white butterfly

M sat down heavily on the soft earth.

She watched as her toes dug into the cool red soil, granules streaming between them. She spat in her right hand and rubbed the burning skin on her right leg, made hot by the rising sun. Her hands felt rough against her hot skin. Beside her lay a jembe.* She turned to look around at the half acre she had already tilled. She was hungry and thirsty. M reached for the kiondo*, the same one that had once carried a gun and felt around inside it for the roasted ndoma* she had saved from the night before.

She broke it open in her hands, a half in each and began to peel back the skin of the one in her left hand with her teeth.

A gentle breeze broke through the banana leaves above her, beating back the midday heat. “Something had to change,” she thought. “Something has to happen.”

M narrowed her eyes and looked beyond the field at the other ridge, dotted with other women like her, tilling land. Their voices spilling with juicy gossip about the preacher and his mistress, rose in the air.

M shifted her eyes back to the awaiting field. The land they tilled was theirs. She was tilling for money to buy food.

A white butterfly fluttered past her left ear across her face, daring her gaze and settled on the purple flower of the potato plant right infront of her.

*jembe: digging hoe, kiondo: woven basket, ndoma: arrowroot

2 responses to “white butterfly

  1. Now, I am not sure what was going through M’s thoughts with “something has to happen” Maybe she would no longer have to till land to buy food? A “nduma ” steaming from the pot or cold from left overs is a tricky food to chew and swallow, especially on a hot day out in the sun! Was M thinking of how her life would change 1. if only she had some beverage to take with her “nduma”? 2. she had some water to wash her hands before peeling the “nduma”? 3. she was tilling her own land to tender her own crop? 4. women would ever stop gossiping?

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