HOME IS A CASTLE OF STORIES

LIFE HAPPENS




The irony of it all, it was full moon. That night. The moon was waddling across the sky like a duck, in no hurry whatsoever. It was just the moon, beautiful and stately. Nothing could go wrong, but everything went wrong. There was no prelude to prepare us, no sense of foreboding. Events just unfolded, leaving us with hands on our mouths.  

Think of this, you're a chick, 26 years old. You have just finished campus and moved in with the love of your life. You don't necessarily love the guy but you gave in to him because he appears to have a future. There’s a vibe about him, which assures you that your offspring will be well taken care of. You marry at the DC’s office, a small ceremony attended by only your parents and his. That’s it, now you’re Mrs. No wedding where aunts dance wildly. And uncles remind you how you’ve chosen well. He is 29 years old a secondary school teacher. He drinks his ass off but you can deal with that. He drunk all through campus, but you still stuck with him, why leave now when married? What will your parents think of you? What will your friends think of you? What will the villagers say? No, you're not leaving him. You decide to reign him in, maybe he needs a reminder of his responsibilities. You rid off the family planning stuff. Two months later, you’re heavy with child. You will give birth to a son.

The child doesn't make him change. He drinks even more. Comes home while singing and says the “you’re big these days. Even a ship can pass through.” The words cut through like sharp knives. Shredding the edges of your heart, tearing at your conscience. But you still hang in there.

“He will soon find the right path.”

 You say to yourself. You pray for him and be the best wife you can. All you have is hope, so you’re playing a waiting game. Till he comes to his senses. Realises that he has a wife and a young son who needs to be taught how to be a man.

On the eve of Christmas day, around seven o’clock you get a call. Your husband has been hit by a car, he’s been rushed to the hospital. You get there and as you ran through the hallways, there’s a monumental silence. The way nurses look at you makes your heart thud even faster. When you finally meet the doctor, you realise that this is how it ends, he is gone. The doctor says sorry and stands in the far corner of the room. A lone sentinel to your grieving. You lay on your deceased husband and cry your lungs out. It was not love which had brought you but you had grown attached. You had cast your dice on him, now it was all lost. Who is going to raise your son? Who is going to provide? And the most shocking, why die on the eve of Christmas day? Of all days in the calendar year.

Think of this.

You’re a parent. You have schooled your son from nursery to campus. Not once was he sent home for school fees. You went in for loans, emergencies, borrowed from shylocks  and everyone, to make sure he has a quality education. In campus, he turns into a nuisance. Drinking, whoring and at one time he wants to quit school but you force him to stay on.
You retire.

Retirement was supposed to be fun. You’ve worked all your life, now you want to rest. Take tours with your wife, go to Maasai Mara. See these lions which scare the hell out of people, witness the epic wildebeest migration. Stand by Indian ocean and watch the sun go down. Just do all those things you couldn't in your heydays. Because you were busy chasing life, making your kids comfortable. All you want to do is chill, wake up and water your flowers, maybe feed chicken, then seat by the verandah and take tea while reading your bible. When bored, go visit folks you grew up with. Say proper goodbye before death snatches them away one by one.

You want to live free, but you can’t. Your favourite son is in university, money is needed to see him through. So, you deny yourself everything and pump your pension into his education. You see him through campus. Soon after graduation, serendipity smiles your way. He lands employment in one of the ‘big’ schools and suddenly the future seems clear. Clear than a glass of water. And maybe all those sacrifices were worth it.

One small problem.

Your son drinks like a fish. He worships the bottle. As early as 9 a.m. You find him nursing a bottle of vodka. You talk to him, ask the priest to pray for him nothing changes. Vodka is his alpha and Gin his omega. But you still don’t give up on him, he is your favourite son. Maybe he is going to change at some point. It's the stupidity of youth.

On the eve of Christmas, around seven o’clock you get a phone call. Your son has been hit by a car and pronounced dead upon arrival to the hospital.

Think of this.

You’ve grown up with this guy. Chances are, you even lost your virginities to the same chick. You attend the same primary school; high school separates you. But as fate would have it, you find yourself on the same campus. Here you drink and party yourself silly. You bang the same broads in campus, giving each other a through pass after you’re done. Life is this one massive joke; of truancy, fucking and wild partying.

Then you graduate, and life happens.

He gets a job as a teacher and starts settling down. You’re a photographer and everybody in Nairobi wants a nice photo for their Instagram. There’s no way you are sleeping hungry, not in this city which never sleeps.

On the eve of Christmas, your phone rings.

“Mike, uko wapi ndugu?”
“Nimetulia Kejani, sina mambo bro.”

“Aiii, na kesho ni Christmas. Come I intoxicate you! Come!”

You have ignored many calls in your life, but none where booze is involved.

At the village local, you waste yourself good. Your friend starts making a ruckus, making fun of the area chief. Shouting how he screwed his daughter good, and how she was moaning under him. Making mewling sounds like a cat. The chief can’t take it anymore, you’re both thrown out. You stagger along the vast Chinese built highway, singing circumcision songs and thanking God for the men who discovered alcohol. Its full moon, it’s night, it’s day. Nothing could go wrong. Everything goes wrong.

One moment your buddy is staggering beside you, the next he is flying across the air. Hit by a speeding car. In your drunken stupor, you see him topple on the ground like a fallen angel. Blood spurting from his body profusely. You try to think but your mind is open like the sea, caught up in the haze of events. You faint, when you come to, nobody needs to tell you. It is all written in their sunken faces. Beneath their muffled whispers and clasped hands, you know that he is gone.

In my village, there was no Christmas, no happy new year. A cloud of sadness eternally engulfed us. Death visited when Jesus was about to be born. All festivities were shelved to grieve with the family which lost their prominent son when it was least expected. He was the lighthouse, now they have to start from square one again. I experienced death up close and you realise that when you die it’s you and your family, other people don’t give a damn. The funny part is, when there were screams, we trooped into their place one by one. Old and young, all in a single file to pay their condolences. What struck me is some of his cousins acted as nothing happened. They walked around, one asking for a number for some chick. And I thought, some nerve you got, your blood cousin is dead and here you are asking for some girl’s number?? Whoa! Whoa!

The older guys were not any better. They cracked jokes and laughed in the face of death. I was thrown back, to be honest. And you realise death is a lonely affair when you die it’s you alone. Your drinking mates will roll on with their lives like nothing is wrong. Some might even want to “take” care of your wife. Your family will mourn you for a while but they all get back to their busy schedules. Chasing life and all that.

You’re forgotten, life rolls on.
What tore at my heart was his young son. What happens to the boy? How will he grow up? Will they tell him that his father died after a night of drinking? Or the mother would lie and say it just an accident. How does the boy grow up without a father, through his teenage years? And maybe the world will be his teacher.

The first post in  2019. Happy new year. Sharing is sexy.
 Photo credits rodten on Instagram. 

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