The Devil’s Secrets

“The elders’ meeting is the sharpening stone of men.” My parents entirely subscribed to this old Kenyan proverb. They were not concerned on who actually made this observation, why and what prompted it, questions perhaps only Ene would ask. Proverbs were wise sayings. They could defend whatever foolish interpretation they practiced based it on the proverb. Proverbs developed new lives in the mouth of interpreters, it was able to clarify and bring strife. In father’s case it was reason enough to slap Ene. Ene my younger sister was only nine, Ene was tagged trouble maker. She suggested offhandedly, one hot afternoon, while sipping soda, that grandfather ought to be more polite. The words rolled off her tongue easily, the same way one would easily observe that the sun was setting. My father immediately marked his five fingers on her little cheeks; no child of his will utter abominations so naturally.

Ene puzzled me in my younger years, I was three years older with none of her beautiful dogged opinions. Ene had bright wide eyes, as if the largeness of her eyes made it easier for her see too much. She was continually asking questions and explaining her “irrational actions”. She would listen to each of father’s regulations then bubble out in frustration like boiling rice. She would pick holes in his carefully drafted plan. Ene was my enigma, years later she would run away from home. Today she lay on the floor spilling stories “Daddy is having an affair,” “Mum needs to stop giving away all that money to priests, Nigerians are hungry,” “I think you should spend all that time you use praying to learn a new craft”. I remained quiet; all I ever gave her was an exasperated look. She just sat there her tiny frame curled on the cold floor. There was something dark about her, her volatile thoughts, how they leaked and permeated into the atmosphere. She just sat there on the floor as if listening to the secrets of the home from the devil himself.

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