Saturday, November 14, 2015


I did not sleep that last day, letting reality wrap around me like the wings of a heron. I listened to Shankaron’s post-coital breathing even out beside me before she began snoring smoothly. I started considering my next move, which was to break her heart into a million pieces and trample on them. 

Outside the muadhdhin’s call for morning prayers pierced the early morning silence. I tried to block it out. It was useless. In Garissa you are privileged to live next to a mosque.
Shankaron rolled to her side and I got hold of her, the way I had done for the past eight months—one arm under the pillow to cup her left breast and the other cupping the remaining breast. I felt full of her to the point of bursting. I did not know how I was going to live without her.

What else could I possibly do, I asked myself.

Stay, I answered back, have what you want. I thought of making love to Shankaron every night, even convincing her that what she knew about sex during menses was a myth. I tried to picture her sticking by me, fighting for us, just to be together. I tried to picture her without a family, disowned, called a kafir. I tried to picture her and I saw myself.

If I did not leave and go back to Nairobi back to my job, I would be the man she had fallen in love with. If I believed in her and stuck around as I had said I would, I would be the man she had sworn to love forever. But how long would it take before she ganged up with her family and turned against me for taking away what she had always defined herself with?

What Shankaron Mohamed Aden had always wanted, I realized, was simply to rebel. To show her parents she had a life of her own, that she was not a slave to Islam, and that she could break the rules. And in that moment I realized that what Shankaron wanted all along was not a non-Muslim man, she wanted what I could offer.

I felt my stomach go taut and heart tighten. I don’t want to leave.

But the voice of reason said, you must!

It was more. If I truly loved her, the way I did, I would spare her the pain of feeling used and manipulated, the pain of feeling like there was no place she could call home, the pain of lost trust.
I disentangled from her and stared in the darkness. She was serene in sleep, breathing evenly, beautiful. I thought of her waking to make love only to find me gone.

I hopped out of bed, dressed in the dark, and looked at the sleeping beauty for the last time. It was work. The kind of work that required me to terminate the target. My mission was over. The Directorate of National Intelligence awaited me and my report.

Turning Shankaron, daughter of a prominent politician suspected of financing al-Shabaab terror group, to a rebellious girl on hormonal attacks allowed me to spy on her father.

I leaned down and kissed her cheek, lingering the tongue a little, then straightened. The lullabies and songs that her body moving in rhythm with mine had sung for me was what I was going to carry.

I snuck out of the room, stepped outside, took a deep breath of the cool early morning breeze and left Garissa Township. 


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