By Sheillah Maonga

To read part two, click here

Korir was her youngest brother. He was a delinquent. In his teenage years, he had fallen into a bad crowd that led him to do a stint in prison for assault. He had got into a fight with the son of a local policeman. Many had said that prison would be the making of him. How wrong they were. He came out hardened. Ever since then, he had been arrested for robbery, extortion, blackmail, possession of drugs and possession of an illegal firearm. He was always in and out of prison. The family had given up on him; he was more or less an outcast and was not involved in day to day happenings of the family. He lived in one of the roughest estates of the city so Cherop could not understand how her son could end up living there with her brother. There must have been a mistake somewhere.

She called Korir next.

Korir often called her. She ignored his calls most of the times because they were often a nuisance. He always had one of two reasons to call her: either to ask for money to bail him out of a situation he had placed himself in or to propose a harebrained idea that he wanted her to invest in, with him as the project manager.

He picked on the first ring.

“Heeey ,my sister. How is the land of wazungu?” He asked, his voice sounding chirpy and breezy as normal. Cherop felt her hopes rise. There was no way Zawadi would have been dead and Korir be this happy and normal sounding. After all, it is Korir that must be in the know, more than the Pastor and Chelang’at. These two were acting on hearsay.

“I am fine thank you, Korir. How are you?” She asked.
“I can’t complain, my sister. I can’t complain. I am struggling as usual. It is mid month and the cupboards are empty.”

Cherop felt her heart soar. This was a normal conversation. It would not have been taking place if Korir was dealing with death matters.

Then she heard someone speak to Korir. Someone demanded that he switch off his phone as it was not allowed at the morgue. She heard Korir respond that he was talking to the mother of the deceased. She hung up on him.

Her mind could not process the news.
How could her 19 year old son be dead?
No way.
Then she had an epiphany. She could call Zawadi. How come she had not thought of this at all?

She dialled his number by heart. It was the only number she had memorised. Even her own number she didn’t know off-head.

The phone was picked on the third ring. By a woman.
“Hallo?” The woman said.
“Who is this?” Cherop asked angrily. The anger had descended upon her when she heard the woman’s voice. Why would a woman be answering her son’s phone?
“And who is this?” The woman retaliated.
“I am Zawadi’s mother. This is his number I am calling.”
“Mother? Mother? I am glad you have called, Mother.” The woman said as her voice broke down. She started crying.

“Do I know you?” Cherop asked. She felt awkward being referred to as mother by a virtual stranger.
“I am Princess Honey Noni, Zawadi’s fiancée.” The woman said.

Cherop didn’t even register shock that this woman was introducing herself as her son’s fiancée. He was 19, there was no way he could be engaged. He had not even started college. How could he even think of marriage? She dismissed that fiancée claim immediately. She was more shocked by her name.

“Princess Honey Noni is your name?”
“Yes.” She confidently answered.
“Do you have another name?” Cherop asked.
“I do. I don’t like it at all.”
“What is it?”
“I shall call you Muthoni. Now, may I speak to Zawadi?”

There was silence. Then Muthoni started wailing. The high pitch of her voice almost burst Cherop’s eardrum.

“Take heart, Muthoni”. Cherop found herself saying that phrase for the second time that day. She had never used that word before in her life, and today, in the space of one hour, she had used it more than once.
“Have you not heard, Mother?” Muthoni said, amidst tears. “Zawadi is gone. He has left me behind.”

Cherop hung up on her.
She needed to get hold of Zawadi somehow. Now that his phone was with some woman claiming to be his fiancée.
“Aaah, Facebook.” She said it aloud to herself.

Zawadi was active on Facebook. She was very inactive there because her schedule did not allow.
She logged onto Facebook and went to Zawadi’s wall. The first thing that hit her was a photo. Her heart missed a beat when she saw it. Already, 500 people had liked the photo. It was a photo of Zawadi lying face down on the ground in a pool of blood. She knew his body like the back of her hand. He had several bullet wounds on his body. Cherop zoomed in on the photo and looked intently, counting how many bullet holes she saw. She counted eight. 1 on his head, 3 on his back, 2 on his shoulder, 1 on his right hand and 1 on his left thigh. It was very clear that he was dead.

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