Swazuri

“What are you wearing Aziza?”

“Clothes, and you, little one, what brings you to my hut at this hour? Where is that man you walk around with?”

“Which one?”

“Oh, so you walk with many men? I see…there is no use standing out in the cold, come in and tell old Aziza a story.”

Swazuri stepped into the hut. The walls were lined with paintings of the sea, one showed fishermen on a boat casting out a net, the other showed a group of women with their arms raised as the waves rose. She stretched out her hand, hoping to touch the painting of the woman at the center of it all, “don’t touch things that do not belong to you, little one. What brings you here?”

“You are not mad.”

“Everyone is mad, it only depends on who is looking.”

“You do not smell like rotten fish.”

“Even rotten fish is food to some creatures.”

“You talk funny.”

“Why aren’t you laughing?”

“It is not the kind of talk to make me laugh, but you are hiding something Aziza. Can I ask you something?”

“You are in my hut, so why not?”

“Do you know what happened to my mother?”

“Which one?”

Swazuri took a step back, bumping into a golden chest. She wiped her palms on her dress and then looked outside, the moon was still shining. Aziza was polishing a crown and singing, but that did not bother her. What did the woman mean by ‘which one?’ Did it mean that she had another mother and if so, how did that happen and why?

She wiped her palms on her dress. Her throat was drying up and the old woman was still singing, her voice rising as she polished the crown in her hands.

Swazuri turned to look at the painting of the woman on Aziza’s wall. She had green eyes and the waves around her were moving. How could waves on a wall move? Aziza was still singing and now she was sweating. She had to leave the hut and return home before Juhudi realized that she was missing. She took one step towards the door, her leg was burning up, she could not move her lips. Aziza was still singing with her back turned towards the door, polishing and polishing a crown as she, Swazuri, died of a fire that she could not see.

She tried to reach out and grab the door, her body was burning up and the pictures on the wall were moving. The fishermen were casting out nets, their boat was rocking and the woman with green eyes was staring at her.

The village people were right, Aziza was a witch, but how could she leave her hut alive? What would she tell Juhudi? She reached out to grab the door but something fell on her and her body met the floor.

Aziza turned in time to see Swazuri hit the floor. She walked up to the little girl, smiled and walked out into the moonlight. It was time.

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