JUMA

JUMA

A Story by Rania M
"

The love of a maid

"

 

JUMA

 

She lay staring at the whiter than white ceiling on an antiseptic bed. The sedation was not working. The lights were dimmed and she could hear snatches of conversation in the corridor.

“She’s too far gone and with failing organs, we can’t push her at this stage.”

“If 30 sessions couldn’t help, I don’t know how far we can take it. It’s not very encouraging.”

“Our strategy is start low, advance slow or she can take a turn for the worse.”

 

She closed her eyes and tried to trap the tears welling beneath feeble, fat deprived lids. She had no idea when she had collapsed and was brought to the hospital. Her memory failed her dangerously. There was nothing much left to recall in her life, anyway. It had just become a hopeless series of admissions, discharges and confusion. The situation was not improving and they were running out of options. What pained her was that even with six weeks of critical care, she was not expected to survive and no one seemed to care. Her parents had resigned her to an imminent grave, her siblings working out of town had already said their goodbyes. The visits of friends too had become sporadic. The loneliness and despair of an addict are not easily understood or communicated. Her angels wept and lulled her into a fitful, exhausted sleep.

 

“Rose…Rose…There’s someone here to see you.” A voice echoed in the dark, reaching her from a long winding tunnel. She forced her eyes open to look at the caller.  The visitor stood silhouetted in the pale receding moonlight, near the foot of the bed, straight in her line of vision. The figure of a woman bent with the arthritic assault of age, hollow bones, twisted knuckles and eyes. She searched the eyes deeply for their soul and gasped, for they were the eyes of Juma, her long lost nanny, from her childhood days in East Africa. She gasped and slipped further into the grey, amorphous dream.

 

She was being swept away in the tide. Playing on the sunny shore, a rogue wave caught her unawares and pulled her straight into a swirling vortex beneath. She was fighting to stay adrift but was no match for the vice-like grip of the deep, oceanic wave. The deafening roar of the sea was lulling her, the light fading in her salt inundated eyes. Just as she was drifting away into nothingness, she was jolted by a stinging pain as she was pulled roughly by the hair. “Mtoto Mchanga! (Young lady) an angry voice exclaimed. The next thing she knew, she was being pulled to safety in the strong, sinewy arms of Juma. Juma, her nanny, who had missed her instantly when she drifted away. Juma, who had followed her into the depths of the ocean to retrieve her and pull her back to life.

 

Those were the best days of her life. Before the turmoil of youth gripped her. She was three when Juma was entrusted with her care. A stick thin woman with fiery eyes, Juma was a woman who hailed from the light-eyed Chaga tribe of the Kilimanjaro region, inhabiting the mountain’s southern slopes. Juma was an AIDS widow who was forced to leave a self-sufficient existence in her once bountiful village and move to the city for sustenance leaving two young daughters behind with her old mother. A woman proud and spirited, quietly courageous in the face of suffering. “Mtoto matata wewe” (You naughty kid you) her reprimands rang through the corridors as she chased the little girl, her face shining with selfless, unfettered love. Long after the spectre of AIDS settled upon the land, Juma remained with her, nurturing her in the city of Daressalaam, Tanzania, with its stunning, white beaches lined by a dazzling, humming, turquoise blue ocean, its shaded, tree-lined avenues and its cheery sidewalks lined with small “Kahawa” (Coffee) shops. Her unspoken love tender, strong and resilient as an umbilical cord. Then one day, she left as swiftly as she came. One of her daughters died from sleeping sickness caused by the Tsetse fly endemic in her village. Her spirit was broken and she left for her village for good. A part of Rose went away with Juma, never to be recovered again.

 

Juma was bending over her wordlessly now, reaching out to her in spirit. Yet her voice was unmistakably clear, “Toto Yangu,” (My child), she admonished, “You have disturbed my rest. I had to come all the way back for you. Go back to life. You are my awesome girl.” For a millisecond in time, an umbilical cord severed eons ago, was reconnected. She felt engulfed by the primal strength of Juma.  As if a piece of her had returned to her and she was made whole. She drifted into a sound, almost comatose sleep as the first rays of the sun streamed in through the window, bringing with them healing and hope.


Rehabilitation from an eating disorder is never easy and there are many stumbling blocks. Sometimes, it takes all one’s strength to love oneself enough to desist from going behind the bushes and silently relapsing. Many wonder to this day, how she ever made it. It was as if she had found a Shaman, a baffling, new strength. Perhaps it was the troubled spirit of Juma traversing space and time to pull her back from the brink. Perhaps, it was that love, given so freely, ages ago, rooted deeply in an obscure part of her soul, surfacing when she needed it the most.

 

They say the drums of Africa never stop resonating in the souls of those who grow up there. The wild, ululating spirit of that powerful, mystical land thrives in those who have partaken of her water and eaten off her soil. She should know. For she has never starved again.

 

© 2020 Rania M


Author's Note

Rania M
Co-written by me & my sister Rose. I know it's long but I just had to put it up...
Any comments are welcome!

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Such a fascinating story, dear Rania, and so well written and described! I gather this is based on reality? Whichever it is, it makes for an enticing story and i find it lines up quite well in terms of historical background with a novel of Hemingway's set in Africa that I am currently reading, even though the date of setting is obviously more recent. This was much enjoyed, both entertaining and informative. Lovely storytelling! :))

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Rania M

2 Years Ago

Thank you Jamila. Yes, the story is inspired by our childhood nanny Ameena and my sister Rose’s st.. read more
.

2 Years Ago

It's not too long at all. It was no trouble. You're welcome, dear.:))



Reviews

It's wonderful filled with life pain love aging and the memories that go with.

Posted 2 Months Ago


This intelligent, emotional story makes me wish you were posting more stuff here! I stopped by becuz I've been missing seeing you here & hoping things are going okay for you & your loved ones. Now I've read & reviewed everything you've posted (hint! hint!)

This is one of the most sophisticated stories I've read at the cafe. I love how you give us a million little lessons about life in Africa, things we never think about, but you refer to many details to build a fulsome scene of how things are, but you don't go on & on, belaboring description while neglecting storyline. This story reads with a fast pace, compelling us & yet I also had moments where I had to stop & ponder, the ideas you present are so deep & interesting. I believe we can be lifted by someone's spirit, just like this, even when that person is not around or has passed over (((HUGS))) Fondly, Margie

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Rania M

2 Years Ago

Thank you very much for reading this story my dear friend Margie. It’s a passion to write about Af.. read more
I love it. It's written expertly and I want to know more about what happens. Lol. Is there more?

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Rania M

2 Years Ago

Thank you so much for reading this story, Frankie. This story ended here but I do have others coming.. read more
Frankie

2 Years Ago

Oh ok! I'm glad.
Rania M

2 Years Ago

I’ll be reading your stuff soon. ❤️

Incredibly well written and captivating throughout... it is not the easiest thing to do I have found, that is writing with another... You are also correct about Africa getting beneath the skin and into the blood.. I once spent almost six months working as a volunteer at Tanka Tank Psychiatric hospital in West Africa and have seriously considered returning because of the seemingly special connection She has with me...



Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Rania M

2 Years Ago

Wow! Then return you must! And do visit us in East Africa. You’ll love it absolutely :)
Th.. read more
Wow, well done you and Rose, the little darks horses of storytelling.
Aids and the Tsetse fly endemic. Seems a million years away now and replaced by others.
I suppose to westerners, Africa is Elephants and Lions, but I always hear people say Africa is in your blood.
Maybe there lies her strength of human endurance. It is amazing who you call when all seems lost, and when the call gets answered how your focus in life changes. Great story.

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Rania M

2 Years Ago

Rose is a better writer than me but she just isn’t interested. Yeah the AIDS pandemic seems so dis.. read more
Paul Bell

2 Years Ago

Pleasure, Rania, hope the sunshine isn't too strong out there, unlike the rain here which is doing e.. read more
Rania M

2 Years Ago

We had a couple of cloudy days here with rain to come they say but we’re good. Stay comfy yous. :)
I have never quite known what to make of Africa.
Sounds exciting with native tribes, wild animals, jungles, heat, etc. but your story highlights that it is just another place, where we often relate to the same good/difficult issues.
No area makes it any easier to deal with disorders because it is all upstairs.
I have even heard a rumor there are, or were, ice cream parlors there??

Posted 2 Years Ago


Rania M

2 Years Ago

Africa and specially where I live has a lot to offer you. They say people who live here can never li.. read more
I can’t write long beautiful reviews but yes, I wept as I read this story. Africa to me is a mystical place but reading it I realise it’s the same as every other place with its human compassion and loving relationships. Good work Rania.

Posted 2 Years Ago


[send message][befriend] Subscribe
.
Such a fascinating story, dear Rania, and so well written and described! I gather this is based on reality? Whichever it is, it makes for an enticing story and i find it lines up quite well in terms of historical background with a novel of Hemingway's set in Africa that I am currently reading, even though the date of setting is obviously more recent. This was much enjoyed, both entertaining and informative. Lovely storytelling! :))

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Rania M

2 Years Ago

Thank you Jamila. Yes, the story is inspired by our childhood nanny Ameena and my sister Rose’s st.. read more
.

2 Years Ago

It's not too long at all. It was no trouble. You're welcome, dear.:))

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Added on March 6, 2020
Last Updated on March 6, 2020

Author

Rania M
Rania M

Daressalaam



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