She calls me Jose

She calls me Jose. That’s not my name. But she calls me Jose, and pronounces it with a ‘h’, so it sounds like ‘hosee’.

I wanted to tell her my name. But I got distracted by the voices. The voices don’t like her. But I like her anyway, so they torment me.

She gave me bananas and half a loaf of bread yesterday. She does that every Monday when she goes to the market. So every Monday, I make sure to stand on the road near the river so she will give me the bananas. I don’t talk to her, the voices won’t let me. But I smile, so she knows I mean thank you.

I wanted to tell her my name. I remember writing it when I used to go to school. But I started hearing the voices, so they didn’t want me at the school. And I didn’t tell her my name.

Two days ago, the voices were really quiet. You can never tell with them. When they are quiet, maybe they are tired. But sometimes they are scheming behind my back. I hate them. I wish I could run away from them, but they hide themselves, under my skin, in my hair, everywhere. I can’t chase them away, although sometimes I try to cut them out from under my skin. But those ugly little voices know how to hide better than my little sister.

We used to play hide and seek, my sister and I, before the voices came into my head.

I wanted to tell her my name. I remember, because my sister used to say it when we played in my mother’s garden.

The voices are making fun of me again. Because I forgot what she told me, never to drink from the dirty river water. I am not smart. But I am. I used to go to school. I know my name. I miss my mother.

I tried to tell her my name, but the voices were taunting me because I missed my mother. I tried to get back home, but I forget sometimes. I try so hard to remember.

The boys at the garage beat me sometimes. They can be just as bad as the voices. They talk and talk and talk. Even when I scream and cry, they just won’t stop. They throw stones and sticks, and their uncles at the welding machine laugh. Their voices are like the little sparks of fire…

I don’t think she gave me this mango. I picked it up from the garbage, I think. I wish she would go to the market today, too.

She calls me Jose. She thinks I am a human being like her. And I want to tell her my name.

© Juliet Maruru 2009


3 thoughts on “She calls me Jose

  1. Well, I guess I’m not very sure what is wrong with Jose either, I see her outside my gate, and mostly I do nothing. But the truth is, most of the market madmen could lead fairly normal lives if they had care, support and medication. It sucks a lot that they and their families do not have that kind of help in this country. I wonder what my friend the psychiatrist in Nakuru thinks.


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