Say My Name
A woman smiles within the frame of a television set.
“Welcome to tonight’s interview segment with me, Aisha Suleiman,” she says. “Tonight’s topic has been on the tongue of everyone in the country,” she pauses letting people guess what she might be talking about. “The demon that roams the streets of our beloved city.”
“Our panel tonight consists of several people; there is the bishop of the Anglican Church, Bishop Kiptoo,” he makes a small wave at the camera, “there’s the governor Hon. Julius Oyoo,” he smiles at the camera, “and there are two residents of the city, one is Mr Peter Mambo who is a businessman,” he nods slightly, “and the other is Miss Margaret Wanjala who is a survivor of one of the demon attacks,” she extends a suspicious look at Aisha before glancing at the camera and then back at Aisha, “Welcome to the show,” the guests mumble their thanks. “Before we begin the discussion gentlemen, let us have Miss Margaret tell us how her interaction with the demon was like, Margaret?”
The young lady composes herself and starts.
“Thank you, I want to first start by saying that I am not a survivor of the demon, I am one of the people that the demon has saved and if it weren’t for it, I probably wouldn’t be alive right now.”
One of the men scoffs.
Margaret glances in their direction and unable to identify the culprit she continues.
“It was at around 1 am on Saturday,” she begins. “I was leaving a party because I wasn’t feeling well.”
Margaret is walking along an alley at night looking pretty and ravishing.
“I don’t know what had told me that walking home alone at 1 am was a good idea, but whatever the case I was about to regret that decision.”
A man’s silhouette emerges from a corner behind her.
“As I was walking, I noticed that there was someone following me, so I decided to walk faster.”
She looks over her shoulder as she walks forwards at an ever-increasing pace.
“But by then it was already too late.”
Another man emerges from the corner in front of her.
“Where are you going gorgeous?” he asks.
“At first, I thought they wanted to rob me so I offered everything I had.”
“Take my handbag, everything I have is in there.”
She says this as she is overshadowed by the hulking man.
“But it turns out they wanted more than I was willing to offer.”
Another man emerges from the side.
“We don’t want your money beautiful; we just want a little taste.”
“I tried offering the money again this time even showing them how much I had.”
“Please just take this, look I have three thousand here and my phone is worth at least fifteen thousand shillings…”
“But they wouldn’t have it, all they wanted was my body.”
“When you walk around at a time like this, in a dress like that, at a place like this, you are practically begging for it, don’t you agree?”
“I had lived in this town long enough to know that the police are useless and more so the people living here who have been cowed into submission by the local gang.”
The three men start closing in on her.
“I knew that they would probably kill me afterwards because that is how this sort of thing usually goes and that even in death, I would probably never get any justice. My life would amount to just another digit in the statistics.”
“They stripped me of my blouse and looked at me as if I were some quarry they had captured.”
Her mascara flows painting black streaks down her cheeks.
“But then it arrived.”
A green shard of light falls from the sky.
“It stabbed one of them in the knee with some small green spear, and then it landed on top of another making him hit the ground with his face so hard he got knocked out.”
A shriek. A thud.
“Then the last one, who was trying to run away, it tripped, got on top of him and pulled his arm back so far, I’m sure it broke and then also smashed his face into the ground until he was out cold.”
Panting. Falling. Cracking. Thud.
“It went back to the man it had stabbed first, he was pleading for mercy complaining about how much pain he was in”
‘Please forgive me, I have learnt my lesson… I have a family, please!’
“And almost as if it was mocking him it stomped on the knee of the other leg and broke it, then kicked him in the head to shut up his stupid crying.”
A bone cracks. A man screams. Thud. Silence.
“And then it looked at me.”
“It was for just a second over its shoulder but that was enough to see its eyes and the writings on its face that glowed like the moon.”
“It took a bag off its back which I hadn’t noticed was there, and produced a hoodie, which it gave to me and told me to wear it.”
“It spoke?” asks Aisha.
“Yes, it spoke, but that’s not the only thing it told me.”
“What more did it say?”
“It said, ‘Go home, I will keep you safe,’ then some wings that seemed to be lying dormant started glowing and rising and then it took off in a gust of wind.”
“Wow, at this point we are going to have to take a short commercial break, we’ll be right back, stay with us.”
“Welcome back, before we went on the break Miss Margaret told us about how she had apparently been saved by the demon, Bishop what do you make of this story.”
“A young man was once brought to my church. He used to get very angry and beat people almost to death and then afterwards he would apologize profusely almost as if he couldn’t help it. Another lady used to inflict pain on herself, sometimes she would cut herself and burn her fingertips with a candle. She ended up severely burning herself with boiling water before she was brought to me. Those two and others who have been brought to me were possessed by demons. Demons love inflicting pain, both physically and emotionally. This demon probably incited the thoughts of the men into doing that hideous act so that it could feed off their guilt and pain by swooping in like a superhero and catching them in the act.”
“What about Miss Margaret here, if the point was to create pain wouldn’t it have let whatever would have happened to happen first so that it could feed on her pain too?” Aisha.
“For Miss Margaret, it came right when she had felt the most hopeless, at that point would there have been a difference if it came later?” The bishop answers.
“The difference is in the fact that I didn’t get raped and the men who were trying to do so left there more hurt than I was,” replies Margaret.
“What about the psychological damage, you know this is a demon, there doesn’t need to be physical wounds for it to feed on the pain,” Bishop.
“Being stripped naked by some brutes in the middle of the streets is harrowing yes, but it would have probably been worse if they had gotten their way and I had ended up dead.”
“Why are you defending it so much, you don’t even know anything about it. This ‘Hero’ persona it’s putting on might be part of a devilish plan to get people to its side. I have cast out many demons from people which ended up looking exactly as you described. It probably affected you too. You should come to my church where we can pray for you and free you from its shackles.”
“Let us not deviate from tonight’s topic,” Aisha reins the bucking horse of a discussion in, it’s still too early for outbursts, “Mr Peter as a member of the business community, how has the appearance of this demon affected you.”
“First of all, thank you for having me here Aisha,” he takes a deep breath, “To tell the truth, if I was weak-willed or easily impressed, I would be saying that the demon is actually our friend since business right now hasn’t been this smooth since before ten years ago.”
“Why so?” Aisha prods.
“Because it only seems to be attacking gang members and people committing criminal acts like robbery and other crimes as Ms Margaret just described,” he turns towards Margaret. “But I’m sorry for what happened.”
“Thank you. I’m okay.”
“You mean the ones who call themselves the Uroboros?” Aisha spurs the topic on.
“Yes, that gang. Somehow the demon always arrives when the gang members are about to kidnap someone or ransack someone’s business and it beats every last one of them cold. It never seems to hurt the victims of the gang. On one occasion it apparently even healed someone who had been hit on the head, who would have probably bled to death because the ambulances here never get there on time.”
“So, are you saying that this demon is fighting for the people?” The politician finally breaks his silence.
“That’s what it seems like, I mean I don’t trust it, as the Bishop has said this is a demon so who knows what its real intentions are but looking at things on the ground, this demon making a positive impact on the community, such a huge impact that it is suspicious. Actually, at this point, it has done more for the community in two months than you have done in four years, Mr Julius. But it might be planning something and its seemingly good deeds are the fattening of the calf so to speak.”
“Hon. Julius what’s your opinion of this.”
“Thank you, Aisha. First of all, I cannot, as a lawmaker, condone anyone or anything that seeks to take the law into its own hands as Mr Peter here seems to be implying, and second, I frankly do not care what it seems to actually do. As the bishop has put it, this is a demon, it might have some sort of plan to invite more of its own kind to terrorize more than just the guilty. Anyone who thinks that its beating up people who are seemingly related to the gang makes it some sort of saviour is just naïve. In fact, how can anyone trust how it chooses who to hurt and who not to, it might as well be attacking innocent people but since people think it only attacks gang members, no one believes them when they say they are innocent.”
“It’s true that no-one really knows what it is but-” Aisha starts saying.
“I think it’s human,” Margaret interrupts.
“Human?” Four different voices ask.
“Looking back now, the only thing that seems different about it was its face… and its wings which, by the way, looked more like a scarf than an actual pair of wings.”
“Are you saying that it is a person who is running around beating up criminals? But how would you explain the powers?” Aisha baits, it’s time for the kitoweo (Swahili, Main Course).
“Spirits can sometimes even possess clothes. It probably only has hands and a face, so inside those clothes there is nothing,” explains the bishop.
“But it even smelled like a man,” Margaret adds.
“How do you know?” Aisha coerces, her sharp reporter’s nose having caught the slightest whiff of a possible left out intimate detail which, as she has learned from experience, would definitely cause a bigger stir than the objective discussion that she had been initially nursing.
“The hoodie it gave me smelled like it had previously been worn before.”
“It was probably from one of its victims,” Bishop.
“You should hand that hoodie over to the police as evidence,” Julius.
“Might it be the one you are wearing right now?”
They all look at Margaret.
The young woman in a hoodie looks at them.
The host draws a breath ready to go in for another strike but as her diaphragm tightens a murmur comes in through her earpiece.
“I am being informed that we are running out of time,” the breath that could’ve sparked a fire feels wasted on those words. She should’ve let them derail sooner, “Let us have your parting shots. Bishop?”
“This may be the beginning of the end and the only thing that seems like it can stop the oncoming scourge is prayer. I will be holding a prayer session for the whole city at my church. Please if you care about your family and the future of this country please attend so that we can put this country’s future in God’s hands.”
“I made a promise to the people of this city to keep their interests first. That is why I say that this demon should be purged from our world before it causes more harm. I will be attending Bishop Kiptoo’s prayer session and will make a donation to ensure that our city’s clergymen have no needs to attend to as they divine for us,” the man of god shakes the politician’s hand, “We should all attend because only the almighty can save us from this evil pestilence.”
“When all is said and done only god knows the whole story. I will do my best as a businessman to take advantage of the enhanced business environment that the demon has created as will all the business people who know what’s good for them, but I will also go to Bishop Kiptoo’s prayer session because evil things don’t last. I cannot put my trust in a being whose intentions are unknown, only in the hands of god.”
“And last but not least, Miss Margaret.”
“I want to say this directly to whatever it is that saved me, which camera do I look at?”
Aisha’s eyebrows arc. It’s not over yet.
“Umm… ” she holds her earpiece. “That one over there,” she points.
Silence ensues as she aligns herself towards the camera.
“Ever since I was a small child, I have always wanted to be a doctor. When we were younger, my brother made me a makeshift stethoscope which I used to pretend to make diagnoses whenever anyone got hurt, whether they had cut themselves or were having a headache. My mother was hard on me when it came to my studies because she also believed in me. I came to the university to achieve my dream so that I could make my mother and brother proud, but a week ago all our hopes and dreams almost got destroyed by those evil men. Each and every person you have saved has been given a second chance at life because of your kindness, so on behalf of everyone you’ve saved, regardless of whether they appreciate it or not, I want to say thank you. Thank you for letting us dream another day.”
The speech stretches the air tight making the studio crew wonder whether they should clap. The host lets it simmer. She observes her guests’ faces; it’s time for the grand finale.
The bishop glares at Margaret, his face drooping with disgust, “How can you thank a demon, a demon of all things?”
“Well…” The young lady lifts the upper helm of her hoodie to her nose and inhales, “…I guess the demon is my guardian angel.”
Aisha smiles. Guardian angel, catchy but taken, also it wouldn’t fit the vibe this thing lays down. Every legend needs a name, and this is her legend to name. A rejected hero, a hated saviour. It hits her like a slap across the face. She smiles again, surprised by how long it took her to see it. It’s obvious, It is so obvious. She takes a deep breath.
“And that concludes our discussion tonight. Is it a sign of impending doom? Or is this, Guardian Demon trying to help us, we will have to wait and see. My name is Aisha Suleiman and I wish you a lovely night.”