Manyo Brown didn’t ask for much from life. A chance to do his land surveying work at the Lands Commissions. A chance of a loving wife. And maybe kids. A chance to drink his herbal teas. And a chance to pick his nose in peace.

Manyo long knew that the secret to a happy nose was to pick at it with an elongated pinky nail. His father had been his role model in this regard. And a few other regards as well, now Manyo came to think about it. Like working for government parastatals. Like drinking moringa and bitterleaf every morning before breakfast. Sipping so steady that the tea turned cold by mid-glass. “It would enter you better” his father used to say.

So when Manyo found his loving wife and she told him to cut his pinky nail, he felt a bit off balance about the whole thing. Something fundamental was being taken from him. How was he to pick his nose? For a while he stalked about the house hiding his pinky, unable to snip away at his nail. Then his loving wife saw his nail as he was sipping on his tea one early morning. She threatened that if he wanted ‘maybe kids’ to become ‘real kids’ he would need to cut it. Manyo, being a simple man, did as was told.

Now his wide, heavy-breathed nose, with thickening spurts of hair, itched and sucked uncomfortably. The real kids came to be, and Manyo could not go about his ritual of picking his nose. His work suffered. His teas became increasingly ineffective. His loving wife just a wife.

Then one blessed morning Manyo noticed something. He always used his right pinky to pick. So his wife was very good at monitoring. But now he saw that his left had grown enough for a decent pick. Looking left then right, then getting up to check the study, then the kitchen, then balcony, Manyo came to accept that he was truly alone.

He prepared himself. His pinky nail and his wide nostrils.

“Okay lefty, it is your time to dig!”

The stories we tell have a life of their own and they work between the realm of what is real and how we conceive that reality.