Celebrating East African Writing!
Written by Wambua Mbuvi
The Christmas celebrations were first approaching and as custom I was at home, to‘eat Christmas nyumbani’. We knew almost everybody in the gated estate we lived. My parents had taken a holiday trip to Mombasa and they were yet to return, not until the New Year’s Eve.
My Cousin was a peace keeping soldier with the Sierra Leone peace troops and his stint had just ended. He came as the epitome of December holidays was slowly snowballing. He didn’t want to make any serious decisions like choosing a bank or even renting a house, waiting for the celebration mood to cool, visit relatives and then start life again in Kenya come January.
He had come back fairly rich – possessing state of the art and expensive electronics and handsome amount of dollars. He brought everything into our house, and since my parents were away, I was the sole custodian of all the wealth, at least until they return.
We had hot coffee with him, as he narrated to me the war anecdotes and survival tales. I escorted him to the bus stop. The evening drizzles were gathering momentum and we paced up. As we turned the final junction to face the main road, we heard a bang, my cousin regimentally shouted ‘take cover’ and as a trained Uganda guerrilla militia, I screeched in a second and dived to the ditches only to land on my cousin who had preceded the plunge, hearts in our mouths.
Nobody would take chances in these Al-Shabaab infiltrated times, you know!
It took us a minute to realise it was just the power transformer which had blown up. A complete blackout in the entire estate followed.
We hurried to the stage and he boarded a Matatu off as I quickly turned. I decided to pass by the mini-supermarket to buy some Christmas decorations and foods. More friends had confirmed to come and spoil themselves in our house, especially since they knew I was alone and therefore a parent-interference-free party was certain.
The drizzles had by now turned to steady droplets with the whole estate deadly dark with no power.
After shopping and overfilling the trolley with goodies, I proceeded home. I walked past, competing with the stinging rain drops. As I stretched the final alley to face our gate, I bumped on a sparkling lady frantically squeezing herself to a wall fighting off the rain which was now pouring in torrents.
Her shiny lipstick was dazzling in the darkness. She was shivering, cold and looked confused.
I greeted her, casually she re-joined.
She told me that some boys had snatched away her handbag which had everything. I had never heard cases of insecurity in our estate but courtesy prevented me from doubting her. Ladies are always right you know.
She was shaken, rained on and looked misplaced. Without serious thought, I told her that she can step into our house and warm herself with hot coffee as she waits for the rain too cease and then find her way home
We sat opposite each other. Her pointed breasts threatening to tear the scanty bra, pointed at me like a gun muzzle, mysteriously making the cold to disappear. My mind wanted to ask her who she was but the heart wanted to ask her if she will spend the night. We sat, staring and dawdling.
It felt awkward but rousing.
We introduced ourselves, she was Carinah.
After some minutes, she asked me where the toilet was, I pointed the direction, suppressing the temptation to ask if I could escort her. As she left, her hips swung, and swayed with them my heart.
I was still in fantasy when I heard her scream from the toilet.
I shot up. Stood still in awe and listened again.
Another long, frightening scream reverberated across the whole house. She sounded hurt, choked and as if someone was struggling her. The shriek send shivers down my spine. My fantasies subsidized and I came back to my senses. I slid under the sofa, not to hide but to pull out my Somali sword which I kept for such instances.
The room was still dark, I scurried on the coffee table and picked a match box. I lit the last stick in it and tip toed towards the loo.
She was screaming my name, urging me to hurry.
I flapped away the first door curtain, and as it flew open it blew off my matchstick.
Total darkness again. A little acclimatization to the darkness was my only hope.
I kicked open the toilet door and jerked back two steps. Carinah was lying on the floor, her head leaned on the toilet seat and hands holding her stomach.
I scanned the whole lavatory area, looking above the ceiling afraid an attacker was hanging.
My attention turned to her.
She was no longer screaming but was groaning, apparently excruciatingly. She seemed to have vomited. I tucked my Somali sword behind my belt and knelt down beside her.
She was foaming from the mouth, pale and in need of artificial mouth-to-mouth respiration. I hesitated, it wasn’t time for romance but for professional medical aid. She was in utter pain and was painfully whispering my name, pleading with me to help save her life.
I was confused.
I pulled her slowly towards the bedroom but found myself in the kitchen. Her tight breasts seemed even sharper, and as I carried her on my hands, they pressed on my chest, awkwardly reconstructing the hormones again. As I carried her, she whispered to me, “Sweetheart, please don’t let me die.”
I placed her flat on the kitchen carpet. I had to do something to contain the unexpected turn of ebvents.
I had to find a vehicle to move her to hospital. Yes, I needed to.
I had hidden the money my cousin had given me under the kitchen carpet. I lifted the carpet and plucked few notes to go and find a van to take her to hospital. I saw her turn her head to look at me as I returned the other notes. Her eyes full of helplessness and pain.
“Wait for me I am coming with help dear,” I assured her as I dashed out, leaving the door open.
The power was yet to return and the estate was more silent. I ran towards the bus stage.
It was now around 9:00 PM and Christmas melodies were raising in tempo. Kids in the neighborhood were happily singing:
Jingle Bells x2, Jingles bell all the way…
They soothed me as I stood at the bus stop, fr over 20 minutes no vehicle was passing by. I was growing desperate and impatient.
I was divided in thought, to rush to the house first and confirm her condition or continue waiting for unexpected vehicle. I opted for the latter.
Impatience was overwhelming me – frantically waving down any vehicle, and even bicycles. Most ignored my pleas, only a lorry on transit stopped, and the driver declined after I explained the situation.
At 11:00 PM I was still waiting, the celebrations around thriving despite the power black-out. Dejected and worn out I decided to rush back and confirm if Carinah’s condition had worsened, or hopefully resuscitated.
In quick steps I moved, my mouth dry and tongue hanging. A thin sweat which had been continuously dripping down had now ceased, leaving behind white streak marks of salt.
I stood at the door; too tensed to push it open, too astounded to in fact recollect that I had left it open. I closed my eyes and made a quick prayer, prayer of faith and confessions.
Just as I opened my eyes, the power came back. The neighbourhood burst into life with thrilled kids screaming scream in joy.
Flinging open the door and the curtain I jumped in, calling aloud Carinah asking whether she was alright. I switched on the lights and dashed past the deserted sitting room to the kitchen.
She was not there. I stood still, called again and dived to the toilet.
I breathed heavily, rubbed my eyes and tip toed to the sitting room.
It was then when it hit me that my cousin’s LG plasma screen which was at the sitting room wasn’t there. At the table I had left his Panasonic Lumix GX7 camera, an Apple MacBook and Alpen waterproof binoculars he had received as a gift– all NOW MISSING.
My adrenaline puffed and I remembered the money hidden under the kitchen carpet. I was too afraid to go and check. Worse, at the kitchen cabinet I had placed the titanium Richard Mille RM 0011 Wrist-watch my cousin had brought me as a gift.
Reluctantly I strolled towards the kitchen to confirm my fears for the worst. The carpet had been flipped over, only one 10 Dollar note remaining which I think fell in her hurry to flee.
As I stood at the kitchen window looking at the mirage of water pools outside, my heart was almost blowing up my chest, the lazy thin sweat forming again. Fireworks, flares and decorated Christmas Pyrotechnics were shot in the dead night as clocks ticked midnight, ushering in the waited Christmas day. Screams of joy rent the air and ballads were carolled in gusto.
I stared hard, and swallowed a gulp of bitter saliva as reality of the theft started sinking, it was clearly a robbery executed at no gun-point, maybe the breast point.
A B.M.W production © Wambua Mbuvi
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