there is no life between you and Rafike.
only fragments of conversations
few and far between, but still instances of delight.
you spend hours after night shift learning hair
the more complicated the better
the more time you have.
as if one can truly have more time
in a world that constantly asks and asks and asks.
this is important
the time and the hair.
this is how you get to know Rafike.
every two weeks you visit to make her hair beautiful
she gathers herself next to the fire burning lazily
as if gathering the things she wants to say
before they escape and roll down her chin
into a life of their very own.
she tells you the story of her name
a story you have heard many times before
she tells it anyway. you listen anyway.
of course it starts with her mother’s mother before her.
this is a story of love
which is not to say that Rafike’s story is one of love
but that it is birthed in love. you braid her hair and she tells you of great loves and loss.
and in those conversations
which are really conversations between Rafike and herself
everything makes sense.
the brittle pieces that have been sat in your heart all these years
slowly fall into place
and you are your mother’s daughter
Judyannet Muchiri is a creative writer who writes from different histories, experiences, and geographies. She writes with the hope that her words will bring you home to yourself when days are long and dark. Her most recent work has appeared on Africa in Words, FIGS, Salt Pages, Down River Road, The Magunga and Will This be a Problem. When she is not writing fiction, she is doing advocacy work, reading and/or having dessert.