LIFE’S SACRIFICES IV

Stories from the Diaspora

By Sheillah Maonga

To read part three, click here

Looking at his body, she was reminded of the one time she worked as a live-in carer for a man that was suffering from a terminal illness. The family had needed to spend quality time with him in his last days and they had felt that the round-the-clock care tending to his dying body impacted negatively on this, especially on the dignity of those concerned. So Cherop was hired to do the bulk of mundane but gross tasks and consequently, that freed the family to spend enjoyable carefree time with him. The man lived on a farm that operated a shooting school. There were so many effigies on the farm that the students practised on with rubber bullets. These effigies were left lying around on the field. Zawadi’s body with those gun wounds reminded her of those effigies. His body didn’t look real.

She noticed that there were so many condolences pouring in in the comment section. Her son was certainly popular. She decided to read the messages so as to feel connected to him. She soon realized that the comments were giving her answers to her questions. From the comments, she found out that her son had been shot dead by the police the night before. He had been in Dandora with his fiancée and two other friends. The police had shot at their car for no reason. Zawadi had got out of the car to confront them. They had shot him on sight. He had died on the spot.

All this sounded like a horror movie to her. It was all rather surreal.

She still had a few questions. What was Zawadi doing in that part of town at that hour? Korir, his brother, lived in Huruma, not Dandora. Zawadi had grown up in the leafy suburbs of Nairobi, Cherop had seen to it.

For the years he lived with Chelang’at, Cherop had topped up the rent for Chelang’at to afford to live in a middle class area. Then when he started moving around relatives, she always saw to it that their accommodation was fit enough for him. She had set him basic standards of which she ensured that she sent the money to see to the materialization of it. In fact, he was in the process of looking for his own apartment so that he could have his own place. She had a conversation with him on the same a few days ago. At 19, and having finished high school, they both felt he was ready to live on his own.

She also wanted to know where they were going at that time of night. She was also curious to know why the police shot at the car, and subsequently at him.

She decided to call his number again.
Muthoni picked it on the third ring, as before.
“What do you want now? You hung up on me that time.” Muthoni said, shocking Cherop with her lack of respect.
“Hallo Muthoni.” Cherop said calmly.
“Call me Princess Honey Noni. Only my grandmother in the village calls me by that horrible Muthoni name.” Muthoni retorted.
“That’s a mouthful to say Princess Honey Noni.”

“You can call me by any of those three names, pick one of them. Zawadi used to call me Honey. Because he said I was sweet. I cannot believe he is gone.” She started crying.
“We need to talk, Muthoni.” Cherop said, stubbornly calling her Muthoni.
“What about?” She asked suspiciously.
“First, his Facebook page. Are you the one that put that profile photo on there?”
“Yes, I did put the photo there so that people can see that truly he is dead.”

“Could you remove that photo, please?” Cherop asked.
“Why?” Muthoni asked defensively.
“It is gross. Macabre. It gives my son no dignity.” Said Cherop, angrily.
“The photo will bring so many people to his page. It will also prove his death.”
“You are unbelievable. I demand that you take that photo down, then you give me some answers.” Cherop said firmly.
“I am not removing that photo.” Muthoni reiterated.
“Do you know who are speaking to? I am his mother. This was my only child.”
“He was my fiancé.” Muthoni countered.
Cherop scoffed and burst out laughing sarcastically.

“As if that carries any weight. He never told me about you, and he used to tell me everything. You are nothing to him, just someone that wants to rake in some social media popularity on the back of his death. I will not allow it.”
“He told you everything?” Muthoni asked with incredulity.
“Yes. Of course he did. I am his mother.”
“You are clueless, Mother. He was not close to you. How could he be when he did not remember you? He did not know you enough to tell you everything.” Muthoni spat out the words at her.

“Of course he knew me. We spoke every few days.” Cherop protested.
“I was always there when you called him. How long were your calls? He spent most of his time with me. Then you dare compare that with the few minutes you exchanged pleasantries with him over the phone and then tell me that I was nothing to him. Shame on you, Mother.”
“Shame on you, Princess Honey Noni Muthoni. Shame on you for killing my son, then coming to dance on my broken heart.”
“I killed the love of my life! Did you actually say I killed him?” Muthoni cried.

“I have read the Facebook comments. He was with you when he was shot. What was my son doing driving at night in Dandora? My son grew up in Westlands. What is he doing in those sides of Dandora? You lured him there. And now look what happened. Now you are all full of fake grief on Facebook so that you can bask in the attention. Pathetic.”

“I am going to block you on this phone. I am grieving my fiancé. I am suffering from the shock of it all. I saw him going down. I heard the gunshots. I rushed to him and held him as he took his last breathes. I knew that I was risking being shot too, but I didn’t care. He needed to know he was not alone at the moment of death. He died in my arms. At 18 years old, I have watched someone die, then you say I want popularity and my grief is fake? I have held the only love of my life and watched him leave this world under very painful circumstances. If you think that I am being fake, then I am better off blocking you so that I never hear from you again. Pathetic.” Muthoni said passionately.

Cherop felt tears welling in her eyes. So far, she had not cried. But listening to Muthoni, she felt something stir deep within her.

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