I have been meaning to tell this story for a while now but I’ve never brought myself to write it. The reason being that I was scared. Or shy. There’s a difference, right? That’s for you to judge after hearing the story. And I mean I WAS… (“Was” for past tense). Cause it was a long time ago. Back then before I grew old and strong…and brave too. So don’t call me shy when we meet. I’ve since conquered my fears! [GRIN]
The event happened around last year in October. You see, that’s a long time ago. I had decided to write about it on that evening as soon as it occurred maybe for fear of forgetting the finer details but… Well here we are 7 months down the line – and I’m not even sure am going about it right. Maybe the actual reason why I’ve never written it is because I never knew how to begin.
So let me try traditional style. once upon a time in a land far beyond, there was a girl. And she was of the beautiful variety. (Your guesses were right readers. Today’s post, just like many of the others, also concerns a girl.) You know, some day last week I got a mail from one of you concerning the blog, a chic. She said that she likes my articles. And she praised me for being a great writer. “They are amazing and inspiring” were her exact words. Well I do not know about the inspiration bit. It never was my dream to be anyone’s motivation but well if that’s the turn my life is taking, who am I to defect. I accept my destiny. “Some of them are emotional aki…” she went on to say. I don’t know if she meant it as a compliment or she was just speaking her heart out. I did not ask. But just to set things straight, there will be no emotions in today’s post: just chills and laughter. And maybe some bit of pity somewhere in the middle then joy and laughter again. About the inspiration bit? What does it mean to inspire people?
Back to my story:
Her name was Watiri (No “is”. She’s alive and maybe reading this) and like I said, she was a beautiful. Maybe still is. I haven’t met her ever since. People change. But for sure she must still be. Some type of beauty takes long to fade. In fact, if she had been born in those Bible days she’d have been among those wives of King Solomon. My guess here is that kings didn’t choose the not good-looking ones. Or what do you think? Or if she’d have been in those kingdoms we used to read in those African storybooks as children then maybe she’d be somewhere in her father’s compound locked up. And she’d have suitors coming from far and wide to ask for her hand in marriage. Maybe there would even be one of those contests where men from all walks of life would hold contests to try and win her. Or did none of you read about those competitions where we are told they’d try to make her laugh. Life back then must have been really simple for such adventures to exist. But I guess those folks hadn’t seen Watiri. Her or any of the other beauties we have today. Maybe that’s why the wise ones concluded that the beautiful ones hadn’t been born yet. I assure you that this is the era they had been talking about. I doubt if we’re still waiting for them. Watiri was born in today’s modern life. In this life where we no longer ruled by great chiefs and we don’t have kingdoms. In this new world where everything has been invented and we have television and computers and the Internet.
And in this girl’s life, magical as it was, there was also me. Dan. There was me and my mobile phone (another one of the great inventions of our age.) It was 6:30 pm by my watch. Now this is the fateful day that our story is about. Hold your breath guys…
It was a Sunday. Don’t ask about the sermon today. I did not go to church. If that was the cause of my bad luck then I sure as hell have learnt my lesson the hard way. The Sabbath is the day of rest. Not the day to meet up with your girl for a drink. That had been my plan today. But she didn’t show up, the reason why I found myself at our shopping centre at this hour, still waiting for someone that had promised to arrive for our date more than 5 hours ago. Okay, I lied. We were not meeting for a drink!
5 hours! That’s how long it takes to break a determined man. I had waited long enough don’t you think? I looked at my phone one last time, hoping that her message would pop up to finally reassure me that she was on her way. Nothing. I dialed her number but halfway through I thought otherwise and put it back into my pocket. She must have read the tonnes of messages I had sent her since morning. Mind you she had replied to none of them. I had also called countless of times but she hadn’t picked any of my calls. It would soon be 7pm. I had been played. Frustrated but still hopeful. A disappointed man I began my sad journey back to my father’s house. I had already packed my bag there and I just had to get it and travel back to town.
A quick flashback. I am a university student and I stay in Nairobi. Ngara to be specific. I had come to visit my dad over the weekend. I was also going to use this chance to meet up with this girl. She had complained that I had abandoned her back in the village. That I had gotten too preoccupied with city life and forgotten all about her. So being the gentleman I always try to be I had spared this weekend to come see her. To reassure her that I still cared. You see, I can be sweet. Now everything had been going well till now. The previous day we had talked over the phone and we were to meet today before I went back to school. That explains why I was so eager to meet her. I did not want to leave her crying again. But what now? She wasn’t available and hadn’t turned up as agreed. To make matters worse, there had been no communication today as neither did she reply to my hundred and one texts nor answered any of my calls. Why hadn’t she called anyway to say if she couldn’t make it? Maybe she had lost her phone? No. There was once I called her and the phone was off then the other minute it was on again so I figured she must have it. Or at least someone else had it. Maybe she had been kidnapped? Or she had been run over by a train? Or a lorry because the train doesn’t pass there frequently. It had to be a big vehicle. Or she had committed suicide? I thought of all sorts of things. But whatever it was, I figured that at least she knew I was around. And for having not turned up she must have had a pretty good reason. She would have to explain herself to me later. I would not let her off the hook easily. Not after the long wait I had suffered today. I would really give her a piece of my mind when we finally talked. But sadly as it had now dawned on me already, today was definitely not the day.
I went back home sadness written on my face. Dad was around. He was surprised that I had not left yet. I told him that I had met up with some of my friends and that’s the reason I was departing late. The excuse sounded fake but he did not make a huge fuss about the issue. It’s a one hour journey from my village to town and if I started travelling at 7pm I’d get there at around 8. I think that he figured I was already old enough now to make my own decisions. Or he thought I had developed the love of travelling at night. He was seated there typing on his computer. My father is a busy man. He offered to go buy me tea at the restaurant near his place. Why would I say no to that? I really needed it. Hehe we rarely cook in the house. That’s the beauty of living with a busy man.
I left the house accompanied by my father for the cup of tea. We discussed politics at the restaurant. Politics and the state of the nation. I also got the expected nuggets of wisdom common in a father-son conversation. It was at this moment that Watiri’s message came. My face lit up. She said that she had been held up at home as her mother had injured her leg so she had to stay the whole day and nurse her. She was apologizing. I was hopeful again. I looked at my watch. 7:02pm. There was still plenty of time for me to rush over to her place, say hello then embark on my journey. I just had to see her. That way my day would have a happy ending. It would be worth it. Maybe I wanted to confirm that at least she was okay. Who knows? Maybe she could have actually been hit by the lorry and didn’t want me to know! I wasn’t thinking straight.
After the cup of tea I bid my dad farewell and left. I was in a hurry. I had a bus to catch. But more importantly, I had a possibly dying girl to check on. Now Watiri’s home is quite far. To get there one has to move away from the shopping centre then go down a valley and climb a hill halfway. The beautiful ones are hard to find. This was the price I had to pay. I was determined. It took me more than thirty minutes to get to the point where I now had to got down the valley in order to cross over to their place. Theirs is a different world altogether. Without the street lights, large buildings and vehicles it is peaceful. And quiet. And dark!
I turned my phone’s torch on and breathing heavily I began running downwards. It was all good. All the way to the bottom of the valley. I was almost there. I could see their house up ahead. It was still a long way to go but considering the distance I’d come, I could call it close. I could not help smiling. I knew Watiri would be happy to see me too. I couldn’t imagine how her mother would react on seeing me. I was a stranger around here. But who cared? When it came to that I’d introduce myself as her friend from school. Now determined to get there quick I began climbing the hill. Increasing my pace with each step.
That was when I met a group of young men. Three of them. I quickly switched off my phone and put it in my pocket. I could see their silhouette figures staring at me. That was when I realized it was a mistake to come alone. I suspected they were robbers. And I hate thieves. But I fear them more. I made quick calculations in my head. I’d start running and before they caught up with me I’d have arrived at Watiri’s home. Then I’d be safe.
The men did not speak to me. That was a good sign. I passed them and walked on. But not for more than two steps. “Wewe! Simama” (Hey you! Stop)
That’s the red flag I had been waiting for. I broke into a run. I could hear their footsteps behind me. Running uphill is a difficult job. But I knew that it wasn’t easy for them too. I hoped I was faster. I prayed I wouldn’t die today. Not in these land with all bushes around where I knew my body would be hidden. And who would think of coming to search for me here? No way. That’s not how I want my death to be. My pursuers were getting close. Watiri’s home was still way ahead. I saw a homestead to my right and took the turn. I was surprised when they chased on. I screamed.
Then there was a kick on my back. I lost balance and fell to the ground. I quickly turned and faced my assaulters. That was when I saw their uniform. Green trousers; the National Youth Service. I was relieved. At least the death threat was gone. Or so I thought.
“Ooh kumbe ni nyinyi?” (Oh it’s you guys?) I said as I stood from the ground.
A blow sent me back.
“Wewe ni nani” (Who are you?) One of them asked.
That was when I realized the mess I was in. They thought I was a thief!
I looked around me. My scream had been heard by everyone in the neighbourhood and the occupants had left their houses to see what it was about. I was now in a new fix. The situation had changed from me fleeing from those that I had thought were thief to me now being considered the enemy. Now I was going to die an even more shameful death!
The next thirty minutes were a bad experience for me. I could feel death looming a few feet over me. But I did not see episodes of my life flashing before my eyes so a small part of me knew that it was not yet time for me to leave this world. That gave me hope. Hope that I’d live to see another day and tell this story. And the courage to speak and explain myself. Though i stammered a lot and didn’t make much sense. Things got worse when I tried to switch on my phone and it failed me. Like it was enjoying my predicament. The men of the households were the worst as they tried to prove to their wives that they were capable of offering them protection from evil threats such as me. I tell you it is difficult to explain yourself to a group of angry villagers who’ve already condemned you to death. I was stuck there explaining that I was just an innocent lad visiting a girl from their village. The story sounded unreal even to me and I had to beg people who were not ready to listen to my tales to hear me out. The story became even more incredible when they asked about the bag of clothes I was carrying and I had to begin explaining that I was also on my way to Nairobi.
It was not until 45 minutes later that it was agreed that I was a good citizen. One of the women heard me mention Watiri and she confirmed that the name was familiar. Apparently she was the only one who believed my story. I still remember her face to this day. This woman with motherly love that saved me from the hands of this angry mob. Maybe she too had had an experience like mine during her days when she was young and beautiful and boys were fighting for her.
The rest is history. I did not continue with my journey to Watiri’s home. As soon as I was let to go I ran all the way to the bus station. And in the bus I was quiet all the way to Nairobi still playing the events of what had just happened in my mind. I knew I had escaped death by a whisker. And I also knew that I had played a role in a real life movie.
Don’t ask me about Watiri. I do not know if she got to hear the story of the young man that was caught in her village looking for her. I did not ask her. I have not spoken to her since.