Celebrating East African Writing!

Come here my sweetheart wheelchair! by Muriithi Ngugi

I lay beside the paediametric cushions stacked on the floor for the patient who had just left, pondering. He, having noticed the go-slow in the hospital management had stealthily made away and I wished I had sent him! To deliver my message to a homestead of grass and thatch, sitting defiantly against two resolute slopes overlooking fertile valleys graceful in rich colour of agricultural viability.


He would have accepted. I thought. He wouldn’t. He would! They would kill him. He belongs to them. They would not. So he would never. Yes never! You think he can hear you?


And yet I had not written what I would send him. I could not. My paining hand, in plaster, would not match my willing mind’s endeavors. Oh damn! The willing soul and the weak mind. And the willing soul also weak!!Weakened by the loss of life, loss of love; loss of the desire of my heart to live reminiscent of what had transpired after the 2007 polls. Reminiscent of the merciless ordeals perpetrated by the people of our nation upon their fellow Kenyans.


 I turned gently. Darkness creaped silently and seemed to be in constant conflict with the yellow light of the incandescent bulbs. Soon it was fully subdued but only around the ward. It cohesively formed vengeful distance just visible through the French casements. I could hear the pain grow through my nerves from the fractured fibula ascending painfully to the groin. I groaned. Because I could hear it! Coming, coming. But now it was the sound of the girl! 


Ann! yes it was her. Ann! That who lived with her parents in a homestead of grass and thatch sited defiantly against two resolute slopes overlooking our land graceful in rich colour of agricultural productivity. So she stood there again? I could see her! In a long lavender dress and brown red cowries’ chains around her slender neck and shod in open shoes of the colour of beaten earth! A cold wind gushed solemnly bringing with it rare richness of character blowing her hair discordantly against her graceful face. She ought not to go to a salon; she understood.


‘Sure there would not be a problem? Financial!’


‘You are afraid?’ I asked dispelling all visible doubt in her face. I saw her face glisten, her eyes awaken, her cheerfulness glimmer. But the doubt remained read by the mouthful of air she withheld. We would certainly marry. I had already constructed a moderately good house for us in the valley; my father had paid so much dowry in liquid form and consents from both families obtained. But what now the present apprehension? What! Fear and apprehension.


I said with my arm about her shoulder. Then we watched the setting sun till it no longer showed on the horizon but its effects lasting for some time and dying completely.


‘Our people hate your people.’


‘Who said?’ I asked


‘It is known.’


‘But, I love you, Ann. I watched her small round face turn matt dark and the corners of her mouth twitched twice.


‘You mean it?’


‘We shall be happy Ann.’ I noted her turn slowly, eased herself, took hold of my palm and kissed it – one thing I had not see her do at any other time and I guessed she was really elated.


‘A peck.’






‘You are going? How now?’ subconsciously, I saw myself following her. But she was fast. I sped enough, rumbling her name, but it wasn’t her I was chasing. Next, I could not see the graceful valley anymore. I couldn’t see the houses in the valley any longer. I couldn’t make the maize in the valley again. But I could hear from it. Screams! And I ran and ran and ran. Till I could run no more! I saw the neighbours smashing my cranium and fracturing my arms. I saw them beat my head as we beat snakes to kill them. Like we hadn’t lived together for the last twenty or so years from the time we bought this land. Like we were not of the same country.


‘An unconscious man is in heaven.’ I thought. On earth. In heaven. I could have felt pain! You don’t know. Silly! Struggling with my remonstrating soul.


There was a similar state in the national hospital where tribal segregation edged strongly in the fabric of the professionals of the industry. Somehow blood oozed like turmoil oil, pandemonium loose in Kenya thinking the world watched and I couldn’t imagine what a peaceful nation could do in days. Meanwhile, the streets of major cities became inaccessible, private property looted and torched while all arable land became nyakwuad by vigilante groups ostensibly new but really having been on the making for such malicious purposes as this and funded by eminent persons to purposely extend evil deeds of animosity. Imagine hectares of wheat set on fire in a country where hardly enough grain is in the government repository. Well, it definitely could be viable so that the next year there would be a duty to declare a national catastrophe. Hunger!


That is what we would have to put up with; I thought. It was! For the weeks we would dither to reach a sustainable agreement. Sustainable solutions make a bright future. Future free of latent hatred. Future devoid of negative ethnicity. But erstwhile we reached that; we would still have to throw stones. Our bulk of the society, the unemployed would still cry for haki yetu (our rights). And our political leaders will still continue pointing fingers at one another.


Oh god I was dreaming! Dreaming! Me dreaming? No! Yet I was diagnosing a healed malady. Dreaming of mansions when a deal had been struck months ago! A coalition government; a good solution shy of the bloated cabinet that so hardly presses on the already suffocated taxpayer.


The taxpayer who has to toil and soil his hands to raise enough monies to finance the execution of the duties of the commissions of inquiry preceding the after poll chaos. Chaos that plunged our country into a state of apathy, inadequately addressed even today and I won’t dream to finish the next word before a well propelled stone impacts on my cheek!


Chaos that sparked new seeds of mistrust and negative ethnicity and though seeming tranquil can only be fully addressed through comprehensive constitutional and legal reforms to mitigate such heinous misdeeds in the possible future. So at least not to tarnish the nations name in the outside world as it went in2007.


Meanwhile, on the understanding that I wouldn’t ever marry Ann as we had agreed I should have sent a word to her through the man who used to sleep on the pillows. But there’s something that tells me she would not have accepted to hear any of my words, belonging to a hated tribe- like we have green blood unlike the others. And that leaves me sadly smiling. A sad smile, sad………..sad ……………….sad!


Come, come here my sweetheart wheelchair! For a maid and wife, I unconditionally married you!

© Muriithi Ngugi 2009


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