He bought oranges for this girl.
They were perfect. Round. Big. And the perfect shade of green and yellow. He did not know a lot about oranges, but the hawker in Kongowea promised him that this was the best tasting batch. He trusted this man.
He took out the last crumpled note from his worn out trousers and paid the man. She was worth the walk home.
He handed these oranges to her and she smiled. She placed them on the uteo at the corner of the hut. She did not say thank you. He did not need to hear it.
They slept cuddled tight. Before he closed his eyes he looked at the oranges one more time. They looked nice against the tomato and the two onions. He could smell the oranges as he fell asleep. He had good dreams that night. He dreamt he walked in the rich man’s garden surrounded by orange trees.
He woke in the morning and walked to work. She was still asleep. He did not want to wake her. She looked at peace.
When he came back home he saw her standing outside. He smiled. When he walked in his hut smelled of oranges. He noticed one was gone. The remaining four were yellower than he had left them in the morning.
He did not ask her if they were good. He didn’t need to know. He added two tomatoes and sukuma to the basket. He was very happy.
He slept with sweet dreams that night too. That night he strolled the rich man’s garden again.
A week passed. He came home to see four oranges and their sweet perfume. He did not ask why she had not eaten them. He did not need to know. So he strolled his garden every night.
A month is now gone. He comes home. The hut does not smell so good. The oranges have become as yellow as they could. He does not ask but she sees him stare at the basket.
The next day only two oranges are left. He stares and scratches his head. He sits on the thin mattress and looks at the basket. Not long after he sleeps.
He no longer strolls in the rich man’s garden. He does not like the dreams these oranges are giving him. They shock him awake at night. He stares at them.
Before he leaves that morning he stands over the oranges then stares at the girl. She is fast asleep. He does not like these oranges anymore, but they are for her, so he says nothing.
Two weeks have passed and the oranges are now brown, wet and white. He does not like this perfume. It makes him sick. They give him very bad dreams. The sort of dreams the pastor says need prayers for.
He does not move them. He does not touch them. But he does not want to sleep with them so close to him. He cannot ask the girl to move them.
She is gone.
He stays with them till they begin to melt. He can see they are bringing insects to his home. He is now angry.
He sits outside till it’s too dark because he does not want to be close to the oranges. His neighbors stare. He can see them talk about him. He ignores them.
He misses his long walks in the rich man’s garden. When he now has his back to the basket, it does not help.
The basket is rotten. It is now home to insects he did not welcome and does not have the courage to chase.
He knows he can’t wait endlessly for another girl to come and eat the two remaining oranges. He must take them out himself.
He takes a stick and pokes the basket. It scares the insects and they are now all over him. He runs out. The neighbors stare. He does not ask for help.
He is ashamed.
He goes back to the hawker. He wants to ask if he will take back the two oranges and give him the money back. The hawker insults him.
Another hawker pulls him aside and asks him why he wants to bring them back. He replies he does not need it anymore. The hawker tells him to bury them if he does not need them.
He goes home and he digs a hole in his hut next to the door. He uses the stick and pushes the basket into it. He covers the holes.
Tonight he sleeps well.
In the morning when he wakes he sees the basket, out of the hole, at the corner of the room. He screams and runs out.
He prays to God to help him. He hopes when he looks in his home it will only be a dream.
It is not.
He calls the pastor to his home. The pastor comes. He asks the pastor to pray for him. The pastor prays. He then asks the pastor to pray for the oranges. The pastor scratches his head.
He adds that the oranges are the devil’s fruit.
The pastor is confused but he prays for the oranges. The pastor tells him that the angel wants a present. He says the angel will use the pastor as a medium to carry out the oranges from his home and life.
He gives him a hundred shillings.
The pastor tells him he needs another to give him enough power to carry this satanic fruit out of his home.
Painfully he gives his week’s worth of money. The pastor puts each hundred shilling note on his hands and picks up the rotten basket and takes it away.
He sleeps well that night.
The next morning when he wakes up he sees the pastor sitting there, where the basket used to be. He does not ask. He does not want to know.
This story was first published on Tendi. It has been republished with permission from the author.
About the Author:
Farrah Bhaijee is an upcoming short story author and afro-tamer in Mombasa. She is a member of Tendi and any food clubs that have buffets. When she’s not busy harassing her co-workers and bosses, you’ll find her coloring or having an argument with the crows in her backyard. She is well known for saying shit she shouldn’t and having absurd ideas that normal humans find quite disturbing. You can visit her at www.kahawamombasanii.com.