Cameras for sale from Stories from africa and other short stories
He walked into the market. There was a lot of chatting and voices from sharp to deep filled the air of sellers shouted out their prices, ” 100 each! 50 each!….” and just stood still for a second at the large entrance, almost deafened from everyone talking at the same time.
It was a competition for customers, and the advantageous were those who sold sound systems or heard better advertisement techniques. He squeezed his way through the crowd, it was useless to be polite. On this other side of the gate were less people. He turned around and looked up at the place and saw a large writing, “GROCERIES” and wondered just how women could be as noisy as children.
The next one was “PHONES AND ACCESSORIES” He got welcomed with the “karibu kastama” “welcome! What can I do for you?”…He stopped for a second. A thought had strike him.
He turned to an old man on his left about the third last stall and he bent to him and asked ” do you have cameras?…”
“Never handled cameras before?” Asked the old man, realising how his customer had a hard time trying to figure out what does what. In his mind he needed just one shot. Only one.
“How much for this one?” He asked.
“25 thousand.” He said as he put back the three others this fellow never bothered about and as he turned back, he noticed his sudden dimming face and added, “negotiable… How much you got?”
And before the old man could respond, jumped in again, “for your son?”
“…Just for me…I’ve got 10 sir…can’t you please just…”
“No problem…” he interrupted.
The old man reach to his inner short and pulled out an old cut out shirt. It was swollen with sharp edges and tightly tied that he had to use his mouth to undo the knot. He turned around and separated some which he again tuck in his inner short and stretched out the rest to the old man. This man was not surprised either. Old folks had this kind of behaviour around money.
He hurriedly dusted the camera and handed it to him wrapped in a black polythene bag.
“Thank you sir.” He said and left.
The last building he had no label. He was walking around for about 5 minutes when his a stall filled with piles of mattresses, cushions, curtains, pillows, bed covers etc…caught his eyes.
He traded the last notes, and set for his way back home, in his old bicycle that produced a squeaky sound whenever he pushed one pedal foward.
He resided deep inside the woods. Where children imagined and circulated tales of wild life existing, but time failed to confirm it, not even with the hyenas laughters. He had no one to check up him, and those who came by were men who came to have their jembes repaired or purchase new ones. At least he didn’t run into trouble with no landlord, going back and forth exchanging words and fists every new month that they get tired of each other. Everything came free in this world of his. And he got them fresh-for food and water. In any amounts he ever needed. Nobody just never bothered to be his neighbour still.
His little hut that seemed to have lived almost his age, had seen the better part and its rooftop frame were growing weak by day and had begun to give way, curving inwards as though the grass on top was so heavy and it couldn’t take it’s weight no more. With no windows, his only light during the day was his hands. So he had mastered exactly where everything was. He just had to send out his hands before him and his body would follow.
His heart began pounding fast and even faster , and His blood run cold upon touching her face, feeling the already dead skin and cold blood underneath it.He run them through her whole body, nervous as he quickly lit the lantern and bent it over her body calling out, to confirm if only his old hands were playing tricks on him.
A river of tears run down his cheecks, still an unbelievable moment, an end to his best chapter after feeling for more than three minutes under her nose and her neck and still felt no pump. She just laid there, stiff and cold. The shock almost paralysed him, and even though he knew when he had set for the market that things would be worse on his return. Death was the least expected guest. Every time death has proven us how hard it is to take in the loss of our beloved ones no matter how strong or how early we are aware of their numbered days. The news hits us afresh, and sometimes harder.
After mourning her, he carried her outside, pulled the sleeping bag from the bicycle and carefully zipped her inside it. The fresh heap of soil above her at the right side of their home, would soon be flat and covered in grass and thicket. The hard work was done by dusk and he dragged his weary body inside. His eyes red and a head that throbbed and unrelentless. He was never appeared again….
weeks later when Kibu-his frequent customer showed up in the homestead, the thick homestead, green with all sorts of weeds startled him.
“This is strange.” He thought, looking around. A strong smell met him as he approached the hut. He stopped for a second and rushed into the hut covering his nose now realising how bad the situation was. He was right. Silas’ body dangled dead in the middle of the hut. He brought it down and left to call the villagers. Very few people knew about the ‘forest man.’ They emptied the house of its few belongings; an old bed, an old torn small suitcase stuffed with old clothes of the dead couple. Beside the bed rested the camera.
When an expert was called in to see if any photos were taken, it shook them up and left them mouth open. No one could explain let alone describe how horrifying the pictures looked like. It only depended on how worse your imagination could form the picture, but still u’d lack words. Of what was left of the woman, after the bacteria had eaten her up, exposing her remains of her brains in her head, leaving it hollow. She was unrecognizable.
Now that I’d say could be the perfect definition of someone’s face ‘being rubbed off earth.’ Her body were the left of chunks of meat in some areas. Exposing three quarters of her skeleton. It was hard to ever imagine if the bacteria was done, or had just moved on to another host because they couldn’t eat up bones becsuse there was plenty of ‘work’ to do.
No one saw it coming. And no one in the first moments ever thought of it as transmissible. How sad, that it took four deaths for them to beware of its transmission and avoid the infected like the plague. But it was too late. The bacteria had already found new homes and source of food in many and it could only be a matter of days before the whole village’s existence is threatened to be wiped off the face of earth.