Suffering in Silence

By Wafula p’Khisa

Dr. Makaja’s sexology clinic opened at 6 am. By sunrise, it was a beehive of activity. Clients were everywhere, hardly managing to keep a social distance from one another as per the new regulations from the ministry of health. Most of them had called to come early.

“Good morning!”

“Hello…”

“Bonjour…”

Dr. Makaja shouted greetings at his clients as he reached for the keys to open his tiny office. Their faces lit up as they responded cheerfully. It was clear that his arrival inspired a sense of hope in them. His secretary ushered them in, one by one.

“Hi Doc,” Pendo said. They could not shake hands. The ritual had been banned since the Covid-19 hit the world to minimize the possible spreading of the virus.

“Hi too Pendo. Please have a seat,” he said warmly.

“Thank you.” she said, folded the back of her skirt and sat on a bench opposite the doctor and his tiny table.   “Sorry for waking you up…,” she started as she beckoned a man in.

“Oh, never mind. That’s my job.”

She was with her husband. He could read joy written all over their faces. The first time she had visited the clinic, her marriage was on the verge of falling into oblivion. She was in tears, thoroughly beaten by frustration.

“Doctor, save my marriage please,” she had cried.

“I’ve tried to endure the pain for two years now… I’m afraid I can’t hold on any longer… I’m walking out…” she explained. Dr. Makaja was confused. He was torn between consoling her and listening keenly to her problem. He ended up doing both.

“I’ve never enjoyed sex right from our wedding night,” she said t.

He narrowed his eyes and looked at her, wondering what on earth could deny such a beautiful woman the glory of sex. Is she bewitched? Did her man fall with a sack of maize?

“That shouldn’t be the case. What’s the problem?” he asked.

“My husband roughs me up everyday. Every time he erects, he rams into me furiously and falls off once he’s reached heaven. Then, I would be hanging somewhere between Egypt and Canaan…,” she explained tearfully.

Dr. Makaja pitied her. But as a sexologist, he recommended that she brings her husband along for therapy and coaching. They had several sessions afterwards.

“Sex is not a one person’s moment of pleasure, but a detailed process for two people to derive pleasure from one another,” he told Dula, Pendo’s husband. “It’s not all about penetration and you are done. Think about her. Is she ready? Have you prepared her? Is she satisfied…?”

There was gradual progress after every session. Even Pendo banished the thought of divorce from her mind. Today, they came to thank Dr. Makaja for saving their marriage.

Six more clients came and left. Then a middle-aged man came. He looked withdrawn and troubled. After exchanging pleasantries and rushed introduction, Kioo proceeded to explain his predicament.

“I’m married with two kids. I last made love to my wife one year ago. It wasn’t an interesting thing though for my engine weakened and went off before I could reach the promised land. I chewed kumukombero the next day but the results were terribly worse. I decided to avoid sex since then…”

“Oh, that’s very disappointing,” the doc said. “How, then, have you been managing? Is she comfortable staying in a sexless marriage?”

“I arrive home late from work. She would be asleep then. Sometimes after supper, I watch the TV until late for her to be dead asleep before I go to bed,” he explained desperately.

“Well. So what’s the problem?” he asked gently.

There was a little silence. Then, in a subdued voice, Kioo opened his heart.

“You see, daktari, ever since we were instructed to stay at home in an effort to combat the Corona Virus, things went South for me,” he paused and looked at Dr. Makaja.

“Yes, go on please.”

“I’m zero-grazing in the house and my wife is on my neck demanding for sex all the time.”

“Have you been doing it?”

“Not at all doc! I’ve been dodging. I’m afraid I may not rise to the occasion and you know what damage that could cause if she discovers. But what scares me is that this lockdown is taking too long and I have run out of my tricks. She is already suspecting something.”

“I understand,” Dr. Makaja said thoughtfully.

Silence reigned again.

“Have you been suffering from any terminal illness?” the doctor asked.

“None that I can recall.”

“I think you need to undergo some medical tests and see if we can establish your sexual history. It’s only after that that we can tell the source of your problem,” the doctor explained.

A series of lab tests were carried out. It was established that Kioo had, for a long time, been on Viagra– a sex enhancement drug. He had stopped upon his wife’s complaints against his mechanical bedroom performance. But its long term effects started to show when he could not have a full erection. Upon the doctor’s recommendation, Kioo was not to touch Viagra again. Thence he had to undergo sex coaching and skills building. He brought along his wife for the doctor insisted that such an issue was to be handled in the presence of the two.

Three weeks of regular coaching would pass. In the fourth week, Kioo experienced his first full erection, thus restoring the glory in his marriage. But now, the lockdown is almost ending, and he does not want it to.

 

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About Wafula:

Wafula p’Khisa is a poet and writer from Kenya. His work has been widely anthologized and published in various online (and print) literary journals and magazines.

A Spoonful of Sugar

By Jared Thompson

Let men bake bread – oven-crusted, olive-infused, garlic bread
And women purge ghosts from underneath the stairs.
Let children play from any way they can, kneading nightmarish
boredom into a thing that rises.

Open the windows. Let stillness engulf
What we cannot see but know is there!
Grab whoever’s nearest – even yourself, especially yourself
For a dance under the Super-moon – seen from Beijing, Istanbul
And your backyard.

Laugh. Laugh till your tonsils hurt and your ribs embrace.
Gather. Gather what is here to build a place over there.

 

SSEBO HONORABLE

By Nsubuga Muhammed.

Ssebo honorable,
Abatuuze bantumye.
Batuusa okusiima kwabwe.
Bagamba webale.
Omukama akuddizewo.
Ensonga obadde ozikutte kannabwala.
Ekiri ebule n’ebweya kiwawaza amatu.
Basaba kireme kutuuka wano.
Basaba tulemu kufa nga buwuka.

Mu ngeri y’emu bantumye.
Ekilwadde nga tekinaba kubanoga,
Enjala ya kubamalawo.
Emimmonde mu ttaka tegyabala,
Ebikata byakuza mitwe nga mmale.
Muwogo obuwuka bwamulya,
Ebikoola n’embuzi tezisobola kubigaya.
Emmwanyi twalitunze naye emiti mikalu.
Omuwemba n’obulo obunyonyi bwa bimalako.
Omuceere entobazi bazizimbamu amakolero,
Ku lukalu tegwadda bulungi.
Omunaku kaama naye ne kaama takyalanda.
Alandire wa omusana omwelere?

Ssebo honorable,
Amatooke abanyaguluzi baganogera ku mugogo,
batulekera bikolokomba.
Obukoko,
Obubuzi,
Obuliga,
Byonna batwala nga abawangudde akalulu.
Tetusobola kufuluma kutaasa.
Abakuuma ddembe
omuggo bakuba gwa katale.
Ettaka kkalu telikyabaza mmere.
Obujanjalo tusimba bufu.
Ebinyebwa twabivako.
Emimmonde tulilrako ssunsa na ttimpa.

Ssebo honorable,
Twawulira ku mmere egabwa.
Ewaffe tesange malalo?
Okunaaba engalo zzo tunaaba,
Naye eky’okulya tewali.
Abakyala bazinaba
kuzisonseka baana mu kamwa.
Amata mu mabere gaggwamu,
Ag’ente nago tegakyesigika.
Atuma omukulu tamagamaga,
Naye nange nzikiriza ntume.

It Comes Closer

By Titus Green

We took note, in that fleeting-attention deprived 21st Century way, of the beast’s escape. Like a ravenous tiger set free among mountain goats, we learned from the search engines that something biological and dangerous was feasting on the health of people in a far-off Chinese city. The internet fed us bite sized McNuggets of misery and suffering from Asia, alongside the celebrity promotion pieces telling us about how a reality television star’s new thong was sending the world crazy. We saw stricken Chinese supine on hospital beds, and medics looking bloated in baggy white anti-contamination suits. We saw people dragged from homes, kicking and screaming, by masked baton-wielding police. Some new-year schadenfreude for the sadistic or sick-minded maybe. Something to ‘joke’ drunkenly about to friends in the recesses of city bars where the remarks would escape smartphone capture and Yahoo viral ignominy. We read hasty copy about hastily created hospitals, of prefabricated quality, assembled by civic workers bulldozing earth for their country’s survival. Cynics posted sarcastically under the stories. Made in China. They’ll collapse in days. This was February 2020. The nouns ‘hazmat suit’ and ‘self-isolation’ had not yet infected our conversation. The World-o-Meter website ticked over, updating meticulously the statistics of death from the largest, hungriest tiger of the Asian economic streak. From Saudi Arabia, I swiped habitually for World-o-Meter each morning. I was just another lousy rubbernecker among millions engaged in this worthless morning ritual. An ESL teaching veteran of over twenty years, I’d lived through my share of strife in Asia. It would pass, I thought. Wrong was I.

I worked on, teaching undergraduates at a vocational university. My daily job preoccupations rationed my visits to the coronavirus stories. I had a full menu of work to attend to, and grade-hungry students who could have cared less about the ‘lethal lurgy’ that was a full continent away. “China has plenty of people,” said one of my undergraduates to titters that rippled around the class. The sentiment had two aspects: China can lose a few thousand souls and still live and two, it’s too far away to bother us. Grades were all that mattered to them! The titillation of the biological beast from the east was a mere finger-swipe away, if they wanted a break from the gaming apps exhausting the CPUs of their Huawei phones.

Slowly, the size, menace and destructive power of this dormant volcano of pestilence became clear. It had erupted, and the wind of inevitability was carrying its ash closer home, thousands of miles from its own starting home! I had a Skype interview for a short summer course I intended to teach during my lengthy summer vacation. Academic English to Chinese students; for so long the fecund financial grass that had fed the cash-cows of British universities and kept provosts in good living.

“We can’t confirm the course will run. The global situation is unpredictable, the course recruitment might be a problem,” the department head said cagily. This was February 15th and the menace now had a technical name for the media to pump into their keyboards ad infinitum. It had the phonetic qualities of an over-sold cleaning product, COVID19.

Planes were still flying. Borders weren’t closing. Some people from China travelled and the virus that had muscled and murdered its way out of the small minor compartment of the world, stowed itself on board their flesh and blood. Panic bombs were detonating in Italy. The giant, invisible vandal of health had landed and the nation’s elderly were perishing with shocking alacrity as hospitals swelled. An Italian Facebook friend with an interest in Literature posted a portrait of Edgar Allen Poe and I commented that ‘Masque of the Red Death’ had never been more balefully significant or its allegorical force more bruising. Who would be The Masque of COVID19’s Prince Prospero? Several world leaders were auditioning competently for this lead role in the narrative.

In Saudi Arabia, colleagues pondered for how long the kingdom could stay out of the path of the corona virus. Just as soon as these musings left their lips, the news that an expatriate taxi driver of unstated origin in Bahrain was infected reached us. Now, the menace was becoming less distant. Less abstract. It lurked across the King Fahad Causeway, its menacing miasma thickening like the demonic mist of John Carpenter’s film The Fog. When would it start floating towards us? A week later, the border to Bahrain was closed, and the first infections inside the kingdom were confirmed. It was March.

Our students were removed from the university and sent back to their hometowns! Hasty training workshops for online teaching were organized: Silicon Valley’s bells and whistles were going to be the buoyancy aids keeping our vulnerable teaching program afloat. Meanwhile, my country’s Prime Minister had been put into intensive care by the contagion. It had forced its way into his social eco-system and ambushed him. European death tolls rose and video news bulletins were becoming unnervingly similar to their clichéd portrayals in Hollywood catastrophe movies. Deaths. Panic. Military on the streets and Lockdowns.

The malls and markets of Al-Khobar have been closed and I am facing curfew for the first time in my 49 years, and I am in a foreign land. We may or may not go out at such and such a time. Masks and gloves are ‘the new normal’ (an odious expression I would like to drop into a swimming pools of napalm). This marauding disease, this Genghis Khan of sickness is crippling the economy, the sick are filling hospitals and the healthy are filled with terror. The morning-prayer calls have never sounded more plaintive. It is April 2020 and COVID19 is no longer remote. It is closer…

 

Author Bio:

Author Pic Titus - NR
Titus Green is a writer and teacher of English Language. He was born in Vancouver, Canada but grew up in the United Kingdom. For the past 22 years he has lived and worked overseas teaching English as a foreign language. His short fiction has appeared in numerous online and print literary platforms like Adelaide Literary Magazine and others. More of Titus’ writings can be found at https://titusgreenfiction.com/

 

 

Call for Submissions – A Special Covid19 Publication

Send to : nalubaalereview@gmail.com

The corona virus that causes the Covid-19 disease has taken the world by storm. Many countries are on their knees. Almost all the world is on lock-down as a way to prevent the virus from spreading further. We dedicate an issue to this cause.

We are calling for writings on experiences in this pandemic situation; about the lock-down, stories from patients, survivors, from those who have lost loved ones, health workers, stigma and awareness stories on this deadly disease and many others. How is the covid-19 affecting you as a person, family, company, group, community, country? We look out, too, for stories about the lock-down situation and experiences.

Submit your poem, short story detailing any of the above. Submissions are open to everyone everywhere. Send to nalubaalereview@gmail.com

Whereas the pandemic has left devastating effects on the world, we do encourage stories of hope, of positivity, of healing and of awareness. Take it this way, the hope of the world lies in your pen.

Deadline: Open

Submission fee: None

Email: nalubaalereview@gmail.com

Haven’t You Seen?

by Babitha Marina Justin (India)

Haven’t  you seen

the world shrink?

or the empire ball-up

into a  fist-sized virus ?

 Everything is silent and

 dark now, we tip-toe

 trying to find  a remedy

at the tip of needle-eyes,

Haven’t you seen

 the tie-and- dyed

 sky beam its grin

with an aisle full of stars

and a wafer-thin moon?

For this Nice Kentucky Guy Who Rings up My Plants at an “Essential” Store on a Bright Sunday.

By Kenneth Pobo.

He’s polite and friendly, I’d like

to shake hands, but we don’t

do that now.

 

Mask to mask, we speak,

our words caught in fabric.

When people break

 

apart, we say “Stay safe”

As if safety is a castle

we can lock ourselves in.

We hear rumbling beyond

the drawbridge.  Something

keeps trying to break in.

 

Still, an exchange of kind wishes

means much.  Especially

among strangers who can tell

each other what it was like

when the sun came up

and darkness had

to slip away.

 

 

WRITER’S BIO:

Pobo_pic NR

Kenneth Pobo, a writer and professor in Pennysvania USA. He has been published by various literary outfits across the world and is a professor at the University of Widener in Pennysvania. He has been writing for over fifty years now and his writing is inspired by music and he likes writing poetry. Kenneth’s published works include “Wingbuds”, “Dindi Expecting Snow (2019) and “The Antlantis Hit Parade (2019), all available on Amazon.

He has a new book forthcoming from Assure Press called “Uneven Steven”.

 

Terms of publication

 Terms of publication.

Dear author, thank you for submitting to the Covid-19 Special Issue. Here are a few terms of publication.  

For now, we do not pay contributors. Currently, we are unable to pay for submissions.

If we accept your submission, we will edit and publish it on our site nalubaalereview.wordpress.com

We will also publish some submissions in a special online magazine

We request you submit a brief bio and a photo to go with your submission. 

We do not accept submissions that have been published before, online or in print. *Please declare that this is an original, never before published piece. 

Once accepted for submission, your submission will go a plagiarism screening and if found elsewhere, we will put it down from our site. 

Once accepted, you cannot publish the story in another publication.*