Him And Her II

romantic-proposal-1245855PART II

HER

She stood there.

 

 

She just stood there. Her eyes wide open. Not even able to blink.  She was staring at the door. It was a few minutes after he barged out of the common room like an angry bull, leaving her speechless and confused. Her friends came next to her and held her shoulders, thinking she may decide to chase after him.

But she just stood there.

As though she was rooted to the floor.

She had no idea what to do. Continue with the birthday or just walk away. Or chase after him. Or just…She was completely indecisive. She looked around: everyone was holding their smartphones pointing at her, with their flashes a clear indication that photos and videos were being taken for the sole purpose of sharing around the hundreds of University groups on various social sites. She was going to be an internet sensation in the next few hours. And not forgetting the endless comic memes that would accompany her ‘fame’ afterwards. People had even climbed on top of their chairs to witness the drama unfold between them as she boldly said NO to his witiful proposal. Everything was recorded. Every single detail. There was endless murmuring in the common room as people were still reacting and doing their own analysis of the incident. Some were murmuring hurtful words right next to her while laughing hysterically. She looked at them, hearing everything that they were saying, and just looked away, hiding the bitterness in her eyes.

Because there was nothing she could do about it.

 

A cold breeze coming from the open door blew straight to her and she slightly regained some sense of the matter. She blinked for a few seconds and looked at her two closest friends who were standing next to her: as they always did. They held each of her hand and led her away from the door towards the front where they were seating. She walked towards her seat, with her friends by her side and she slowly sat as they sat with her. She placed her hands on her knees as she lay her head between the palms of her hands. Some of the people who were standing slowly began sitting as they saw her sit, while others roamed around the hall bursting out laughter as they showed each other the videos and photos each of them took. She heard her voice coming from one of the phones behind her.

“I’m sorry but no…”

She heard her voice playing followed a by a loud laughter from the back. Her emotions wildened as she recalled those words, which she uttered to him a few moments ago. She remembered the very exact words and both of their reactions.

“Let’s just cut the cake and get this over with,” one of her friends said as she stood up and grabbed the knife. The birthday girl was seated at the front of the room the whole time. She stood up and went beside the table where the cake was neatly placed, still in the box.

She watched as the cake was being cut. The” Happy birthday “song started being sung as the birthday girl held the knife gracefully as she sliced the chocolate cake into eight pieces. A Bluetooth speaker was brought on the table and music was played in a bid to eliminate the weary mood that was hovering around the room.

“Hey, get up! Let’s dance!” Her friends said as they stretched their hands towards her. She rolled her eyes in frustration as she stretched her hands as well. She lazily got up, as her friend led her at the center of the room. Her friends swayed her hands side to side in an attempt to make her dance but it was futile.

Then she heard it.

Don’t go am kujaiiiinnnggg…..

Tonight we are dunda…dundaiiinngg!!!”

Her favorite song started playing from the Bluetooth speaker. Her friends were still holding her hands while waving them aimlessly. She closed her eyes and she felt the happenings of that day slowly fading as her favorite song was reaching its climax. She felt relieved: almost as though nothing had happened. Her mind wandered away to the beat of her favorite song. She slowly started moving her waist rhythmically. She swayed sideways and went downwards, rotated back and forth as her friends watched in amazement.

“Now that’s more like it!” One of them said as they joined her in dancing her unique moves.

She felt relieved.

As if nothing had happened at all.

They danced their hearts out and soon one hour has passed by. People had begun exiting the premises and so they had to as well. The cake had been viciously attacked by those in attendance to the point where even the box was not spared by their brutality. But lucky for them, they had an extra cake safely stored in her room. They collected the rubbish that had been left behind by the party-goers, leaving the place just as they had found it: neat and clean.

She was happy.

The memory of that day had faded into history. She kept convincing herself that she had made the right choice. There was one memory that made her giggle: the one that he went on his knees. She remembered how that made her surprised making her speechless. She actually thought he was going to give her a ring or something. She giggled as she left the room with her friends. They went down the stairs towards the hostel’s exit.

“Hey miss! A moment please,” shouted the housekeeper as she rushed towards them. They stopped walking and the housekeeper stood next to them.

“Sorry to disturb you but I’ve been told you know him,” She said as she reached into her pockets and took out a school ID. She showed it to them.

It was his.

She took it and keenly looked at it on both sides. Indeed, it was his. “Yes, I know the owner of the ID,” she said.

“Well kindly give it to him. He left here in a hurry and I noticed he was angry. Someone must have pissed him off,” the housekeeper said while smiling.

She smiled back. A very fake smile it was. She took the ID and placed it in her pocket. Her two friends were staring at her blankly, confused by what she had just done.

“Have a good day,” said the housekeeper as she went into her office.

They continued walking towards their hostel, which was quite the distance. She began wondering where he might have gone to after displaying the angry rant towards her. It was around six PM and the sky was becoming dark. She felt the cold breeze, once again: this time it was colder than usual. It blew past her, leaving her skin with protruding goosebumps all over her body. She took out her red jumper from her bag and quickly wore it.

It was his jumper actually.

She felt warm.

They had now crossed the first gate out of the hostel they had been and they had and were now heading towards their hostel. They neared the students’ annex center and saw a huge crowd of people gathered at the entrance. “What’s going on here,” they wondered as they approached the crowd. People were murmuring as the sound of the school’s ambulance wailed loudly as the crowd paved way for it to enter.

She reached where the crowd was. With her level of curiosity getting higher, she squeezed herself between the rowdy crowd to reach the front and see for herself what had happened.

“Hey wait up!” Her friends said as they struggled keeping up with her. She was rather slender so it was easier for her to penetrate through the crowd, considering her plumper friends. She finally made it to the front of the crowd. She looked around, hoping to see something astonishing but there seemed to be nothing of interest. “Excuse me, what’s happening here,” she asked the person next to her, who was busy holding her phone upwards towards the wall, with the back flash shining brightly. She looked at the wall.

On top of the wall separating the annex from the lecture halls, he hung there like the way a cheetah hangs its prey on a tree after killing it. His hands were on one side while his feet was on the other side of the wall. There was a large gash on the left side of his head out of which blood flowed, coloring the wall red. She stood there: eyes wide open with her hands on her mouth. “Finally, we have reached you. Next time wait for….” Her friend stopped talking when she saw the body dangling from the wall.

“Oh my God.”

The three of them stood there as they watched the school’s Red Cross team climb up the wall and pull his body down. She took a few steps to where the ambulance was and looked closely.

It was him.

It was truly him.

He lay on the white trolley: lifeless. Unable to utter a single word.

Tears started falling, since she could not believe what she had just seen. The Red Cross team began searching his pockets and took out his wallet. They opened it and neatly placed the contents of the wallet on the ground.

“There seems to be no identification card in the wallet,” said one of them.

She dipped her hands in to her pockets and took out his ID card. She stretched it towards them and they looked at her in amazement.

“I…I…I know him,” she spoke, trying as much as she can to withhold the tears from streaming down her eyes. They took the ID and confirmed. It was indeed him.

“You will have to come with us miss,” one of them said as she was led into the ambulance.

“We’ll also go with as well,” one of her friends, said as they followed her into the ambulance.

The body was neatly put in a huge bag and placed on the ambulance next to where they were seated. She looked at him one more time. Her hands on her still placed on her mouth. She then noticed something odd.

Trapped in his right hand was a piece of paper. She looked closely and it was scribbled some writings on it. She bumped her friends to see the piece of paper.

They all immediately thought that the contents of that paper were the explanation behind his untimely and shocking end.

His reasons why.

Meanwhile, the crowd began showing the birthday videos to the Red Cross team while pointing at her. She sat on the ambulance bench, knowing very well that a long, unpleasant moment in her life was beginning to unfold.

The Drug Addict

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“We’re in this together,” They said. “We are more than friends and junkies. We are family,” They said.

…..

 

I hear the sound of ocean waves gracefully swooshing along the seashore in a slow but vigorous manner. The sound continues to duplicate, creating a rhythmic sound, which echoes towards us, mammals of the land. The waves bring with it the breathe of life: A smooth, cold and windy breeze that cools down the extremely humid temperatures. It caresses your skin and removes all the sweat from your body leaving your cool and relaxed. Mother Nature’s cooling system I suppose.

It was midday. At around 1300 East African Time.

The month of February is usually the hottest month of the year. That I can affirm to you with the greatest level of confidence. Walking for a few meters under that treacherous sun will doom you to a period of exhaustion, dehydration and unpleasant odors to the abnormal excretion of sweat from all parts of your body. You then console yourself that one shower would refresh your body and you would return to your normal self. You spend an hour enjoying the cold water trickling down your body as your body cools down like an overheated car engine. You head out of the shower refreshed and ready to face the endless struggles of life. Only for you to begin sweating heavily once more, which leaves you cursing and lamenting on Mother Nature.

But for us, sitting under the coconut tree next to our home did the trick.

There we were, seated in a long bench strategically placed under the tree in such a way that the tree’s long, slender leaves provided the cool shade for all of us. The coconut tree was a rather lucky one. It had escaped being cut for quite a long time despite its fellow trees being unceremoniously chopped down for human capitalist purposes. If only it could speak. The things it had witnessed will remain a mystery to us millennials enjoying its cool shade.

There were six of us. Seated on the long bench. We were the best of friends. Having known each other for more than a decade, we had considered ourselves brothers, much more than friends. But our connection was not solely based on our knowledge of each other from childhood. We had similar interests. Similar hobbies. Similar taste of music.

Similar everything.

Out of all these similarities, one similarity stood out from the rest. A unique comparison only the six of us shared in the whole neighborhood. One that made us be viewed in a totally different perspective by the community.

The six of us were seated there; each one busy with his phone, doing whatever one does with unlimited Telkom bundles. I was the third person to the right. Literally in the middle of the wooden rickety bench. I was glued to my phone concentrating on placing a bet that would secure my account with a few thousand shillings, if all went well that is. I was keenly analyzing the odds, switching form tab to tab of articles and analysis done by various international sports specialist whose predictions were most likely to come true. The level of concentration that was in me, one might think it was a matter of life and death.

Of which it was.

As I was finalizing, placing the bet and leaving the rest to God, the one seated on my left patted my shoulder to capture my attention. I ignored him as he proved to be a distraction as I was “busy”. He tapped my shoulder one more time. I logged out of the betting site and the one seated on my right hand patted my shoulder as well. I placed the phone into my pocket and looked at my friend on the left who was handing it to me. His eyes were bloodshot and sleepy as red veins protruded out of his retina.

“Oy…oy…oya bro..shika sss..ss.sinda..a..aano..o..” He spoke in a slow, stammering manner, evidence of gradual degradation of his cognitive skills. His name was Musa. A long-term friend of mine before I knew my other five friends. He slowly lifted the syringe he had in his hand and pointed I it towards me. I took it from him and pressed the nozzle to release the whatever contents which had remained. I took a piece of paper from my lower pocket and placed it on my laps. I was then passed a cup that was half-full of water by Musa. I opened the piece of paper and in it were the powdery substance we all were addicted to. A white, shiny powdery substance, which had an odor similar to the chemical elements we used to combine during our high school days.

That was what we had in common. We were all drug addicts. Really heavy drug addicts.

I poured the contents of the paper into the cup and it formed a yellowish solution. I used the syringe to stir the contents into a uniform mixture. I stirred slowly and carefully. I had to make sure none of it spilled or went to whatever wastage. A single ounce of that commodity went for two thousand shillings on a good day. If the supply was low, the prices would double or even triple, making it harder for a jobless youth like me to afford. After stirring for a couple of minutes, it turned into a whitish solution, an indication that it had been evenly dissolved in the water. I grabbed the syringe with my right hand and the solution with the other hand. I placed the syringe inside the cup and pulled its nozzle upward, sucking the solution into the syringe. As you all know, syringes are calibrated. I was supposed to inject 30ml of it every day for my normal body functioning. I measured the required amount and then passed the cup to the next person seated on my right.

I looked at him and his state was worse. He was trembling. His hands and feet were shaking uncontrollably. He had gone for two days without his dosage and he was one step closer to mental instability. I rolled the sleeve of my right shirt until it reached the elbow. I took a brown scarf, which I had tied on my forehead. I  clenched my right hand into a fist and tightly tied the scarf on my hand, making my arm veins protrude outwards. I counted the second vein from the elbow which was normally larger than its counterparts. That was where I was supposed to inject the syringe into my body. I placed it on the vein and slowly pushed it inside the vein. It slid in for a few centimeters and knowing it was well placed, I pressed the nozzle downwards with my left thumb, pushing its contents into my vein. I felt a sharp pain as I pressed the nozzle until the last drop was transferred into my body. I removed the syringe from my vein and immediately, the drug took effect. I began breathing heavily and feeling nauseated. I could feel my heart beat increasing its pace and my eyes became blurry. The six of us were used to sitting under that tree which was next to the road. I looked around and saw people looking at us with eyes of pity and disgust. Despite the road being wide open, people resisted passing next to us on fear that we might pounce and rob them of their belongings. School children passed the road while bursting with laughter, pointing at us and imitating our dizziness selves. Then an old man yelled at them, telling them to rush home or we would kidnap them. The kids ran away laughing, as the old man looked at us in a disgusting manner. He clicked and continued walking away. We had gotten so used to the endless mean stares by the public that it did not affect us anymore.

But that was not a good way to live.

I passed the syringe to my friend seated on my right to repeat the same procedure. We had only one syringe, which all six of us used. For the past two years, that single syringe had kept our drug urges satisfied without any malfunction. The syringe was not just given to us on a silver platter. Our desperation led us to break into the local dispensary and steal a packet of syringes. Some of them slipped and fell as we were running for our lives since the security guard heard the commotion and was on our necks. Only one syringe lived to be used by us: and ever since, it has served the six of us up to date.

The drug was finally reaching its peak and I felt my brain become ‘elevated’.

Then a sudden memory flashed before my eyes. The very memory that led to me being in this hopeless state.

The events of a decade ago that completely changed my life. I was in primary school when I received news that both of my parents were involved in a road accident and their lives ended as they were transported to the hospital. That was when my life took a different path from the dreamy, surrealistic path of one day becoming a pilot, doctor or a lawyer. The unbearable trauma connected me to Musa, who introduced me to the drug world. On trying out the drug for the first time, I felt a relaxed sensation and I felt as though nothing had happened. It was an interesting experience.” If this simple dose made me forget my problems for a whole day, then if I used it daily I can get on with my life without feeling traumatized,” I thought as the drug took effect on my body. Musa took me to meet his so-called ‘family’, which were other five users of the drugs who were undergoing or have undergone a fate similar or worse than mine. We immediately became friends as we shared our stories, something that made me realize that my experience was the least tragic compared to theirs.

From that day on, we became the best of friends. We went everywhere together, did everything together. “We’re in this together. We are more than friends and junkies. We are family,” one of them said as he patted my shoulder. Those words became our slogan from that day.

But we had a major issue. We grew heavily addicted and we could not survive a single day without injecting ourselves with the drug. And it was quite expensive. We were more focused on getting the drug than having basic needs.

Then another memory flashed before my eyes.

I saw the old man before my eyes. He was looking at me with eyes of disbelief. He could not believe what had just happened. He was on the ground, eyes looking up at what I was holding. There I was: a stone stained with blood on my right hand and his wallet on my left hand. I looked at him with fiery eyes as I clenched the stone tighter. I had just stolen his wallet after a rough confrontation. I hit him with the stone one more time and he lost consciousness. I dropped the stone, looked around to see if anyone was looking. It was dark except for the crescent moon, which dimly lit the sky.

“Come on bro, let’s go!” Musa said as he came to where I was. He looked at the old man on the ground and looked at me. I threw the stone into the nearby bush and we began running. That was my first time to commit crime: with violence.

More memories flashed into my mind as the drug continued its journey throughout my body. Normally when I took the drug, my mind became empty and void. But this time round, memories of all the bad things I had done in the past returned before my eyes.

I felt a tight grip on my left shoulder. The grip became tighter and tighter.

I opened my blurry eyes and looked to my left. It was Musa. His eyes were bulging outward as his grip became tighter. He was still. Then a white substance began coming out of his mouth. Then his nose followed. I looked at him, trying as hard as I can to think what could be wrong.

Then he fell to the ground and started shaking. Shaking vigorously. With his hand tightly gripped on my arm.

My other friends woke up in shock and observed him. One of them came closer to him and peeked into his eyes. We were all shocked, as they had turned from white to green. His shaking continued as he wet his pants.

“We have to go now! He injected the drug to the wrong vein. He will not survive. We must get out of here.”

When he finished uttering those words, everyone ran in different directions. The bench fell on the ground due to the commotion, making dust rise in the air. I stood there for some seconds trying to contemplate what was happening. Musa was my best friend. I looked behind me and all the four of my friends had vanished into unknown locations. I walked a few steps away from him. I looked at him one more time. His shaking was gone. He lay there still, not moving a single muscle. The white substance stopped coming out of his mouth and nose.

He was no more.

I could not begin to imagine what would happen if I was found there lingering next to a dead body. It was almost 4 PM and soon people would be streaming on the road next to the coconut tree.

I took off as fast as I could. Not looking back at all. I had no idea where I was heading. I just kept running. Deep down I recalled the words we told ourselves each and every day for the past decade.

“We’re in this together,” They said. “We are more than friends and junkies. We are family,” They said.

They meant nothing.

Nothing at all.

 

Fun and Games

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It’s all fun and games until hell breaks loose.

~Anonymous

It begins as a whisper. A tiny speck of reality slowly unfolding right before your eyes, with total cluelessness of what is going on, how to react to the said tiny speck of reality. It then gradually increases its momentum and ferocity upon your innocent self and you are left there: standing with eyes wide open, caught in an inescapable dilemma of whether to escape: by escape I mean the literal direct version of you running the hell away from the crazy, life-threatening situation like the way a little girl would run away from something that looks straight out of a horror movie. The kind of running that would even shame the fastest of species in this cruel world of ours. Or the second option would be to face your deepest darkest fears: face them like the warrior you think yourself to be. A warrior from the ancient kingdom of Mphoko-something (You know those crazy names they give to those outstanding legendary African kingdoms) that our grandparents used to grace us with their long heroic tales during the Christmas holidays when we people from the urban areas undergo the annual mass exodus from our homes in the suburbs and retreat to be with the rest of the family members in the remote areas of our beloved country. Well, this particular incident would put me through one of the greatest dilemmas in youth history.

There’s no greater time of the year in the history of Mombasa than during the Christmas holidays. The sandy beaches are filled with fathers dressed in shorts, publicly portraying their round bulging pot-bellies to be feasted by the eyes of the public while they escort their children, who most of them happened to be seeing the ocean for the first time, into the shallow sides of the beach while tightly holding their hands in fear that the warm, rough waters of the Indian Ocean would scoop their children off their feet and drag them into the depths of the ocean where they would be devoured by hungry sharks who silently lurk around the shores, robbing them of their highly educated infants. At least such rumors serve an important role of ensuring an all-time surveillance of children as they enjoy the pleasure of playing in the soft sands and being washed by the pure white foam of the ocean waves as they calmly swish towards the edges of the shoreline. And all that fun is just the tip of the iceberg. When the sun finally sets and the night breathes its darkness into the world, everyone suddenly exits the caves they have been hiding into and slowly crawl out into the atmosphere. The whole area begins beaming with life as people head to their favorite night spots to “pass the night” with style (Drinking horribly while dancing like possessed people). And the next morning you are greeted with the sight of endless numbers of people lying dead asleep on the roadside, some snoring, others robbed of their belongings while drinking to the point of no return. No one tends to wake them up since the brutal heat of the daytime will soon install some sense into their hangover brains and reality will soon catch up with them of how they went past the limits of fun.

I looked at myself one last time as I headed out of our home to meet with my friends whom we had planned about how we would memorably spend the night leaving us with endless stories to tell our friends when we went back to school. It was the 31st month of December, the last month of the long, the treacherous year of 2013 which was filled with all sorts of scandals and mishaps that rained down on me. But today I would make sure I had the best time of my life, whether 2013 liked it or not. I took a thirty-minute walk towards my best friend’s home. Tony, he was called. I got in only to find that my whole squad was already there, patiently waiting for me. I froze. The kind of freezing that happens when you suddenly see someone whom you had not anticipated to see in due time. She was there. Seated at the edge of the brown couch, Lillian sat there like the angel she was: my all-time crush that made my hormone levels rise abruptly making my judgment vague and impaired. I stood there unable to think and act. Then she looked at me and smiled, displaying those teeth: those white teeth. My cluelessness increased. I thought of the best way to smile back and curved my mouth into a banana-shaped catastrophe which made her laugh hysterically as she placed her hand on her mouth trying to hide the laughter. Tony, after all this time, discovered my presence and got up from where he was sitting. We went outside where he briefed me of tonight’s plan. He was the formation captain after all. This night was all courtesy of his ingenious thinking.

“I saw the way you looked at her,” he said while laughing. He obviously knew but had to say it anyway. I did not comment on that.

“Here, take it and keep it safe,” he said as he handed me a blue backpack. I took it and opened the zip to have a peep inside. I dipped my hand and it came out with two medium-sized firework sticks. They were known as medium-sized but they were really heavy. There were more items in the bag. Two 500ml bottles of William Lawsons lay at the bottom of the backpack together with one whole lemon. “Quite the planner,” I thought to myself as I observed the rather expensive drinks wondering where he got the money to purchase such drinks considering the fact that we were all way underage. “Where will we light these fireworks?” I asked as I keenly looked at the instructions which stated that there has to be a stand for it to be thrown into the sky for it to explode marvelously and satisfy our eyes with an array of colorful displays lighting the night sky. “Hii unashikilia tu na mkono na inapanda juu yenyewe,” he replied confidently, contrary to what the instructions stated. “By the way, we should get going,” he added as he looked at the time. I looked at my watch and it was 11.00 PM. One hour until the annual display of fireworks in the shores of the Indian Ocean. That was where we were supposed to head. Tony rushed into the house and informed the rest that time was not our side. One by one, they emerged out of the house and stood where I was. I didn’t know some of them but who cared. We became connected as we were all about fun. Nothing more nothing less. Then she eventually walked out. Her white dress shone against the dim light of the crescent moon. Her long black braids swayed sideways as she walked towards us. She stood next to me and gave me the annihilating smile. Tony came and we left their house and headed to the beach. She winked at me as she began walking intentionally in front of me.

God’s plan I tell you.

The matatu stage was overcrowded. Multitudes of people were standing on the stage, all heading to the same destination as we were. We stood there for almost thirty minutes with each matatu doubling the price to the public beach as time went by. Lucky for us, one of the drivers happened to be my neighbor and we were quite good friends. He shouted my name and I saw him waving at me. We quickly entered the matatu before all the seats were taken. Luck was on our side as I couldn’t wait to see the fireworks unleashing colors into the sky. There was this particular street which was aligned with nightclubs and the way people were packed outside trying their level best to gain entrance before the night dies.

But the night was young. Really young. And so were we.

So, after twenty or thirty minutes on the road, we arrived at one of the legendary public beaches off the coast of East and Southern Africa. The crowds that were there… Unimaginable. People were streaming in their thousands, wearing all forms of clothing their deep pockets could afford. There was an exodus of people from the comfort of their warm cozy beds towards the cold windy shores of the ocean: all in the name of fireworks. Some loud, colorful explosions in the sky that gave people, me being one of them, a great sense of happiness and content into my young soul. The way they shoot up the night sky making the ocean shine and reflect its cool waters, burst into thousands of colors then slowly trickle down like dust into the ocean: and the cycle continues for the better part of the night.

She came out of the matatu. Then I swiftly followed behind her, following her every step like a zombie. We walked together, the lot of us that is, carefully maneuvering the endless curves formed by people walking in different directions, talking as loud as they can, some yelling about how the incoming year would make them formulate some goals and ambitions, which as usual, would be dumped and forsaken immediately the second month approaches. The sea breeze was blowing in a cool soothing manner as we approached the sandy shore side. People were irregularly seated on the sand, all facing one direction: the designated side for the throwing of fireworks. Tony glanced at his watch and quickly reminded us that it was almost time for the party to begin. He began running slowly towards the area, and so we followed him. I suddenly felt a soft hold on my hand and on looking; it was her hand, soft as silk, holding mine as we began running like the rest of us. She gazed at me with those eyes. &#@$ !!!

She held my hand.

My hand was in her hand.

And so we held hands.

We reached the spot. And it was packed I tell you. People of all races were represented in the upcoming fireworks display. It was three minutes before the start of the event. Fireworks were set on their stands, some were huge, others were small, but they all had one destination: up.

“Tony, where’s the stand bro?” asked one of us as Tony began unpacking the two fireworks we had brought.

“I think I forgot, but no worries my people. One of us shall do the honors and launch them while holding with both hands. Like this…” He said while holding each one with his arm and raising them up.

We looked at each other, hoping that one of us would emerge and unleash the fireworks. We looked at each other blankly.

“I’ll do it.”

And then she stepped forward.

Just like that, she took the two launchers with her hands, looked back at us: at me and gave us/me the killer smile. I watched in amazement as she walked towards the center of the “spot”, held her hands up high, placed her fingers on each of the switches with were located on the side of the launchers. I stood there staring at her white dress as it swayed away from me.

The countdown had begun and everyone started shouting from 9 going downwards.

“…THREE!… TWO! …ONE! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!”

The crowd went wild with wails and screams and chants as the clock ticked 00:00. A new year had begun. The fireworks began being launched as people backed away from their stands as soon as the fireworks were ready to launch. Lillian looked at us as she pressed the ignition switches on. We cheered her on as she smiled excitedly; anxiously waiting for the fireworks to shoot from both arms and splash the sky with all sorts of colors.

The sky became lit with fireworks and it was breathtaking. We all looked up as they shot up the sky making a loud explosion then scattering into tiny specks of colors as they trickled down the sky and vanishing into the atmosphere.

Then we heard a loud explosion. Followed by one of the loudest screams we’ve ever heard. Then another explosion. And soon there were multiple explosions and we were surprised that there were explosions but no fireworks. We looked at the ground and saw her.

It was Lillian.

What we thought were screams of joy as she unleashed the fireworks into the sky was the total opposite. There she was: instead of the fireworks exploding into the sky, they unceremoniously exploded all around her. We watched in shock as the fireworks kept erupting all around her. Her screams filled the air and her beautiful, long braids suddenly caught fire. She vigorously shook her head as the fire quickly spread all over her hair due to the cool sea breeze which increased the intensity of the fire. The specks of fire fell on her white dress and all hell broke loose. She made a loud scream as we stood there, shocked and clueless about what to do. Her screams synchronized with the loud explosions of the rest of the fireworks being launched. I was speechless. We all were. The look on Tony’s face was that of shock: eyes wide open, mouth open even wider, hands on the head. We looked at each other as the horror unfolded before our eyes.

“She’s on fire!” People finally noticed her on the lower side of the dress was in flames which were on the verge of submerging her into their brutal heat. I lifted up my foot ready to dash towards her when Tony’s hand swiftly gripped my forearm. I stopped and looked at him, wondering what on earth he was doing.

“Bro, where do you think you are going? If we remain here and the police come we are all screwed. If she asks who let her hold the fireworks knowing it is prohibited without a stand, who do you think she is going to point at? US bro! We need to leave right now!”

And with that said the rest of the ‘crew’ whom we came with begun vanishing into the crowd in different directions. Tony patted me on the shoulder, a sure sign of “Goodbye bro, you’re on your own” and quickly disappeared amongst the crowd. I was left there, gazing at Lillian as her screams became louder and louder. People were rushing towards her with buckets of water and sand in an attempt to kill the fire. Two uniformed policemen arrived at the scene and desperately began to control the wild crowd which had formed around her.

“Why didn’t she use a stand….It’s against the law….”

I overheard two men speaking as they spectated the life-saving attempt on Lillian. The crowd had gathered so much that I was now unable to clearly see her. I had to make a choice. To run along with my friends and be at least on the ‘safe side’ or stay put and see what happens next. Whether she would be taken to the hospital, whether the police would question her. Would her pretty, angelic face be disfigured from this incident?

Would she know me as the coward who left her while she was in dire need or the one person who stood by her through thick and thin? If I stay will I risk myself or I should just run and be safe with the rest of my friends?

I had to make a choice.

I had to make a choice fast.

Meanwhile, the sounds of exploding fireworks continued echoing in the air as people who were on the far side of the beach enjoyed themselves while chanting the “Happy New Year” word again and again.

The Sword 

There I was. On that sunny Saturday afternoon. Seated on a public bench somewhere in Nairobi county, with my phone at hand, slowly but keenly skimming through my facebook page:somewhere I can get even the most breaking of all sorts of news. My earphones were intact on my ear-canal, contemplating the Afro beats and deciphering the lyrics to Runtown’s ‘Mad Over You’ .One hell of a song right there I can tell you that. I was just an ordinary human being connecting to social media. Then I spot a video posted by a concerned citizen. I click onto it and it begins loading. In matter of seconds, the video starts playing. It’s a rather clear video, of a person one or two storeys high, overlooking the road which was overcrowded by passers by. There is a dead guy on the road and another one is soon after sprayed with bullets and the video unceremoniously cuts to an end. I then read the caption given by the concerned citizen, only to be shocked :I go back to the video and watch it again, this time in complete disbelief. They were two suspected thieves gunned down by the Flying squad. In Eastleigh . That was when it hit me real this time.

Of course after watching it, the minute-est (if there’s such a word) of thoughts, and God forbid, that one day I will ever think of stealing, quickly evaporate from my head and vanish to the outside world. That feeling was one of my immediate reactions to the video. I could never imagine myself (and all who watched) being a law breaker or a menace to the society. I’m pretty sure if someone was planning to steal on that day, then sees the video, whether he’s within or without the scene,he would think he’s decision over and hold back. 

Second of all, I realised the two people gunned down were not some aged men with decades of experience in the crime. They were young guys. The youth. In my age bracket shockingly. So it got me thinking. What could have gone wrong? Then it hit me. I looked at myself, my thinking. Thinking of a typical guy in his 20s. We all have things in common. And as I read somewhere that we have the most of energy, the plentiest of time, but unfortunately, the least of money. Yes, we all have that burning desire inside each one of us -getting money. That feeling : doing whatever you must to get it. To earn it. Y’all get it, right. Which brings me to one thing I realised we in that age bracket lack -Patience. We youth have none of it in us. We are the masterminds of shortcuts. Not that shortcuts are bad, but choose the right one. You see all your friends swagging their designer shoes or rolling in flashy cars and you think “I must be like them. Really fast” . That’s a bloody wrong shortcut. Stealing ain’t hustling. The video can clearly prove how short life is. I looked at the other thug being manhandled by the flying squad. He was constantly looking at his dead ‘comrade ‘ lying in the middle of the road with bullets all over him. Thinking ,in his mind, his chances of seeing the next sunrise have reduced to almost impossible. That short period of time before his demise: The thoughts of regrets. People spoke on social media that he was a hard nut. One of those thugs with no humanity. But it was his fate and he knew It. His ally dead. Him next. Crowds chanting for the police to end him. Their mission failed. Terribly in fact. If only what he was thinking he could do in case he survived, I hoped it would not have been a decision he would regret afterwards. But it was nowhere near what he was expecting: soon to be rained with bullets at point-blank range. The officer was just angered by them. You are dead but still bullets are penetrating your lifeless body to annihilate any slightest hopes of survival in you :even if there’s none. It’s joke. He was one frustrated man and I also read that the gang killed an officer back then. So I saw where his ruthlessness came from. Not distant from the moment Pablo Escobar was gunned down after his endless mischief and tactics came to an abrupt end. His dead body being added bullets long after he’s gone. 

So for all of you who think of doing something that is not worth it, THINK. H_art the Band best put these words in poetic form for them to sink deep into your minds.