Remember Tomorrow in Seasons
“But what if?” Woman leaves the unfinished question hanging in the air, touching her swelling stomach. Man already knows what she is asking. “We will find a way to make it work. We always find a way.”
Heavy Rains Season
The baby smiles and she coos and they know she is one of them. There is a rumour that those born during the rains tend to carry that memory in them. The parents do not want to know but they know.
“She said her first word at Kresh today.”
Man responds. “Hmmm, yes? What did she say?”
A word that is banned. Man inhales sharply. “Where did she hear that? Woman?”
Woman’s gaze wanders on the ground. “We always knew, didn’t we? But we didn’t want to voice it.”
Man shakes his head furiously. “No, no, no. Someone must have said it within her hearing. The instructors?”
Woman throws her hands in the air. “Man listen, we knew there was a chance she would be… but… we took the chance anyway.
This is on us.”
It is decreed that the revolting word ‘yesterday’ shall also be removed from all speech. History only serves as a distraction. Anyone found speaking of anything other than today; other than now, deals with the full hand of the law.
Hunting Season (A lesson in silence.)
“And I must never…” Woman stops speaking, waiting for daughter to finish the chant they practice together on several occasions.
Daughter sighs. “…Say anything that was, or anything that could be; only everything that is.”
Woman touches hand to daughter’s chest.
Daughter fidgets impatiently. “Can I go now?”
Woman drags finger until it is settled on left breast, touching skin, feeling the little heartbeat drumming steadily underneath. “Hear me and hear me good. I say this once.”
She drums the little chest pacing it to daughter’s heartbeat.
This is.” She draws out the words. “This is and I cannot imagi- think of a time where it will cease to be. Protect that it is at all costs. If you must speak…
“I know, I know.” Daughter responds quietly. “Only speak of now.”
Daughter is older now. Multilingual in the languages of imitation, amnesia, and silence. Daughter still hears voices. “Remember… Imagine… Yesterday… Tomorrow”. Daughter ignores voices.
There are screams sometimes. The hunted who speak in memory and imagination. There are rumours that there is a chamber where they are tortured, burned, little bits of their skin erased, over and over and over again.
Daughter will not be like them.
Has never been like them.
No, get it right.
Is not like them, is not like them, is not like them.
Heavy Rains Season
Man is dead and woman cries. They say she cannot remember out loud but at night she dreams and daughter hears. Woman has had a lifetime of practice taming memory and possibility but the subconscious has a way of undoing all practice.
“I have loved you. I will love you.”
And when it rains the voices get louder.
“I was your grandmother.”
“And I your great.”
“Do you let them forget me, child? As if I wasn’t part of the militia needed for this country’s freedom. Now the nation, independent, lets our memories rot. Treat our histories like the dirt on which you tread.”
“Hush sister you are overwhelming the girl.”
“There is someone you should hear girl.”
Man’s voice takes up the space left by the women. Softly at first. “Daughter?” a little louder.
She does not respond, tries to ignore—thinks of woman breaking down— breaks down, it cannot be, it is not. It is not.
And they say woman is going mad. She talks when she is awake as if she is asleep. They say it is that memory blood she carries, passed down by her mother. Tainted blood, a pity that it is showing up only now. They are watching her, watching her closely.
And whenever daughter is with woman, daughter whispers, “And I must never?”
And they finish it together, slowly, softly. “Say anything that was, or anything that could be; only everything that is.”
Shingai Njeri Kagunda is an Afrofuturist freedom dreamer, Swahili sea lover, and Femme Storyteller hailing from Nairobi, Kenya. She is currently pursuing a Literary Arts MFA at Brown University. Shingai’s work has appeared or will appear in Omenana, The Elephant, and FANTASY magazine. She has been selected as a candidate for the Clarion UCSD Class of 2020/2021. #clarionghostclass. She is also the co-founder of Voodoonauts: an afrofuturist collective for black writers.
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