The VIRGIN OF SAROVA is a psychical -raving , emotional-rattling and fast -paced traditional narrative spiritedly penned by fast rising Kenyan storyteller , Writer , broadcaster and educationist ANNE NJENGA . The surprises , twists within turns coupled with ever -mounting conflict , decadent grip of patriarch , hypocrisy , dark romance and unmatchable humor is silver-water crystal clear indication that Njenga is undoubtedly one of the great promise of the African story . She tells the story with the drama of a rock rabbit and the verve of lightening jolt . This powerfully- packed short story reveals grim experiences under the grinding grip of patriarchy – ( Blurb by Mbizo CHIRASHA)
THE VIRGIN OF SAROVA
The brown leather briefcase that awaited at the stairs was a clear evidence that finally the caged bird was buying the long awaited freedom to set free the withered sprite. Maybe a very new beginning of another life. Life full of life…not dead any more. A new life that was really revitalized. Full of energy and of course, love. Everything that meant anything was well arranged in the briefcase. The room was intact. Everything remained at its usual place. Tears stung my eyes for the thousandth time. I allowed them to freely run down my face. The make-up could be repaired later after I was done with the last dose of mourning. I wanted to do it in a style such that the memories would never haunt me again .Yes, the memories of Sarova. I was ready to forget everything, turn a new leaf and be reincarnated. I wanted to forget that Sarova ever existed. I needed space to heal, stand on my feet again and start moving, without turning back…and that is what my mind was set to do. It was a matter of time, and the virgin of Sarova would be soaring up high, never to settle anywhere near Sarova! I knew it was really hard and painful yet I was determined to pay the cost, if only to retain my sanity.
I entered all the rooms as a way of setting my heart free. It was time to leave. The faster I left, the better it was for my sick heart. I desperately needed to repair my already ruined mascara, do some touches on my face and I would be the iron lady again, ready to face my new world. My mourning had to end! I picked my phone. It was almost 5.30am. “Hello! Paul!” I called. “Tasha! Hello! Yes, am on my way, “he responded unconvincingly. “Please…no! Hello! By six. Ok, thanks”, it was the hundredth time to call the cabman. I had called him last night and all seemed set. I wanted to flee very early in the morning. By evening I hoped to be in Jubaland but Paul seemed to be reading a different script. I couldn’t understand why he was delaying in such a manner. After all, he had overcharged me from Mara to Narok town which was easier to connect to my destination via the city in the sun. My phone rang. “Madam Natasha…hello!” It was Paul. “Paul! Where are you?” I asked irritated. “Relax Madam Natasha”, was all Paul could say. I breathed in and out taking those deep breathes. At least I was able to relax though I felt a bit fatigued. I stood at my bedroom window unable to delete the memories of how I found myself in the Mara wilderness, where my neighbors were wild animals. It was fascinating as well as intriguing. My fate was sealed by that delocalization letter.
I remembered how I felt confused when I received that letter. I hadn’t been looking forward to be delocalized though I had yearned for headship for God knows how long. Moi Girls’ Isinya was my dream school. I loved it during my teaching practice. I wasn’t prepared to be in Narok at all. Being brought up in Ngong, Kajiado, I was at loss thinking of a school that wasn’t even located through google map. Instead of town schools like Ole Tipis, Maasai Girls or even St. Mary’s, the commission had decided that Mara Girls’ secondary school was the best place for my delocalization and promotion. One part of my heart was afraid while the other one was excited. I felt some excitement and adventures in the air. I called my senior sister who was also my confidant. “Hi Chichi!
Just guess what?” I told her through the WhatsApp video call. “Oh, Tash, can’t guess. Say it please”, that was my sister, always sweet and kind. “Chichi, my delocalization letter is here.” I was avoiding creating suspense yet I couldn’t. “So, where have they decided to take your teaching skills?” Chichi asked, interested to know the exact school. I sent her the letter through WhatsApp. She was excited that I was finally going to head an institution somewhere in Maa land. Her piece of advice was that I hunt a good, handsome Moran, and my worries would be a gone case. I rested my case and decided to play my cards well.
I can’t tell for how long my mind wandered. Suddenly I sensed the presence of another person. I turned to see Paul standing at the door of my bedroom. I almost screamed. “I have been knocking at your door, madam. I decided to check in because you were not picking my call”, Paul tried to explain. “It’s okay although you have scared me.” I answered him as a matter of fact. “Madam, I have put the briefcase in the car. Anything else?” I shook my head as I fished the keys out of my handbag. I locked the door and followed Paul to the car. He had already opened the door for me. Paul was a very handsome man. He could easily pass for a male model. He once told me that a friend had advised him to try his hand in modelling but this father refused. He resolved into being a tour guide .That was what brought him great wealth that saw him own a fleet of cabs. I placed my handbag on the rear passenger’s seat, made myself comfortable, and then fixed my safety belt. Suddenly I felt strange. A sense of fear, worry, emotions and a strange attraction to Paul. It was a taboo, for such kind of attraction. Paul was to be my best man, had my relationship with Frank not broken up. He was trustworthy and loyal. After a short silent prayer I felt it was time to enquire why Paul had delayed me all that long. “What happened? I thought we had agreed on time…”I asked him angrily. I felt bitterness taking a toll on me. I blamed myself for I had promised to play it cool.
“Tash, you know you are my sister. I have good plans for you,”he played smart, sensing the heightening tension. “Oh, really?” I was curious. “So, how good are the plans, my brother?” He was quiet for a while. After flashing a smile my direction, he started the engine and tuned on the radio. The song was all I needed. I adjusted the volume a bit. Ten Thousands Reasons remained my favorite song through ages. After some minutes, it was time to ask again. “Tash, you hope this nagging did not sent Frank away from you”, He was smiling while pangs of pain attacked me. Was I really nagging? I asked myself. I could not remember having nagged Frank. “Never mind. Your good-for-nothing brother was a real nag, not me!” I was mad. “Cool down. I know it dear. “He wasn’t convincing neither did I care. “How about me taking you to Nairobi? “He winked. My heart missed a beat. I can also take you to the airport and leave after you have boarded the plane.” I had never seen Paul that serious .He was the original Paul Satiety I had met five years ago when I was reporting to my new school.The same Paul who introduced me to my community husband Frank during a school trip. It happened that my sister Chichi was on a holiday at Maasai Mara game reserve. I had referred her to PASOT Safaris, Paul’s travel agency in Nairobi to Mara. A coincidence saw Paul bringing my sister to Mara the same day we had our form threes girls visiting the game reserve. I had to arrange with others teachers to be left behind so as to catch up with my sister at the Lodge Sarova. And that’s when I first met Frank. The memory was very vivid and clear.
Paul’s car was quite warm. Having spent some sleepless nights, I suddenly fell asleep. I can’t tell for how long I had been asleep but at Narok Town, I woke up. It was unbelievable that I had slept all those hours comfortably. We grabbed some breakfast at Sahara Coffee House and it was time to start the journey again. By a look of things, I had to reschedule my flight. I wasn’t going to make it as per my prior plans. However, I didn’t fell ill about it. “Do you think by now you could be this far? “Paul caught me in my imaginations. “Sure, why not?” I shot back. “Paul, you know very well you were late. You broke the promise of keeping time!” I accused him hotly. “Don’t say that again madam principal. I have saved you the agony of travelling by PSV” he was smart. “You should thank me madam” and indeed I thanked him for making me late!
What a day! The traffic jam at Escarpment was a nightmare. And my wise Paul decided it was smart to use the Kijabe shortcut. It was a very dangerous route but Paul could hear none of it. Infact he bragged of being a moran who had killed a lion single-handedly. Who was I, a mere green horned principal to argue with a true moran? I had no psych for the journey was challenging. The Kijabe road had never been at its best, thanks to the powerful machine that Paul controlled and steered passionately. I started feeling tranquil. I had planned for the two months’ vacation in an amazing way. We had just closed the school two days ago. It was good that the school had reached form three. Till next year there was no national exam. Again, I had planned to turn down the invitation to mark the exams. I was also hopeful that my transfer request would be granted. And my last freedom from my community husband would finally be mine. I fantasized with the idea of being transferred to central parts of Kenya. Would I be discriminated? There was a stereotype about Maas being uneducated. What about finding new love? I was afraid of the stories I had heard from media about central men. They were hardworking but unromantic. I didn’t want the baggage of another community husband and probably a drunkard. I prayed that I could be taken to Coast. Being a Kiswahili and Fasihi teacher, Coast was the best place for me. My colleague had told me of those areas and I felt like I needed to be in Taita…far away from Frank.
So lost in my imaginations was I that I didn’t discover when at the middle of the forest, the car stopped. I panicked. Within a flash of a second, orders were given and roles taken. A new driver took over, our positions changed. Paul and I were put in the boot. My super Moran was unable to fight the mighty men of super machines. Somehow, our abductors decided we deserved a better treatment. We were brought back to the back seat, sandwiched between two smartly dressed, armed to tooth gentlemen. Infact the whole scenario looked normal. There was no way we could escape. I cried bitterly. I cursed Paul. If it were not for his hardheadedness, our miseries wouldn’t have befallen us. The driver and his colleague were equally smartly dressed. Their English was well polished. So carjackers are learned fellows? I asked myself. They smelled cologne. They were handsome! One was talking of eliminating us. The other one was against the idea. Thanks to my colleagues from Nairregia Enkarre, Silantoi and Naserian.They had taught me a bit of that language. I understood that they were talked of drugging us and taking us to Kieni forest. The driver and his friend spoke for the first time. “Blindfold the lovebirds”. They laughed heartedly. “Till we get them to their honeymoon destination “His friend added amidst laughter.
My Moran never resisted. At the sight of those merciless weapons, we cooperated. We could see nothing. I lost track of place and time. I cried until I could cry no more. I regretted the journey. I yearned for my Frank. Frank Kishoyian ole Kimiti. In the midst of our adversity, I remembered how we met and why I was running away from him.
Being the manager of Lodge Sarova, he was busy seeing to it that the delegates from Jubaland received the best treatment ever. It was the only best way to market their services internationally. Five years ago, a ten member delegate from Sudan had paid a visit and after enjoying their stay in Sarova, they reffered the lodge to the delegates that were headed by my sister Chichi. As fate would have, Paul introduced us to the manager. He was excited that a young Maa girl from Kajiado could head one of their schools. And he was intrigued. “Is it delocalization?”Sarova Lodge manager, Mr Frank, was quick to ask. “Promotion in disguise”, I answered casually. He looked amazed “How do you find the place? “He wanted to know. “Well, the climate is kind of same with where I come from.” I admitted thoughtfully. “Afraid of wild neighbors? “And I knew who he referred to. “In fact it has never been easy getting used to the howling of hyenas and jackals.” I was flank. We talked about many topics. Many hours passed. He was so friendly that my sister though we had known each other for ages. We checked into our rooms late at night. He promised to check in on me during breakfast the following day. It was a special day. Being on a Saturday, my sister allowed me to join them in their tour inside the game reserve. We were assigned a very good guide called Saruni. I was starting to get worried when I heard a familiar voice greeting Saruni. “Ole Saruni! Supa!” Saruni responded respectfully to his senior “Supa oleng”.Our eyes met and held each other for a moment. I instantly felt a strong bond had formed. Saruni could not hide his curiosity. “Sir, are you giving us company today?” he asked. “My pleasure. “It was a funny answer. And the tour began. By the end of the day, it was confirmed in my heart that there was more than meet the eye. By the time I left for my work station, something had started to take shape. My sister texted me that evening: Sweet sis, that Moran is yours for life. Handle with love. I laughed. I was so naive. At thirty, I was still a maiden. Many times later we chatted online, talked through phones and emailed each other. Occasionally Frank visited my three bedroomed house that was at the far end of the vast Mara girls ‘school compound. They were memorable evenings of discussing about personal lives over a cup of tea. Most of the times, they were brief for he was always in the company of his driver. Nevertheless, I looked forward for those visits with anticipation. For one he was the first man I was getting seriously involved with. I had never been steady with any man. And one day, he just came alone. It was one of those September hot Saturday afternoons. “How about me coming unannounced?” he asked after one of his teddy bear hugs.
“You are always welcome.” I ushered him in. He seemed in a hurry. He had come for me. A weekend away from school compound was welcome. He had planned very well for that weekend. Sarova Lodge was the place to be.
It was a weekend of its own.
“Nats! I loved you the first day I saw you…and today I had to bring you here and…please ,will you marry me, Virgin of Sarova…”Frank was already on his knee.
The proposal accepted, the rest was history in a well reserved place, somewhere in the lodge. He was gentle and careful. The exploration and discovery was beyond imaginations. At thirty, the wait was worth the friendship that we both treasured and cherished. But the betrayal that came six months later could not keep us together. I felt cheap and shortchanged when I visited his home area at Loita without notice only to be met by a young woman carrying a baby. After the land marking event at Sarova, I was later introduced to some of Frank’s family members. We had agreed to inform my parents and later solemnize our union at our local Anglican church.
The young lady claimed to be Kishoyian’s wife. She was so unfriendly that I instantly hated her with a passion. She never answered my greetings. I wasn’t ready for that. I remember calling Frank and demanding for answer.
“Natasha please, I can explain,’’ he pleaded and promised to see me the following weekend.
Strange enough that weekend he was on a business trip. It was hard to wait. I couldn’t stand being betrayed. He didn’t call to explain instead he accused me of being immature. We argued bitterly over the phone. We called each other names and my heart decided to end the affair.
I must have been drugged for I never knew when we arrived at our destination. I suddenly opened my eyes and found myself in a very familiar room, our reserved room in Sarova. And there he was busy making a call…
“I sincerely thank you for bringing back my virgin of Sarova. Order anything for the boys. Eat and merry at my bill. Paul, you are truly a buddy.”
He slowly walked to the bed and offered his teddy bear hug. “Virgin of Sarova, she was my youngest brother’s wife.” he whispered softly as he planted a passionate kiss on my lips. The case was settled splendidly.
ANNE NJENGA was born in Central Kenya. She currently lives in Narok County. Njenga is teacher by profession. She teaches English and Kiswahili(languages). She also writes her short stories in English and Kiswahili. Njenga writes for primary school children , high school students and young adults. she is a volunteer radio presenter for a kids’ program that is broadcasted in Swahili at a local radio station based in Narok, Kenya . Njenga is a brilliant storyteller and a fast-rising poet
TIME OF THE POET REPUBLIC CURATOR( Mbizo CHIRASHA)
Author of a Letter to the President (Zimbabwe) Co-Author of Metaphors
of the Rainbow (Malawi). Co-Author of Whispering Woes of Ganges and
Zambezi (India, USA). Co-Editor of SecondNameofEarthisPEACE
(WorldBeyondWar.org, USA).African Contributor Poet /Essayist at Monk Arts and Soul Magazine
(UK). DitchPoetry( Alberta University,Creative Writing ,Canada).
Poetry Potion( Canada). FullofCrow(Canada). Scarlet Leaf( Canada).
Atunis Galatica( edited Agron Shele, Belgium). BlackWell
PoetryPamplhet (Oxford School of Poetry, UK). Litnet ( South Africa) .
OfiPress( Mexico City). FemAsiaMagazine (UK). InkSweatandTears (UK).
Squackback (USA).The Poet a Day Zine (founded by the late Maestro G
Jamie Dedes, Brooklyn, and USA). DemerPress International Poetry
Series (curated and edited by Hannie Rouweler, Netherlands). World
Poetry Almanac Series( Curated and Edited by Hadaa Sendoo, Mongloia).
Poesi. Is Journal (edited by Peter Semolic, Slovenia). Festival de
Poesia de Medellin (founded and directed by Fernando Rendon,
Colombia).DIOGEN Magazine (Turkey). RuckSackPatchPoetry, Voices of
Diversity (Passion for Poetry, curated by Antje Sehn, Italy). Cultural
Weekly ( International Space,USA) . Zimbabwean (published Wilf Mbanga,
UK) .WordCity monthly (curated and edited by Darcie Friesen Hossack,
International). IHRAF Publishes (founded by Thomas Block, NewYork,
USA). Diasporan Online (founded and edited by Lola Thomas, Spain) .New
Best African Poets (curated and edited by Tendai Rinos Mwanaka,
Zimbabwe) and more.