Short and Sweet
(Music) “I think I fell in love too fast, African nights and a cool rush….”
I sit back and exhale heavily and stretch my skinny legs wide such that I look like a scare crow. I stare lackadaisically at the moth flying around the flickering yellow light bulb threatening to blow out anytime. I have no idea why the moth is so fascinated by that bulb, yet for reasons best known to it, I suppose it’s worth it.
Probably for the same reason you won’t understand why some lyrics reel me down memory lane against my wishes. I mull over the story of Daedalus and Icarus, uncertain who was who but my drunken instincts supposing Icarus must have been the one who messed up. He had knack for flying and he fancied it so much that to him, the sky was no longer the limit.
He flew unwittingly too close to the sun, melting the wax fastening his makeshift wings and he came crashing down into the Ocean. Oh my, these Greeks will kill us one day with these mythologies! Anyway, moths are sometimes attracted to a naked flame naively signing a death wish. Many things make sense now; in fact everything makes sense. Experience is truly one hell of a teacher.
(Music) “…and I remember you refused to kiss me now you using my tooth brush….’
The room is so silent that I can hear the echoes of my thoughts. Hazy memories of yester night seep slowly, it is almost like a game of ‘join the dots’. The dinner- yeah! The excitement- the fun oh my! The shopping -yes the shopping – oh no! I recoil with apprehension.
It feels like I am a part of a movie which someone else narrates to me. You know, almost like hanging in the balance between fantasy and real world. The alcohol still diffuses slowly out of my system and all I know is an Everest of hangover is knocking.
I fully take the blame; I counted my chicks before they even showed any sign of hatching. Expectations drove me; disappointments froze me in my tracks. I cannot say I am immune to such failings but I admit my ego was a little bruised. Moreover, it appears Karma is not done with me yet.
The remote- like electronic gadget I call a phone vibrates, a new notification, albeit odd at this time of the night. Maybe it is the mobile money lender ‘Branch’ threatening to hand me over to CRB due to an unpaid loan. The sympathy messages still flow. I repel any thoughts of empathy and instead decide to handle this issue in a nonchalant manner; I won’t reply any of those damn texts.
I smile in a frail attempt to show how much I understand and absorb what happened. The smile is puny and my inner self reminds me how much he had warned me this could happen, though it was against all odds. I feel numb as a melancholic mood takes over me sucking out all joy in me.
I try with too much effort to prune my feelings but the moment I think of her, I break into a sob. A constriction grips my heart and I gasp for air like I’m having an asthma attack. The tears fall endlessly and all I manage is choking a few sobs. I don’t get why I’m crying when it is clear she wanted me even if not as badly as I wanted her.
For the first time in forever the other side of the bed felt cold. The room was rather larger than usual and felt like an empty hall. However it felt like before, this was not the same place I called home. The bed was empty, the sheets lacking in warmth and the savory scent of her on the pillows faded.
Pain from within drills deep into my nerves, emotional, maybe physical but I just can’t explain it. Too lazy to do anything, I jump into bed without changing, shoes still on. I am void of hope as I drift to sleep. One of the many nights I’ll be sleeping alone.
Two days earlier
Her birthday was fast approaching and she made such a big fuss of the day you would have thought it was the second coming of Christ. Okay, I understand she has to celebrate it but it is not like the rest of us dropped from the sky, like Superman from planet Krypton. She, half commanding half requesting, suggested we head to the mall for shopping. In case I would have declined that offer, the issue would have resurfaced next year in an argument over how I refuse to take her out nowadays. Being smart, I obliged to her ‘humble request’.
At the mall all went fine until we wound up upstairs, where fashion bloomed and style met elegance. Closets and hangers were full of brand new clothes- all with price that made you wish you had stake in the proceeds of the NYS scandal. She explicitly reached for a long floral dress with little that added gaiety to it. I impulsively looked at the price tag: Ksh. 6799. Kwani does this dress have air bags just in case anything happens to its wearer? She then looks at me with the unmistakable look of a kitten begging for milk and I simpered.
Her: Baby, you’ll get me one of this, right?
Me: (What I think) you’re out of your mind. I’ll just buy you a one meter roll of material, then Baba Kioko. (Our neighbor, who also happens to be a tailor) will take your measurements and get you a dress like that for a fair price; enough to allow me get some mercury to take in the morning.
Me: (What I actually say) Yees. I’ll get you one.
Her: Don’t be sour, I did not mean like right now. (Sighs) Let’s leave; you’ll just taint my moods.
If you thought we were leaving like she said then you really don’t know her. First we buy a ceramic vase for flowers which literally don’t exist. She studies it carefully like a small kid admiring a new toy, admiring the craftsmanship in its design. I really saw no use of such in our little apartment. But do I say?
She made me sit with the vase as she was trying out some dresses. The same dresses I cursed not to have a second look at. There was always something exquisite about her undressing, even if not for the times we made love. It was sensual seeing her silhouette behind the purple curtains that separated us. She is breathtaking in the few dresses she tries, especially that black silk one.
However, as I had suspected we pay for all of them and they are delivered in a classy brown bag with golden string handles. I had planned to get myself only a packet of chewing mint but was forced to grab a pair of slim legged jeans, if only not to ruin the moment. The next stop was the shoes display and she grabbed a pair of zipped boots with tiny heels that actually looked ugly though I couldn’t afford to say it. Wah, I just hope she’s not planning on getting to the makeup section. She did anyway.
By now we’ve bought so many things that we risk leaving some bags behind. I’m having a slight headache and it’s like someone is scooping away my brain with a spoon the way we do to ice cream. After what seemed like an eternity, we were done with that place. Finally time to get home now.
With her headphones on she was heads for the highway. The screeching of tires and the blaring horn are muffled by the rock music she was so absorbed in. a scream follows then a thud. She is too late to jump across or retrace her steps back. I picture the driver frantically downing the brake pedal as the rubber eats the cold tarmac well enough to produce rancid smoke, the Lewis Hamilton way with his F1 cars.
My beloved’s torso is contorted and her hair thrown sideways as the bonnet rams into her curvy hip. Her knee is bended insanely and within no time she is suspended mid air. She flips like a coin tossed in the air and her back lands quite heavily on the hood of the car her legs closely behind her. Her beautiful angelic face slaps the windscreen hard cracking it, her shoulder breaks it. Her chest is caught up by the hood of the car. The brutal force hurls over the car towards the other side of the road.
The back of her neck makes contact with the ground first then the rest of her body comes crashing down. She rolls across the asphalt before coming to a halt in a ditch nearby. The driver finds his grip and the sleek grey Mercedes comes to a halt. The ensuing silence is more bizarre than the site of her. She lays there motionless with not even a single muscle twitching. For a moment I think Thanos is around freezing time with the Infinity Stone. I am so stupefied I do not even realize when the paramedics arrive.
Like a hot knife cutting through butter, the van with flashing red lights made its way through traffic at such an aggressive speed. The ambulance is similar in build to an ice cream van except for the doom it spells. My eyes were already puffy and even after questioning God, I had to pray despite my religion. I knew life was draining out of her.
In my stupor strong hands jerked me away as I watched her being fixed in a stretcher and followed like a zombie into ambulance. The chemicals in there just made me sick. The bed rattled and the drips swayed like vines in the jungle as the van sped off.
I really couldn’t tell which was worse between the accident itself and the bumpy ride to the hospital. With every bump, I would imagine the pain she was undergoing. The paramedics assured me she would be okay but their words were a mere buzz in the ears of the deaf. Her labored breathing was drowned between the roar of the engine and the rattle of the metallic bed.
A storm of emotions brewed in me. Despair, regret, sadness, love steaming together, made stronger by the fear that sank its claws deep in me. I wished she could open her eyes and give me one loving look. Seeing her helpless strapped to that stretcher made me curse for the thousandth time the fate that put her there. I wished to trade her pain with my life.
As reality hit me, I realized that I would never feel as strongly any other person than the way I felt that moment. I wanted to talk to her, tell her my thoughts even though I was unsure she would listen but that continuous beeping and flashing of the breathing machine silenced my thoughts each time.
On arrival at the hospital, she was taken into a certain chamber which was out of bounds and I was left with no option but pace around the waiting lounge like a man possessed. I lost track of time and it was the sight of the old bald headed doctor that jolted me to the present. The moment I set my eyes on him, I felt my head spin and bile rise up my throat.
The doctor looked at me evenly and I really hoped it was not an affirmation of my worst fears. Blood drained as if I was standing on a live wire and at that moment a sheaf of images fluttered through my mind like tiny birds with broken wings- all the moments we had together. Everything stood still as I mused over all the things we had done and were planning to do. But surely it was her birthday. An angel like her doesn’t deserve such. On the day she was delivered unto us is the same day she’s taken from us, no not us. She’s taken from me?
The doctor explained their options but in his face it was clear her chances of her seeing the next sunrise were slimmer than those of our own exiled Miguna Miguna winning the next Presidential elections.
So it was as the professionals have put it. Come the next morning the sun will rise, that’s highly recommendable, nothing to talk about here. Probably I will be sitting by the window of her room as I watch the sun rise. The window will be foggy due to the breath of life gone, life gone by.
There were times she was always a sight to watch in the mornings, a sweat t-shirt long enough to her thighs, occasionally a blue scarf and really messed up hair. The mornings were always warm, it was like she was my thermostat but I bet I’ll be shivering but that’s a problem I’ll have to deal with later. How many years in the making again? Eight years, since the promulgation of our new constitution back then in 2010.
Love is a weakness; pain demands to be felt. Two quotes different quotes, conveying an almost similar message. Our life. I wish I could have the will in me to explain it. Not like we were the talk of town or that celebrity coupe people always look up to but if it’s about a rip-roaring roller coasters, we had our fair share of the deal. I don’t know why I’m telling you this but I’m just a common guy, expressing common thoughts about a common relationship in a very normal life. I will not dedicate a monument to her or declare that all flags hoisted half way. Maybe, I’ll forget her, fall for another one, who knows.
The soap lovers will term this as an epic love story, the fairy tallies will term it a story that lacks a ‘happy ever after’ ending but the cynics would call it a catastrophe. To me, it’s a combination of them all. Regardless of the perspective point of view, the incident plays a large role in my already twisted life and I won’t complain a bit about anything. The pain is like a parasite, like the movie venom. It clings to you and two becomes one. No worries yet, I’ll have to live with it. Quite assuring though the only thing it will be doing is eating away bit by bit the strength left to trudge on. They say the same boiling water that hardens an egg, softens a potato. What are your odds if you’re initially hard?
The continuous beeping of the machine. So irritating but it’s the only thing keeping her alive which reminds me of the tokens that produced the similar sound back at our apartment. The rising and falling of the green graph on the monitor, an indication she’s still in the race of life. Life is never a straight line, but you would never understand this until the graph flattens and color changes from green to flashing red and the beeping is replaced by a continuous cry of the machine like it has run out of fuel.
Time they say is a great healer. No matter how extreme situations get, they always have a weakness, they all come to pass. We get used to things given enough time. That’s a consolation that one day one time the hollow will be filled by God knows what or who for that matter.
That was just an assumption, an event created in my head of how things may turn out tomorrow sunrise. Does it really have to happen that way? You tell me, but a simple opinion doesn’t really change a thing. Life is always unfair it never gives us what we want. But the doctor said chances for her seeing the morning sun are slimmer, doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have a chance. It’s there, no matter how small or microscopic it is, it is there. This hope is the one I cling on, though it’s not a guarantee but a sort of wager. Odds are against me but one thing I’ve learnt from gambling is always expect the unexpected.
False hopes I know but the doctor is not the Supreme Being, he is just basing his facts on science. This brings me to the point I’m expecting a miracle now, no matter how ridiculous I sound. That’s what you may term as faith, a strong belief of the unseen. Maybe if I would have a rosary, it would have been easier. I don’t know how but my mother used to hold it in her hands whenever she was troubled and it always looked like strengthened her faith. Instead, I hold her hand.
On her upper arm, a tube runs deep in her vein from a plastic bag suspended high above us. Her hand is cold, like there’s no life in it. She’s fighting this war alone, but we had promised to be always beside the other but here she is. Her life hanging in the balance, I know she’s still in there somewhere but for how long. Anyway, in a war it’s not about who’s right, it’s about who’s left.
In my ears, earphones shoved deep in my ear canals, now playing short and sweet by Sauti Sol featuring Nyashinski. I need some sleep, calm my nerves, maybe a second to forget about every single thing that has transpired during the day, mediate more about the issues I’ve just poured my heart out as I wait for my queen to remember she has left an entire kingdom that still relies on her.
(Music) …I’m keeping it short and sweet, Dj play the song on repeat ….