Swazuri and Juhudi

The man, she later came to know, was called Juhudi. He came from the land of Kings. His family traded not only in gold, cowrie shells, camels and cloth, but also in songs. His kind were the only known sirens who reigned in the Coast.

Every evening they would sit beside the shore, pull out their flutes and sing unto the goddess of the Indian Ocean.

Swazuri was the only one who dwelled in Juhudi’s heart and nothing anyone said against her would ever grace his ears. He struck the ones who spoke ill of her, the ones who said her eyes were the color of the Indian ocean, the ones who trembled when she walked in their path.

Whereas Swazuri was thunder, Juhudi was the lightning that struck without a sound.

“What happened to my mother?” she asked him.

“Your mother was never supposed to go beyond this land, but she believed that she could escape the gods. I never made it in time, if only I would have rushed home that evening, she would be alive today.”

“But, that is what you always say, I asked you, what happened to her?”

“And I, my dear Princess, keep telling you that she dared the gods and they punished her. A life for a life, is what Aziza said when I returned home that day to find her gone.”

“Aziza? The old woman who smells like rotten fish?”

“She is a wise woman. If her scent bothers you that much, then go and dip yourself in a pot of rotten fish and then sit beside her.”

“Why do you like the old woman so much?”

Juhudi turned to the little girl seated beside him and pulled out his flute. The moon was slowly making her way above the ocean, shining upon the waters as she made her way to the sky. He started playing, afraid that if he opened his eyes, he would see the woman- once Queen, now locked inside the grief in her soul.

His greatest fear was that one day Swazuri would look into the woman’s eyes and see her own eyes looking back at her. One a Princess, the other a former Queen.


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