either, other than to call her “George, My favorite son…” when he staggered home from his nightly consorts. When she was 10 years old, Nekesa had taken to standing beneath the trees by the entrance to their compound, waiting for her father to come home when the fireflies had slept and the night was darker than the chiefs’ skin. For 8 years, she had dutifully offered to support him as Makokha staggered past the trees and all that time he had never acknowledged or accepted her help. He stared through her and called her George repeatedly as she walked behind him watching his step, hoping to hear a word of appreciation.
Nighte had burst into her daughters’ room in a state of frenzy dragging away the flimsy blanket. Nekesa blinked awake and stared at her mother blindly, trying to hear what she was saying.
Outside, the village had gathered beneath the trees by their compound. Voices were muted and there was a certain feeling in the air. Lying on the walkway to the kitchen hut was Makokha. Sprawled out on his beer belly, dead.
The village priests had gathered as well; Wafula, Kabhangaba and Musibhulo. There was no crying amongst the shocked women who had gathered. Since everybody had woken up late that morning, nobody had started his or her early morning rituals. It had been little Nakhumicha coming to borrow a cup of sugar from Nighte that had found their neighbor sleeping eternally in a pool of his own dark red blood. The little girl had gone straight to the chief’s compound and cried the tale and her heart out until his dark skin had turned pale.
Nobody knew what to do. In all the years that they had all lived in Bukokholo, nothing like this had ever occurred. The worst thing to occur was when Makokha had left for the city, turned into a local thug and came back spewing tales of a pale colored people running amok in the far off place, throwing innocent thugs like him in jail. Makokha’s five daughters stood together by his body, silently grieving because it was expected. Truth be told, their father had become a stranger over the years. Makokha’s body lay there motionless begging them to cry for their loss and they did. Wafula, Chief priest, looked the body over and when he and Musibhulo flipped Makokhas body over onto his back, there was a collective gasp from the audience. His body was riddled with stab wounds. It was no suicide. Makokha, the village drunk, had been murdered. His mouth lay open like as if he had been caught trying to say something. His eyes had rolled up into his head looking, it seemed, towards the gods.
Nighte came out of Nekesa’s hut, surprisingly silent. Her clothes were disheveled and her eyes were ominously clear and without tears. The crowd stared as one priest explained to her what had just been discovered and to everyone’s surprise, Nighte threw her head back and screamed out, “NEKESA!” then collapsed into a heap on the floor outside her daughter’s hut sobbing dryly.
She stepped out of her hut, her head high, her eyes as dry as her mothers. Her white cotton dress was the color of crimson here and there, as spatterings of blood danced their way across the front of it.
The villagers began to hum and whisper as they stared at the slip of a girl standing in front of her hut, gazing at them with nothing in her stare and the blood of her father on her hands. Clutched in her left hand was a dangling Shakespeare, lifeless.
The villagers began to thunder silently. The priests looked at each other in bewilderment. The crowd began to desert Makokhas body and move a few feet to stand in front of Nekesa. They did not know who threw the first stone. Some said it was one of Makokha’s other daughters. Another said it was Nighte. When the dust finally settled, the end was swift for Nekesa and the only words she ever uttered as she died were,” George killed him for me…”
Nobody knew what she was talking about.