Kibera, Kenya
February 2028


Under Mabati Roofs

That day it rained.

Kibera might look like the place that needed a good clean every once in a while, but rain, like how a feast after a fast upsets the stomach, did not work well with the bowels of Kibera. Those who lived here learned to endure that first flow of sludge that washed off the layers of living. Rainwater ran off the low mabati roofs and landed on the ground becoming a slippery mess carrying the discards of humanity, mixing with the soil to form offensive little rivers everywhere. However, once the first of the showers had cleared and the hot sun had dried the muck, Kibera stood better off for it, at least for a day or two, cleansed and rejuvenated. Even the smells evaporated temporarily.

The global warming gurus had warned everyone about this, this out of season rain - it was going to cost the farmers. There were no set weather patterns any more nowadays and the situation was only getting worse. Some places were succumbing to the encroaching Sahara Desert, while other places were drenched during the ripening season. The geography books teaching the schoolchildren read that there was no tranquil order existed in the weather patterns of the Earth. The weather was now truly unpredictable. It was as if people had said it for so long, cursing the gullibility of the weather, that the Universe had responded and made it happen.

So now, here on a mid-February afternoon, when it was supposed to be dry, Njeri stood in a downpour when she alighted from the bus. She looked at the muddy path towards Kibera, took a deep breath and wiped her face on her wet sleeve, then she put her right foot forward. Her left foot followed and thus she went cautiously, one foot at a time until she came to the first shelter.

She was glad when she got home. She checked on her children who were playing outside and she grabbed her basket and baby Josephine, and walked the short muddy path from her hut to her shamba at the back. There was always sukuma wiki and tomato, potato and cassava.

The rain stopped and the sun came out on a clear blue sky, the rain clouds gone. A rainbow arched over Kibera and Njeri pointed to show it to the baby, but the baby did not see what she was trying to show her. It amazed Njeri how strong the colours were on that rainbow, much stronger than usual, she thought, did the heavens not know that the colours of the flowers of the earth had faded?

- Tasnim Jivavi