Pseudopod 118: Lala Salama

By Gill Ainsworth

Read by Heather Welliver

“You are lucky; I have already imparted that to you. It is the life inside you that is suffering.”

“The hospital doctor looked at my baby through my tummy. It’s happy and normal. Asifiwe Bwana!”

“You may praise The Lord, but He cannot alter this, Madam. I have told you that!” For the first time, Ess noticed anger in the Mganga’s voice. He swatted at flies again, taking his vengeance out on the insects. “The Lord will thank you if you kill it,” he said in a more gentle tone.

Ess stood. “Kill my baby! For what?” She dropped a couple of shillings at his feet, and then stomped across the dirt track to her car and Kazungu who was waiting to drive her home. As she climbed into the vehicle she shouted, “To keep you and your stupid superstitions in business?”

“Madam,” Kazungu said, as he put the car into first gear, “you should show Mganga respect. He is a very wise man.”

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November 26th, 2008 4:16 pm

Not the story to listen to while your wife is pregnant!

November 28th, 2008 12:20 am

ums… gosh i’m feeling slow, what wass wrong wif teh baby? did we ever find out or we’re just givin to imagine something terrible?

November 28th, 2008 6:16 pm

I think the implication was that the “willie” was a tail.

November 28th, 2008 6:23 pm

Oh dear, I take that back, they found the husband’s finger–meaning the baby had eaten it and was eeeeeeeevil. I don’t know why I had to listen to it twice to figure that–guess I heard what I expected–which is disturbing in it’s own way.

November 28th, 2008 11:45 pm

wait.. if the baby had eatin it it would have been it its tummy not.. ums…

December 1st, 2008 1:21 pm

I listen to these while I work and often I get sooo confused because for a brief second I didn’t pay attention. I too am confused as to what exactly was wrong with the baby. Was it a chameleon? Did it have a tail? Was it a hermaphrodite? Sigh.

December 1st, 2008 11:49 pm

one thing is certain, the moment you start having the indigenous peoples calling you ‘bwana’ you are in biiiiiiig trouble.

December 2nd, 2008 3:52 pm

I don’t get what was wrong with it & I have never understood the joy of being pregnant. So much can go wrong so easily and I cannot do dead or messed up babies.

I should have known how this would end. I had to stop listening to a story yesterday about a chick who had her baby hacked out of her womb. Last week I was at Body Worlds & nearly walked unknowingly into the “fetus exhibit.” I have had a few more incidents, but I think you get the idea…

Have you ever tried really hard to avoid something and then it freaking haunts you where ever you go? shiver

December 4th, 2008 5:49 am

Okay. We all knew that something was going to be very, very wrong at the end.

Still, nice twist.

December 7th, 2008 7:32 pm

Well, I liked this better than the last few weeks. An old-fashioned story, but I mean that in a good way, with developed characters and some nice pacing. Could have used more local color, what with it being Africa and all. In the end, it does suffer from what most of these type of stories (I always lump them under Kipling’s “Mark Of The Beast” but I’m sure there are earlier examples) suffer from – non-locals violate “primitive” belief and pay consequences far beyond what’s warranted (at least in Kipling the main character openly mocked a god and performed an act of sacrilege). So, because this lady happens to live in a universe where you shouldn’t move chameleons, her child is born deformed. And was that (finger for a penis, was it?) enough reason to smother the kid? What would parents of Thalidomide children think?

So, while the details of the story didn’t work me, I do have to say that the writing itself was pretty darn tight. Nice, deft handling of the dream sequences and non-cringe-inducing writing in the sex sequences. Gill Ainsworth will be someone to watch for.

Transition silence gaps still seemed a little abrupt.

Thanks for listening

“He seriously thought that there is less harm in killing a man than producing a child: in the first case you are relieving someone of life, not his whole life but a half or a quarter or a hundredth part of that existence that is going to finish, that would finish without you; but as for the second, he would say, are you not responsible to him for all the tears he will shed, from the cradle to the grave? Without you he would never have been born, and why is he born? For your amusement, not for his, that’s for sure; to carry your name, the name of a fool, I’ll be bound – you may as well write that name on some wall; why do you need a man to bear the burden of three or four letters?”

Gustave Flaubert, NOVEMBER (1842)

December 8th, 2008 6:33 pm

Very well written and enjoyable. Fun for the whole family.

December 11th, 2008 7:31 am

Am i the only one who was expecting fetal alcohol poisoning?

December 11th, 2008 9:36 am

The thing that disturbed me the most was the witch doctor’s story about why Africans are black. Have Africans internalized European racism so much that they have created stories like that?

December 21st, 2008 12:21 pm

This story was wonderfully written, even if it was a little opaque. Was the Chameleon an evil wish-granter? The woman became pregnant, something that she wanted but had been deemed biologically impossible. And the baby ate the Father’s finger to produce a penis upon request. How does this sinister eagerness to please relate to the local reason for fearing the reptile in the first place?

February 18th, 2009 6:16 pm

A terrifying story with the age-old moral: Don’t fuck with things!