Semi colon

I peel off my shorts and blouse, jump into the shower, and wash away the road dirt and the memories of burning people. Then naked, I slump into bed, into my thoughts, and dive deeper into my loneliness.  I’ll murder myself the day after tomorrow.

But what contribution have I made to the world? Will the world ever remember me? Not that it matters to me. But people need to be remembered, I suppose. When I finally die, I’d have effectively erased the only remaining stroke that paints my family’s existence. Maybe that is how it is supposed to be. We came into this word as a mistake, an irrelevant piece contributing nothing to the universe – the sixth finger that ruins the beauty of the hand.

After trying to sleep for two hours, I sit up. I want to read something, or talk to someone, or shout my lungs out. I hardly sleep these days. I remember Jessica’s words: I really wanted to know if you’re okay. Semicolon. Professional weed smoker. Calm. Careful.

I reach her room and knock. Jessica is not surprised to see me when she opens the door. She smiles and gestures at me to come in. She’s in white linen shorts. Her bare feet, and her long legs are whiter than her hands. She has no bra on. But out of shyness or respect for me, she quickly covers her bosom with the book she’s been reading. ‘I’m Second’ the title reads.

“How are you?” She asks.

“I’m fine. I just cannot sleep.”

“It happens. Sometimes you just lie and rest and wait for morning.”

“The exhaustion kills me during the day.”

She places her book on the bed, grabs a blouse from her backpack, and pulls it on. There is another humongous semicolon on it; the period is a clenched fist while the comma is a subtle smiley face. She reclines on the bed, her face to the ceiling, her knees raised. After a few moments, she speaks.


“I was born in Boston, prostituted in Paris, became a porn actor in Berlin, and almost got killed by a sociopath in Las Vegas.” She says the words calmly, without emotion. Then she adds, “I’m twenty-three years old, the only child of my dead mother who was killed by a pimp in Brooklyn New York.” She stops again, her eyes still fixated on the ceiling, her hands resting on her bosom. The drinkers have gone to sleep. An eerie silence engulfs the hotel.

There is a knock at the door. It’s Adolf’s mother. Her eyes are swollen and red. She has been crying. She sits on the edge of the bed.

“I just want someone to talk to,” she says. Jessica gets a bottle of water from her bag and gives it to her. She drinks a little. Her hair is a disheveled mess, mussed as the coat of a half-drowned rat.

“Where’s Adolf?” I’m hoping he has not jumped off the windowsill of their room and burst his skull on the pavement below.

“Asleep,” she says. “He’s crazy like his father.”

“His father? By the way my name is Jessica and she’s Akoot.”

“Akoth. There is an ‘h’ at the end,” I correct her.

“I’m Betty.”

There is an awkward silence.

“You said you wanted to talk to someone,” Jessica says, breaking the silence. 

“I came to Tanzania eight years ago as a British tourist and met Adolf’s father, a Tanzanian businessman. He was a good man until Adolf was born. After the birth, I started having excruciating pain during sex. A doctor informed me that I’d been given the ‘husband stitch’.”

“What’s that?” I ask.

“It’s an extra stitch you’re given to make your vagina smaller. But this wasn’t done properly and my lover is a big man down there, you know. Anyway, Adolf’s father got another woman.  He told me to go back to my country and leave him alone. I love this place. Very much. There is so much laughter here. And Adolf loves it so much.”

She trembles with emotion. Jessica keeps nodding even after Betty has finished speaking. I’m thinking ‘what the fuck!’ This is not how I planned to kill myself. I just wanted to smoke weed and die stoned.

“I have tried killing Adolf twice. Adolf reminds me of him. He reminds me of the day we fucked each other at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro Lodge, in the wild, at sunset, by the beautiful waterfall, you know, and walked into the wild with bare feet. It was the best day of my life. Nobody has ever fucked me like that, a good fuck with multiple orgasms. I missed my period after that trip.”

“Wow!” I blurt out. Kumar was great at foreplay but when it came to intercourse, he was, well, bad.

“What’s his name? Adolf’s father?” Jessica asks.


We have to sleep. I return to my room