No Pockets on My Clothes
One Act Play
Alexander K. Opicho
For what is yours to bestow is not yours to reserve,
William Shakespeare, (Twelfth night).
1. Masika – Catholic Catechist
2. Engalamasi – wife to Masika
3. Nabutusiu – Masika’s girl child
4. Kantawala – Catholic Bishop, of Ndambasi Diocese.
5. Busolo – Area member of Parliament of Ndambasi Constituency.
6. Kasili – treasurer of the Cemetery authorities.
7. Abdulla – A Muslim and neighbour to Masika
8. Wenwa – Leader of the barefu clan to which Masika belongs.
9. Clansmen I and II, Mourners and gravediggers.
10. Diaba – Caretaker of Catholic Church houses in which Masika hails.
In Ndambasi village of Western province of Kenya at Masika’s house. There are Masika, Engalamasi, Nabutusiu, and Kantawala.
Masika: (feeling Nabutusiu temperature, with the back of his hand) my child is very hot. It is like she is a hot iron in glowing ambers of fire.
Engalamasi: She has been as hot as that since morning. Sometimes even more than that. I am worried.
Masika: Why should you be worried?
Engalamasi: Why must I not be worried when I have already buried my two sons? I am tired of carrying pregnancies for nine months; suckle them for two years, only to loose my efforts to death.
Masika: I am the one who got tired before. That is why I sold the ancestral land I had inherited from my father so that we could move to a new place. But remember we lost our two sons to death because of the evil machination of my fellow clansmen. Good luck they are no longer near to us. We are now full fledged members of the Catholic Church. Just have strong faith, Nabutusiu; our daughter will be well very soon. She will not follow a fateful suit of her two brothers.
Engalamasi: The Catholic Church cannot prevent death. I am still worried. More so we are not living in our own home, we are now in a rented house. When my two sons died it was ok, I was in my own home, I had where to hold funeral from, I had where to burry them. Unlike now, I don’t know where am going to bury Nabutusiu.
Masika: My wife! Engalamasi, have the gods sent you mad? – Why are you planning to bury a girl who is not yet dead? Nabutusiu has fever only and no more worries.
Nabutusiu: (whining and speaking fantasia) Ooh! My head is burning. My stomach is boiling, my forelimbs are cracking away. I have seen an old man ………….man on the sky he is telling me. His name is Wenwa….he is preparing out-door fire in three stones…..he is persuading me to go! Oho!
Nabutusiu: Wenwa! Wenwa! Wenwaaa!
Masika: (Leaving Nabutusiu to sleep on a papyrus long chair, he covers her up with a shawl). What is wrong with my clan? Why is the clan using Wenwa my cousin to finish my family?
Engalamasi: It is true; Nabutusiu my child has never set an eye on Wenwa since she was born, she is only seeing him in the sky because he has spelled a curse of death against my child. He has finished her with his powerful voodoo.
Masika: Wenwa will finish a whole world with voodoo.
Engalamasi: Not the whole world, he is only keen on you. He has ever kept an owl’s eye on my house. His evil devices are all behind death of my two sons
Masika: (To Kantawala) Karibu, come in your holiness.
Kantawala: Thank you, you all look not happy. What’s wrong?
Masika: Bishop, we are crying. My child, look, she is very sick and whatever verbal signs she has started to show are not good. Am struck with despair, sincerely Bishop am hopeless.
Kantawala: (stoops to examine Nabutusiu)
My daughter! My daughter! (Looks up at Masika) is she sick or she is already dead! She is not breathing……her skin is stiff!
Engalamasi: (rushes to where Nabutusiu is) Oho! She is already dead! Am now childless
Mourner I; (Wailing on the top of the voice) what you have done girl, why didn’t you wait to die after Christmas day.
Mourners II: O girl! O girl! Why? Why? Young people don’t have to die.
Gravediggers I; (shouting) show me where I will dig the grave for her.
Grave digger II: (to grave digger I) style up! You want to dig the grave, have you prepared a coffin? Moreover, do you want to dig a grave in the rented compound?
Engalamasi; Oho wuuuuwiii, my daughter! My daughter! My daughter! ………….
In the mid of the night, there is full moon, frogs are croaking in a choir-like sound, crickets are also singing and the distant crying of the hornbill is also heard. Wenwa is alone on an anthill dressed in wizards gear, monkey clobus and animal skin, leopard tail in his hand with a calabash bowl before him tipping the whisker into foul liquid on the calabash, whisking around to spread the liquid as he speaks abracadabraec words in a soliloquy.
Wenwa; (monologue) Go! Go! Go to death you ugly young girl.
Nabutusiu, go, follow your first brother, and follow your second brother.
Follow them; follow them to the land of deaths, Follow them quickly
As you have no business, among we the living ones,
Your place of abode is not earth; it is in the realm of the ancestors
Go! Go! To day before dawn sets forth,
it must get you in a complete rigor mortis,Let the fever of evil gods
Sent you mad with twaddle and fold you, into a pykitonic curl of death
Die, die, die Nabutusiu!
And as you die mention me not, nor mumble about me not
The cause of your demise, Should remain unknown to you,
Mumble not my name whatsoever, nor yell not my gender of a man
Die silently in defenselessness; Curl yourself up like a millipede,
Open wide your eyes and Let you breathes be curtailed,
At once and for all can you die!
Let not your mother sire, again and forever let her not
Have her matrix to bear, anything else closer to a child
Walk away to the land of death with all those that will come after you
Your sisters and brothers, all of them, let them die before birth
Let them be washed away, as a ***** waste on every occasion
Forever in the menstrual blood, of Engalamasi your mother
Let the spell of infertility take hostage of your mother’s matrix,
And have it all as a powerless captive,
Your Mother, that ugliest beast of a woman;
Engalamasi let her never prosper in any womanhood.
And your father, Let the ***** of his testicles,
Be charmless and as impotent as a dead lizard
Let his ***** forever and ever stay powerlessly limp
Like a dead bullfinch, like a dead young mouse
Let Masika’s ***** be balmy in his undergarments,
Let him not ***** before, any woman, any girl,
Let him forget women, let women detest him
And let him fear women, in a perilous nausea let him
hold all women onset, let none his offspring be seen,
Anywhere in this land, our dear land of barefu.
Let not the hands Of Engalamasi and her husband
Be productive to yield anything, the coins in his hands
Must disappear like smoke, Let them buy nothing
Not even a rabbit, Let poverty eat them
In ruthlessness of a powerful spirit, the curse of nakedness let it be
On your heads, Engalamasi, and your husband Masika
With her black fingernails, like the claws of the eagle
The spell of foodlessness in its full might and gear,
Should hover their household, let them be poorest paupers
Of the land, east and west, they should die childless
Let Masika be wifeless, let him ever be making cold fire
At the barren and dumb fire yard for generations and generations,
Then let him die alone, in the house with his eyes
Wide open, let no one neither close nor press his eyes, as he dies.
At the house of Masika, at the door yard, the cortege of dead Nabutusiu in the coffin hanged on the stool. The mood is funeral like, sombre and mournful, clansmen, mourners, Engalamasi and Masika they are around, sited at the round table on fold chairs, Mourners are Wailing, walking around the compound.
Clansman I: What is the problem with the clan of Barefu? Does it mean that nowadays the clan is blind to the problems of its own sons?
Clansman II: Who do you expect to answer you?
Clansman I: I was only thinking beyond boundaries of my silence.
Engalamasi: (sobbing) what did you want the clan to do. My child is already dead; the clan has nothing to do. It can’t bring back my child to life.
Clansman II: (to Engalamasi) we already know that my dear sister-in-law. But what about the burial arrangements? You can even see the girl’s cortege has already lasted three days.
And remember it is a taboo in our community for the dead body of unmarried girl of this type (pointing at the coffin) to last for more than three days before being buried.
Masika; (charged) what has my girl begged from you! If her Cadaver lasts a week on the death bed before burial will it eat anything from your house? Keep your nose off from my child. She is dead yes, but she is still mine.
Clansman I: Masika! You are an elder. The clan does not expect such a wind of words from the mouth of an elder like you.
Masika: Don’t tell me about your clan.
Clansman I: My clan?
Masika: What did you hear?
Clansman I: What I have just heard from you my brother, is not what I have ever dreamed of in my life. The clan is not mine alone. It is our clan. One man cannot make a clan.
Masika: I stopped being a man of the clan. I am now a man of the church. The Catholic Church is my clan. It is my brother, it’s my sister, and it is my cousin. Nothing else, so don’t tire my ears with……….that type of Tara ******.
Clansman II: Brothers, we are all mourning. And mourning has no rules and regulations. Let my brother Masika mourn his daughter Nabutusiu in any manner. His grieve is triggered by history of his experience with the clan.
Clansman I: But it is folly to reject your clan. What can one be without the clan?
Engalamasi: (sobbing) But what can be the clan if it glorifies in death of its people?
Clansman I: (to Engalamasi) my sister-in-law are you connotating the role of voodoo in the death of your daughter?
Masika: A thievish dog always cowardly bark when an old woman waves her cooking stick.
Kantawala: My presence is very brief, because am to attend to a bigger funeral of one of our well-to-do Catholic faithful who passed away three days ago.
Gravedigger I (To Kantawala) you mean there is big funeral and small funeral?
Kantawala: What will you call the burial ceremony of a man with four wives, thirty sons and twenty of them are senior officers in the Kenya army? Even one of them is a Catholic chaplain with the Kenya Army Battalions in Sierra Leone.
Gravedigger I: I will call it bigger funeral.
Kantawala: Yes, and even for your information, more gravediggers are needed there.
Clansman II: Let’s put a side the differences between bigger funeral and small funeral. Let the Bishop tell us his message.
Kantawala: Yes, that is true; I want to ask Masika how far he has gone with the burial arrangement of his daughter. Because the church leaders have only allowed two days for him to stay with a dead body in the church compound.
Clansman I; (To Masika) How far have you gone with the burial arrangements my brother?
Masika: (To Kantawala) but, Bishop…… Bishop…………. Bishop…………
Kantawala: Don’t take things lightly. Kindly remove the dead body from the compound of the church (walks away).
Clansman I; (to Masika) who told me that you are also a Catechist of the same church?
Masika; (fearfully) I am a Catechist.
Clansman II: Where did you take the money you were paid when you sold your ancestral land?
Engalamasi: (sobbing) what is now all these, doesn’t Bishop Kantawala know that my husband is a Catechist? That my dead daughter was baptized in this church? (She joins mourners, wailing).
Gravediggers I and II: let us go, we are late for somewhere. But you can send someone to call us when you are ready for grave digging services.
In Wenwa’s house, Wenwa is dressed in a rain coat, and rubber gum boots, sited on a papyrus chair playing a banjo, the base is most audible.
Wenwa: (playing a banjo and singing)
Gods of my land and our people, you are great and marvelous
In your generosity, you gave to me the most magnanimous heart;
Whoever that has never eaten form my palms, is that one we haven not met
I have fed all people, A thousand fold food-seekers,
From my granaries, my baskets, I extol and exult you gods
Might gods of my land for the genuine heart
You gave to me fathomless, Out of all the sons and daughters
Of this clan of ours, the heroic clan of Barefu.
(Enters Busolo and Kasili)
Busolo: I love your songs they are nice and good.
Wenwa: Thank you, thank you a lot our leader. It is me who has to appreciate your coming to my house. Kindly have your sits (showing them where to sit as he puts aside the Banjo) you mean you heard me from outside?
Kasili; (sitting) let me sit near the door, I am having some flu. I have to be going out to cough. You know.
Wenwa: it is not a matter my dear elder.
Busolo: (Taking out a cigarette) Wenwa let me sent you to bring me fire please; even if you are my knife-mate, my ‘Bakoki’.
Wenwa: Feel at home Bakoki, this house is as good as your own, (he disappears into the inner chamber and comes back with a glowing amber) take it carefully my Bakoki, (handing the amber of fire to Busolo).
Kasili: Busolo, you could have brought a matchbox, these ambers of yours can soil hands of mhenshiwa. Our honourable member of parliament.
Busolo: (blowing out cigarette smoke) fire is fire it doesn’t matter the source. Moreover ambers are good in saving energy (gives the amber back to Wenwa)
Wenwa: Has it burned the cigarette?
Wenwa: (Taking back the amber) good, I wanted that (comes back after throwing the amber at fire-yard at the inner chamber).
Busolo: Am now ok, than when I was coming in. I was getting suffocated by an urge to smoke.
Wenwa: Bakoki, you are right, there is no painful thirsty like that one of need for smoking. It is harsher than an urge for alcohol.
Busolo: Very true
Kasili: What about an urge for Marijuana?
Wenwa: Let me come back to answer you (disappears into the inner chamber, comes back with a kettle and mugs).
Kasili: You can now answer
Wenwa: (setting for Busolo and Kasili the mugs, pouring tea for them) you know what, there is nothing as stupid as developing a habit of consuming Marijuana. There is a brother in this family of mine, my cousin brother you all know, and he is none other than Masika. He began consuming Marijuana. He also encouraged his wife Engalamasi to do the same. Bakoki, I want to confirm to you that the **** affected them badly. They began giving birth to undersized children, children that are as small as a shoe of a woman. The kids have been dying after a month, two months or so. Masika has now sold away his land at a throw away price. He again had to spend all the money received from selling of his land on Marijuana. Bakoki, as we are talking now, Masika is a destitute of land. He now pretends to be a follower of the Catholic Church.
Busolo: (shaking his head), I now understand.
Wenwa: You better understand (stands to peep out) you are not taking tea, why?
Kasili: We are talking as we take.
Busolo: Now tell us, who bought the land?
Kasili: How big was the land? If I can ask before you give an answer to the question of your Bakoki.
Wenwa: Elders, your questions can even make me shed tears. My brother, that man; Masika and his wife Engalamas.uhm! Sold away two acres of ancestral land to a foreigner. To a person who cannot speak a single word of our language. People come here to mock me that our worthiless clan has lost land to a Somali others say he is a very rich Kikuyu.
Kasili: You want to tell me that Masika sold land of the clan to a Kikuyu man?
Wenwa: Where have your ears gone my fellow elder? The land is already gone to the Kikuyus!
Kasili: Eheee! (Tapping his lap) then I can