This is a continuation from here
Just then, we heard the echoes of a tear gas canister going off. And we rushed to akina Njeri’s compound. The fact that Kina Njeri’s gate had been knocked down did not surprise us. Things had happened. Bad things. What killed my spirits was the state of kina Njeri’s house. Their once red-tiled, elegant house had turned black and sooty. The glass doors and windows had been converted to mere shards and smithereens! There was no sign of life. The question that lingered in our heads was whether Kina Njeri had escaped or they were consumed by the man-made inferno. That thought was sad. You see, Kina Njeri were significant to this town. Theirs was not only the most beautiful home in the estate, but also the most resourceful. If you needed eggs, you would get them at very subsidized prices. If rats were engrossed in their daily routine of shitting, eating, and destroying your household items, kina Njeri would give you a beautiful kitten, whose miaowing alone was enough to chase the rats away. And Njeri herself was the pride of our estate. She was the modern day definition of light skin, she always wore clean, black rubber shoes; her uniform was ever new. Ever devoid of a crease. We were proud to say estate yetu inaitwa kwa kina Njeri! But they were no more. They were nowhere to be seen. Until today, I have never seen Njeri.
Apparently, in my mind, I thought we still had Mogaka’s shop as the alternative resource center. This hope had died as quickly as Varaq-Adebe thingy. The shop was gone. Mogaka was a mysterious man. Even his shop was quite daunting. One could never see the inside of the shop. The peephole of a counter was surrounded by clear, translucent, and opaque paper bags hanged on the wire mesh. When mogaka was outside his shop, he was, well, a normal human being. However, when he got into his dark shop, his whole demeanor changed; he became darker than usual. His eyes became whiter and his voice was notch higher towards the gusii-induced soprano. An unsuspecting new client would be scared to the point of soiling himself when his eyes met those of Mogaka. He would go and share the story and more people would come to his shop. More customers perhaps? But thinking about it now, I think this was Mogaka’s tact for keeping idlers and potential petty thieves from doing their businesses around his goose-bump activating premises. Since this piece is about justice, It will be quite insolent of me not to talk of the ngumus that he sold. Those things were something else. One was enough to help you ravage a calabash of porridge. This attribute did not mean that Mogaka was generous with his dough. Not really. The issue was that when you were through with one of the doughnuts, your jaws would be kneeling down somewhere within you mandibles beseeching you to give them a one-week break from Mogaka’s ngumus. All in all, Mogaka’s shop was down to ashes and he was nowhere to be seen.
On the day I almost died for my country, we saw Osodo’s twins. They came to fetch water too. There was something about these kids that I could not fathom, man. They never feared anything. For example, which seven year old kid would get out of their house in the name of fetching water. During such times? Okay, that doesn’t scare you. That’s because you weren’t there. Here is another one though; these children looked after Osodo’s herd of cruel animals. I wouldn’t call them cows because they were bizarre; big animals with muslces tauter than ten weight lifters’. Their horns were long and sharp. And they hated women and strangers. There was this one called Owich. It was ever angry, ever scratching the earth using its front legs. Its horns were always reddened with soil from poking every anthill it came across. And its heavy breathing that flushed out air like a geyser was enough to jolt you into hiding. But we saw its rage once. Only once and it was terrible. We saw owich airlift somebody to her deathbed. But the pair of twins knew how to calm owich down. They gently scratched its balls and it would calm down like a baby who is full and sleepy. Rumours had it that Osodo had gone all the way to Uganda to get these cows. Osodo loved exotic and unique things. For instance, he was the only person who had a homestead in the town. He did not live in a rented house. He had a home fenced using euphobia and pedo (hook like thorns) and the home had a round cowshed right at the centre. The love for exotic things came out strongly when the pressure for him to marry had reached levels too high for the Pascal units. On hearing that his aunties were conspiring to pair him with some good wife somewhere, Osodo had disappeared for a whole fortnight. When he resurfaced, he had a wife. She was lovely. Her name was Nduta. Again, stories had it that Osodo went all the way to Sultan Hamud to find a wife. And, exotic she was indeed. We knew her for two things; her strange twins, who were identical except for the fact that one was dark as tarmac while the other was lighter than Njeri. And her love for boiled maize. As sure as the sun rises every day, you could not meet Nduta without a cob of boiled maize in hand. Everywhere she went, she had to pack enough boiled maize for the journey. Some people say that it was her first time to see such sweet monocotyledons in her life. That, back at home, their land is too dry to accommodate such. People understood. People loved her. But on the day I almost died for my country, the air was full of the sad stench of a rumour. That the previous night, some people had put down Osodo’s gate and got into his homestead. They had knocked down his main door and got into his house. They had crushed his bedroom door and ambushed Osodo and Nduta. They had plucked Nduta away from the loving bosom of her husband and they had whisked her away into the solid darkness of the night. To date, I have never seen Osodo’s exotic wife. And Osodo has remained a sad man.
On the day I almost died for my country, we fetched the water and started our journey back home and we discovered that more people had evaporated into thin air. The wonder in our heads just alternated between two theories. Either they escaped or they died. But that remained to be seen. We had a more urgent matter to deal with. As we were crossing the road, a rowdy group of youth was running towards our direction. Agitated barrels were exploding behind them. The pinching sensation of teargas had caught up with us. That was when we realized that Houston had a problem! We pushed our bike loaded with 40 litters of water up the hill as fast as we could. Nevertheless, just before we could cut the corner, the helmet-head saw us! He began to raise his AK-47. We disappeared into the alley that led to the house. We got in. closed the door behind us. But I smelled trouble. The noise was moving closer. Doors were being banged thunderously and my heart skipped a beat when our immediate neighbor let out a frantic cry.
We were next! Mum, being the wisest of all, instructed all of us to hide under the beds. She was looking straight into Vicky’s eyes. He had to be the first to squeeze under the bed for obvious reasons. All went under the bed one after another as the metallic door complained against the polite knocks by the men in blue. All went under the beds with the exception of me. I refused! Don’t judge me just yet. Let me explain; when you are infected by the disease of being right, you can easily make such a decision. Well, yes, I knew I was right. I had not engaged in any wrongdoing. At least according to me. And what kind of boy goes under the bed and leaves his mum to deal with those violent pieces of shit, who think they are motherless?
Freedoms were not made a reality by people who hid under the bed!
But the next ten minutes that followed taught me that, at such times, reality, being right, freedoms, are just mere words that portray relative meanings. The in-the-eyes-of-the-beholder sort of thing. So I was betrayed by my luminous green long sleeved shirt. Hii gichana ametumpua sana! One of them said as I was hauled like a miserable sack of potatoes to the flower bed. At my mother’s door. He is a good boy. He has never done anything wrong. Please leave him alone. The neighbors could be heard shouting from their windows, which were reduced to peepholes. I saw red stars flying across my face, in unison with the flying splinters from the police rod. I felt heat in my head. I took my two hands and used them to cover my head; the fingers broke. One after another, until I could not bear it anymore. There was no helping or protecting the head. Blow after blow opened various taps and blood dripped to the ground. Like water from Kina Njeri’s tap! Relief came and went as each rod was depleted and another was picked. Such are the moments that some irrational voice speaks to you. fight back! It urges. I tried to clinch a fist but the broken fingers couldn’t allow. Defiant to the torrents of blows, I raised my eyes and looked up at the faces of the men offering me a beating. That was when I saw it!
Through the thin film of blood, my eyes met with the barrel. We faced each other; the oppressor and the oppressed. I saw death giving me a grotesque, wry smile. I saw it breathing the bloody air through the grooves. I saw it ready to yaw its way through my already exhausted skull. I saw the angel of death dressed in the oppressive armor of a cartridge. Waiting for the trigger. Again amid a horrendous conflict of pain and screeching muscles, I shifted my glance towards the soil and shut my eyes. So, just like this. This is the day I die. Just like that, I die for my country. No cool stuff like the Mau Mau. No Dedan Kimathi kind of stunts. No years in jail and emerging victorious in the end? It doesn’t matter that I am not on the wrong this time. Just like that I die!
I almost died for my country
I went into exile.
I don’t know how exactly justice for the weak and poor is got. All I know is that, for those who “disappeared” in this story, the only feasible justice is to prevent hate and violence that results from elections__ Writer