Africa's Fading Echoes
Tales From An Enigmatic ContinenteBook - 2013
Mrs. Jivraj's pounding was timid, as uncertain and mousy as her own self. It was as if she were afraid someone might hear the thumping and complain.
The pounding from Mrs. Sidhu's house was the loudest. She did not care who heard and who complained. It was her wash that filled the air with the powerful scent of the blue bar soap she appeared to use in excess amount.
I wondered if Mrs. Nathu ever got her clothes washed. Her ready-made frocks always looked crisp and trendy, as though they had just come off the racks at Harrods in London. One wet day, I asked Malini where she thought Mrs. Nathu got her clothes washed.
"Lady Macbeth, you mean?" Malini chuckled, standing outside her home, holding her face to the rain. "Mama Hatari, the terror lady? Don't you know? Her Highness doesn't need to get her clothes washed. She never wears anything twice!"
Huddling under an umbrella in the downpour, I, too, laughed as I watched in fascination at the droplets of rain clinging to Malini's eyelashes. Glittering like precious gemstones. With water glistening down her long, black hair and her chiseled face, she looked like a mythical figure out of an ancient text book.
Now a few years later, in another country, I lean back in my chair, and there in the window, through the misty waters, I see her. I see her as she was then, her mouth curled into a smile, as her body breathed fire in the rain with her erotic movements. And I find it hard to accept that Malini does not exist anymore. That she ceased to walk this earth some years ago.
I imagine her face, frozen as it must have been, in a deathly grimace. Her greenish lips pursed together, and her face bloated from being too long in the dark waters of a drinking well in remote India. Why was she so expendable, I ask myself? So easily forgotten..."
The above is an excerpt of a story from a anthology entitled, Africa's Fading Echoes. In this book, the reader is ushered into a world of a bygone era-a world that that no longer exists except in people's memories. Here in this world, perhaps because there is no television, neighbors gather on porches in the evenings and sit under starlit nights to seek companionship and exchange gossip. In this slow-paced world, women and children leisurely stroll to outdoor markets filled with fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish. Here, smallholders go house to house to sell their produce, and poultry farmers knock on doors carrying baskets of live chickens to peddle.
Families here live in mud homes with corrugated tin roofs, and dry laundry on clotheslines strung across backyards. Most of the stories in this collection resonate with the sights and sounds of a lost time, an epoch preserved only in nostalgic musings of a vanished world. But these stories also reverberate with sorrow, heartache, and struggle. The stunning portrayal of characters with their rich and diverse cultures, their gripping tales, and the resilience they display in the face conflict, loss and pain, offers profound insights into the human condition.
Synopsis from a few selected stories:
Jenabai, an elderly woman, lives a lonely and solitary existence in a seniors' building in Toronto. She is tortured by the memory of her children she buried back home in East Africa before she migrated to Canada...
In Cairo, Egypt, a mother is anguished when her two sons go missing during the Arab Spring...
In New York, a young foreign student struggles to come to terms with the loss of a childhood friend who was killed in India...
In Tanzania, neighborhoods and families splinter as realities of a new economic outlook set in...