by Tololwa Mollel

Maliaki closed his eyes tight when his cousin blew out the lamp and chanted in their dark bedroom. Ndiyamasi Ndiyamasi, Ndiyamasi Ndiyamasi! Ndiyamasi was a monster in stories Grandmother often told them. He had two mouths and a single eye.

As Alfayo chanted on Maliaki pulled the blanket around his head, shutting his eyes even more tightly shut and plugging his ears. Only after Alfayo fell asleep did Maliaki open his eyes, unplug his ears and slowly pull back the blanket. Then he got up and lit the lamp. And he lay awake thinking about Ndiyamasi.

Late the next day when Maliaki stayed to play after school Alfayo headed home, and warned his cousin. “Don’t be late coming home, or Ndiyamasi will get you!”

Playing with his chums, Maliaki forgot all about Ndiyamasi or going home.

Darkness was falling when he finally left for home. He walked briskly on a path that wound through a jungle of coffee and banana trees.  A bush baby shrieked ka-ha ka-ha. An owl hooted tuwwuuuu. Maliaki began to run. Moments later he crashed into a dark hairy figure, and Maliaki screamed. “Help, help! Ndiyamasi! Help!”

Grandfather raised his flashlight. “Here you are! We wondered what had happened to you." As they walked home the moon emerged from a cloud. Maliaki noticed Grandfather’s dark hairy sweater.

At home, Grandmother had a good laugh when Grandfather told her of what had happened. She said to Maliaki, “You thought your grandfather was a monster?”

Later in their dark bedroom, Alfayo chanted. Ndiyamasi Ndiyamasi, Ndiyamasi Ndiyamasi……..!

Maliaki remembered how he had crashed into Grandfather, and his terrible screams. He remembered how Grandmother had laughed when Grandfather told her of the incident. He remembered how last night Alfayo had scared him about Ndiyamasi. And night after night before that.

Turning to his cousin, Maliaki said, “Don’t. Alfayo, don’t. Don’t mention his name.” He lowered his voice. “I saw him. I met ... Ndiyamasi!”

Alfayo stopped his chant. “Nooooo. You didn’t!”

Maliaki lit the lamp. He heard Grandfather shuffle about outside, checking windows of the sheds and barns in the compound. Every night Grandfather made sure all windows were closed, and bolted. Maliaki said to Alfayo, “Yes, I met Ndiyamasi. I was walking home when I heard footsteps behind me...”


Maliaki nodded. “Shambling after me.” Maliaki shuffled. Ffu-ttuu ffu-ttuu ffu-ttuu. Ffu-ttuu ffu-ttuu ffu-ttuu. Alfayo, grinned, joined him. Ffu-ttuu ffu-ttuu ffu-ttuu. Ffu-ttuu ffu-ttuu ffu-ttuu.

Maliaki said, “I had gone into hiding when the single eye of Ndiyamasi lit up the night. Ndiyamasi called out. ‘You can hide a-a-a-ll you want, little boy, but I’ll find you.’ And find me he did.” Maliaki reached out. “The two mouths of Ndiyamasi growled.

“‘I said I’d find you!’”

Alfayo pulled away. “Ha-ha-ha. You won’t … scare me!”

Maliaki pressed on. “Ndiyamasi told me, ‘Scream a-a-a-ll you want, little boy. No one will hear you.’” “Sure enough,” Maliaki said, “when I opened my mouth no sound came out. And Ndiyamasi laughed.” Maliaki laughed, an ugly Ndiyamasi laugh. Hinya-hinya-hinya-hinya! Hinya-hinya-hinya-hinya!  Alfayo joined in. Hinya-hinya-hinya-hinya!  Hinya-hinya-hinya-....!

All of a sudden, they stopped to look up. They stared through the glass pane. Outside their window, someone – a dark hairy figure – approached.

Maliaki blew out the lamp, and whispered. Ndiyamasi!

A series of screams brought Grandfather dashing in. He pointed his flashlight at Alfayo. “What in the world are you screaming about?”

That night, it was not Maliaki who pulled a blanket over his face. It wasn’t Maliaki who lit the lamp and lay awake. It wasn’t Maliaki who thought about the two mouths of Ndiyamasi. And of his … single eye.


About the Author

Tololwa Mollel is an award-winning children's author, dramatist, storyteller and story maker who has written over sixteen children's books, several plays, short stories for adults, and stories for performance. Mollel’s books and short stories have been published internationally, including in Tanzania where he was born and have been translated into various South African languages, Korean, Spanish, Danish, Serbian and Swahili. Mollel has worked extensively in schools and libraries as visiting and resident artist across Canada where he now lives, as well as in the US, Australia, England and Tanzania. In his work, he combines writing, storytelling and story making, and dramatic form.

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About Anansesem

Anansesem is an online magazine of Caribbean children's and young adult literature by adults and children. We strive to bring you the best in news, reviews and creative content from the world of Caribbean children's publishing.
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