This incident occurred in 2012 when I was visiting my grandmother’s house with my mother and brother. I originally hail from Tanzania (specifically Zanzibar), but I currently reside in the UK with my family. My parents had emigrated from Tanzania to the UK in pursuit of a better life, as opportunities were scarce in our homeland.
As many are aware, Zanzibar is a developing country, where life can be quite challenging, and people struggle to make ends meet. During this visit, we stayed in Zanzibar for a month, moving between different family homes. In our culture, it’s considered impolite to decline an invitation, so we accepted various family members’ offers to host us. The next stop was my maternal grandmother’s house, and I must admit, I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about staying there due to the living conditions. While they weren’t as dire as I may have portrayed them, I had reservations about using the toilet facilities, which consisted of a basic hole leading to some rather unsettling splashbacks. This led me to wonder about the overall condition of the house.
Upon arriving at my grandmother’s house, everything appeared to be in order. She generously prepared numerous dishes, including some of my favorites, and served us drinks. The day went surprisingly well as we exchanged stories and enjoyed each other’s company. However, as bedtime approached and we had to retire to separate rooms (men and women do not share sleeping quarters in our culture), I couldn’t help but feel uneasy.
I already had misgivings about the room we were assigned. The windows were not typical; they seemed quite fragile, like screens. Nevertheless, I reasoned that there was nothing worth stealing in the house, which offered a modicum of reassurance. So, my brother and I lay in bed, regaling each other with stories and laughter. When our grandmother announced that she was turning off the lights, I didn’t feel entirely safe in the pitch-black room, but I had no say in the matter.
The room was enveloped in darkness; there were no streetlights outside, and the only illumination came from the moon, providing just enough light to discern objects in the room. We decided to call it a night as chatting in the inky blackness was disconcerting. My brother fell asleep before me, and as I…