Slap & Royalty by Eric Rugara


The woman strode into the room. She was followed by many men—her supporters. On tall heels, she strode across the room. She stopped at a door, banged on it. No answer. She banged on it harder with an arm as unyielding as the leg of a sofa and a fist like a rock. The door opened—a man stood there, glaring through spectacles. No one knows what words were exchanged—but everyone saw this, the aftermath: a sudden, hard slap by the man across the woman’s face. For a few seconds, no one spoke; then the woman yowled, protesting. The man stood there with a most poisonous look on his face. He shut the door and the woman was led out by her ring of loyal supporters.


The dark-skinned woman sitting next to the man who sits next to me in the backseat of the matatu looks like a queen, sitting there, easy, calm. She possesses a dignity that uplifts her to a status of royalty just as a cat has the dignity and grace of a lion, whether living in a slum or a palace. When she speaks, her voice is controlled, a deep alto that rolls and is beautiful to listen to —it is like the supreme power of a musical instrument in the hands of a master. Many such men and women have I seen in the villages, the streets of towns and in the slums—not rich, yet possessing a richness that the rich have never known.

Eric Rugara is a young Kenyan writer. His influences have been Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Peter Abrahams, and Ernest Hemingway, to name a few.

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