By Mwangi Macharia
Mama was silent. Her face was a minefield of disbelief, sorrow coated with regret. Her face was a reflection of all that was running within. She was asking herself whether she was the one responsible for Mr Mukandi’s death. Her mind was racing and she could not concentrate on the cooking. The onions hissed in the hot oil as she stared right at them but she did not realise it.
The smoke from the burnt onion slapped her back to reality. Confused about what to do she grabbed the Sufuria with her bare hands and threw it on the floor. Immediately she switched off the gas cooker. She couldn’t hold it any more. This was too much for her. She leant on the kitchen counter area and slowly slid to the floor where she began to cry.
Her hand was bleeding Papa. She was burnt.
This was absurd papa. Mr Mukandi had hurt her yet here she was, mourning as if she had lost her husband. I could not understand mama any more. She loved unconditionally. It seemed stupid at that time papa but when I remembered always the emphasis she gives that I should love you despite all that transpired between you two I conceded to the magical charm of true and unconditional love.
I dashed to her bedroom to get the first aid box. Before I could get to her room there was a fierce knock at the door. I stopped abruptly as I wondered who it could be. “I will answer that. Get the first aid kit first,” mama said as she slowly rose from the floor and walked carefully watching her steps not to slip on the spilt cooking oil.
I could hear her open the door but no sooner had she opened that she slammed it and screamed. I was terrified. The thought of robbers attacking our house manifested with unhindered haste in my young mind. My legs were shaking. I could feel food churning in my stomach. My entire body was paralysed by fear. My bladder could not contain its contents fully. I could feel the drops of the forbidden content dripping slowly.
There was silence. “This cannot be!” I thought to myself. What a bad day to be me. I lose a teacher and now my mother. I could not imagine it. I braved myself and silently walked to the passage that lead to the sitting room. I stopped right at the end of the passage, like a cop in a Hollywood movie and pressed my back against the wall. Stupid me. I inched on and stopped just shy of the corner. With no mastery of skill I turned my head to peep into the sitting room. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
How could this be? Had I collapsed and was imaging my own things? Was I dead and in heaven of hell looking a scenarios that would help me forget my demise? I could not understand it. I pinched myself hard to test whether I was alive. The pain was sharp and thus a clear indication I was alive. Papa do not ask where I got this from. A tear dropped involuntary. This drew my mind to rapture. “…And the son of man shall come like a thief.”
At this point my mind went back to the day’s activities. Particularly to the assembly part where the news of his death was broken yet I could recall nothing vividly. All I could remember was when the head teacher was standing in front of us with a sad expression on her face. I could also remember standing next to Muthoni my best friend. She had placed her left hand around my waist and the right hand was caressing my upper arm slowly as a gesture of condolence.
Muthoni and I were very close friends. It’s funny now because it seemed we just suddenly became friends. There was no history before our friendship, it was as sudden as tripping in long August grass. Her pain was mine and my pain hers.
I miss her.