Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V

Chapter VI

Forgiveness. Who is it for?

“Killy”, Ubu said, jerking her heavily intoxicated head as the word came out. She was curled like a baby on the mattress while Killy and Voel sat on crates.

“Yes, lovey”, Killy responded, swinging her body and shoving her face – alcohol breath and all – into Ubu’s face

“Why do you do it?”

“Do what, love?”

“You know…?” she was hesitant, as she didn’t want to offend them.

“Sleep with men for money?”, Killy finished Ubu’s sentence for her, after a moment of silence

“Yes. Isn’t it painfull? How does it feel? Do you like it?...” Ubu jumped in with an assortment of questions. Killy put a finger on Ubu’s mouth, not as much to shut her up – which wouldn’t entirely be wrong – but more to show her that she knew what Ubu wanted to know. Voel realised where the conversation was about to go. She simply turned her head and looked into the darkness that stood before them, in the direction of the street.

Voel and Killy had known each other for years but this was one subject that they never spoke about. Besides Voel’s obvious vocal incapacity, they both found no need to delve into such matters. But somehow both felt compelled to give the child some sort of answer. Killy didn’t answer her immediately. For a while, all she did was stare at the fire. She looked into the flame, asking it the very same questions that Ubu had asked her.

“My heart burns with anger and my soul is ablaze with hate”, said the fire.

Ubu felt bad for asking but she didn’t want to disturb Killy’s thoughts.

“I don’t ‘do’ it”, she said, finally breaking the tense silence, without looking away from the fire.

“Maybe the first few times, yes, you do it. After some time, you don’t ‘do’ it; you become it. When you do it, it changes you. Each and everytime you do it, it changes you. It changes you till you can’t change any more. In the beginning, it kills you. Each time you opened you legs, it killed you. It killed you till eventually, you couldn’t die any more. Do you know how it’s like to walk around dead?”, it wasn’t a question.

Killy caught herself, and snapped towards Ubu as if her trance was broken. She looked at Ubu who was at a loss for neither words nor action. She looked the little girl in the eyes, as the flames danced in the black of her eye. Then, as if Ubu’s eyes looked like the eyes of another little girl, a little girl before she was taught how to kill, with a hint of a tear in her one eye Killy’s face melted into a warm smile. She reached across and caressed Ubu’s head. Like a mother would do to her only child.  She moved onto the mattress with her back leaning against the wall. She laid Ubu’s head on Killy’s thighs. Ubu, because of the religious inclinations, always wore a headscarf. Killy took it off and slowly started brushing the child’s forehead.

“There is a place”, Killy began. “Just outside my village. There is a small stream. On the one bank of the stream there is a big tree. I used to play there with my cousin, Kweku. In spring the tree used blossom with large purple flowers. Then, the butterflies came; in Swahili we call them kipepo. We waited every year for kipepo. They came in all shapes and colours. We used to sing a song for the butterfly; kipepo, kipepo atachukua mie.

It means butterefly, butterfly take me with you. You see in our culture we believe that there is a place that only the butterfly know of. A place where the butterfly gets its colours from. That’s why a butterfly flies the way it does, because the colours make it happy. So we sing to the butterfly, to take us to the place where the colours dance under large, fluffy clouds. Every night, when I am working, no matter who my client is, I just lie back and I sing to kipepo. Then, kipepo comes and takes me away…”.

She turned to looked at Ubu, the child was fast asleep. Killy and Voel tucked her in. They carried on for most of the night. The highlight could have been Voel actually making a sound resembling a muffled giggle while Killy was pulling her impersonation of a courting peacock. Killy sang and danced and drank until she past out. Voel tucked her in and slid into the bed that now could barely accommodate three bodies. But it was fine, they were family. It would have been the most special night in recent memory for them, but it wasn’t. What was about to happen would change everything; they were about to know life, they were about to know death. 

Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI

Chapter XII

Words & Illustration: Vus (@JustVus)

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