Three Love Stories and One Death

Posted: October 26, 2016 in Africa, In my Journal, Kissy Face, Love, Nairobi, Short Story
Tags: , , , , ,

“Argh! It feels like this is going to go on forever!” She cursed.

“Am counting on it,” came his reply. She looked up at him surprised that he would want it to continue pouring cats and dogs but when she caught his gaze  on her she  quickly realized he was in a world of his own and wasn’t in the least bit, concerned about the weather. He had barely taken his eyes off of her since the second they had met for their date that day.

“You are such a weirdo you know,” she joked and playfully nudged him.

“Well don’t blame me, I’m helpless when it comes to you; everything about you is enchanting, I can’t get enough,” He answered rather seriously.

He was in a weird mood today; he kept feeling like he should make a mental note of everything. Everything about her; everything about the day. ‘Must be the weather,’ he thought to himself and shrugged it off.

He had to get home, it was getting late. The buses seemed to have stalled in traffic because there was no sign of any buses going to his place. He’d have to go all the way to Muthurwa, another bus terminus on the immediate outskirts of the city centre to get a matatu instead. It was a bit of a long walk.

“I hate the rain!” he said out loud as he looked down at his now wet and slightly mud-stained white jacket.

“Serves you right for wearing that on a rainy day,” she jested while pointing at his jacket.

“I’m dating the most beautiful girl this side of the pacific, I have to impress,” he joked back.

“Sweetheart, you could dress in a sack and I wouldn’t notice any other man in this town,” she said as she pulled him down by his tie and planted a big one on his lips.

He was sure he lost the feeling to his legs for a second. If they kept this up, neither of them would get home that night. He had to be the man, ensure she got into a mat ok and then had home himself.

A No.108 matatu pulled in followed by two others, the line of commuters they were on moved swiftly till it was her turn to get on.

“I love you so much, you know that right?” he said to her putting more emphasis than usual.

‘What was going on with him today?’ She thought and felt urge to assure him she loved him too.

“I know honey and I love you with all my heart, my soul, from the top of my head to the little beauty spot at the bottom of my foot, always remember that ok?” she smiled up at him as she gently brushed his cheek.

His legs went off again.

“What are you smiling about?” she asked him.

“Nothing, you better get on, that old guy behind you is giving me this angry look, I’ll see you tomorrow, ok?  And the day after and that and the day after that and, well you catch my drift.”

“Shhh…..you talk too much sometimes you know,” she said as she put her finger on his lips and immediately replaced it with her own. She got on the Matatu and off she went leaving him with her sweet scent and beautiful memories of the day. Muthurwa was a long walk off.  It started drizzling again. He had to hurry.

The streets were bustling with hundreds of people trying to get home at the same time. Hawkers packing up their wares on seeing that not so many commuters were interested in buying today. A few were still shouting their offers, trying to persuade that last buyer with the “Bei ya jioni” offer, others still with the desperate look of still trying to find their first buyer while inwardly admitting they might have to go home empty handed yet again. There were a lot of women carrying bags of shopping as is characteristic of the first week of the month. Stress lines on their faces knowing that that won’t be enough for the month and yet no more money was forth coming. Some had the plastic bags wrapped around their heads. He stopped for a moment to shade himself just outside a bank. There were a few other people there too. He overheard a couple of men cursing at the government. Something about receiving an already small pay cheque, seeing the tax cuts and various other deductions, thinking of the due and long overdue bills plus a nagging wife awaiting them at home. Yet still having to dodge potholes and scramble in crammed streets as matatus and pedestrians both fight over the same tiny pavements; wondering about the government that promised 8-lane superhighways, new bus terminals and state-of-the art stalls for hawkers at market places. Of course that was during their campaigning period before they actually get into power. I mean, can we really hold them to their promises after they come into power? You’d just have to wait for the next campaigning period.

This was Tomboya Street, one of the oldest in the city. Right across from it was Moi Avenue which looked like some alternate reality version of Tomboya. Same Kenyan people yet they were seated comfortably in posh coffee houses, sipping espressos and eating fancy-name cakes that were worth as much as a family across the street had to survive on for a week. There was no scrambling here, as the patrons slowly drank coffee and waited for the rain to let up so that they can get into their big cars and drive to this club and that club for a night of partying. They did not curse at the government. Sometimes they would laugh at how some politician messed up his speech by mispronouncing all the words or struggling to even construct a proper sentence. Oh such silly politicians we have, they would say, but mostly they would talk of the latest I-phone model, Lupita Nyongo’s dress at the Oscars and Beyonce’s latest album surprise release on I-tunes. But such is the irony of life, two babies would be born the same way, naked and wailing yet they would live totally different lives but both will be buried in the same earth six feet under.

He was fast approaching the bus station; he just had to cross the road. There was a flyover though it had long been unofficially declared redundant. Two reasons; One; No one who after having to walk all the way from the CBD to get a matatu at Muthurwa would want to waste even more precious minutes going up and down a flyover that looked like it was being held together by chewing gum. Two; there had been several brutal muggings that had taken place up there. He’d have to cross the highway; yet another death trap though luckily, there wasn’t much traffic at that time. So there was nothing to worry about except for that one oncoming bus that seemed to be precariously moving really close to the pavement. There was a crowd of people around him all waiting to cross the road so he couldn’t move back. The bus was getting close, the driver kept swerving left then right each time driving closer and closer to the pavement. ‘Was no one else seeing this?’he wondered. He needed to move back but still couldn’t. It was noisy, the rain had gotten worse but no one budged, instead they kept pushing forward.

Suddenly it was like everyone noticed the speeding manyanga at the same time! The sudden screams confused him and for a moment, he didn’t really know which side to move. A bulky man pushed him from behind and he almost fell forward but managed to find his footing in a pothole; now turned puddle. The bus headlights flashed several times and the horn was deafening. He needed to move back now! But just as he did he realized his foot was stuck, he had stepped into a drain and his leg was caught. He tried pulling it out, pushing and tugging several times but it didn’t budge. All kinds of screams emanated from the crowd around him, some were shouting for him to get out of the way, others were calling out to their gods and praying for the poor boy’s soul. It was useless, the more he tried to pull, the deeper his foot went. He couldn’t believe this was how it would all end. He closed his eyes. Everything happened so fast in the seconds after then it was all over.

“White was a really bad choice today huh?” One of the men helping to get his foot out of the drain said. He opened his eyes and looked down at himself half expecting to see only half his torso. He was ok, just much wetter than before.

“Haha,” he chuckled. “You are the second person to say that today”, he said to the bulky man and thanked him for helping. His foot felt a bit sore but he was more than grateful that that was all he had to worry about. The manyanga was now firmly secured in a ditch just a few feet away with a few good Samaritans helping to get the passengers out. They looked shaken up but it didn’t seem like anyone was injured.

“Looks like a lot of people will be thanking God for getting home in one piece today,” he said to no one in particular as he stepped into the road to cross.

“Hey, thanks again for….”

“AHHHH!!!Oh my God!!!AHHH!!!,” he was interrupted by a gut wrenching, ear piercing scream and the excruciating pain that shot up his spine a second after and then darkness.

Mbugua hadn’t even seen the man get on the road as he drove up Muthurwa Lane that late evening on his way back home. It had stopped feeling like home and more like a prison to him for some time now. A ten-acre lavish jail cell; imported bricks, imported marble tiles, imported carpet grass, even the water that ran in the state of the art eternity pool was imported. But this house was cold, it had been for six years but it wasn’t always this way.

Mbugua’s wife was a beautiful woman, the envy of many her age and even younger. But even with her stunning natural beauty she had to make sure everyone noticed that she, Mrs. Sheila Mbugua now lived the life of a queen and would never go back to the mud and mabati shanties they had once called home. That she was now above the flying toilets and scavenging for scraps of leftover food from big hotels and lining up for hand outs from NGOs. That place was far behind her. Now she dined and wined in the same big hotels and they called her ‘Madam’. Nothing was going to ruin this life. Sheila had worked hard to get here, even her husband’s constant nagging about having children fell on deaf ears. She was not going to be tied down with children.

But Mbugua loved his wife with very fiber of his being, lavished her with all things shiny and beautiful. But he wanted children.  She said pregnancy would make her fat and ugly and she wasn’t about to ruin her figure for some little brats. He suggested that she at least get a job then so she wouldn’t stay home all day calling hair dressers and stylists and her loud-mouthed friends who only came to gossip; she accused him of wanting too much from her. He asked her why she didn’t love him anymore and wasn’t willing to satisfy him as a man; she accused him of having an affair and swore to strangle any woman who so much as breathed near him. He stormed out, got into his two month old metallic-black Chrysler and drove off, drowning out her screams and accusations with his favorite tunes from George Michaels.

By the time Mbugua heard the scream it was too late. The man flew onto the hood of the Chrysler and hit the windshield hard almost going through then got thrown back onto the road. Mbugua panicked, he couldn’t breathe, couldn’t see or hear anything for a few seconds but knew he had to get himself together. He prayed aloud to anyone listening that the man’s life be miraculously saved but even he knew it wasn’t likely that the man had survived the impact. He opened the car door and ran out to where the man lay.

Her chest tightened as the matatu passed by the accident site, everyone peered out of the windows to see. The rain was down to a drizzle. A small crowd was slowly gathering around the scene though most people just passed quickly, shaking their heads but still rushing to get home. There was a manyanga few feet away from the crowd in a ditch. A metallic black Chrysler was parked in the middle of the road with the driver’s door wide open and a man with a sharp suit was walking toward the man on the ground in the middle or a small crowd. He looked distraught.

Then she saw it and realized why her gut was wrenching yet she was safe, seated in a matatu. The white jacket! She only caught but a glimpse of it, but she was sure. It was him!

She couldn’t breathe, all sounds around her faded like whispers into the background. She got off the matatu not really knowing how her legs were moving. She felt like a zombie staggering toward a light only she was running.

Cars honked and edged through as some crazy woman ran into the road.

The light in his head kept going on and off like a torch running out of power. ‘Why was everyone screaming?’ he wondered. ‘And why is there a man in a sharp suit leaning over me telling me he’s so sorry but that everything will be ok?’ But the thing that puzzled her the most was her. What was she doing there and why was she crying? And that’s when it all came flooding back; the manyanga, his foot in a drain, the bulky man and the posh car.

He wasn’t sure what to think or say. He looked up at her. Maybe she would know.

He remembered how they first met, it wasn’t the fairy tale love at first sight kind of meeting but they had both felt the connection. He remembered when she first spoke to him. It wasn’t ‘Hi, my name is…’ or ‘You look familiar, have we met before?’ She had just asked him to help her carry some speakers to the concert venue and that is how their journey had begun.

She remembered when he first gazed into her eyes and knew there was something there. He remembered when she looked up at him one time, smiled and he knew if he didn’t say something he would explode!

They did the craziest things together, one time they just cooked dinner, packed it in containers and went to the flyover at the university’s gate, sat on the steps and ate. It wasn’t a candle-lit dinner but they both admitted later that it was one of the most romantic nights of their lives. She remembered how one time he came, picked her up at her dorm, they took a long walk which was usual for them as they could stay up till five in the morning sometimes just talking. Anyway that night they just lay down in the middle of one of the streets in the school compound at around 2:00am and just gazed at the stars. He remembered how they would write letters to each other and to their future selves depicting their dreams for each other. She remembered how they had started writing a story together taking turns and now it was almost as long as a Lord of the Rings novel and they were still writing.

He remembered each time she laughed, each time she cried, and each time she jumped into his arms when they met.

“Aaaaargh…,” he moaned as a surge of pain brought him back to reality. He heard the sound of a siren, she heard it too but in their minds they had very different endings to this story.

She knew he was pretty banged up both inside and outside but she held on the the last strand of hope that he would make it through this.

He too knew he was pretty banged up. He felt the blood trickle down his forehead from where his head had hit the windshield. Every time he tried to move there was pain everywhere and he could barely feel the lower half of his body. He felt his organs slowly giving in to the numbness that was creeping up from his toes. He knew he was broken but as he looked up at her, seeing her desperate tears and that glimmer of hope in her eyes he couldn’t help but pray for a miracle.

“The ambulance is here,” Mbugua spoke his first words. He also saw that the young man was pretty banged up and it made his insides churn knowing he was responsible. Someone gripped his hand from below.

“It’s not your fault,” the young man said to Mbugua. “I’ll be fine,” he finished. And even though both men knew the last part of that statement wasn’t true, both held onto the slim chance that it could be.

“I’ll go with him,” she said, her tears now running freely down her already wet cheeks. The rain had started up again.

“I’ll follow you in my car,” Mbugua said as he tried with all his might to give the young man a reassuring look as he let go of his hand and the paramedics lifted him into the ambulance. Life had never felt shorter to him. He knew then that he was not going back to that jail cell he called a house tonight or any other night. He had seen what true love was and his marriage to Sheila was so far from it.

Inside the ambulance, the love shared between the two was so heavy. It seemed to transcend all the pain he felt and dispel all the helplessness she felt.

“His blood pressure is dropping fast! We are losing him!” the paramedic called out as he went through the motions of trying to save the young man.

All the while, the two in love just gazed into each other’s eyes so intently, so endlessly you would think they were reading each other’s minds; maybe they were. His grip on her hand loosened, his heartbeat on the monitor slowed down. She didn’t want to lose him but she knew she would have to let go.

“Amy,” he muttered in a whisper so low only she heard him.

“Steve,” she muttered back in an even lower whisper.

Thunder roared a flash of lightning and it was over. The rain stopped and the sky cleared and the two in love let go.

Matatu- 14 seater public service vehicle

Manyanga- 25 seater mini bus

Bei ya jioni- a price discount hawkers normally give in the evening when they are about to close business

Mabati- steel sheets used to build houses

 

 

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