IT HAD TO BE DONE

“So where do we go from here?”

“I for one, either hell or heaven. Do you think I am fit enough for heaven?”

“No, but again you still have a chance. You do know all you have to do is ask for His forgiveness. Just humble yourself before him. He is always waiting for you to reach out so that He can pull you out of the muck.”

“Really, anyway I will hold onto the superstition that whoever kills you carries your sins thereby cleansing you. In this case it is you.”

“Haha…our childhood was fun. I don’t see that helping you in anyway. May be you’re too afraid to let go of the guilty as it makes you feel more human. You shouldn’t be doing that, you are not supposed to do that. It is beyond your capability to be human.”

“I guess I no longer need to be human, that feeling of weakness, hopelessness and the idea of lack of control. I am on my way to be something else. Why did it have to be you?”

“That is a choice you made long ago. It is something you’ve been driving towards for a long time. You cannot run away from fate. Once it shines its fangs on you, you brace yourself for the turbulent attack.”

“Why didn’t you point me to a different direction? Why did you let me sink while holding your hand?”

“I grew tired of your bullshit. I grew tired of your view on life, it was myopic. Maybe even bigger than us but still not of our time, but I grew tired. I had to grow up for the both of us.”

“Still Caleb, you could have helped. You ought to have done something.”

“Hey man it was your life and you chose what to do with it. I was just there as an escort, as I escorted you towards your greatness or your death. So here we are.”

Collins took in a deep breath before shifting his weight to the right. He had a knife stuck on the left of his bowels like a pig. Blood was clotting after oozing for quite a while. His breathes were growing shorter by the minute. He smiled at Caleb who looked at him in disgust.

Caleb sat by Collins under the shed of the tree. The river was flowed slowly and silently as if in deep thoughts. He understood that this was going to be a pre-meditated murder and as Collins took his finals breathes, he saw his exit of the free world. Caleb smiled at the birds in the air, at the quiet river and looked at the stupid face of his best friend. Indeed he was dying.

“Collins, why did you do it? Why did you choose to disrespect me in such a manner?”

“I didn’t choose to disrespect you, you had lost her the moment you married her. I just showed you the inevitable. Talking of the inevitable, am I dying for real?”

“Yes you are. It is over. You could have informed me, talked to me…mundu khu mundu.”

“I tried that. I did. All you saw ahead of you was marriage, settling down and the constant poor flow of life as you waited for death. I asked you to build an empire as early as we could but you saw her at the corner of your eyes and as we moved along she became the bigger picture. Now look at the picture stained by bastards and adultery. This is not what you planned for. The unexpected becomes beautiful at its own time.”

“Remember college. Good old days. The first times you had firsts of many. You were the king of the world, strutting around campus like the owner. Sleeping around like you had a target to achieve. I thought you had to abandon that as we went out of college. “

“I was planning to drop all that but habits built are destroyed and not abandoned. I failed to destroy mine. Don’t mind me asking, how did you manage to stay faithful to her? How?”

“I did it as a punishment for everything I had done back then.”

“Hahaha, do you know how foolish you sound? You should have kept the jig up. She did you dirty but it is over now.”

“Yeah it is. I have no other way, I have no options. It had to go this way. One thing though, we failed to honor the bro code, “brothers before sisters.” Here you are bleeding out like a stuck pig. Forgive my anger.”

“Was that anger or a preconceived plan. You brought me here and had to do what you did. I forgive you for everything, maybe you were acting out of anger. The pain of seeing what you loved getting used and dumped. I can’t way I am sorry because I am a victim here.”

“You’re the victim? You, who in my absence decided to bring a child forth into a world you won’t father it. The victim is the little man growing in her womb right now. We, Mary, you and I are drivers of misfortunes. We chose this path and we deserve what’s coming no matter the consequence. So chin up and smile, embrace the pain and hug the sweetness as it lasts.”

“I am willing to accept my mistakes if you are willing to accept that she was not meant for you.”

“What you did was not a mistake, it is not entirely unheard of but it should have happened so close to home. It should not have been you but hey, you did it anyway.”

“Yeah but still you have to accept that she was a burden in the making.”

“So they day she came home after a long weekend away at work during the bomb threat at their work place, she was with you, right?”

“I guess so. When was that?”

“And you just go on with the insults. She came home smelling unusually homely. I guess that was the day she conceived the child. Life is beautiful.”

“Indeed. If I was to live, at some point the truth was to come out or maybe you could just have hated the child from the word go, or just divorced her with no apparent reason. After all you were never meant to be.”

“Talking of what’s to be, are you okay going to hell. We both know, adultery is a sin and in the few minutes you left on this wretched earth you’re wasting explaining to me how Mary was not my best suit.”

“She had to go and the best way to show you was well, to show you.”

“Listening to you talk, I can still feel the greatness I felt as I inserted the knife into your bowels, it was a relief. You are so wrong about her. If I divorced her knowing very well you were the father, would you’ve taken the responsibility or were to watch the child grow from a far the way He does with human, watch him suffer. Don’t you see you ruined everything, a perfect good marriage, a perfect friendship? How many years have you thrown down the drain?”

“Around 10 or fifteen, I cannot count in my current state. Are you going to be okay Caleb?”

“Yes, I am human and that comes with adaptability. I have to be malleable to fit in the current situation.”

“So when are you calling the police or you ought to walk to the police station.”

“I already did. I am sorry it had to come down to this. Whatever is on the other side, embrace it maybe this time you can reincarnate into something worthwhile or maybe stay a ghost and haunt my sleepless nights. Whatever you do, be the very best. Don’t carry the pain along with you. Let go of the guilty. Remember it was I who chose to gut you open.”

“You resorted to advice a dying man. If I become a ghost then we’re going to be unstoppable. Be patient and watch me work. Reincarnation is something I don’t believe in. It is just a way of humans coping with death. All I am toying around is the idea of a God or a Satan. “

“All the best my friend, it was real while it lasted. I may take care of your kid when I come out or maybe he will be taking care of me. Life has funny ways. See you some other time Collins, if we ever meet don’t pass me by…be it heaven, earth or hell. Let’s ride it out once again.”

“I won’t my friend. I can see it coming. They say while dying your whole life flushes in front of you. All I can see is a vast emptiness. A white emptiness. Is this a manifestation of my brain or is death this awkward? I am dying Caleb. This is all on you.”

Caleb allowed him to lean closer on his shoulder as he tried to soothe him.

“Let go of the worries, embrace the unknown change. It may be worthwhile.”

Police sirens could be heard from a far. An ambulance was on the way too. Caleb stood up, laid his head on the trunk of the tree. He listened for his pulse on the neck. As weak as it was, Collins was a fighter. His breathes were now shorter and shallower. He had to gasp for air.

Caleb looked at his hands shook his head, he shouted, “Mary, look at what you made me do.”

The cars came in hot raising dusts as the Police officers jumped out before they were packed. This was his day. He was going to get an escort.

SEEMINGLY DEAD

He woke up to find himself on the chair; his head ache so did his neck. He looked around the house and noticed the clothes on the bed, the dirty dishes on the sink and the repetitive droplets of water from the tap. The bucket was filling to the brim as water kept dripping in it. The sound it made bothered him. He stood from the chair, stretched his neck sideways in a bid to straighten it. On the bed was a young lady half naked. The sun kissed her skin as it shone brightly on her nipple. She was deeply asleep. He didn’t move to disturb her though his heart wanted to. He felt the urge to touch her, play around with her exposed body but he didn’t move.

He shut down the laptop in front of him as a knock echoed from the door. He went for the door. Before he could open it, his phone rung and he came back for it. It was his fiancé. He picked the call as he went to the door.

“Hello, are you still sleeping? Why were you not answering your phone? Is someone else with you?”

He opened the door to find her waiting meekly. She smiled and hung up the call. She made a gesture to hug him as he spread his arms, she saw the exposed body. She went straight to the bed.

Mike was still dressed in his briefs and a black vest that hugged his body exposing the six pack. Rita moved past him as she pushed towards the bed. She threw the duvet off the young lady who was woken from her slumber by the rays of sun on her now exposed face.

“Who are you? Why are you waking me up? Babe did you forget to pay the rent again? Is this the land lady?”

Rita looked at her, smiled as she held back on the boiling anger. She reached for her purse but her hands went for the knife on the sink. It was still dirty from cutting ‘ugali’. She gripped the knife tightly as she drove it through the young lady’s chest. She repeated the stabbing severally before pausing and realizing what she had done. She stood there like a character in a paused movie. The knife dropped from her hands as blood flow from the bed to her feet. She was shivering with anger and fear. Her fear was overwhelming her anger. Her hands shook involuntarily as her breathes became short to the point of stopping. The only person on her mind was Mike.

Mike stood by the door in wonder. He wanted stop her but his feet couldn’t move. He remained glued to one spot wishing Rita was stabbing him. It would have been a relief and an escape too. How was he going to explain this to anybody?

Rita picked the knife, wiped it and placed it in Mike’s hands who was still in shock. She washed her hands, carefully but aggressively taking her time. She wanted to wash off the memory of what she had done. She went to the door, opened it and left.

Mike came back to reality. The body on the bed. Blood on the floor. He was sweating profusely as his mouth ran dry. He dropped the knife and ran to the body. It was still warm. It moved though faintly. He turned her head to him, her face seemed familiar. He did not recall who she was no matter what. Her weak pulse was slowing down. She tried opening her blood-filled mouth in a bid to talk but she failed. Finally, she gave up. She was gone.

Mike looked at the now limp body and tears dropped from his eyes. He wished he could remember her but his brain always failed him at the most crucial moments. He sat down to think of the next step as he controlled his breathing. He had to find a way out.

Mike was seated on the chair, still in his briefs and his black vest. The water from the tap was still dropping in the bucket making a continuous annoying rhythm. Its repetition annoyed him.  He had a headache which seemed to be emanating from the neck. He stood up and straightened his neck. He noticed the girl on the bed whose nipple was sun-kissed. What a beautiful view for a morning.

He fought his urge to play with the nipple as he shut down the laptop on the table. He heard a knock on the door as his phone rung. He was half way to the door when he came back for the phone.

“Hello, are you still sleeping? Why were you not answering your phone? Is someone else with you?”

He opened the door and there stood his girlfriend. She was on the phone. She hung up as she smiled at him ready for a hug. Mike spread his arms for one. Rita saw the exposed nipple on the bed and flew past Mike pushing him away. She threw away the duvet and there was a young lady half naked on the bed. She woke up angry.

“Who are you? Why are you waking me up? Babe did you forget to pay the rent again? Is this the land lady?”

Mike was by the door when Rita picked a knife from the sink. It clicked in him, “Was this a de’javu? Has he gone through this?” the dropping of water confirmed it as Rita went for the chest. She stabbed the young lady severally as Mike was drowned in confusion. He moved to stop her but she was done. She wiped the knife and gave it to Mike. She washed the blood off her hands and face. She wiped the droplets from her blouse and left, leaving the door open.

Mike closed the door and went back to the dying lady. She was losing her life. The look on her face was distant and forgiving. She tried to talk but the blood in her mouth hindered it. She took the last breath and poof she was gone. Mike looked at the body shaking. He could not imagine the meek Rita had done this. What was he going to do?

He moved around the room as tears dropped from his eyes freely. He drew back the curtains to stop the sun from shinning into the room. He wanted darkness away from the betraying light. He leaned on the wall and slumped down to the floor covering his face in his hands.

The blood was slowly clotting as its floor was cut short. The blood on the floor was still moving and this time its flow was towards Mike, the cause of all this. He limited his breathing in a bid to forget what had just happened but the anxiety in his heart could not leave to rest.

His mind went to Rita. He recalled how she stabbed the young lady as if possessed. She repeated without hesitation as if she was enjoying it. She then framed him perfectly for murder. “Where was she going? Why was a strange lady on his bed in the first place? Who was she?”

His sweat was now making it hard to remain still in that position. He had to move. He had to act and correct everything. He wondered how it will all turn out. “If I was to report, what would I tell the police?”

“My girlfriend killed a strange girl on my bed in my house?” He had the murder weapon in house that had his fingerprints all over. He was in an impossible situation. Finally, his sweat mixed with the dead girl’s blood forming a bridge at first before mixing completely.

He stood up ready to act. He was to do something.

Mike woke up from the chair, his head was aching and his neck hurt probably from sleeping on the table. He looked around the house wondering why he slept on the chair in his own house. He looked around the room and saw the sun-kissed nipple. He must have had a lady over. He was still in his briefs and a black vest. The sink had dirty dishes with water dropping in an almost full bucket. The droplets made a bothersome sound as they landed in the bucket. The meniscus on the bucket was almost torn.

He stood up and stretched his neck as bones crackled. He shut down the laptop as he assumed the urge to touch the young lady. A knock on the door came and he moved to answer it. Halfway there his phone rung. He came back to answer it.

“Hello, are you still sleeping? Why were you not answering your phone? Is someone else with you?”

On the door stood his girlfriend. She smiled at him and gestured him for a hug. As Mike spread his arms, she noticed the nipple in the bed. She flew past him pushing him away. Rita threw the duvet off the young lady and there she was half naked. She woke up complaining.

“Who are you? Why are you waking me up? Babe did you forget to pay the rent again? Is this the land lady?”

Mike was still at the door knowing not what to do. He could feel the changes in Rita as she frantically tried being calm. In the wicked silence of the moment, Mike recalled the feeling of having gone through this already. He remembered Rita stabbing the young lady to her death. He moved quickly and took the knife from the sink.

Rita moved around and sat down on the chair, her hands did not find anything that could calm her. She had to do it herself. She looked at Mike angrily as she concentrated on her breathing. The young lady on the bed covered herself with duvet as she tried to be appropriate. She was confused. Rita spoke.

“Who is she?”

No one was ready to talk. It was silence all over as everyone concentrating on whatever absorbed the embarrassment. Mike was rearranging the shapes of the tiles on the floor in his mind as the young lady counted the curves made by the roofing sheets.

“Mike I’m talking to you. Who is she?”

“You won’t believe me even if I tell you.”

“Indulge me dear.”

“To be sincere, I don’t know.”

“What do you mean you don’t know? I don’t believe you.”

“I told you, you won’t but for real I don’t know her. I woke up and found her half naked on my bed.”

“You guys know I’m right here, you could just ask me.”

“Shut up lady, nobody is talking to you. Then where did you sleep?”

“On that very chair, my neck hurts really bad.”

“Okay, and why are you in your boxers? What did you do before you slept?”

“I guess I was on my laptop, allow me to power it up. I may have written something or was working on an animation. I don’t remember.”

“How convenient, what did you do yesterday? You mean to say, this wretched human dropped from heaven on your bed and came naked. Isn’t that just convenient?

“I don’t know Rita, I don’t know.”

Mike woke up and found the lady on the bed, she was half-naked from the look of it. He was tired and in pain. He remembered waking up to this. It felt so real that he shook the lady awake.

“Who are you and what are you doing on my bed?”

“Hey dear, you don’t remember anything, do you?”

“No, I don’t. Why are you here? Get dressed you are leaving.”

“Come on dear, the fun is not yet here. Can we wait just a little longer? She is almost here. Just give it like one, two, three…”

There was knock at the door.

“There we go, let the fun begin. I don’t know it is going to end this time round.”

“What are you talking about? Get dressed lady you are leaving.”

The phone rung and it was his girlfriend. He picked it.

“Hello, are you still sleeping? Why were you not answering your phone? Is someone else with you?”

He didn’t get a chance to talk as he hung up.

“Get dressed, I don’t know why you’re smiling. If my girlfriend gets here in your current outfit you’re done.”
“I want to be offed by her, let her in, I am ready. Finally, it is happening.”

“Lady get up, he moved towards her, she did not have any clothes of her own in the house. What happened yesterday?

He went for the door after covering her with the duvet and a few of the clothes.

Rita stormed in the house, she looked around and touched the duvet before seeing her feet. It was a lady. She started shaking from growing anger, Mike saw through her anger and calmed her. She took her time before she could settle down and listen to what Mike was to say.

“I don’t know what happened Rita.”

“Really, I haven’t even asked, okay big boy. What happened here? Who’s is the young lady on your bed? What is she doing?”

“I don’t know; hell I don’t know even her name.”

Mike woke up from his sleep. He had been sleeping on the table. His head and neck hurt. He immediately remembered how it was to go through the previous loops. He was locked in one event for the day. He saw the lady on the bed, the dirty dishes on the sink, the dipping water from the tap into the bucket. It was all the same from the previous events. He had to protect the strange lady lest Rita killed her. He closed the laptop without shutting it down.

He stretched his neck before going for the lady.

“Hey you, wake up. You need to go. Take one of Rita’s dresses and leave. I don’t want her finding you here.”

“You don’t get it, do you?”

“What am I to get? Rita has killed you twice and she will do it again if you’re not gone. “

“I am here to die, I thought by the time we get to the last loop you would have figured it. You are dumber than I thought.”

“Why does she have to kill you? Why me? Why today?”

“You do know yourself, don’t you? The player in you, the cheater in you, the liar in you, the manipulator in you and the war with your conscience in wanting not to admit who you are. Mike you’re the perfect candidate to help me.”

“How?”

“Your negative energy and the strong fight your soul puts are helpful in pushing this immortality spell.”

“Immortality. You were killed and you died before my eyes.”

“Well, watch and learn Mike. I am not going anywhere without my spell energized.”

Rita knocked on the door as she called Mike. The phone rung as he stood up. He resorted to watch fate play its flute. He was to stop whatever Rita would do.

Rita came in angrier than ever for the ten missed calls Mike hadn’t answered. She saw the lady seated on the bed half-naked. The breasts were out for display. Her first reaction was to fight but Mike restrained her. He explained to her about the previous events, how they had that very conversation. She listened attentively but as Mike told her of the murders she had committed her urge to kill arose. She eyed the lady with anger. The young lady looked back in jest.

As Mike was absorbed in the storytelling Rita pounced on the knife in the sink. She went for the neck and blood spurted as its strength reduced and the distance it spread to reduced. The lady on the bed died as her eyes remained opened in anticipation.

Mike looked at Rita and shook his head. Rita Looked back at him and they sat in silence. Thirty minutes went by without anyone saying a thing. The lady suddenly woke up grumpy as if from a long slumber. She looked angrily at Mike and Rita. She took a dress from the pile on the bed and left the room. Mike sat there in anticipation of the next loop. As the lady walked towards the door, her skin grew wrinkly each minute. She was growing old. Rita followed her leaving Mike to clean her mess. Mike sat there in stupor.

FANTASY NIGHT

“Don’t mind me asking but are you mad Celine?”

“What the hell, of cause I’m sane. Where is this coming from?”

“The last time we talked you made it very clear that you never want to see me again. You went ahead and unfriended me on every social media channels. As if that was not enough, you had to change places of residence twice just to make sure I wasn’t following you. What’s happening?”

“Nothing, can’t I just reach out? “

“I don’t know but you had blocked me, this is a new number. Why are we here, why are we down this road again? We both know where it leads.”

“Who said we are treading on the same road. You are so full of yourself. I was just checking on you; after all we have a pandemic going on. Look at you being selfish and stuff. Do you think the world revolves around you? Easy there boy.”

“Ouch. You didn’t just call me a boy. We both know what you are here for. In the middle of a pandemic after six months of a messy breakup. What do you want?”

“Nothing, I don’t want anything. I am just checking on you. Are you okay bro?

“Really now. Okay, I’m fine sister. How have you been?

“Fine if I may, all is smooth. A bit of struggle here and there but I am managing. I heard that your company laid off a few of its employees.”

“Haha, and there it is ladies and gentlemen. I knew you wouldn’t hide it for much longer. It burns on your skin so painful that you had to hear from the horse’s own mouth. You are one weird creature.”

“Oooh, now I’m a creature. Pardon me for being a caring ex.”

“Do you even listen to yourself speaking? Do you know what comes after ‘x’?”

“’Y’

“Nice, you now getting things in the first trial. Yes, it is a ‘y’ as in why did you become an ex if you were this caring?”

“Come on, do you want me to give you reasons why we broke up? Are you for real?”

“Pardon me if I am being backward but I want to know.”

“I will give you ten with pleasure.”

“Go on, share your meticulous list of why I am not okay dating you.”

“Here we go: one, you joke too much. You never take anything seriously.”

“That’s how I get through life. How else am I to live in this cruel world?”

“Two, you are so inconsiderate and this I can cite examples and even give proper description.

“No need that I know.”

“Three, you are insensitive. You recall the day you came to my house and found me crying. You teased saying that if I was trying for a movie character I was really getting into it. I tried explaining to you what happened but you didn’t care. We sat for an hour and you decided to go home. That day I lost our supposed baby. I told you severally that I had missed my periods but your jokes came in handy in sweeping that story under carpet.”

“Wow, wow, wow. Chill, what are you talking about? Why weren’t you straight with me? I’m pretty sure if you ever said that you were pregnant, I would be ready to help.” Why didn’t you tell me? You lost my baby and just kept quiet. Don’t you think I deserved to know what was going on?”

“Listen to yourself talk, how selfish you sound. I am the one who lost something that had grown in me for three months. I…can’t with you right what’s wrong with you Collins?”

Celine went silent over the phone. Collins could hear soft sobs from her end but he knew nothing about calming her. He was sorry, his heart was growing heavy by the minute. He wished he could hug her, talk to her as he tries not to upset her, but all these were impossible. He had a way of make things awkward and talks weird.

Five minutes went by as Celine sobbed and Collins listened to her. A silence ensued before Collins spoke.

“Hey, Celine. I’m really sorry. I only have one question; why did you call today?”

“Hehe, okay. I missed you. Is that enough for you?”

“No, why did you really call? In the past your night calls were only booty calls, so allow me to ask again. Why did you call?”

“Okay, it has been long since I had a human touch in a way that it makes blood rush from the skin. Although I really miss you.”

“And we are back to the first question, are you insane? From the reasons you gave and the messy breakup why would you in your proper mind miss me?”

“I guess there is something that pulls me towards you, a force that attracts me to my destruction the same way a moth is attracted to the light. The same way to live is to die, I am attracted to you in ways that surprise me too. I wish it could be different, I wish I would lie my way out of what I’m feeling but I can’t.”

“You do know I am going to be your demise. Seems like I’m the sweet poison you drink while smiling knowing it will kill you but you drink nonetheless. I am sorry.”

“Are you going to deny this fine lady what she wants? Are you going to watch me as I suffer and hurt for loving you, are you going to see me ache from loving the one thing that will always hurt me?”

“I guess yes. I have to be the bigger person here. I will have to deny you what would kill you. You may think I’m the one for you but I don’t know if you are the one for me.”

“Fuck you. I am being vulnerable but like always you have to trample all over my heart. “

“I am sorry. I have a bargain in mind. Would you like to hear?”

“Of course, pour out the details.”

“I am coming to some money, can I make it up to you for losing the baby and everything I ever did wrong…”

“Sounds about right.”

“Be patient and let me finish. One night full of wonder and splendor after which we part ways. We’re too toxic for this relationship. Is that okay with you?”

“Really bro, even after sharing all that.”

“Yes, I am helping you. For this night we both have be on an off day. When can you be free?”

“I am not agreeing to this.”

“Come on Celine don’t make me beg. I am doing you a favor by walking out of your life. This is your chance to open your eyes and see. This is a time for you to flap your wings and fly to freedom, unshackle yourself from my chains and any hold I have on you. Be free at last, love and live dear.”

“Give me a day please.”

“Okay.”

The phone went dead as Celine hung up. Collins sat on the bed wondering why he had to ask her out. “She was in love with you and that’s her problem, you didn’t have to be involved. “

He finally stood up after an hour, looked around the bedroom before proceeding to the sitting room. A pile of clothes sat by the seat on the left of the entertainment unit. Bread crumbs were on the carpet as he sat down on a box of pizza that had remains from yesterday. He was still confused.

The weekend went on faster than he could enjoy and as Monday kicked in he was rethinking his offer to Celine. The more he thought about it the more convinced he became about avoiding her. He went to work on that day still low and had to spend the whole day in office.

Tuesday came, it was chilly in the morning just as July was expected. The cold had him warmed up for the day ahead. The money he was waiting for was already in the account awaiting spending. He was flying high as kite.

The day went on well and evening came. He left work at around three in the evening. He was to meet some friends before leaving for home.

They met at Uplands Hotel in the heart of the city. Most of the people there were taking their dinners as each was concentrated on their food. Most seemed like middle aged men with early divorces except for a bunch of college kids with their girlfriends on dates.

He sat by the door waiting for his friends when a group of ladies walked in, the air in the hotel changed as every man took a glance and quickly turned to their food. Collins enjoyed the advantage of the door, unable to see their faces he was left with an amazing scenery of their curvy bodies. He took his time to absorb it all in. as the ladies walked Collins noticed a walking style that he had only seen in one girl. The majestic walk with an aura of importance that made her charismatic in a way. It must be Celine. He took an interest in the group.

Fifteen minutes passed before his friends came in and in those fifteen minutes, Collins mustered the courage to talk to her. In a group of ladies, impossible as it felt he walked towards the table.

Celine saw him coming. He saw the confidence in his face and understood that whatever he was going to say she would obey without any objection nor question. He was her weakness and he knew it. She stood up with her bag, gave her friend on the right an envelope and left as if going to the washroom.

Collins was absorbed in what he was going to say and didn’t see her leave. Finally, he was at the table.

“Hello ladies, ooh. Where is the other one, Celine? Where is she?”                        

“She left and this is for you.”

He took the envelope and left.

He waited for his friends and before they could show he left as he texted them an excuse as to why he could not show up. He was startled.

He went home.

At home, Collins tried calling Celine but her phone was switched off and so he resorted to reading what she had left him.

“To the breaker of my heart,

A night of wonder you called it, a night of splendor you said.  I wish it could be as easy as you want to make it. I am sorry for being unable to be there in person but we all know how it would be. You would say some hurtful things and I would absorb them only to let them out in tears. We have been trying this relationship for the past two years and in the two years I have loved you unconditionally to which you responded with conditions. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t just love me but you have your reasons and I am just another passing phase in your life. I wanted to be a stubborn stain and stay but wounds of the heart don’t heal that easily. And so this is how the night would have been:

We will meet at four in the evening since you were always punctual, I would be late by twenty minutes. I will come dressed in a long flowing purple dress with a slit from the right thigh and a pair of black stilettos. You will be clad in a pair black denim trousers with a white casual shirt and a black blazer. Always in your relaxed mode.

Walking down the road as our hands touch and fingers brush. Slowly we would move in a bid to savor the moment. Our hearts would be absorbed in making this night last.  Our first stop will be the restaurant by the corner near your office where you have longed to go but never got the chance. From there we will go to my favorite candy house for ice cream. Although you will not take any you will carry one flavor just for me after am done with the other one. Of course as careless you are the ice cream will fall of the cone and my flavor will be wasted. We will laugh at that as we go to the movies. Two hours at our favorite cinema.

We will leave at around ten in the night. Seemingly early, you will suggest we go to the aquarium since you know a guy who works there. We will pay the watchman and go in. the place will be amazingly quiet and as you turn the lights on, the mixture of arrays will shine on us make us the most beautiful pair in the place. We will move around disturbing fishes. They will not be sleeping.

An hour will go by before we leave for the skating hall since you also know a guy who works there. We will pay the watchman go in, turn the lights on, turn the music up and choose our playlist. This is our night, our past will be our past and tonight we are not talking about any of it. We will skate and play around. You will try to kiss me but I will avoid it severally before giving in. We will dance to our songs and as time goes by we will be reminded by the watchman that it was about time we leave.

As we walk out, stilettos in hands, you will book an Uber as we wait. I will suggest we walk around the city at night. It will be splendid. You will give me your shoes and walk on socks. We will go round in circles in the city awaiting the Uber. As the car arrives, it will start raining. You will board the car and before I could follow you in, another car will arrive.

I will walk away from you as you look in surprise trying to talk to me, I will walk not heeding to your cries. As soon as I board, we will leave. You will order the driver to drop you home. I will text you later as a late night- early morning text, “It was not about to end with sex.”

You will laugh at the text in the morning. Seeing the sense in letting the perfect night not to be ruined by sex. You will count your losses accounting for what you spend. It will be over but still linger in our hearts. You will be happy for having gone through it but I will be sadder than usual since I had to promise it was the last time I will be seeing you.

Thank you for being patient with me,

Yours found and lost,

Celine.

PS: We are not getting back together as you said it is for my own good. Thank you for opening my thick eyes.”

Collins finished the letter and sank into his phone. He noticed that Celine had powered her phone and so he called her. It went through as he waited.

THE COFFIN MAKER

Mr. Maliki was unusually quiet for today. He had his earphones on and worked from morning without uttering a word. His apprentice was mechanized at long last as he had to watch his movement and hand him any tool from the toolbox. He was to be extra keen today not to mess up anything that would warrant a confrontation. They worked in harmony as Mr. Maliki hummed indistinct words in the name of singing. At first it was funny and the apprentice giggled along but as the day went by and he realized that Mr. Maliki was not stopping soon, he became used to the words and watched as Mr. Maliki worked.

It had been six months of learning from him, the art of making coffins. All through, he had learned which tools were used where and when. He had only managed to make a coffin once as a way to check on his skills. The coffin was a child’s and the end result was devastating. Mr. Maliki made him swear not to make another coffin until he was sure. The one he made was placed at the back of the shop to be a reminder to him that he could do better. After that episode the apprentice, John, became more interested in his work. He learned new tricks, ideas to make the wood move in rhythm to what he was making.

It was almost their tea break but Mr. Maliki was unrelenting, he was more absorbed in making the coffin than in anything surrounding them. He moved with speed and only paused when in need of a tool from John or returning one expecting an exchange. He did not take his eyes off his work. He was running against a clock and today it seemed impossible.

An hour went by after the long awaited break by John. He had learned to always follow Mr. Maliki in doing things no matter how painful the process was. After the hour Mr. Maliki finally took some time off the wood.

“Hey, Son have you ordered our breakfast? It is almost one in the afternoon.”

“No but I can ask the lady to come back.”

“No need, unless you are hungry. I am quite full.”

John looked at Mr. Maliki smiled and went off to look for the ‘Uji’ lady. It was his time off and he was hungry. He moved with speed increasing the number of paces so as to get away from Mr. Maliki. He could not risk a call back. He wanted time away from him.

Mr. Maliki watched as John hurried off. He smiled.

“This one is going to make a great husband to some woman somewhere in the future. He runs away from quarrels. Smooth.”

Mr. Maliki moved around the shed looking for the unfinished coffin. He wanted to attach the top part before 1PM. He was behind the schedule and the client was one of those high paying customers. People that were attracted to the beauty of the coffin rather than the journey of the dead guy or lady. He placed the bottom part of the coffin on a stool and carefully attached the top part. He went through the finishing touches. There it was, works of his hands as beautiful as it appealed.

The coffin stood comfortably on the stool. Purple was its color as it was going to bury one of the prominent persons. By its sides were white laces that overshadowed the body of the coffin. Its handles were gold coated with a pinch of black color. It was ready for the deceased. The final destination was ready in waiting.

Mr. Maliki looked at it carefully absorbing every detail. He had managed to achieve every request of his client even though he had been reluctant. It was ready for the client. He smiled as he removed his earphones ready for the other half of the day.

John took a while before coming back. He combined the tea break with his lunch and came back full. He was ready for the other part of the day. He saw Mr. Maliki seated at the shed’s entrance waiting for him. He was conversing with a client. The buyer of the just finished coffin was there to part with them. They finalized the negotiations as John arrived to help in loading the coffin onto the car.

“Finally you are done with your ‘Uji’, I hope you enjoyed it.”

“I did, I combined it with my lunch. By the way do you ever go to lunch apart from the routinely ‘Uji’ we always have at around eleven?”

“Son, I always leave my home heavily fed. I come out here to perform my duties and do as much as I can. I compensate on any time I would waste on eating.”

“It must be nice being married.”

“Yeah, it is. Do you have a girlfriend, son?”

“Yes, but it is complicated.”

“Your generation makes everything complicated and then complain when it is impossible to bear. How can a relationship be complicated and there are only two of you? Wait until you have kids to talk of complications.”

“You wouldn’t understand old man even if I was to explain. “

“Try me. The game is the same only the players have switched. Some retire, some die and others are born. There is nothing new about this.”

“A lot has changed since you were last involved.”

“I know but don’t look at me and conclude that I don’t keep up with new trends in town.”

“Okay old man, what do you know?”

“Huh, really now. Are you free on Saturday evening?”

“You mean after spending the day bending over under sun here.”

“Exactly.”

“Yes, let me check my schedule.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yes I am.”

John took his phone out and checked under his calendar. There were no events for the coming Saturday.

“I guess I will be free.”

“Okay, I will take you somewhere.”

“Nice. Do we have another client to work on or are we to pray for another?”

“Ha-ha, we have two coffins to complete by Friday, although one can be picked on Saturday.”

“Why do we have to beautify them?”

“The living love flashy things, colorful things. They are not buying the coffins for the dead but to make them feel involved in the burial of the dead. The dead cannot even use the comfort of a cushion in the inside but the living insist on it. Be observant of those who come to purchase these coffins, if in a group then it is more of an obligation but those who come in three or lesser numbers are here for show off. They buy the brightest and the best. “

“Huh, I always thought death is a culmination of life. Working here at the end of the day has an effect on you, you touch things that are going underground as a way to the next phase.”

“Yes, we are all going to die, no escape from that but we have to enjoy while we are at it.”

“Well, let’s get to work then. I don’t want Saturday to be a busy day, we have an upcoming date.”

John said so while smiling in a way to annoy Mr. Maliki. They took pieces of wood and saws in hands. As Mr. Maliki measured, John would cut. Everything was precise and quick as if the process had been mechanized. The first one was a child’s. Once cut, they wood was to be furnished. This was John’s area of expertise. Mr. Maliki was busy measuring and looking for materials to ensure the coffin came out as requested.

John looked at the coffin as it materialized and a tear dropped from his left eye. He was exhausted or maybe he was not sure why a child would die so young. It was already five in the evening. The day was slowly winding down. The sun was kissing the earth goodbye as it descended on the other parts of the world. Animals were slowly retiring into their sleep after a day of fending for themselves as other came alive. The darkness was their playground.

John bid Mr. Maliki goodbye as he left for home. Mr. Maliki closed the shed as he placed his earphones for a song to home.

Saturday came faster than expected. John came in clad in shorts for the day. They worked on the final coffin and closed the shed around eleven. Mr. Maliki agreed that they were to meet at four thirty. He wanted to have ample time for preparation and planning.

He sat by the sitting room as he concentrated on his phone. The text came in.

“We are prepared and ready for you. I hope he is not one of those nincompoops you brought earlier.”

“No, he is one great guy. We are going to have fun tonight.” He replied as fast as he could.

John came by Mr. Maliki’s house at three. He had tried staying calm about everything but his anxiety took over and he came to see how Mr. Maliki was preparing. He was dressed ready for the night’s occasion.

They arrived at the house around seven in the evening.  A lady opened the gate as Mr. Maliki negotiated the entry. John hopped out the car as soon as it was parked. Mr. Maliki came out later.

“John, you do as I do. Always.”

“Okay. “

Mr. Maliki referred to him as John for the first time. They went through the door and were greeted by a middle aged lady and a young lady of early twenties. The lady hugged both of them and welcomed them in the house.

They took supper around ten in the night as they were getting acquainted with each other. John was still nervous not knowing what he was doing here. As time went by, Mr. Maliki and the young lady started getting relaxed. They kissed and each kiss was longer than the previous.

The middle aged woman approached John as she smiled. She was slowly unbuttoning her blouse. John looked at her frightened. He had never done this. It was all new to him and the concept of having the woman was strange to her. He looked at Mr. Maliki. Their eyes met and Mr. Maliki winked at him while still kissing the young lady. John wished they could exchange. “Why wouldn’t he let him have a lady of his age?”

He remembered Mr. Maliki’s words right before they entered the house, “You do as I do. Always.”

He listened to the words and let go of his worries, he became free of anxiety and sank into what was right in front of him. After all Mr. Maliki was the coffin maker.

They spent their weekend at that home. At some point, they exchange roles and John spent an afternoon with the young lady.

Monday came and they left for their homes. They did not open the shed that day. It was all smooth.

After that weekend, Mr. Maliki organized more weekends for John who seemed to have warmed up to the idea. The weekends were days they released their stress and pressure of the work. Weekends became days when John earned a bonus for working under Mr. Maliki. It was all great for a moment.

Days went by and a year collapsed. John was still going strong even though Mr. Maliki would miss days as he underwent checkups and took care of his ailing body. He was now ready and able to carry on with work even in absence of Mr. Maliki. He did well for himself.

A month went by and Mr. Maliki died. His diagnosis was hidden from friends and even some relatives. John took it up on himself to build a beautiful coffin. His burial was properly conducted and John took over the business.

He disconnected himself from former relationships that had a touch of Mr. Maliki. He tried winning back his girlfriend whom he had forsaken. They worked it out and life started taking shape into its beauty. John kept the orders flowing at the shed as he satisfied the customer’s requests.

Days went by and the girlfriend fell ill. They had to visit a hospital where she was tested and the doctor requested a HIV test after seeing the first results. The results came back positive. John was called in by the doctor.

“Have the both of you taken a HIV test lately?”

“No, not together.”

“Well, we can do that right now.”

The doctor sent then to the psychologist to help them settle in taking the test. After some hours of counselling they went into the lab. The lab technician took their samples and send them off. He did the standard three tests just to make sure. The first one was negative and the last two were positive.

He decided to do a PCR test which turned out positive. The results were laid back to the doctor. He let them understand ways of taking care of themselves.

John was the carrier. His girlfriend tried figuring the way forward but all she saw was darkness. It took her a week before she decided to take her own life. She was buried as John provided the coffin.

Now alone, he reconnected with the old links. Mr. Maliki had created a healthy ground for him to enjoy and so he took it up on himself. The coffin maker went on with his work.

SHE SMILED AT DEATH

That day we waited for her arrival from Nairobi at the bus station. It had been ten years since she was last at home. To her mother this was a special occasion. We were at the station as a family except for her father. Her mother was seated under a tree shade waiting to hug her daughter. It had been long. Other kids and I were busy counting vehicles, I was owning those coming from the Nairobi route and the other three kids owned those that were from Kisumu. We played for the better part of the wait until the first bus from Nairobi arrived. Her mother, Kukhu, rushed to the entrance as quickly as her feeble body could carry her. She wanted to see her only daughter. My three aunties followed her to rescue her from the bustle of alighting passengers but they were excited. Finally she was to be here. The bus went on its way. Milly was not in it.

She had called a week ago describing the bus she would use and our lack of a family owned phone made it difficult to follow up with the journey. We used the Mzee wa Kijiji’s phone. It took her mother three days of attempting to get a hold of her.

As we sat in the afternoon heat, Kukhu was growing tired. She bought a bunch of bananas from the hawkers and divided among us equally.

The next bus arrived. All the passengers alighted, it was taken to the mechanic at the bus station. Milly was not among them. Passengers from our village flocked around Kukhu, to check on her.

“Have any of you seen my daughter, Milly?”

“Yes, I saw her at the Machakos Country Bus Station, she was heavily laden. She will arrive in good time. All the buses left on time,” a middle aged man comforted Kukhu. They all left for the bicycles to take them home. We waited for another hour before the next bus came crawling from the valley. Kukhu stood up in readiness to receive her daughter or otherwise leave for home.

The bus came, it had fifteen people at most, they all alighted and at last Milly came. She had a back pack with two travel bag in her hands. She had another bag on the front. She alighted instructing the conductor to get her goods from the boot. She was in with a loot. We managed to count at least five different goods wrapped properly in “gunias”.

Kukhu jumped as she went to hug her daughter, her face was beaming with a vibrant smile. She went in arms stretched. Milly awkwardly dropped the travel bags as she hugged her mother by the side. She refused to drop the bag in the front. Our aunties were busy with the goods as they organized with ‘bodaboda’ riders to pack them properly on their bicycles.

Milly decided that we should walk back home. She wanted to see how the village had changed and so we dragged along her as Kukhu saw herself on a bicycle to home. I was growing tired by the minute as droplets of sweat collected on my nose, my lips were ashy as I kept licking them. I was hungry too. The other kids were silent as we followed our elders, each had a baggage to carry.

It took us longer than usual. At each changed scenery, Milly stood to take in the sight. She was enjoying herself to the maximum. Finally after two hours we were home. I found mom in the kitchen preparing a late lunch. I sat by her side awaiting the meal. She looked at me and smiled. She was not going to ask about the journey. I looked at her and started talking.

“Mom, we counted three buses before Milly arrived in one. I don’t know why it took her so long.”

“First of all, it is aunty Milly for you. She must have used an old vehicle,” she said as she looked at me with her eyes wide open warning me to be respectful.

“I think so too. She had so many goods that we had to use five bicycles. For the first time the bicycles are coming to our neighborhood. I usually see them in other people’s compounds.”

“Why didn’t you go to help them unpack?”

“I am hungry, I will go there after eating.”

“This is supper, son, the maize and beans I am preparing are for supper.”

“Okay, let me drink a cup of water and leave for the fruits in the plantain farm.”

“Take care, check on the plates in the cupboard there are two pieces of mandazis.”

“Thank you mom, you are the best.”

I left with my share. At the compound Kukhu had managed to unpack everything and arranged in their supposed stores. Milly was in the sitting room with the aunties. She sat there tired with a bulging stomach. The room had an awkward silence that seemed to have lasted longer. My presence broke the silence as a peeped through the door. Milly called me in.

“Hey, just come in. What’s your name?”
Before I could answer, one of the aunties chipped in.

“He is Lihanda, son to the late Mzee Sam. They live with their mother on that piece of land.”She said so pointing to our compound. The sound of Mzee Sam had me almost teary. My father was dead but he died a middle aged man. He was not old to earn a title Mzee. It had been six years since his passing.

Milly looked at me and smiled before ushering me to go on with what I was doing. I moved out leaving them to their talks. I passed by Kukhu in the kitchen, she was preparing porridge for the visitor.

“Why porridge Kukhu, it is almost night?”

“She needs this to restore her energy before supper, we may cook late tonight. Take a cup and have some, tell me if the sugar is okay.”

“Thank you.”

I took a cup and she poured a generous share. I took a sip and shook my head to agree with everything. It was really great porridge.

“You will inform your mother to come over if she is done with what she is doing.”

“Okay,” I agreed as I moved out to find the other kids.

Eight months later, Judie was born. Milly gave birth to a daughter, it was the first time I was seeing a baby. She looked tiny and all wrinkled up. It scared me and the idea that I was once like her had me wondering how life was fickle. I was always happy to help carry her around, calming her, but when asked by her mother to do so, I would refuse. We didn’t like each other, her mother and I were cold enemies that we only knew about.

Our playing times were disrupted and my elder sister had to help her around. As time went by, Milly started a home based business. She cooked soup from cow head and legs. The soup was mainly for drunkards who in some way believed that meat will help with their drinking.

She woke up very early every week day in order to get the meat after slaughter. She always came home with the meat except for some days where she would miss the slaughtering by only few minutes and miss on the entire purchase. In days like this, she would prepare “Vitumbua” as she called them. They were sweet rolls made from maize flour with sugar and salt then fried in oil until they turn golden-brown. She sold them to anyone from school children to adults at two shillings each. If at any point I agreed on her request to help with the child, I was paid with two or three pieces of ‘vitumbua’.

Time went by and Judie started walking. She could now depend on herself except for the crying and nagging that increased. The drunkards passed by in the evening, some taking pieces of the meat with them for supper. The soup was finished before seven in the evening. Business was booming and she even upgraded to two pieces of cow heads. It was great to watch her, roast the heads and legs over fire giving out an air of roasted beef throughout the compound. This was her signature signal to inform her customers of what awaited them.

The business went on until one day she just stopped. She did not talk about it and would sulk any time somebody brought up the topic. By now Judie was four years. She was a big girl. Milly stayed around for some time tending on the farm and the cow. She managed to stay for only two harvests before leaving for Nairobi. We escorted her to the bus station.

Kukhu remained behind with Judie but passed her journey mercies and warning to Milly. She was not expecting to raise her and her children. She wanted to rest. Milly listened to her and promised to be clever amidst laughs. She was going back to the big city, a city we only hear about.

The Mbukinya bus halted at the stage as she boarded in a hurry to get a seat by the window. She waved us a goodbye and her journey commenced. Two of my aunties had followed their husbands to the big city and the remaining one, stayed around to make a life in the village with her four kids.

The aunty had a phone which we used to contact everyone as long as we provided the airtime. Most of the time, we didn’t and that meant that please call me messages were the only way we could contact our loved ones.

Milly arrived safely and called us a week later, she talked to everyone including her daughter and my mom. She was excited to start a fresh in ensuring a future for her daughter.

Years went by and Judie joined class one, I did my class eight and joined my dream high school. Milly visited only once in that period. Kukhu was growing old and her ulcers became worse. She would miss meals just because she couldn’t afford the required food. We took our turns helping her around the house, the grandfather was sick by then and he spent his time in bed. We had to look after the cow for that matter.

In form two, my aunty came for me at school. My mother and the grandfather had an accident while coming from a funeral. Though the aunt withheld the information, she was silent the whole journey from school to home. Mom was on bed sick, I watched her as she slept. She had injuries on her face and hands, the wounds were fresh with stitches on them. Tears slowly rolled down my eyes, my heart felt heavy as the beats decreased. The sight of seeing mom in such a state had me disoriented.

I went to Kukhu’s compound. There by the veranda laid grandfather on the bed, His eyes closed as if sleeping. This was the first time I was noticing a dead person, I was old enough to feel a surge of emotions in my heart as my head span around. I was confused, angry and teary. The anger was unfounded but I felt okay feeling that way.

Milly came for her father’s burial. She was pregnant. Her movements were limited but her sorrow was overwhelming. She cried her heart out, her mother, Kukhu was holed up in her bedroom. She was not ready to see anyone not even her daughter. The burial went on without issues and we laid grandfather to rest. I went back to school for the third term. Time flew and I was home again. Milly was still around, her bulging stomach growing by day.

A week passed and she gave birth to twins. The father of the sons came by the village. He was ready to take care of his children. Kukhu was not ready to greet him but she welcomed him to her home. He stayed until evening when Kukhu came to bid him goodbye. Milly was busy with her babies.

“Hello, I can see you are off to your home.”

“Yes, I wanted to meet you but you seemed a little busy.”

“Yes, now that we are all here. What’s your deal?”

“I want to marry her. If that is okay with you.”

“Okay? Are you insane? You already announced your presence in our life greatly. Where do you get the audacity to ask such a question?”

“I didn’t mean to sound rude.”

“Did you even think of it before all this? Anyway I give you my blessings but you will come for her after she is nursed to health.”

“Okay, I will help in any way I can.”

“You don’t have an option. Just be there when need arises.”

“Okay mom.”

“We are not there yet, take it easy.”

The two month passed by and the father came for his wife and her kids. He refused to take in Judie. She became Kukhu’s child. Kukhu joined the orphaned kids’ funds from the government. Life was slowly easing and her ulcers were taken care of. Judies went on with her studies.

Three months went by and Milly came with bags and her two children, she was injured. Her arms had sprained. Kukhu took her to the hospital. She was tested and attended to, unfortunately Milly turned out HIV positive.

Her husband came for her a week later when Kukhu was not around. Milly went back to her home. She tried confronting him about the disease and they ended up fighting. The father kicked Milly and hurt her severely. Her weakened body could not take any more. She went back to her mother who wanted her to stay at her marriage.

“I know it is bad but you will have to try. Be patient with him.”

“Come on mom, what am I to do, he is a violent man?”

“I am sorry about that but marriage is a difficult thing. Most people in marriages are surviving trying to make it work. Your father and I did our best, I have ran away seven times and I always ended up coming back. As mothers we stick around to help the kids. If you think of the future of your boys you just have to go back.”

“I know mom but I may ended up dead trying to entertain this man. What good will I do in staying around and end up dead. What will happen to my kids?”

“Just hold onto God and pray. He will change one day and by then your kids will be okay.”

“Okay mom, but do me one favor then. “

“Anything for you right now.”

“Can he be allowed to meet with the elders they talk to him?”

“I will do that for you.”

“Thank you.”

The father was summoned by Kukhu. The elders had met and they wanted to see the father. He came and listened to them. He sat at the center ready to hear what they had to say.

“It has been brought to our attention that our daughter is with you,” one elder observed.

“Yes, I have married Milly.”

“In that marriage, you have two males. May I say congratulations to that?”

“Thank you.”

“Though you seem well fed, you are not doing our daughter any good. Evidenced by her injuries you are the battering type.”

“I have nothing to say.”

“Let’s be reasonable and civil and talk like men. What pushes you to hit her? Why do you feel the need to hit her?”

“Sincerely speaking, I don’t intend or plan on hitting her but you daughter sometimes is just out of her mind. I always try my best to restrain the anger but she pushes me to the edge.”

“Can’t you just walk it off like your fellow men?”

“I have tried that but every time I come back she always pick it up from where we left. It is like we had paused the confrontation. I wish it was otherwise.”

“We do know that women can be difficult sometimes, but you are the voice of reason in that house. Treat her good and she will reproduce the goodness. Don’t push her expecting that she won’t push back.”

“I thank you for your time. It is nice getting pieces of advice from those who have navigated these waters of marriage and sailed through. I will keep trying to be good.”

The meeting was over, the father headed to their home and Milly followed her later. That night a war ensued, the father demanded to know why he was hustled to such a meeting. Milly tried her best to answer him but he was bubbling with anger. He was shaking as they tried conversing. His words were failing him and he resorted to fists.

They landed on her from all angles as she tried shielding herself. The boys were asleep but the noise from the sitting room woke them up to find their mother on the floor. Their cries went out but were cut short by the stern warning of their father. Her kicked and bumped her. Milly was slowly losing her consciousness. Her insides felt hot, her tongue was cold and for the first time the saliva in her mouth was dried.

It took a few minutes before blood started welling up in her mouth, Milly was bleeding. Her nose too was filling with blood. She was helpless and knowing that her neighbors didn’t care she kept it to herself. The father kicked her in the chest fracturing her ribs. Milly took in quick breathes as pain flowed all over his body.

The body lost its will to live, it gave in and as Milly was losing her mind she was losing her body too. Her body became limp, she couldn’t move. It was over for her. The father looked at her and the boys, tied the boys to their dead mother and lit the house on fire. He disappeared.

News came to her mother, about her death. She was on the verge of another ulcers episode. She grew weak as her mouth failed to form words and her left side felt unmovable. She was shocked as she remembered the last time they talked. How painful it felt. Milly smiled at death and it smiled back showing its white teeth in jest.

WELCOME TO OUR FUNERAL

Hey you,

By now you will be at home happily waiting for me, eagerly checking your phone for any message from me. You will stare for a while at the wall clock trying to count to a hundred waiting for the second arm to move. You would have grown tired of the movies; the TV shows would be of bitter taste as you wait. You will switch off the TV to concentrate on your phone and to muster every ounce of energy in you not to let go of the wearing patience.

This was our routine; your work allowed you to work from home and I left for mine. We would meet at home. I always find you seated patiently waiting for our reunion in the evening. We would go to the kitchen together to prepare a meal then take a shower together as I laid the table you will be busy turning the bedroom into the fantasy I loved. A red room full of dim light with a faint sound of music, a room we would later sink in as we allowed the animalistic instincts take over. We had done this over and over, changing the lighting occasionally but always ended up to the dim yellowish light. This was our time.

Today you waited for me but I would fail to turn up as per the usual five in the evening. Today I will be nowhere to be seen or heard. I will not call or text just an old letter by the pillow. By the time you get to it, read through tears rolling down your cheeks, your heart slowly increasing its beats, I will be gone. I wanted out and this was the only way I saw how.

Forgive me for doing this through a letter, I lacked the courage to face you, to tell you were not enough, to tell you that after even moving in, to tell you your love was too much and your neediness pushed me away, to tell you that it was all a fantasy as dreams change so do fantasies, to tell you that I held you in high regard such that when reality hit I was unable to adapt, to tell you that I’m frightened by the future, that I’m afraid of marriage. To tell you that it was impossible even after promising you all the life ahead of us. I am sorry for reacting too late.

You were and still are such a beautiful soul, not one with a past to cleanse just a future to mold. You are an intelligent lady who despite all my flaws: my barbaric nature of holding onto traditions, my weird fetishes to which you obliged and tried to accommodate me. You are like a mother hen, ready to shield all chicks no matter their origin. You understood people are different and appreciated that. You never judged, you always saw beyond the lies, beyond appearances and pretense. You enjoyed arguments derived from points of view supported by experience and facts; you enjoyed networking and company of new people. You were always a peoples’ person, so charismatic. You had managed to help me face my weakness, fears and shortcomings but I never conquered them.

 You wanted a connection and I was unable to provide an intimate one. You wanted to go out and I wanted to stay indoors watching movies and reading. You wanted to create memories by touching the heart of the earth and helping those in need. I always came between you and your desires. You wanted it all and I became dead weight, always lagging behind doing nothing to help your case. Despite all this, you stayed, you stayed because you felt I could change, you stayed because you believed in the future. You stayed because in your mind you saw a future where I will be able to engage you, talk to you, travel with you. A future where I will help you light the embers of what you hold passionately.

We had memories from the few times we had gone out, we had experiences from the mistakes we had made but most of all I enjoyed your presence in every way, I recall the day we went to the library after running away from work, we met there at ten in the morning, spent the whole day going through books. You had your admirations about love and romance, I was into history, other-worldly occurrences and books connected us. Surprisingly at lunch you managed to whip out sandwiches. We ate as we tried not to make noise and prevent disturbing others. That night we slept at three in the morning as we had discussed of what we read, what we had captured. Throughout the discussion I had dominated the talk because as you later said, I always felt like I had more to say.

I remember the day we went hiking and you slide into the river, I joined you we started playing with water, we swam, jumped, sank and re-emerged. The water was eventually to dirty for us and we had to dry our clothes. We managed to undress and wait for them to dry, it was so fortunate that no one came by the remote side of the forest. An hour went by and we had a moment fantasizing about sex in the wild, we toyed around with the idea until the clothes dried and we headed home. That evening we made love passionately as you coiled your body around me, arms by my back. It was amazing.

I also recall the day we visited the botanical garden and you had to speak for the whole afternoon lecturing me on various plants and their uses. You dwelled so much on flowers and I thought maybe you could have switched from investing in writing and owning a bookshop to being a florist. Later you presented me with an Aster, I came to learn what it symbolized but it was too late I had already given up.

I’m sorry we could not create any more memories. I am sorry for having dragged you through an alley of love hope and a future together only to despair. I don’t if I will ever love, I don’t know if I ever loved you, I don’t know even how loves feels. I have read it in books but the descriptions felt fake. The overwhelming emotions didn’t come to me as easily as they were supposed to. Maybe it was because of my skepticism or I just held back too much. I always allowed myself to follow logic and to the extent where we ended up together I saw it fit until now, until today and as I write this letter, my heart aches. It aches from having to let you go, it aches from a future we could have, it aches because in the end it was I who sabotaged everything.

I know we had been at it thrice and this third time it seemed like we could work it out as it lasted for a little over a year. I know I have wronged you more than twice but you always came back. This time round don’t, don’t come looking for me, and don’t come after me. Just work on getting yourself together, work on achieving your goals without me in the picture after all you were already doing that without my so much needed support.

Marriage had been a dreadful idea and I could not bring myself to being with one person my whole life. I know to you it sounds exciting but to me that felt like a burden. In the end it felt like all will be lost. At any point when the pressure had accumulated, I would have walked away. Children were your one dream but for me, it was too much too soon. I could not picture myself a father. What kind would I be? Would I be enough for them? Would I be able to cater to their every need and question?

I had always taken advantage of what we had, I felt entitled to it but then good things must and will always come to an end. Maybe you allowed me to do this to you as in my twisted mind; I was more than a boyfriend to you. From the way you looked at me, the way you talked around me, the way you smiled and the way you obediently attended to my requests, I felt the need of me being there. Maybe this may have been what drove me to misbehave.

I have imagined every possible scenario where we are together and I could see a dysfunctional family, a bitter wife and an angry husband. After years of bottling up emotions they would finally want out no matter the passage, and this would affect our family. I will be angry due to the dissatisfaction of having to live on an idea rather than accepting the real you. Our children would have grown to be misfits, a trait they got from both of their parents whom the world had forced them together but they had a choice and didn’t want to choose. We could have just ridden it out but my heart had grown weary and a future in the dark was not one I wanted to endure.

I have chosen this way in my right mind, knowing very well that it will break you but you will recover even more strongly. I don’t know about my future but loving again is over. I didn’t love you and you were so amazing. I will find a way to stay sane through all this and manage to live my own life despite the lack of love in it. You loved me so much and I didn’t know how to reciprocate that.

I have always believed in soul mates, a person you were meant to have till death done you apart. I could see you saw me in your future but I didn’t see you in mine. To me you were like a passing breeze in the summer, good but soon it will be over and the scorching sun will sear through the skin.

I appreciate you, for having endured my ratchet behavior, for believing in me but it is time gain you changed that. Yester-night was the last time you saw me. As painful as it is, I had to do it. I had to fight for what I believe in and that was not you.

Forgiving for wasting your time, forgiving me for overusing your resource I didn’t mean to hurt you. I know you will move on with time. At least this letter will be something of a closure and if not then may God be with you. I cannot do more than this.

For the past few months I had lived like an elastic string under pressure, I wanted to go but I waited around to see if I could change my heart, I wanted around to test the depth of the water and time went by darkness clouded my heart and I could not hold anymore. I’m sorry about all this.

This night you will spend alone, the pillow and the bed will not feel the same way. The duvet will be colder than usual. My absence will take toll in to the night as you would want me around. I’m sure you would have prepared the bedroom as per usual request but the whole ambience will feel like an insult.

Getting here was all you, thank you for letting me find my light. Thank you for directing me here. You are great and all these may be because I just had to live this way. It was my fate and now that I’m embracing it, it’s less painful. I am slowly dancing to its tune and it feels great. I wish I had discovered this earlier. All the heartaches I have caused you would be non-existence.

I want to apologize for all the promises I had made in the heat of passion and in moments of weakness and glee. I’m sorry for the future we never got to live. Go on with your life, have a little of wine and treat your body to the best the world has to offer. All this fear, pain and anger will soon subside and you will be whole again. Don’t let my shortcomings drive you to craziness. It will all be over soon. I am gone. Just live your life. All this was an idea I conjured in my mind, seeing you as the perfect lady for me but it was all in futility of a poorly constructed pleasure. I am sorry dear.

DESOLATION UNTOLD

                                         

“So this is it, no kiss, no hug?”

“I guess so, we had it coming, love. It was just a matter of time. We did our best.”

“I just feel like we could try more. Don’t you want to see it to the end?”

“This is the end, we cannot go any further. This is the destination for us, our final stop. I wish it could have been different, I wish I had the energy to fight, I wish it could be otherwise but…”

“We could, we can, we had and we did. There’s more to our story than just a premature ending. Nobody likes those. Can we write at least the next few pages for the sake of it? I don’t want to let go of it.

“I am sorry, love. Do me one last favor?”

“What is it?”

“Close your eyes…”

“Are you serious? Why are you asking that right now?”

“Do this one for us, for the last time.”

“Okay.”

Mulindi took the chance and walked away teary. His lips were shaking; small mounds of sweat were building up on his forehead. He hated this, he hated the whole breakup idea but he had to do it. It was time. He broke into a jog as he hurried off just to make sure she never saw him walk away. Mercy was going to be heartbroken; she would love one last look at him.

Mercy opened her eyes to a stranger trying to help her walk across the road; he must have thought she was blind. In a bid to hold back her tears, she went along with his plan and successfully crossed the road. Her lips moved but no words came out, she was lost.She headed straight to her Matatu stage. She wanted to be alone for tonight her heart was growing heavy by the minute. This was a whole new experience to her.

At home, she changed into her favorite grey sweatpants and a large woolen sweater with an imprint that said “I’m all yours but for a night.” This was going to be a long night; she wished things were a little different for her- a Friday night she will live to remember. She took a bowl of popcorn and a glass of freshly diluted juice and sat by the TV, she wanted to absorb every detail. Tonight she was going to watch TV shows to sleep. She decided not to cry, she decided not to let fear and anger engulf her. She was to be in control. She kept fighting any tears that came welling up her eyes. She knew the feeling of letting tears roll down your cheeks freely but tonight she wanted to be different. She wanted to feel strong; she felt that tears were for the weak. Tonight the feeling of letting go was a choice she was unwilling to make. She did her best in staying sane.

Mulindi went straight to the movies; his friends were waiting for him. At the entrance, he kept convincing himself of how good he did to himself in every aspect of life. He sat through the whole three hours without understanding anything. At the end, they just walked out and bid each other goodbye. For some reasons Mulindi decided to walk home from town. He knew the risks, he knew the distance but tonight he wanted to follow his heart. He had been in control his whole life, tonight he was following the flow of life no matter how chaotic it was going to be. He was putting to test his theory of trying to remain positive no matter what. He moved quickly without noticing those around him, he moved to assure himself he was still alive. 

As he walked, ideas came floating, others knocked but he kept them out, he did not want to indulge his mind. He understood so well that rationalizing anything tonight was going to be fatal. A kilometer later he realized how wrong he was, on this road to home, he had his mind which kept him company but was always ready to comment on anything that they passed, anything that he saw and anything that happened in his life. His mind was ready to engage him. 

Mercy was in the sixth episode but her mind was elsewhere. She recalled the days when life breathed pure bliss into her, when the touch of her human, her favorite person had her coiled in emotions he did not understand. It all came flooding back to her. 

“This should not be the end. I must act right to correct everything.  What if he is my soulmate? We were so good together, not perfect but we complemented each other. I must get him back, but how?”

She kept her mind racing which drove her to where it all begun. She was going to see her friend on the other side of the city. Following directions has never been her forte. She tried her best to interpret what her friend had told her but she got lost. Against her willingness she decided to ask one of the touts or so she assumed. He was dressed in a black pair of rugged skinny jeans with a grey T-shirt that had a ‘Rick & Morty’ imprint and a half jacket. She edged herself closer to him as she fought her willingness to ask.

“Hi, excuse me. Could you point me to Umoja stage?”

“Hi, yes and you have arrived at your desired destination. And next time be careful, who you ask to direct you. It’s not so safe out here.”

“Thank you, I’m  to alight at Peacock stage. I promise to be careful.”

“Okay, then you can board this vehicle.”

 They sat side by side and when she alighted, he waved her goodbye though they had not talked since boarding the vehicle. It seemed a little odd to Mercy but everyone was unique in their own peculiar way. She met her friend and shared about the dude she had just met.

A month went by and they met at a restaurant during the lunch hour. Greetings were  in order and each sunk into their own meal. He bid her goodbye and walked out. He left her thinking. He had his own to comb through. The third time Mercy met Mulindi at the Umoja stage; it was seven in the evening. They talked and boarded the same Matatu. Mulindi led the conversation as they touched on almost everything except their personal lives. Listening to her talk, Mulindi felt that she was too mature for her age. She alighted as he waved her goodbye. 

This went on for a while until they started having lunch together as a routine. Bored of the same ambience they kept changing hotels every three days, it became a game to them; if mercy chose this hotel today, Mulindi was to choose the next one. Time went by and Mercy decided to invite him to one session of her book club. It was beautiful to watch them share ideas and support each other. It was a team at work. Mulindi was leaving an ink in her life. 

Slowly the relation between them grew and Mulindi decided it was time she met his crew. A trip to Naivasha was in order, she came with her friend. The trip was smooth and enjoyable. It brought the two together. Mercy was growing fond of him day in day out. One time she came to Umoja and decided to check his place out-she texted him when on the Matatu

“Where should I get off this Matatu?”

“What do you mean? Anyway, I’ll pick you up at ‘Kwa chief’. Is that okay with you?”

“Nice, I am on my way.”

Ten minutes passed and she texted again.

“So where are you, I thought you will be waiting for me.”

“That was quick, I’m coming.”

He saw her from a distance, dressed in a white flowing dress with a clutch bag in her left hand. She was glued to her phone. Mulindi had come with his girlfriend to pick her.

“Oh, you are here already. Kwani how close is your home?”

“I just live across. This is my girlfriend Melissa. And this is Mercy, a friend of mine.”

Melissa went mum as they begun the journey to Mulindi’s house.

“ Well, this is awkward, Mulindi think of something.”

“Mercy let us first get home. We are going to have a wonderful time.”

They walked the next five minutes in silence as Mulindi led the way. The walk felt long and painful. Mercy was sweating, as she concentrated on her phone.

At the house Mulindi cooked, they ate and played video games which warmed them up into a conversation and later in the evening he had to take them to the stage. Melissa was the first to go and she left Mercy.

“Hey, you could have just sent me away, no hard feelings.”

“You are the one who ambushed me, anyway it is an afternoon well spent. Thank you for coming. The house was tense even before you texted. I’m sure what we had with Melissa is over, your presence was the last chance and I failed to handle it.”

“Aren’t you going to fight for your love?”

“I was but it is not worth it plus things had to change. I’m sorry for having to hear this. So why today, why did you choose to come over today?”

“I was bored and my friend from this end was busy, I’m going sleep at her house. Thank you for the time.”

“It was great having you. Bye.”

“Goodbye, Mulindi.”

She looked at him as the Matatu disappeared into the next corner. She felt the urge she had the first time they met.

Mulindi was almost home, it had been two hours since he began the walk. As he crossed the road, his phone rang. Mercy was calling; he ignored the first two and then picked the third. He knew how relentless she can be and she was not going to stop unless he talked to her.

Her voice charmed him like from the first time they met.

“Why did you leave my eyes closed?”

“I didn’t want to see you cry.”

“It is okay, I’m not crying. Why did you do that? Why today? I invited you for a date and you left  me brokenhearted.”

“It was bound to happen, I only hastened the process. The feel, the emotions were no longer there. We were just doing this for the sake of it; the intensity had long been worn out. No matter what we did, the passion was lost, love.”

“This is not how it’s supposed to be. I still love you, in fact I need you.”

“Don’t you think it is a little late for that? You had the time and tonight it is just too late. It’s done.”

“If you say so, go but know that I loved you.”

“Saying that is easier than showing. Haven’t you realized that from the first day we decided to be together it has always been squabbles upon squabbles even on trivial matters? I’m sorry but you are too petty for liking.”

“We have been in this for a little over six months, you could have gotten used to it by now.”

“Being a great boyfriend is work like any other; you have to put in the hard work, discipline, commitment and be alert for compliments, soothing and support. I did my best but you never tried. I’m only human and at some point I anticipate even a little reciprocate of what I do.”

“I’m sorry; I now understand what we had. It is too precious to lose.”

“You had your chance, love. It is now gone. I will move on, no harm no fuss. You have made me numb to seeing goodness in people. You recall those days that you went silent for no apparent reason then pop up as if nothing happened, you kept a lot to yourself forgetting we were a team.”

“I was not used to sharing what I was going through but you have helped me a great deal.”

“Yes, I know you wanted somebody you could look up to but I am not that person. I wanted someone I could go ahead with. It will be well love just keep breathing.”

Mercy was going in for an answer as the call was disconnected. She recalled how her father ignored her from the day she began noticing things. The guy was not ready to listen to her; he did not care about what she did or what she wanted to do. He always looked at her as a plague. It was until later that she realized her mother was pregnant with her at a time his father was out of the country for business for almost three years. The father came home to find a one year old daughter.

Mercy had tried to get a replacement but it was all in the wrong places. She had been in fifteen relationships but this one with Mulindi was too long and precious for her to lose. She had to find a way even if it meant healing or collecting herself first. He was a great deal of a man to her. She decided to dust herself and in doing so water down any part of her that had been turned to dust by pain, being ignored, being around those who mocked her , being around those who used her and those who just hurt her  to get back to sins she didn’t know existed. She was ready to recollect and build her empire but first she was to be a person.

AN EPISTLE TO MY FATHER

Hello, I heard that you were not a guy of intense greetings so I have to stick to that. I am writing this letter to appreciate what you have done for me so far, what I miss about you and reprieve of what I never got to learn from you. I know you are somewhere in the sky always listening, listening to every slightest sound I make. I know you have been observing me ever since the time we parted ways. The journey has not been so enjoyable but with me breathing it means I can still fight for another day. Just to prep you-if you are reading this letter it means I am headed your way. I might be coming to learn more from you or just to rest from the tribulations of this haunted world-just kidding I am not planning on dying soon, just not yet.

To start off, I thank you for being among the party that brought me into this evil piece of land you call earth, I mean it sounded great at first but as time went by, as the light shone with brightness I came to realize that there is more darkness than light. My innocence was maintained up to when I started schooling. My mind yearned for more, it wanted to learn and learning it did. I took in everything there was to imitate and reproduce even in a much finer embellished manner. I expected more from the world in that I was lost in not trying to give to it. You were part of my life that entailed the tender, sweet freedom of childhood but after that you were gone. Growing up turned out to be something I am still regretting even as I am writing this letter. It never stops happening. I don’t know much but I guess that’s the reason why I always feel the urge to learn and grow.

I do thank you for making sure that mother was never a disappointment, to that I tip my hat. You really knew your way around women. I wish I had such a character, so charismatic but then my relationship with mother might be something of an Oedipus complex. She is so loving and caring-such a wonderful woman. She always cheers me up no matter the level of lowliness I sink into. This might be one of your greatest achievements so far.

Your departure might have been untimely and just evil but it sure turned out to be of great lessons. Judging by my Christian character, I saw God’s hand in everything that happened thereafter. I am in my final year of pursuing a degree in Medical Laboratory Science. Sounds great right, deep within I am afraid but naturally I always appear happy and strong-willed. My academic life has been full of blessings from the Almighty. I attended my dream high school, even though it came to be my dream school only after reading its name in the secondary school application charts. Back to the current affairs, my fear is driven by the fact that; I don’t know what to offer the world or rather I don’t what to be expecting anything from the world. I may be sounding a bit crazy but times have changed, it is not like in your time when having a degree just made your life easier. Nowadays there are even sayings and encouragement on how to tackle life. They want to make sure you know what to do when the right time comes. Even with my degree I still need to invest in my talent to live comfortably. That’s right, I have got a talent. It is something I discovered two years ago. Surely, idleness can lead to inventions and imagine it is writing. 

I should have discovered this about time back in high school but then I was investing in my final mean grade. This talent goes back to primary school when I used to read any storybook and even won myself a post in the library. The smell of books on my nose was just captivating especially when they are just from the mint. It was such a great feeling that I am dreaming and working on having my own book published. 

Back to my life after university; first of all, I feel messed up by the tertiary education system. It is not what I was promised, sometimes I feel short-changed on that. I anticipated a magnificent institution on a large piece of land in the rural areas but then I was sent into a university within the city center. Leave alone that, the learning itself is something else. We are taught to take in what the lecturers have to offer and regurgitate it later during examinations-nothing less nothing more. (Sorry for the cliché’) I saw an academic system where I may research a lot and learn by my own means and improve my cognitive capabilities. I always discredit this but how to change that, begins with me. 

I am a new breed of laziness in that even something that will come in handy in future and is at arm stretch becomes such an impossible task. I want to change this but it is like an addiction. Speaking of addictions-I have tried my best not to disgrace the family with any form of addiction but I may have some of my personal obsessions. I will go to the grave with them. They are highly confidential and too hurtful to share. Were it face to face, I may have mastered the courage and told you about them but some things were never meant to be talked about. 

One thing that I would love to ask you is how it happened between you and mother. You guys looked great together-for me it is so far so good. I wish there was a way to learn from you about this thing called love. I may be younger but whom am I kidding-it is driving me nuts. Currently I have been reconsidering my stance on the subject both mentally and physically. I just can’t figure out the difference between bodily needs and mental attachment. About the bodily needs were you ever so hot-bloodied. I sometimes feel like I am cursed. The things I have done in this Godforsaken earth are by far much of a greater cost, a cost I am incapable to pay leave alone bearing.  I have done a lot all in the name of “love.” I know this sounds stupid and probably immature but this area was new to me but it has taken toll on a bigger percentage in my life. 

Pertaining to love I wonder if I will ever be able to raise a family of my own. Things look so complicated right now. I have a lot on my mind and with what is to add-our family lineage. There is more to a family than just siring children over and over again. I have dealt with a lot of kids and most of them seem to be enjoying bad parenting and poor mothering abilities. I may be learning but at the same time growing so much paranoid of what I will face in the near future. I know it is a tradition in our culture that once you turn twenty as a man, you should marry but with me it is going to be different. I just can’t marry yet when my spirit still feels so free and ready to explore the world. There are a lot of places I need to visit before being tied with family needs. There is more to learn too and expectations to lower because they are the ones that have turned me into such a disappointed soul. 

You remember my dream of being a doctor, well I came close enough by being a laboratory technician, and after all we both work in a hospital. Though I feel down-casted, I know things will turn out alright. I know working in a lab is full of routine and redundancy, so I want to pursue a master’s degree. I just want to be different from others as my goals are different too. I don’t know where to begin with this but I know and feel that time will prove me right. 

You remember your golden days. Those days you used to arrive home high on alcohol well, in college nowadays drunkards are termed as being wise. They ooze truth and truth only even without being under oath. Most of them do enjoy a long weekend sip of the poison. To this I congratulate myself, imagine I haven’t tasted any alcoholic drink. Things are great the way I am. A sober mind helps me in tackling the life pressure lightheaded. I know you used to take alcohol for recreational purposes only but I always felt like there was some other reason for doing so.

I want to thank you for reading throughout the letter patiently. Just know that as a father you held and still do hold a special place in my heart, a place yet to be contaminated by teenage love. I wish there was time; time to fully express my desires, thoughts and expectations of a father if you were here but seconds are ticking away and I need to be going over the lecturer’s notes for a cat tomorrow. Thank you for your love dear father.

Yours faithful,

Son

TO MY NEXT GIRL

Hello dear this might be the furthest we will ever go to connecting, so allow me to call you dear. Come to think of it, the name has no weight as it used to be. I hope you are great wherever you are, we are yet to meet but I am sure we will one day or even sooner. The funny thing is that the universe has a way of making us meet no matter how much we will try to run. I’m writing this to inform you in advance what you are coming for or just to send you away and give you reasons to turn away at whatever point we may meet.

I know you will be great, you will have your flaws too but I may overlook them. You will be beautiful as the sunrise in the beach and as promising as the sunset in the mountains. You will be bold, brave and ready to stand up for yourself. You will not be walking into a relationship broken, with hidden motive nor daddy issues. You will be as clean as they come. Ready to build, ready to guide and ready to grow for in your presence life prevails in abundance. In your presence flowers blossom with no withering features. For in your presence water glides on rocks making them smooth instead of going through them. You will be delicate but hardened. You will be you.

You will come happy, and with the understanding of how the universe operates. You will be in the know that sometimes life just f***s you for the sake of it. You will have known grief and came out strong, you will have known hunger but endured, and you will have stayed awake through nights of terror but faced daylight smiling. You will not be hiding your pain behind a faint smile. You will not be hiding your esteem issues under a perfect skin tone. You will be in appreciation of each flaw you have. You will be there when the times are hard and when the times are great. You will be there knowing that we are different and we like our bread buttered or dry or dipped in tea before we take it. You will understand this even by the way we write on paper with different hand writings. You will understand when I make a mistake and confess for you will forgive me.

However all will be bullshit, all will be a fairy tale. It will be the life of a butterfly in a burning forest, delicate. Since I will still be the same, no changes even after 99 times of trial. Just like life is a culmination of death, the end will be what I will await. Just like some funerals are bigger than birthdays I will celebrate the end of this one as it will be the… well you know the number. I will anticipate its end, like a maggot awaits a corpse ready to devour the remains. This is what I am, this is what I will always be. Your influence will not change me, no, not by any shot, long or short. Proudly, I will watch you leave, broken as you may be I will never know but one thing is you will have a juicy one for your friends who will be waiting for you by the road. To comfort you or just listen to your experience as they giggle to the parts where you sound hurt, they will punctuate each sentence with sighs, pauses and long stares but this time they will not cry with you. For they warned you, they advised you not to dare sit beside me but then again, feelings makes us stupid in every simple ways.

You will sit on the bed with them, narrate an embellished story to which they will listen carefully to your satisfaction. They will not break down as you would expect of them. This time round they will watch you drown in your sorrows as they will be high in the sky riding their “I told you so” Pegasus.

I am a ticking time bomb and I blame not the society as I chose to be this way. I chose to tread on this road where the few who walked here died as early as need be. I chose to watch the world with angry eyes and resentment. I have cried due to the decisions I have made until I cannot cry anymore. I grew complacent to the ways of the world. I understand that it will not deal with me right not by any chance. I am a rolling fireball and that is why I will burn you, it will not matter what encounter we will have but I will burn you. The annoying fact is I will enjoy watch you burn with a smirk.

I have never experienced love, not in any form. My mother abandoned me when I was six years old. All I can recall was hearing her say, “He will not even remember me, he is too young.” At 6 years, I had a clear picture of who she was, I could identify her with my eyes closed from the texture of her skin, her enticing smell, her excruciating voice and her painful smile. These were the features that made her stand out. Growing up I decided not to go after her, I had to make a life for myself. Romantic love has proved to be too elusive in every sense. I have made peace with that.

I may be stepping into that for the wrong reasons, or just for the sheer entertainment but it has never worked out not by even a small chance. It became clear to me that I had to play safe with my heart, I had to protect it but we all know he who protects his heart has already lost it. I have always fought my battles to run away from the fact that vulnerability arose from familiarity.

I identified at a tender age that the universe is a twelve inch d*** that is ready to screw you any time it gets a chance and whenever you feel like all is going on well, the universe is limp and soft awaiting a hard-on. The small periodic moments of happiness cannot be elongated no matter what, we just enjoy them as they come as we prepare ourselves for the next session with the universe. I have always ensured I read my bouts of up and down to prepare myself for the downward moments, I have achieved to be ready when the universe is coming to collect, no fuss no harm. I have learnt not to struggle with the universe instead I have embraced its darkness.

One relationship that lingers in my mind up to date lasted for 6 months, I still pat my back for that length of time. I remember Betty from the way she smiled heartily, she gave it all in her smiles but she was too dark for me. Combined we would have shook the universe to its core but I have always wanted to be discreet, bite but also act like you are healing. Betty was beautiful but boiling evil inside, the day we broke up, she did not leave my keys until the next week. I found the keys by the window as I entered the house. It was smelly, the sitting room was properly disorganized, and the bedroom was organized more than I had left it in the morning. The kitchen had been cleaned with one sufuria on the cooker, it was covered. The kitchen had a peculiar odor. On uncovering the sufuria, there was shit, hot steaming shit. I must have missed her by a few minutes. I don’t know how she did that or why she did it but I found it funny in a dark way. That was the last time I ever heard of her. We broke up on her birthday over the phone, I was heading home in the afternoon to plan for her party when it hit me, “What was the essence of it all,” and I called her to kill the whole project. She did me shit. It was where I learnt that if you have to consume then be ready to take care of your shit.

Elsa came in a year later, we lasted for a two hours like speed dating. I met her at a restaurant, talked for fifteen minutes before she started throwing cues. She had a short white dress which was still clean for 3 pm in the day. Underneath she had nothing. I never asked why she had decided to go commando but these were things that drove me to the cliff. She stood up to go refresh and whispered in my ear, “I may take long but you can always check where I go.” I sat at the table for five minutes before going to the washroom. I found her in the men’s room. A moment passed, as we passionately intertwined in hot steaming shagging. We came out clean as we had ensured her white dressed was as it was-clean. We talked for another hour as we ate, my mind was travelling and a moment passed before I excused myself. I left her at the restaurant smiling.

It is a wonder I am still alive and healthy but I still resented life. I resented the gaps between people, rich and poor, silent and talkative, enabled and disabled. I resented how people treated each other, I resented how human beings acted and reacted to and around each other. It was foolishly mesmerizing.

Connecting with someone takes chance and courage. I have at one point opened up to someone I was falling for but they shut me out completely. You know how you are pouring out you fears, secrets, just saying things and those who have hurt you almost crying then somebody says out of nowhere that you should see other people. “I meant she was there and I was looking at her, how else was I supposed to see other people and we were alone with her?” I had her in mind, heart and eyes but she wanted me to choose other people, people I have never met.

You do know that love is an expression of familiarity over time. I will be around and about making myself familiar and when it all aligns, I will run away or just push you away. If it all seems to run smoothly, I will start misbehaving until you go away. I will always make it your choice to let go first, maybe it is because I am not used to being treated good for long. You will have to leave.

I have cheated severally and I don’t think I will be able to stop soon. The forbidden fruit is sweet when stolen. It is the same feeling as taking meat from the pot, you will always go back for more and with each lady I was with knew I was cheating. I always informed them, no attachments.

You will come to realize that it was not you it was me, I will do you dirty in every foreseeable way. It might be because I enjoy other people’s pain or just I love watching other suffer, but I will do you dirty. I hope you get a chance to meet me before the universe forces us together. Someone said I treat my friends better than my girlfriends, it might be true but I have never looked into it. If we met before it would be your advantage but then don’t fall for the hugs and pecks. It will get cloudy sooner than you think and the sun will be hidden among the rain-bearing clouds, you will not see the light nor feel the warmth, it will be raining heavily. It will rain on things you hold dear, it will rain on your sanity, it will rain to the point you are mad. When you are soaked wet, deep in the shit, you will turn to look and I will be gone, I will not stick around to help you.

I will leave you broken to the point where when a stray dog barks at you, you will cry that night to sleep, you will be broken such that dark humor lacks the touch, and anything negative will affect you. You will be afraid of the prying eyes of people. You will lock yourself away for months as your life deteriorates almost to my level. You will hate your existence but you will still be attached to me such that whenever my name is mentioned you will smile and then talk to yourself as you curse me. You will run away if you see me walking towards you, you will run away shy but also wanting to come back to a point of almost falling.

Deep in my heart I will be sorry but too stupid or obstinate to apologize. I will stay away from you and wallow in my pain, self-loathe and sabotage as I try to keep a straight head. We may meet once again but this time we will be throwing glances from a distance. You will be dressed in a long flowing red dress that follows your body at all the right places, I will be in my usual T-shirt and a pair of jeans. I will have a glass of wine in hand, you will be fidgeting and cradling your pouch as you try to avoid me. You will start walking towards me before the bride comes fully dressed in her wedding gown. She is the reason you came to this scum-ridden place only to see me, disgusted you will stay. The bride will see you and you will watch in tears as we run towards the parked white Mercedes. You will wish me good luck but also pray that we got hit by a truck. Crying you will feel like messing around with the groom but you will be too shy for that. You will head home, to your lonely mansion, this time round ready to do it.

Pills in hand you will swallow them with a gulp of wine and then the wrist will open. Drips will ooze with finality of the end but before your eyes close completely you will hear a bang and as your hopes arose, that a savior was coming, breathes will be shorter. You will realize no one was coming, probably it was your neighbor’s kid. You will try uttering the last prayers but the devil was waiting for you.

Your Valentine to be,

Death stalks silently.

TOO BROKEN

I looked at her and smiled. Dressed in a short flared red dress, she was ready for the date. Her eyelashes prominent for noticing, she was ready for tonight’s date. Seated across from me, she was silent awaiting the perfect moment to speak. This was my first time out after a series of failed relationships. I was here to have fun and most of all, throw myself back to the game. Nothing seemed to have changed, same old tricks and experiences. I looked around us and saw, shallow connections, shallow people, shallow feelings and it drowned me in my sorrows.

Gracefully dressed and evenly applied make up that toned her skin, she was beautiful. We had talked severally over the phone and we agreed to meet on this day, a day of the loving and loved ones. Though the mood felt right, I was out. The hotel was decorated ready to give love and show love to people. It was a once a year affair that had people going berserk in satisfying each other.

Petra, was her name and as beautiful as she was, the name suited her. The sound of it will forever remind me of her. As she walked in before settling down. I felt the doubt, the questions came crawling.

“Why am I here? Will my fate ever change? She is beautiful but then I may not be enough for her?”

She walked majestically towards me, her eyes settled on me, beckoning me to stare at her. She absorbed my soul. My heart was racing, my armpits slowly sweating as my eyes widen in awe.She kept on walking and all I could see was how I will eventually let her down, if at all we were to try this relationship thing.

I stood up to hug her as she extended her hand to greet me. This to me was a sign, maybe I had to watch my boundaries when talking to her. On the phone it had been smooth prompting me to meet her. For whatever reason we chose this day I still fail to fathom. I have never loved this day, not since my favourite aunt died. My aunt had serenaded this day with a rose ever since I started noticing positive gestures. She passed away a year later on this very day. 

I pulled out a chair and invited her to sit. 

“Thank you, Mbogo.” She sat down and took her time to adjust to the environment. I stared at her at intervals taking in every detail. 

“So here we are at long last. How are you holding up?” I asked to get the night moving.

She smiled and looked up, away from her phone.

“I am fine. By the look of things I may say I’m at peace.”

“Well, that’s great to hear. Today being Valentine’s day, I wanna see you lead the day. We will go by your choices.”

“Eish, that sounds like a set up for failure. Anyway, what the hell, let’s eat and go for a walk then we top it with a movie later into the night.

It was at seven in the evening when we left the hotel for a walk. She had an ideal scenario of what she wanted and she was going to get it. As we walked past the Haile Sellasie roundabout, I had an idea of where we could go and come back just in time for the movies.

Petra walked as if she was counting her steps, stealthily and in a calculated manner. She took her time, her precious time. 

“Where are we headed?”

“Upperhill then to Hurlingham. These sides always seem cool and peaceful for a walk at any time of the day.”

“Alright seems like the right idea. Are we gonna walk in silence or strike a conversation as we go?”

We walked in silence for the next fifteen minutes before she talked again . 

“Mbogo, what’s on your mind? What are you thinking right now?”

“To be honest, nothing. I am trying to avoid sinking deep into thinking about myself, my future and you. It is all scary.”
“Me? What have I done?”

“For now nothing, I like what we are having right now, I love this feeling of knowing not what will happen next. I love the idea that, being here with you at this very moment might be one of the best things.” 

“Well then let us make this moment unforgettable. Let us not push our minds beyond today. Let us live in today, after all, tomorrow is not guaranteed.”

“You strike me as someone who wants everything to be done with a plan and if you have chosen to go with the flow for today then let’s limbo.”

A minute passed before an urge to talk rose in me. It was getting colder as we climbed the hill headed towards KNH. I stayed back for a second to watch her walk from behind. She kept on walking without a care. 

“You said no future talk, what about the past?”

“Well, we can sink into that, but I feel that it is too dark for liking.”

“Probably but then sharing sheds light into the darkness.”

“Hey, why shed light when you can embrace it, shower in it and let it drown you. You can also mould it into your liking, after all it is your darkness.”

“Strangely enough, that makes sense. It may be just about time I walk in my darkness during the day. It is what I have known for quite a while now.”

“By the way, do you think if your parents hear what you have become, they will recognize you?”

“I don’t have an answer to that but most likely they will not. I surprise myself sometimes too.”

‘So basically at some point what they taught you become a fairy tale. It is a story you are ready to narrate with you a sa distant character.”

“What I know is that, every stage of my life might be a foundation for the next or just a skin for me to peel later. What I was taught as a child about life, is not what I have experienced in totality but it has helped me get here. Do you know I came to a point where if I had to tell my parents anything, we would both cry ourselves to sleep. I have had my darkest moments and lightest too but sharing those with them may break their hearts. What they consider good or right no longer applies to me.”

“Well put, still what they taught you lingers in a corner, ready to pop but you maybe too busy absorbed in self-pity and loathe. Speaking of which, do you hate yourself?”

“What? Now that you’ve mentioned it. I do, I do hate myself with passion.”

“And what’s holding you back from becoming what you desire? I mean you possess the greatest power.”

“Self-loathe is powerful but I have never thought of it in that angle. It is about time I get to propel myself by what brings me down.”

“Yes, take your own advice for a single moment.”

At KNH, we crossed to the other side and took a turn at Daystar University ready to head back to town. I was holding her hand and it didn’t feel awkward at all. I was comfortable with her fingers intertwined with mine. This night was turning out to be wonderful. We were supposed to head back via Uhuru park and so our target was in range.

“Mbogo, how many relationships have you failed to rise up to the occasion? Shit, that came out wrong. How many relationships have you had?”

I bursted into a constrained mirth, as I geared myself to answer her.

“Do you want a precise number or a justification?”

“Either way you put it, I’m good.”

“Well, fifteen, fifteen reltionships.”

“Wow, kwani what were you doing? How do you define a relationship? What was the interval between them?”

“You said no talking about the past. Anyway, as soon as I win a lady over I tend to see everything unfolding. The future especially, I see the girl in every scenario of my life, I include her in every aspect of my life and if she shows any sign of uninterest or something of the sort, I shield my heart from the heartbreak. Besides talking to people at an arm’s length is always beautiful and enticing, once you get to know them you realize sooner than ever that all was a sham. I really prefer these deep, decent talks since nowadays once you get close, people will start hiding stuff they were so comfortable telling you as a stranger. Whatever happens during the transition changes everything. So I have had fifteen of such failed relationships.”

“You know what they say, better a half a loaf of  bread than nothing. Listening to you rant seems like a justification.”

“What about you? How many have you had?”

“Four, only four. “

“Wow, for the first time a lady admitting she has had more than three relationships. Must be nice.”

“Huh, we are sharing the truth aren’t we?”

“Here we are at the movies, which one do you wanna watch?”

“I’m sorry to say this but I have to go.”

“It is understandable. Till we meet again, have a good night.”

“One more thing.”

She inched closer to me, leaning in a suggestive manner. This was my chance as my mind went blank. My hands were sweating, I couldn’t hold her. My heart was beating so fast. I had to relax. 

“Hey take it easy, relax.” I whispered as I went in for a kiss of my life. She paused mid-air and asked what I was saying but our minds connected. 

I was awed as our lips touched, tender and yummy. I went deeper for more as I embraced her in a warm hug. This was really turning out to be an awesome night. The kiss could not compare even to my first kiss, not by any range.

By the time I opened my eyes she was hurrying off. I saw her rushing to meet someone down by the road. They hugged as they stepped into the movies by another entrance. 

For a minute, the moon disappeared, streetlights seemed to be dimming as I watch her go. The walk to my Matatu stage was going to be long. “What the hell was I thinking, why was I even on this side of town on such a day.” I held onto the night not wanting one simple moment ruin it. It was twelve ten in the morning. I had to get home by any means.