Snippets of my fiction short stories
Obi is Nigerian, you know this before he even introduces himself and you hear the thick staccato- tone of his accent. Staccato, like the rapid reports of the rubber bullets that bruised your skin as you scrambled all over the place like a headless chicken during the university riot back home. 'Doo doo doo,' your aunt Ntombi said of the empty shells fired at the illegal vendors on Lobengula Street when they defied government orders and refused to move. 'Doo doo doo', instructing mayhem while everyone looted the abandoned stalls, including the policemen themselves.
'Doo doo doo', goes the rhythm of Obi's voice, like the thick-paste porridge that Mama loves to cook, struggling to simmer. 'Doo doo doo.'
He is standing a little too close. You stare at him, not really listening. You guess he is Nigerian before he even opens his mouth because of the heavy chains lolling from his neck and the bling drooping from his big ears. And that ring with a big 'G' that winks every time his hand catches the glare of the sun.
"All Ngongongos around here are the same," your Aunt Ntombi advised you the day you arrived. “Any one dressed like he's 50cent's cousin is a Nigerian."
More extravagant than the Nigerians back home. Just as enterprising. Nigerians in Zimbabwe. Nigerians here in South Africa. Nigerians everywhere.
Zimbabweans everywhere. Growing like a cancer, your Nigerian Landlord would say, his sagging shoulders in tune with his potbelly as tickles of laughter split him to pieces.
You press yourself into the wall, so as to get away from his stale-whisky breath. The smell of cigarettes rises from his body like a natural odour.
“Where you from ma sista-oh?”
You look away from him then, the way you did the day the city police asked you, the way you do whenever anyone asks you that question.
"Never look away." Aunt Ntombi. "Never look away, or else they'll know you're not one of them."
"Kwazulu Natal," you say.
"Kwazulu Natal," you said to the city police, inwardly reprimanding your voice for its persistent tremor.
The policeman looked you over. You and Aunt Ntombi. Big eager eyes rushing over your curves with the hunger of a beggar salivating over slabs of juicy meat sizzling on a grill at a street corner. Asked to see your IDs. And when you bit your lower lip and wrung your hands and looked imploringly at Aunt Ntombi, he asked, with polite sarcasm, for you both to enter the police truck parked in the market square. Like a mean bulldog. Patrolling its territory. Wolfing down Joburg’s many thousand illegal immigrants.