''Mad woman, I came here first!''
'' Who are you calling mad...?''
'' You... you prostitute...''
Then blows were flying and all Maryanne could hear was pails and buckets breaking here and there. Water splashing and more obscenities filled the air. It was still dark outside and the chilly wind blew in to the house forcefully through the big cracks on the wooden doors and windows. She could only guess what was going on outside for it was a common scene, so obvious, like the noisy birds that nested on the big pine tree behind their creaky house, who chirped every morning. They had moved on the plot a few months ago when their previous landlord forcefully evicted them. She knew they were forcefully evicted though her mama tried to hide it. Papa was always drunk and rumor had started off that he had been found forcing himself on a small girl in a neighbors house. Actually it was a rumor...
That night, someone had been heard screaming in the neighborhood. Maryanne and her Mama were taking dinner, Kale and Ugali. Mama had given her half a glass of milk to was down the taste of the almost rotten Kale. It was hard swallowing and she wondered silently if Papa would eat that. She prayed silently that Mama had saved some meat for Papa from last weeks half a kilo Papa came home with. Maryanne knew Papa would create a fuss over Kale and Mama will end up being beaten and the following day, Mama would be very upset with everyone and she might beat her too in the morning. She dreaded those moments. Her dreadful thoughts were interrupted that evening by a sharp cry that made the fungal infested kale stick in her tiny throat making it painful to swallow. Her Mama was already out on her way to the neighbors house. Instinctively she followed her in the dark, forming out the route for she had walked on it since she was a toddler. Even in a blindfold, she would walk with no trouble. the stones bit into her bare feet but she walked on steady not to loose her Mama. There was a group of people shouting spitting verbal venom on each other. Then there was a voice she knew so well. it was her father. He was abusing someone. She wanted to turn back to avoid trouble with him but what happened next numbed her slender feet. someone had smashed a stool on her fathers head and he collapsed groaning in agony and a jet of something she could not make out in the dark flew in the air and landed allover everyone's clothes but choosing her carefully chiseled small but full lips. she tried tasting it, it was salty and smelled like blood. Her mother was cutting through the crowd that was gathering rushing towards Papa was lay on the ground dead or so she thought. People stood there and watched as Mama tried to carry Papa and did nothing to help. Only one managed to whisper between clenched teeth: '' Rapist.''
she did not know what that meant and for some reason she did not help her mother either. She just walked behind her back to the house where she she absently helped bring water in a basin, a clean rug, salt as Mama screamed at her. Later in the night Papa walk up and Mama served him food. He ate without saying anything for once. Later when Maryanne peeped through the holes on her blanket, Papa was not on top of Mama trying to kill her and Mama was not making the crying noises that she made some of the nights. It was quiet and Maryanne could sleep peacefully trying to forget the smell and the taste of the liquid on her lips.
The following day was hell as all the kids in the neighborhood ran away from her even her best friend Vivianna shunned her. She wanted to ask her Mama what Papa had done but she was too busy with the sick Papa. She knew it had to do with something Papa had done. No one talked to her. That night her mother was quarreling Papa asking him why he wanted to sleep on the child. Maryanne could not comprehend but she assumed it was something very evil. that week they were chased out of the house and they moved to where they stay now.
As she lay on the bed debating whether she should wake up and take the water containers to the already filled up lines to wait for her turn to fetch the liquid gold or sleep on till the women stopped fighting her mother screamed her name and she jumped off the warmth into the ice cold, picking the excessively large containers, taller than her and scampered with them to the water point. The fight was still on and some women were cheering on as the fighting cats rolled in the pool of mud created by the flowing water from the crooked taps. Maryanne stole her way to the front and managed filling two containers as the women struggled to reclaim their position at the taps. there were other children too but she talked to none. They sat there frozen like she was, clung on their big coats, maybe their mothers, some dozing while others yawned very loudly filling the air with the smell of sleep.
Dawn is cutting its way through the sky and Maryanne knows she has to get ready for school. she needs to go back to the house, light the charcoal stove and make some tea for Papa, Mama and herself, wash her face and feet and run to school for she slept in her uniforms, she doesn't need to wear them again. She silently prays that Madam Veronica is on duty that week so that she wont get punished when she is late for madam is her friend. She also hopes that the mathematics teacher is sick today for she could not do her homework since Papa was very noisy that night and there was no paraffin in the lamp.