The Longer Walk

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It’s funny. Quite funny how twelve whole months stream past you without any warning. Swoosh! From January all the way to December. Like nothing happened, seeming as though you were in a coma immediately the year began and somehow, by God’s amazing grace, as soon as the clock ticks 00:00 on the 31st of December, TWELVE whole months later, you mysteriously wake up from the coma, as clueless as you can possibly imagine. You look around, tried to get hold of all the information bumping, entering and leaving your brain. Then reality hits you. With a metallic rod. On your face. Twice. At the same exact place. And you realize that one whole year has vanished from your life. Just like that without any warning. The clock ticks 00:01. A new year has begun and with whatever vague memory you have of the previous year, you try to recollect together the scattered pieces of all the good, ‘positive’, life-building things and actions that you have done to at least propel your life to the next level you endlessly keep dreaming and fantasizing about. After scanning through the whole year, carefully trying to extract all the good stuff. Damn! That’s when it dawns on you that you ain’t s**t! The whole year you did nothing to be proud of, except tons and tons and tons and tons of really bad, shaming decisions, followed by a series of massive guilt and regret from which you are yet to recover due to the trauma it caused unto your life. As manly as you think you are, you bump your chest and begin motivating yourself that this year you will try as much as possible to be the best version of you. But hey! We all deserve second chances right! So, for the sake of moving forward, let this year, 2017….scratch that, 2018, be a year of zero procrastination (something which runs deep in my DNA) and let’s make it a year worth remembering.

So, shall we begin?

Seat number 19. The seat located at the left row. The left row and the exact center of any long-distance travelling bus. And it’s also located next to the window. That, ladies and gentlemen, has been among one of my favorite seats since I don’t know when. I have been travelling from my County on the coastal side of this great country of ours all the way to the green, misty highlands located somewhere in Machakos for four whole years in the name of attending high school. So I have proudly made more than twenty journeys (I hope this word exists somewhere in the minds of great English elites) to and from home to school.

Now on this particular journey, which took place around three years ago, I was heading to school. Those days when the SGR was barely some rumors. So there I was, seated on my favorite chair (seat number 19), wearing my perfectly ironed school uniform; I recalled how I ironed it four times continuously ,especially the school shirt, so that the line;you know that line which appears at the endings of each cloth when you iron; yes that one. I had to make sure it lasted as long as possible and what better way than to iron it until those nice straight lines form as thoroughly as possible. Let’s just say I was unbelievably clean. When deep down you where you are headed to you are going to declare a war between you and water, you must prepare yourself psychologically. And that I did my friends. I had, as always, prepared myself in all ways possible. I was calmly seated on that window seat, enjoying the breathtaking view of Mother Nature and all its glory. The bus was cruising smoothly; typical of all buses plying the Mombasa-Nairobi route. The well-spaced seats, tinted windows, the smooth sound of the engine making you feel as though you are gliding in high altitude. And not forgetting the free Wi-Fi; who doesn’t want to get hold of free Wi-Fi? Plus the surround system on the bus. And on top of it all, the loads of snacks you are given throughout the journey. Home away from home. That was the slogan of each of these buses. My eyes were ever outside the window, watching how the surroundings were slowly transforming from the flat areas of the coast to the hilly mountainous terrain. And as usual, I could feel how the air, which was softer and warmer as we left the coastal area, casually becoming thicker and breathing was quite different. You feel your head becoming heavier, but not for long since moments after your body adjusts to the changes and you’re good to go. We were now past the Tsavo National Park which blessed us with free views of some scattered giraffes, antelopes and some group of lions which found no better place to rest than a few meters next to the road. The speed of the bus made them vanish into the thick grasses nearby as their little cubs were left clueless near the road, wondering why their counterparts left them without any warning. We watched as the elder lions came back to where they were, grabbed the little cubs by their necks and disappeared with them into the thick grass along the road. Family is forever I guess.

Boom!!!

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…My head was leaning against the window, admiring God’s nature, when out of nowhere, we hear this loud blast which rips through the whole bus. I felt a sharp vibration through the glass, and I immediately lifted my head away from the window. The vibration ran through my head as I tried to get hold of what on earth had just happened. I blinked heavily as I looked around the bus. The cool and calmness of the bus was abruptly changed to a tense mood. Children who were dead asleep began wailing uncontrollably as their frightened mothers tried to calm them down, while they too were dead scared. Murmurs filled the bus as everyone was curious to know how things went from 0-100 real quick. ‘Shit!!’ The loud gasp came from the extreme front of the bus. On the right end from the bus in specific. It was the driver. I raised my head alongside other passengers to get a glimpse of the driver, only to see a large, blue truck, with its headlights brightly shinning on us, coming to our direction at defying speeds. I recall very well seeing the driver let go of the steering wheel and covering his face with both his arms. The large truck smashed our bus and I felt a large amount of force that tried to pull me out of my chair. I still have no idea how I had kept on my seatbelt. They literally stopped me from flying across the bus and I was intact on my chair. The screams and wails were deafening to hear. I tightly held on to the straps of the seat belt as I felt the bus overturn. My eyes slowly began to shut down and the wailings and screams which filled the bus began to fade away…

The morning bell rang at exactly 4AM and I lazily opened one eye first, then the next. As I woke up from my bed, I felt a sharp pain on my neck and it grew sorer as the days went by. I touched the bandage around my neck and it seemed to be peeling off. I placed my palm on the front part of my neck and I could feel a large scar running from one end of my neck to the other.

Three years down the line, the scar is still visible on my neck. Regardless of it growing smaller as time goes by, it’s still a clear reminder of how I was in a f*d up situation some time back.

Author: Wilson Westwood

Writer. Dreamer. Wanderlust

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