Black and White in Love by Peter Ngila

 

He who chews slowly swallows at last. As plumes of dust jumped up and down, Veka Mukusyo sat on the lap of Goodman, her love. Do I exercise my grandmother’s wisdom of slowly chewing Goodman’s love chunks that I would swallow at the end?

A persistent question was nagging her soul.

The two had severally spent time in town. Veka had nothing to worry about. She had not abandoned her people at the village. Canaanite voices of angels were calling upon her to abandon Egypt. She was white. Everybody in the village knew that. White and black would never mix in anyway.

“When is your next class, babe?” Goodman asked.

“Tomorrow. We requested the lecturer to come in class with a real camera, not just a mere drawing like last time.”

Goodman would take her to Java coffee house. They would sip some tea. He would touch her thighs. Caress them. And remind her for the umpteenth time she is purely white. Not black in anyway.

At the house, she checked herself on the mirror. Her features were now really of a white woman. Does white skin not turn pale sometimes on this African land where the sun scorches the earth as though some fuelled charcoal was being added to it?

Sometimes Veka’s pale hand would pass its way to massage her head. She would feel bumps here and there. Her skin had really put her on a hotspot. No. At a cross roads. She mostly doubted that she was really a product of her village. The daughter of Africa.

At the village, she had been referred to as black-and-white. She had just a handful of friends. But whom she couldn’t do some things with. In class she was assigned a seat at the far end, with only the wall and the ever wide-opened eyes of her fellow colleagues giving her company. The teachers couldn’t handle enraged parents. They didn’t want pupils to get infected with the disease of the skin.

Veka Mukusyo knew that there was a big distance between her and freedom. Everything surrounding her seemed to prolong this distance. Even if Mukusyo himself would have turned slightly in his grave, he would have realized this distance. It had not been his wish to sire a ‘weak-skinned child’. A weak skin which couldn’t tolerate corrective slaps from her teachers at school.

A white skin that couldn’t win King’esi’s heart. Whenever King’esi bent over Veka to show her how to tackle a Math problem, he felt like inviting her to his father’s weekly pastoral meetings at the church.

But he couldn’t.

Black and white could not comply with each other in anything. He would be stoned to death like Mukusyo. But King’esi would satisfy his urge only after slipping a five-shilling coin into Veka’s tightly folded palms.

Veka sensed that King’esi had some feeling of concern towards her. Maybe it was a brotherly or sisterly feeling. After all, I have nothing to worry about. Black and white never mixes in love. A black should fall in love with only a fellow black. And a white to a white.

She often wondered where she had come from. Had her parents been really black? Or had any of them been white and the other a black? Veka had never seen her mother. She had only gathered from a neighbouring pupil that her mother had given birth to her and died instantly.

“Am I really an evil girl?” She asked Goodman. He cleared his throat briefly and answered; “No my dear. You are not evil”.

“Come closer and let me wipe your tears.” Veka couldn’t hold back the rest of her tears. Goodman’s left shoulder was drenched in tears. He slightly lifted Veka’s head off his shoulder. And using his black and white spotted kerchief wiped off her tears.

At the village Veka had got used to her simple life. She had despised some village girls who had come from the city dressed in miniskirts and blouses which left their backs exposed to the world’s eyes. Veka’s grandmother had warned her to never admire such clothing.

But Veka had been left undecided. Her conscience told her to embrace this ‘civilized Western mode of dressing’. Another voice still urged her to remain a true daughter of mother Africa.

If you stay with one who is pimpled, you will develop pimples, too.

Goodman was really good. “If you continue dressing in these robe-like dresses, I wouldn’t allow you to be consulting me in anything. Even if the varsity examination is tomorrow,” the lecturer warned the first year student.

Warning after warning yielded good results. The man was glad that the girl now understood that Western dress was the light which illuminated the ‘dark’ African attire. These days, Veka would be seen an I don’t fart tightpair of pencil trousers, well tucked into those high-heeled shoes called no hurry in Africa.

King’esi was surprised to see Veka dressed so western, with her head rested on a Whiteman’s chest. Her stomach was also swollen. Would this fruit in her womb bring forth a white man or a black man?

King’esi wondered whether this was the shy Veka he had known at the village. The one he had secretly admired. The mournful one he had pulled out of her father’s fresh grave that Friday afternoon. The one he had remonstrated with his father so that she may get college fees.

Surprise almost choked him. His muscles gained fresh energy. And he was about to spoil Veka’s good time with a stone. But tough hands tightly held him from behind.

Once, twice, thrice……

The city lights blinked thrice and went off. The Jeevanjee gardens environment was covered in total darkness.