By Michael Ngigi
Laughter doesn’t necessarily mean someone is happy. A serious face doesn’t necessarily mean that one lacks humor. A crooked leg does not necessarily mean one cannot run. Neither does a colorful snake mean it does not strike. Why then, is Nelly is crying as she walks towards the alter on her wedding day? One would easily say it is because she is overjoyed that the day has finally come. She looks gorgeous in that ivory gown. Delicate and surreal. This day looks like a dream. The little girls look pretty too as they throw confetti on the bride and her guardians. Every single woman is jealous. The men are hiding their faces and it is evident that this bar has been raised a bit too high. The man who is about to marry this beautiful woman has scored a high ten.
Nelly is crying because she is about to die. She knows it but she chooses to walk on.
Nelly and Kim had been engaged for two years. She’d met him at her friend’s wedding about five years earlier. After talking for a few minutes she decided she wanted to know him more. He was interesting and funny. Kim had a way of making her feel special. It was no surprise when he proposed one evening in the middle of a highway. He was arrested for obstructing traffic, but he had already made his point. Nelly was blown away by his courage and she said yes. After that, they couldn’t stay apart. They started planning for the wedding immediately.
Days flew by first and during the last two weeks these two gave each other space to bid farewell to the single-hood. Kim went first, to his ‘drink’ with the boys. That night, he didn’t pick her calls neither did he answer her messages. Only the next day did he show up with yellow flowers with a note to say how sorry he was. He claimed his phone ran out of units and battery charge. The event was quickly forgotten. After all, no one wants to fight with their fiancé a few days before their wedding.
Then it was Nelly’s turn to attend her own bridal shower. Kim was having a headache and preferred to stay home. So Nelly made sure she made him some food and packed it in a dish so he could warm it when he woke up. She also left him some pills and drinking water on the bedside. She had offered to stay home and nurse him that evening but he would hear none of it. It was her day, he said. He wanted her to be in the company of her best friends. She felt sad to leave him but it looked like he’d be okay. She kissed him goodbye and drove off to meet the girls.
At the bridal shower, Nelly was treated to a hearty applause and tasty cocktails. She was thankful that they’d stood by her most of her life and what’s more, they had finally approved her man. Almost every girlfriend she had was present at the party. What would life be without friends? She was enjoying herself until her friends decided to throw her a surprise. Out of nowhere, there appeared two male strippers. She hadn’t seen this one coming. In the confusion that ensued, the strippers undressed and were completely naked. The women went into a frenzy like canines baying for blood. Nelly was stunned beyond words. She picked up her purse and ran out to her car. This was not who she was and for a moment, her best friends were her worst enemies. She cried and felt guilty as she drove home in the rain that night. She wasn’t about to mess her relationship by participating in what seemed like the beginning of an orgy.
When she got home, the lights in the living room had been turned off. She took off her shoes and coat as she headed towards the bedroom. She opened the door slowly as she didn’t want to wake Kim up. Then she saw something that made her knees turn to jelly. There on her bed, lay a naked Kim in the middle of two equally naked women who were busy arousing him. It was obvious that they’d been having sex. The smell was distinctive. Still trembling, Nelly slowly shut the door and and ran out of the house. The next morning she came back and acted as if nothing had happened. Kim acted extra happy to see her and wanted to know all the details about the party. She wanted to cry but what to do? A wedding is a girl’s ultimate dream.
Nelly cried through out her wedding day. She hated the way her world had changed. Surprisingly, Kim turned out to be a good husband. He was caring and always near. He brought her gifts and supported her ambitions. At some point, Nelly even forgot the ‘incident’. Everything had finally worked for good. She was doing well in her career and marriage felt like the best situation to be in. Bliss.
Six years later, Kim got very sick and died. The doctor said it was meningitis. As Nelly tried to come into terms with his death, she got more confused and weary. Something inside her kept telling her to probe deeper. Memories of that fateful night came flooding back and she decided to confront the doctor.
Kim died of AIDs. Nelly has HIV. Kim had kept it from her all along. She had seen the signs but she chose to ignore. Now the wedding is over, only the end awaits her.
If you see a sign. Take it seriously.
I shed tears for the infected and affected.
Robo was seriously nervous and anxious. Every now and then he would put his hand in his jacket to make sure his gun was still at his side. For some reason, he knew this day was different. Colors seem brighter and it felt like something big would happen on this day. He had been driving in circles for an hour now, and couldn’t help noticing the white SUV trailing him. On the passenger side, Kim sat still as if in a trance. He appeared calm and ready. But that was him, always a risk taker, dancing on the edge of adrenaline and death. At the back, Fela had his eyes closed as if in prayer. In his hands, a picture of the woman he loved and the daughter he would kill the world for.Tension. Robo looked at his side mirror again and this time, the SUV was nowhere to be seen. But still, he could feel they were being watched. He was fully awake now. The car was beginning to feel like a trap.
The lights turned red just three cars to the exit lane. A second. A minute. It seemed like ages. Kim opened the glove compartment and checked his gun again. He had sensed something. His instincts were seldom wrong. Being the oldest of the three, he had done more ‘jobs’ than he could remember. He was sixteen when he first killed a man for calling his sister a slut. He had gutted him like a fish using a cut-off lid from a can of preserved beef. This became his life. He didn’t have any parents or brothers. He was born to this life. It is all he knew.
As if by instinct, Robo noticed three men approaching the car silently; three cars behind. He reached for his gun but caught something from the corner of his eye. There was a gun pointed at him from the passenger side. Kim and Fela had already raised their hands in surrender. They had been caught. And they all knew what was about to happen. In seconds, the car was surrounded and they were ordered out with hands raised. Robo was scared. His knees felt soft and he could taste bile in his mouth. They had nowhere to run.
They were ordered to lie down on the tarmac as the plainclothes policemen held the morning traffic on the red light. Kim lay still with his hands tied behind his back. Fela’s prayers were growing louder. He had wet his pants. The picture was still tightly clutched in his cuffed hands. The three were made to lie facing each other. And when Robo looked at his friends, he saw the scared eyes of boys not men. Without warning, the first shot blew open Kim’s head. He died instantly. The second one split Fela’s temple and for almost a minute, he lay there jerking as blood sputtered from his wound. The whole street went silent as blood from the two thugs formed two streams that ran into each other to form a bright red puddle. Robo struggled to hold back tears of fury and hopeless loss. He wanted to die. He felt the pain. This was not how it was supposed to end.
He was thrown in a waiting police land-cruiser together with the lifeless bodies of his friends. On the street, the crowed watched was still in shock and disbelief having watched an execution in broad daylight. A few women wailed loudly as they cried justice. At the far end of the street, stood an elderly man who seemed to have taken pictures of the whole saga. As he lay in between the friends he had come to love, he wondered if God would ever forgive him. He slipped into a deep sleep.
He awoke in a place he couldn’t recognize. There before him stood his boss smiling and going about how heroic he had been.
“We need everyone who works with us to be loyal and never forget who calls the shots” his boss boasted, “They thought they could get away with our cut!”
Robi felt sick. His head spun and he could feel vomit building up in his gut. He looked around and saw his gun lying on the table beside the bed. Silently, he asked his boss to leave him alone so he could rest. And as his boss closed the door behind him, Robi took his gun and put it to his head.
Before he pulled the trigger, his life flashed before his eyes. He remembered Fela’s beautiful wife and blind daughter. He recalled how Kim had stood up for him in times of trouble and treated him like the only family he ever had. If only he had known he was being set up. He only felt a slight knock when he pulled the trigger.
They tell us crime has gone down, but has it really? Every year, young Kenyans are murdered in cold blood without the chance of a fair trial. We say they should be dealt with harshly. What about the innocent who are dragged from the arms of their wives and children, only to end up murdered in the bush? Who gives these orders? I have taken time to ask why people do what they do. For some, it is because of fear. A fear driven by the bad things they’ve done in the past. Afraid of their greed, they sleep with one eye open. They do not know when their victims will take revenge. When the wives and children of their victims will know the truth. They say that it is a vicious cycle. Does that mean it will never stop? How about we all get armed? No? Then can we be protected?
I commend the men and women in the force who struggle to uphold the law however hard it is to do so. May their families find pride in these everyday heroes.
I dedicate this article to the families of the men who lost their lives on a highway a few days ago. They could have murdered. They could have stolen. Still, they deserved a trial. We will never know what really went down, but maybe that’s the whole point of a society heading for a breakdown.