Hakim’s Twas a night before Christmas


Hakim’s Twas a night before Christmas

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Hakim's store

Hakim’s Twas a night before Christmas

Twas the night
Before Christmas
And Hakim nodded in & out of sleep.
Alone in his father’s store
Sitting on the night shift. The young store-keep.

Hakim was just sixteen.
A young man by any stretch.
Now, far away from his home. His Ancestral house.
He hailed from Somalia.
But now sat in Cape Town. Alone.
Staring through towards the sidewalk.
Eyeing a scurrying mouse.

A television was hung.
Haphazardly above the store door.
He watched a film with a family sitting beside fireplace.
He saw the whiteness from the snow outside their window.
But felt the discomfort of the summer air. Wiping sweat off his face.

The store had been quiet for some time.
And Hakim now got comfortable.
Folding his arms.
And resting his head upon the corner table.

He closed his eyes.
And saw shapes & pictures that reminded him of home.
He longed for the far away smells & flavours that lingered in his mind.
He could almost taste the sweetness of Gashaato.
The texture of the coconut. He liked his lips. Shrugged. And sighed.

With his Kufia seated as a crown on his head.
Hakim drifted of quietly into a nap.
Soft Christmas music from the TV above. Played. Soothing.
Singing hymns with words he couldn’t understand.
Yet, bringing him a peace & comfort.
Dozing off to soft jingles. And singers. Cooing.

When all of a sudden.
From the back of the store.
He heard a clutter & a clatter.
And sprung from his table-bed.
Looking around.
To find out what’s the matter.

Shouting from behind the counter.
He saw a cap move with a flash.
He picked up a stick. Which he kept at his feet.
And swiftly locked the money boxes. Stuffing in all the loose cash.

The fluorescent lights flickered overhead.
All the while the TV shared scenes of soft falling snow.
His heart beat quickened.
Fear was stricken.  He wanted to run.
But where, oh where would young Hakim go?

Now what, into his horrified eyes would appear?
But a hooded figure.
Slouching his back. Face just out of sight.
Hand hidden in his pocket. Holding a gun? A knife? Oh dear..

Now with his heart and mind.
In fight or flight.
Hakim looked desperately all around him.
For any chance of an exit in sight.

He saw just outside the door.
A little white Toyota.
It was bruised & battered.
With a old white rosary hanging from the rear view mirror.
Bobbing up & down. As the car stood idle.
Hakim stared through the open door.
There was a man behind the wheel.
Gesturing to the attacker.
“Man, Make it quick!”

The hooded man.
As quick as a cheetah.
Pounced onto Hakim
Whistled.
And shouted.
And called out to him.

Now boy. See here.
Don’t be chancer.
Don’t try run. We’ll be faster.
Now shut up and listen.
Open up.
And Stop cryin’
Get me the money
Or damn it. I’ll put you under.

Hakim unlocked the boxes.
Hands shaking.
Eyes as wide as can be.
The man took out the money.
Pushing Hakim to the ground.
Making a large thudding. Sort of sound.

Now running fast.
Into the battered old Toyota.
They drove away.
The sounds of the rumbling. Tired old engine.
Faded into the soft sounds of sleigh bells.
From above him.
They were long gone.

As Hakim lay down.
On the cold store floor.
Slowly he began to be warmed by the blood from his lips.
His head tilted slowly towards the tip, top of the door.
And he caught the light of a snow white dove.
On the television.
Taking flight into the sky.
Hakim began to cry.

After some time.
Hakim drew up all his strength.
And pulled himself up.
Mopping the bloody floor.
And replacing his Kufia upon his crown.
He sat on his stool. Shaking.
Alone. He had to keep his father’s store opened up.

Not even after an hour.
A group of young people.
Stumbled into the store.
Smelling heavily of Christmas spirits.
They laughed and fooled around freely at the door.

A tall white man.
Approached the counter.
He had poker straight hair. Molded like Elvis. Or maybe James Dean?
Very unlike the curls & cotton of the young man, Hakim.
He glanced over at his battered lip & gestured coldly to the cigarettes.
Ignoring the blatantly painful violent scene.

He was dressed.
In a jacket of Black. Black. Leather.
He wore a T-Shirt.
With a Native American chief.
With a headdress adorned with the most beautiful feathers.

Hakim took out the box.
And the stranger grunted for a single.
He took out his lighter.
Lit up. And began to blow perfect smokey rings.

He said not a word.
But turned straight to the door.
Lifting his hand.
Gesturing to his stumbling tribe.
Leaving Hakim coughing inside his father’s corner shop.

Quiet once again befell the store.
And Hakim said not a word.
Sitting resolutely.
The lights flicking quietly. He was alone. Absolutely.
Only the sounds from the television echoed through the night.

“Merry Christmas to all
And to all,
A Good night”

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