Otin looked past Apiny to his stepbrother, who continued to eat unconcerned, with his eyes set on Apiny as if daring him (Otin) to touch her. Otin wondered why nobody had addressed him. The silence was noisy and uneasy. His stepbrother was eating as if nothing was going on. But even without the childish noises he occasionally made, and the workings of his teeth against tender goat ribs, Magundho’s location and silence should have been a loud-enough announcement of his presence.
And there was Apiny who continued to give Otin that sympathetic, motherly look only a mother could have given.
Then a voice told him, “Otin, my son, it is time to move on. You are a young man with a lot of life ahead of you.”
Magundho coughed again, forcing Apiny to turn around and face him. This time, she wore a mother’s stern look on her face— the kind of look reserved for a child, who was about to dip his fingers into a bowl of special soup reserved for his father. Magundho stopped eating, wondering whether the woman was about to give him his marching orders for being rude to Otin. Wasn’t he, Magundho, the impostor between two lovers whose relationship had lasted for more than three decades?
Otin looked at the two gray heads engaged in nonverbal confrontation, then smiled as a voice told him, “My son, this is the way of a widow; she neither has scruples to pick, nor bounds to obey; no man, however long he stays in her arms, can claim to own her. Wake up, my son; leave her alone; move on; go to your wife and children.”
Otin left without a word.
“Magundho, I don’t appreciate your being abusive toward Otin,” Apiny broke the silence. It was some five minutes after Otin had left.
“He deserved it. He should have read the signs outside instead of entering here like a bull on heat,” saying so, Magundho went back to his meal.
“Men! O Men!” Apiny Nyodero whispered—wondering whether the eating elder behind her was a better bet for the future than the retreating, youthful father of her children.
WHISPER TO MY ACHING HEART
A novel by Joseph R. Alila.