Zohra – Sunrise

The sound of the men’s footsteps, and their voices in Swahili only vaguely interspersed with Arabic and one or other of the Mijikenda tongues, faded into the morning chirp of countryside birds. Soon, she knew the sun would sneak through cracks in the old house. And then she would have to face him.

Fischer’s Turaco. She knew the sound of the bird’s call, had heard it from childhood. But when the English name of the bird popped into her mind she felt an irresistible urge to giggle.

The boss’ daughter, she had grown up, spurred on by her mother’s love for education and books and philosophy, she had gone and gotten an education, not just high school but all the way to university in a place that had a name  her father never could pronounce. And then she had come back to practise her ‘saikoloji’ and ‘sosholoji’, helping people, raising questions, interfering.

Zohra was what her mother called her. Zuhura was what her father called her. Her legal papers had ended up with her mother’s version of the name. And then Mary-Anne Kruger had added a hyphenated double surname name very much to her liking. Zohra Kruger-Talik. Zohra doubted that Omar Hassan Talik very much appreciated the naming of his daughter by his German-English anthropologist wife.

As for Zohra, she wondered what in the world could possibly bring two people as different as her mother and father into a marriage, however brief. To make matters even more confounding, they had conceived and brought to birth a child, whom they for some reason decided to raise together.

He said her mother would ruin her, make her completely unmarriageable if he let her.

She said her father would turn her into a backwater criminal if she let him.

And finally, Zohra had taken up, left not just home – homes (Zohra had been raised between her mother’s remote cottage near the 5 century old settlement ruins/museum whose history and culture she studied her entire adult life, and her father’s sprawling compound in Mtwapa where he lived with his remaining 3 wives) – she’d left home, and gone to college, spending 4 years working, studying and living in the city her father called ‘that bad place’. And then she had dared find her way out of the country to further her qualifications.

Find her own way – because her father would not have approved of her quest for education rather than a decent family life with Rashid. Rashid being Talik’s choice of husband – because he was educated and quite obviously very enterprising seeing how he had managed to organise Talik’s legal business into both a profitable as well as growing financial empire in just 10 years since he graduated from college and went to work for his ‘benefactor’. It didn’t matter that Rashid had no clear parentage, or that he was not a practising muslim.

And on the far end, Mary-Ann Kruger had thrown her hands in the air when her offspring insisted on studying a non-science like psychology, and even worse pursue only Master’s Degree in some ‘feely feely do-good’ field. No recommendations or connection, in fact, ‘figure it out on your own, and please don’t go around telling people you are my daughter.’

It occurred to her now, that if she had chosen him for herself, Rashid Kassim was the exact kind of man she would have gone for. Dark, handsome, mysterious, brooding, probably emotionally unavailable.

This time she let herself giggle at her thoughts.

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