When I pry into the near past, I get to have a whisper that was at that time a shout. I can recall not very clearly but vaguely the words of Dr. Alfred Mutua. The governor, Machakos County, was less of a prophet and more of an analyst. Not to throw much at him but he is one of the few people who can add one plus one and get four. Dr. Mutua stood in front of his people and spoke, “With this quarantine in place, after nine months, we will be having an influx of babies.” These are not his exact words but he assumed that maternity rate would increase third-fold. Come to think of it, if we heeded to the warning, we would have dug deeper and unearth this monster that is eating us before our eyes. For early pregnancies are a great hindrance to most teenage lives. Only that there’s no school right now, but when studies resume, you are sure to find a considerable increase in the rate of school drop out in teenagers.
All this is a thought in my head as I head to Ukunda. I boarded this matatu (public van) at the ferry and it was a complete snail. Dropping people at every stage. Mind your own business. I told myself while adjusting my earphones and looped Adele’s song, my same. For comfort.
We are creating a generation of sad, young mothers who may as well raise irresponsible children. – Felicia Kathure [SELENI ORG] Pic 1
A guy beside me who has been reading this magazine tapped me gently on the shoulder. We had been in this moving car for like 40 minutes and none of us had said a word. To each other. Maybe to ourselves. He hands me a copy of the Daily Nation and I am met with the headline ‘ALARM AS 3,964 GIRLS IMPREGNANTED IN MACHAKOS COUNTY IN FIVE MONTHS’. This is as of June 16, 2020. Abu -I later came to know his name- talks in between Adele’s chorus, “my friend.” He adjusts his sitting position before he continues, “That figure represents 28 girls on average became pregnant daily in Machakos County in the last five months. As revealed by the Kenya Health Information System Survey.”
I put off my music to establish if he is worth listening only to find him shoot his question, “can you date a girl from 19 years and below? Kwa sababu unakaa kama ishirini na kitu (Because you look like you are on your mid-twenties or so).” He smiles as I contemplate. Not to make me comfortable with the talk. He actually enjoyed every word he said. I found this very ironic considering the gravity of the matter.
UNFPA is working with local organizations and community members to reduce adolescent pregnancy rates. [UNFPA Kenya/ Douglas Waudo] Pic 2
“I can’t. Teenage girls are slightly not matured enough to view the world as I see it.” I lied. I’m not a pedophile but how do I just tell a stranger that my girlfriend is yet to be twenty? In a month. Salma is different. She is old enough man. I told my paranoid self. “It is not about the view. It is about the ability to make rational decisions.” He wasn’t looking my way. His line of sight fixed on the stationary trees running behind us. “You mean these girls chose to be pre…” I wasn’t done with the statement before he cut me short, “did you see the cases termed as rape? These are consensual.” This was getting interesting.
In my view, the rise in the early pregnancies was due to the exposure of teenagers to pornographic content. With this digital lifestyle comes with the ability to learn lots of things online. This is not until peer pressure has got them to follow their peers blindly. On the other hand, an idle mind is a devil’s workshop. Right now, in their homes, most kids are doing literally nothing. Children are also refrained from playing with others so they resolve into playing in secret. This ‘playing’ goes a long way without the knowledge of parents.
To my surprise, this was contrary to Abu’s perspective. “Let me tell you, if children are brought up appropriately, they become morally upright. Millennial parents are not as bad but they sire Generation Z which is an interesting group. These children are so much into technology and smartphones. They see a lot of unnecessary stuff. The exposure to this unmonitored information is what gives them ideas to practice what they see. Parents may do a good job of holding their kids from sexual adventures but one night without the parents, the child goes wild. The girl seizes the opportunity to do everything that she longed for. Na kuongeza chumvi kwenye kidonda (And adding salt to the wound), the pandemic has made parents take their children to the countryside as they return to towns. Back in the countryside, grandparents are unable to monitor them closely hence exposing our girls to sex pests. We now call them mafisi (hyenas). Mariam, who is 18 years old and feels like an adult gives in to the sexual pressure. You following me?” He says all this in a slow pace. It feels very much rehearsed.
Its a struggle out here for teenage mothers. A baby raising a baby. [SELENI ORG] Pic 3
“What next after the bad parenting? Is there a solution to the predicament?” I asked. Almost sounding like a journalist interviewing someone in a press conference. “Just keep the kids occupied.” He came inconclusively. “What?” I wasn’t satisfied. I’m a journalist anyway. “Cheki (See). Children not only need school education. They can also learn general life skills. They should. These include playing chess or other indoor games, learning how to farm and build farmyards, learning how to paint, or tailor clothes among other things that are worth learning. I mean, give them work. Additionally, I think it is high time we talked to our children upfront on the effects of sex. Talk openly about sex to them so that they are familiar. This leads them to have the ability to make good choices. Rational decision making. Remember?” He asked rhetorically. Before I could reply, he took his magazine, went past me, and got out of the matatu. “Freshi bro (Until next time bro),” Abu said as the van left. This conversation with the strangers led me to recall Esther Ingolo’s words that we were born looking like our parents but we will die looking like our choices.
Eastmond maintained eye contact. “Uhm. Ni viatu brathe (Definitely shoes bro).” A deep and heartful laughter followed Gibran’s swift reply. He had already gotten a hang of Eastmond’s witty questions. Those questions always had a catch.
East and Gee – as they called each other – were done with the FIFA game which Gibran had been thrashed five goals to one. They usually took a five-minute break after every game. They both had a way of making their existence on earth worthwhile. East, a Moi University graduate on poultry and livestock farming had a considerable passion for art, specifically drawing. Gee on the other side was just a nerd in his final year at Kenyatta University. How they met is a long story. It had something to do with Gibran losing his long-term girlfriend to his coursemate and Eastmond helping out with the trauma. East gained his place as his best friend when he got him out of depression which Gibran is always grateful for.
Ironically, even though Gibran had less information and interest in art, he gave Eastmond company as he stayed up all night exchanging different colours of drawing pens to achieve what their clients desired. This is what made them earn a living to pay off the rent of the 30 feet square room that they resided in. Gibran sourced for clients and marketed East’s prowess in drawing. Basically, East dealt with the production and Gibran handled the distribution part of it. Gee somehow found seeing East on the process of drawing as fascinating as a child seeing cats making love for the first time. That’s a rare occasion. Only the endowed get to witness such a divine series of intimate actions.
“Is art helpful? Is it even relevant at this time of the pandemic? Is it going to…”
“Ah, we bana usini… (Ah, you don’t…)”
“Don’t interrupt when I am asking rhetorical questions.” Gibran retorted with a folded face.
“That look in your eyes is a pain in my ass. You know that, right?” Eastmond replied almost immediately.
“Sawa bro (Okay bro). Just 20 seconds. Tell me something I don’t know.” Gibran’s voice was calm and convincing. The look now shifted. It was the face a dog would make when he waited eagerly for bone-throw from his keeper. Desperate and yearning.
“Artists are playing a very big role in the fight against Covid-19.” Eastmond’s reply almost sounded rehearsed.
“Hahaha, ju we pia ni artist. (Because you are an artist too)”
“Zii bro. (No bro) Look, let me break it down for you.”
“Anha.” Gibran was keen.
“You see, every frustration, anxiety, or stress is a disconnection from the core of who we are, what we do, who we do it for, or who we do it with. Reading, writing, singing, drawing, filming, playing instruments, pianos, violins, guitars, trumpets, and creativity as a whole is really a way to heal our souls; to reconnect the dots of our brokenness and celebrate our wounds. It requires courage, consistency, and above all a peace of mind which is a great piece of the overall world’s tranquillity.”
“But the world is not at peace.” Gibran debated.
“Yes, it’s not. That’s why artists are working hard to reclaim the serenity. I’ll tell you how. Songwriters are now writing songs on social distancing, sanitizing of hands and surfaces, and the need to stay home to reduce the chances of infection. Haven’t you seen drawings by a group of guys that portray people wearing masks and talking without physical contact?”
“Oh, yeah.” The realization dawned on Gibran.
“Additionally, don’t forget that at this time of hardship, the whole world turned to artists. People are now reading articles and books, listening to music, and watching films. These films make us comfortable in quarantine. People now watch more episodes in series than they used to.” Eastmond stretched his hand to pick the glass that he had filled with water before they sat down for the game. It was quiet. To Gibran. This felt like an eternity. “That even madeTBE Productions, to produce their film titled: SOCIAL DISTANCING. Remember when we watched it?”
“Yes, I remember.” Gibran agreed without second thoughts.
“But with our eyes on the price, our heroes are the medical practitioners. Kagwe leads the heroes from the front. They are our first line of defence. That is why we clap our hands every Wednesday at noon.” There was an element of assertion in Eastmond’s voice.
“On the other hand, humans are social creatures. The isolation may make people crazy and depressed. Is that what you artists advocate for?” A half-smile was forming on Gibran’s face. He was definitely enjoying this.
“That may be true. What I am certain is that after this pandemic, depression and suicide rates will reduce significantly. Having saved ourselves by following WHO regulations, we will all strive to make our lives worth the chance of living.”
“So, it’s a blessing in disguise?”
“Call it what you want Gee.” East replied conclusively. “Your 20 seconds were over 5 minutes ago. Tucheze game ingine. Nachukua Liverpool (Let’s play another game, I’m taking Liverpool)”
Gibran embraced the pad in his palms but could not stop wondering why countries invested so much on firearms while the medical industry was crippled drastically by four months of a pandemic. Are we more inclined to killing ourselves and each other than channelling our resources to keeping ourselves alive? This realization bugged his tenacious mind.
“It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Usually, I would start by pouring out a few words at this juncture to explain why I haven’t written to you for such an elongated period. I could but I am not going to. Words of excuse may seem boring at this stage and even more pointless. The reason I decided to break the deadlock today, umm…” I suddenly pressed the delete button on my iPhone. I didn’t know why but something inside me did not want me to stop deleting. There was something about the recipient and the message that did not seem right. My intuition was always right. Although my mind was debating outrageously, I always got myself blindingly and telepathically overcome by my gut. Right now. Only one word mattered. Benazir.
Bena, our lazy asses don’t let us pronounce the whole name, has always been my lifetime crush since time immemorial. I always see her in my dreams. She has a round apple-shaped head with carefully placed features. Her brown completion makes her eyes look like beans floating on a bucket of milk. The sun definitely rises and sets on her eyes. Her nose exhales divine air. Her mouth smells of a combination of lilacs and daffodils. Honey and milk are under her tongue.
Bena’s ears also add to her astonishing beauty. Personally, I’d get a hard-on for only gazing at her earlobes. But the time for her earlobes was not there since my main focus is always on her milky tits. Damn. They are not big. No. They have a good shape good enough to make you stand on your three legs. The. Third. Leg. The third leg always stands when she is around. Her breasts seem to shout out to me. Come suck the milk you cunt! I literally have her all thorax pinned on the wall of my room and it is the last thing I see before going to bed. You know the first thing I see after waking up? Good guess.
Going down her spine to her exteriors would take a lifetime so in a few words; somehow she makes it seem like she excretes pieces of clearly cut cupcakes instead of shit. I guess the pieces are perfumed. I think. It occurs to me that God spent 3 of the 7 days creating the world to expertly mould Benazir into the ideal woman I always yearn for. They say the soul attracts that which it secretly harbours, that which it loves, and also that which it fears. My obsession is a culmination of all three. I worship her.
I took a drag off my joint, held the smoke, exhaled and smiled. I started typing again. “Bena, I know this may sound…” I was hesitant. The picture of Joe holding her fragile waist two days ago tore my soul into sub-atomic micro-souls. It made my insides hurt like they were being boiled in molten lava. It wasn’t their perceptible intimacy that put me in unremitting pain, it was the fact that Bena chose Joe ahead of me.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane. Joe Ngatia was my best friend from form 1 to form 3. Joe. Ngatia. A fucker with big uneven eyes, filthy nose and a lack of humour. Joe who was my desk-mate from form 1 but we fell out when he stopped brushing his teeth. I couldn’t imagine how this shy, awkward and penultimate simpleton convinced Bena into placing her glossy lips on his. I recalled Mkenya Halisi’s words, “Don’t worry if people preferred other people to you. It is hard to convince a monkey that strawberries are sweeter than bananas.”
The joint was off. I lit it once more with my Bic lighter and the joint glowed orange in my dark room. I could notice the weed taking effect. My head wandered away. Good. The weed was working. Come to think of it, the majority of organ donors do it so that they can make their lives worth living. Almost a quarter does it to relieve themselves over a past mistake. To give away a part of you for the illusion of a good person may be good for the soul. Sometimes, we need to feel good about ourselves even though we know the naked truth.
The vibration got me back to my mission. Hussein the caller was brief, “Moha, huyu jamaa amefika. Dem wake hajakuja nae leo. (Moha, this guy has arrived. He doesn’t have his girlfriend with him today)” “Aminia bro. Ile ile. (Thanks bro)” I came with a swift reply. Hussein didn’t know my motive. I carefully concealed it with a warm smile He did not notice. He could not notice. He was not supposed to notice. I took the last drag off my joint. Before putting it off. Picked up all my predetermined necessities. Walked off.
Great news to the Rashid Hunt Production Company (RHPC) and the Earthquake Empire Studios. After being nominated in the LAKE INTERNATIONAL PANAFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL for the PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD,On Time – Kibabii University emerged the 1st runners up. We graced the award in the company of my colleague filmmaker Sam Waithaka (aka Mr. Legacy).
Before I go any further, I must confess that I had to perform the prostration of thankfulness (sijdatul shukr) to thank Allah for the great international achievement.
Let me start us off by thanking the Lake International PanAfrican Film Festival for giving us a chance, a platform to compete, get nominated and finally getting an award. I am very much inspired by Dr Zippora Okoth (Zippy Okoth) who is the founding director of Legacy Arts Film Lab and the founder of Lipff film festival. It was a great honour to be congratulated in person by Dr Zippy Okoth. I also appreciate the whole LIPFF fraternity for the commendable job. Lipff which encompasses all African countries give Africans a voice to tell their stories in their own languages. You have certainly inspired a generation.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Amnesty International for launching the Students Phone Film Challenge. They did a lovely job in identifying and nurturing talents and I am convinced that they achieved what they wanted which is to give Kenyan students an opportunity to showcase our abilities.
I wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t congratulate Perfect Mess- Kenyatta University for winning the challenge. I also want to recognize and acknowledge the other contestants for the thrilling competition that they posed. Winning and losing are just words, what matters the most is learning and being better after a loss. I loved the competition.
Saving the best for the last, I would like to appreciate my family (especially my sister Mwanamisi Mkutano who is my greatest fan), friends and all my fans all over the world including my international fans from Belgium, Australia and America who voted and inexorably prayed for my success.
I am really grateful to all of you for believing in me and giving me this award. I love the support, I love you all and you all inspire me to be greater and be the best every day in what I do.
Special thanks to my cast who were the first to believe that we can produce something phenomenal. It is our first film, first nomination (International nomination) and our first award. (We shot the film with OPPO A3S)
To my cast: Atama Patricia, Kevin Macharia (Quavo), Fidel Timbe, Erickson Kyalo, Teddy Odhiambo, Ibrahim Barasa, Dancose Okemwa (MC Danko) and Shervin Ndubi.
To my crew: Sam Waithaka (DOP &Editor), George Lavatsa (DOP), Maxwell Kibe (BTS), Phillip Yunasty (Location), Rashid Juma (Director) and Dr Kennedy Simiyu (Producer).
I thank you all for the support and rest assured that there’s so much to come. This is just but the start of something great. I hope to touch, inspire and change my generation with this God-given talent and opportunity. I’d like to conclude with a quote by Rashid Hunt, “The more we do, the more we can do.”
I would not be writing this letter if you stepped up and came for me the last time we met. I hope you are faring on well on the other end of the country. As for my case, life has not been easy without hearing your bass voice and loud childish laughter. Still, the wheel of time keeps on moving, and the pain of sleeping without having a glance at you remains unremitting, inexplicable, and entirely unfathomable.
It may be profoundly weird for you to receive such a script from such a person but then the tranquility, serenity, and brevity that I saw in your eyes sentenced me to a life of yearning. Paulo Coelho says that the eyes are the mirror of the soul. They show the strength of the soul. I know it was night and the whispering sea winds in conjunction with the moon, filtering through the palm trees in the sea-shore were the only witnesses as I beheld the man of my dreams. It was so outrageous and creepy that you did not read between the lines considering that you are a poet with the fourth eye, but then, the best things in life are unseen. Or maybe you were deliberately missing the point, as for a guy who is extremely intelligent as you are, it is easier to decode the painting on the wall. You are my Langdon.
Let’s take a trip down memory. Do you remember the day we ate coconuts on the shore and the weather was so cold that I had to lend you my hoodie even though you insisted that you were okay? That is the day these feelings were conceived. It was about a year ago, right? But guess what, you can’t stop a tide with a broom.
There’s this morbid fancy that is born of long hours spent not talking to you. I will photograph you every time we meet. I will photograph you in this life, in case it is the last time that we might, be exactly how we were before we realized there’s another life. I will photograph you because pictures are a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone.
If all this is wrong, I don’t want to be right Rashid. I know feelings always ruin relationships, but there is something about your eyes. Your eyes pulled me like a black hole. I will have to adjust my speed to be faster than the speed of light so that I may pass through the black hole without being disintegrated. I know the risks are getting higher, and the chance of success are getting poorer, but my eyes are on the price. And, if it doesn’t work out, I will pay the price of burning the candle at both ends.
Haven’t you noticed that I mention your name like it’s a declaration of love? I have been falling deep into the dark abyss of your being. I didn’t like the falling. Falling already is a negative concept, and I am indeed an optimist. I still failed to counter it. Do not hold me as I fall because I want to inexorably fall for you until the end of time. I know you are deeper than what I think.
Joining Undugu Mentorship Initiative was more of calling to me. I had seen it on Facebook and all the mentorship activities that they did. I resisted the urge to join while still in campus. Once I was done with my studies in April, I knew I would have to join. On 20th May 2013, I walked into the Undugu Mentorship Initiative office and after enquiries of how to join and I got registered. That evening, I went for my first session at Mbaraki Girls. I didn’t speak much that day but by the third session, I was already imparting lives. I could do the sessions but I felt I needed to do much more. Come 2014, I went back to school and I became busy and unavailable for the mentorship sessions as I was doing part time studies.
My turn around came in May 2015 when I was among the mentors that went for the leadership and mentorship camp for top achievers in form 4 students of Taita Taveta County. The students were divided into groups and I had my group of 26 students from different schools. I mentored them and by the end of the four-day camp at Taita Taveta University I had bonded with them. I remember asking them the universities they wanted to go to and Yale, Harvard, Massachusetts Institute were some of the answers. These answers challenged me considering the fact that I only wanted to go to KU back when I was in high school. They wrote their names, grades they wanted to score in KCSE and their dream careers in a piece of paper and when we got back to Mombasa, I made sure I prayed for each and every one of them every day. Reminding God to remember them, to help them in their academics and for them to achieve their dreams. I met some of them in camp two in August and by then their names were like a song to me. I promised success cards to them and yes, I did send to all. I am happy they got to pass and go to university. I am a proud ‘mother’ to my mentees. I am happy for the lasting friendships I formed with them.
I have so far mentored more than 100 students who I am humbled that they do remember me and call to share their successes and challenges.
If I could choose to do something all my life, it would definitely be Mentorship. Every day any time.
God bless Undugu Mentorship for the opportunity to serve.
Written by Christine Mwamisha.
Above is a testimony of one of the beneficiaries and mentors of Undugu Mentorship Initiative. In addition, Undugu Mentorship Initiative will be conducting a fundraising dinner on Saturday 8th December 2018. We will be celebrating 12 years of empowering and mentoring the society towards creating innovative and responsible individuals.
The fundraising is geared towards getting funds to facilitate the operations of the Community Based Organization.
When Undugu Mentorship Initiative visited our church in 2012, I was asked to give a vote of thanks. In those few lines, Undugu Mentorship Initiative chairman, Hon Danson Mwashako Mwakuwona, saw something in me. He invited me to join the organization and together with other mentors they’ve molded me, given me a platform to express myself and guided me through my youth hood.
I have had opportunities to network with people from different walks of life. The opportunity to network has led me to explore my talents, nurture them and grow.
Having met mentors with different occupations, we formed a CBO where I sit at the board hence expanding my leadership skills.
I have Undugu Mentorship Initiative to thank because it has kept me accountable to the society. It has shaped my character and instilled in me the knowledge that I ought to be a good role model to the society.
A saying goes ‘in teaching you will learn.’ Attending various mentor ships programs has enabled me to gather academic skills that also helped me in my study.
Undugu has been a platform that has empowered me with both entrepreneurial and employability skills.
Written by Elizabeth Mbinga
Above is a testimony of one of the beneficiaries and mentors of Undugu Mentorship Initiative. In addition, Undugu Mentorship Initiative will be conducting a fundraising dinner on Saturday 8th December 2018. We will be celebrating 12 years of empowering and mentoring the society towards creating innovative and responsible individuals.
The fundraising is geared towards getting funds to facilitate the operations of the Community Based Organization.
“What if we all woke up and found out that which is alien has become familiar and the familiar has been shrouded in mystery? The faces change with passing years; the heart remains constant.” These were the first words out of Tom’s mouth and he could hardly wait to say them. Even in the shadows of the park, the other men could feel his anxiety. The induction hit me hard of course. It was so pertinent that I even felt his zeal. My intuitions led me to feel a fearful premonition of doom in the air.
Samarra, in Colombia, was a street of so much life. Every organism with inclusion of trees in the driveways and parks, snakes on the trees and the concrete seats beneath the trees upon which we sat on, all sang in unison to celebrate life. On this day, the mood was mundane. The trees did not dance. The birds did not chirp. The mundane mood instilled some fear in me. It wasn’t the fear of a snake bite but the fear of something greater than what would kill me.
The street was silent. The colour of the day was outrageous. The sky was grey. Not even the ever-scorching sun was in its usual self. I felt so much heat but the heat was from another sun. The wind did not filter through the trees. I was sweating. “Mary is dead.” That came so strong like a hurricane and swung me round and sideways. Tom says I ran off, hit a tree and lost my consciousness which I doubted but the bruise on my head came out so openly with the assertion. I was stunned why Tom wasn’t crying but I overlooked into his eyes and saw that he was bleeding from the inside. Emotional haemorrhage has claimed more lives in this decade than any other.
Tom’s reaction lifted me to reality and my mood alternated from gut chilling fear to anger. I rose up and asked tom to lead me to where Mary lay. Our walk was very uneventful. The street in front was a pedestrian walkway, with planters and flowers and palms along its center, like a promenade. The place is usually crowded with people strolling but, on this day, there was no one to be found save for some rubble who thought it necessary to loiter on doom’s day or can we say ground-hog day. The afternoon shadows lengthened as we continued to keep up our pace. We hardly talked. Everyone dived deep into his thoughts.
Mary was Tom’s girlfriend who had been 11 weeks pregnant before she decided that she wasn’t going to keep the child. Maybe it didn’t matter to her since she didn’t want to ruin her modelling career, but it mattered a lot to Tom who in other words felt a loss of high IQ sperms. Mary had some prowess in modelling which made her the top model in Cuica University and currently the Miss Cuica University. Mary’s career was fast unfolding. She had a kind of quixotic zeal for her work. The world was awash in anonymous skulls scattered across continents by wars, pogroms, massacres, slaughters and murder. Somehow, she felt she had a genuine mission to turn the wasteland of trivialized death into individual moments of significance, face by face by face. It was a small thing in the grander scheme of things, she knew.
On the other hand, it was no small thing at all to give an identity, a history, and a kind of redemption to what had been only a lost and empty bone before she touched it. Her touch was as magical as it was divine. But, all that was no more.
“Ben, we are here.” It was Mary’s home. The culmination of my anger and frustration coupled up by my inability to imagine life without Mary let loose my eye lids. Tones of tears rolled down as I headed to see the remnants of the vague superstar, the spark who did not give herself a chance to burst into a flame.
Tom and I both played a part in refraining her from aborting the child. We played the reggae song by Nthsenge ‘Abortion is a crime’ on repeat and got her emotional movies and even wrote her articles about how bad we needed her and the child and how the world’s women fertility rate had reduced by half its usual rate. Actually, according to the Kenyan Business daily of Monday 12th November 2018, “there has been a remarkable global decline in the number of children women are having… And there would be profound consequences for societies with ‘more grandparents than grandchildren’… In 1950, women were having an average of 4.7 children in their lifetime. The fertility rate all but halved to 2.4 children per woman by last year… The fall in fertility rate is not down to sperm counts or any of the things that normally come to mind when thinking of fertility. Instead it is being put down to three key factors: Fewer deaths in childhood meaning women have fewer babies, greater access to contraception, and more women in education and work.” Regardless of being exposed to all of these, she remained unshakable. I had to soak in the words of Esther Ingolo that “we were born looking like our parents but we will die looking like our choices.”
I saw her face. The face of the assassin who had the intention of killing one but instead killed two. I saw her so vivid and suddenly my weeping stopped. I felt that it was poetic justice for her to lose herself in claiming to save her career. Her additional reasons were that she didn’t want to be seen carrying a child because the society would judge her. I realized the controlled pandemonium and I noticed all her family members were bitter about the situation since neither Mary’s mother nor her father knew about her pregnancy. Not even her best friend Edith knew about it. I also remembered that I was having a lecture on criminal law from 4 pm which was 20 minutes away.
Tom’s eyes were fixed. He had not set eyes on her since she made the decision three days ago. They had even broken up on that day and Tom came to me so hopeless. I actually did not think that she would do it. I tapped him on the back but his attitude had also changed. His attitude seemed to be, ‘thank you very much for pushing me off the cliff, but now that you have, I am going to be in charge of the falling. And the landing.’ I knew how important that moment was to him. This kind of stuff comes with an emotional price, especially between partners who have shared more than the secrets of state.
I walked out and took a taxi to Paseo de la Reforma, where I got into Polanco. I walked three blocks south of Polanco and six blocks west to Cuica University main gate. The Auditorium was packed. I got in class in time to get the lecture kicking off. I reflected on the impromptu meeting which painted the whole scenario on the wall, ‘Abortion is a crime’. It took me a while to completely get soaked into my chair. I sat there like I had the entire day to sit. That was my best chance of reacquiring my normalcy.
Darkness, the true darkness is not the absence of light. It is the conviction that the light was there and it is no longer there. That the light has to come to fix all that is wrong. That the light always returns, to show us things that are familiar, cars, humans, beds. Things entirely new, Grim reaper, demons. It shows us new possibilities and challenges us to pursue them. This time, the light shone on my hero. Our darkness runs deep and seems to swallow. But these heroes are always here at all times, to remind us that hope is real, that you can see it. All you have to do is look.
With all the brain matter scattered on the faces of the security detail, the commotion built up. I checked out of the Royal Hotel only to meet Cassie again. I felt her eyes penetrate my skin as she took the .50 from me. Sometimes the only way to get into someone’s head is to hit them with a sledge-hammer. I felt the hitting pain. I felt the avalanche of feelings inside her and decided to ignore it. More important things were on bay. I didn’t entirely trust Cassie, it is so disquieting to put all your eggs in one tiny frail of a basket. On the other hand, every blessing ignored is a curse. I played with the odds presented. The Smith and Wesson .38 Special was still with me. I gave it out. The job was over. I got the next taxi on the parkway and left before anything got out of hand. The mission was a success, the escape was marvelous. The execution, lovely. I got to Top Tank Hotel only to get the saddening news on TV that the minister for education was no more.
I got to the room, took a very fast shower and checked out. The airport was on strict, agile and vigilant security. Although I kind of felt the ants in pants I made it out of the four security check ups very safe. Well, you can’t stop what you can’t see of course. It was almost satirical when the cabin crew personnel wished me a safe journey and said I was welcomed again in Mexico.
I was solemn and reflective throughout the flight back. I thought to myself that death makes people a lot more aware of their lives. It was even funnier that on the time of death, one would still struggle hard to keep his life. Do we really want to live forever? What is the fun of living forever. It’s so emotionally tiresome. Our human endurance can not last us a lifetime. The essence of life is that any minute, your breathing may be curtailed. Knowing that death is nigh. This is what gives life a meaning.
My flight back to Belfast was faster that I expected. More relaxing and satisfactory. To lead a satisfactory life is to live with fear being a part of you. Pumping a lot of fear into someone until they snap. Until the fear saturates the mind and you become numb to fear. We call that the point break. The point where your fear becomes the master. It not about going about it for personal gain. It’s about being part of another life. Are we ready for that? Well, the aspect of courage is not that your heart should not quack but nobody else should know it does. Nobody else.
It was all serene in Belfast, everything so normal. Just a normal Saturday. Night had already fallen and I walked in the streets like I owned them. That’s the feeling you get when you know you have nothing that may compromise your movement if in any case you got lifted. Talking about compromise, I got home only to find someone sited on the stairs landing. She was female. Her areola looked familiar. I walked closer. If death was near, I would know. She stood up as I approached. I noticed her eyes were blood-red. The redness was born of long hours spent crying. It was Roisin. She watched me come. The situation was very awkward but I kept my cool. She had a box of pizza with her.
“I don’t remember ordering any pizza today”, I spoke candidly. She didn’t speak. I took a glance at her and went ahead to open the door. “Can I come in?” she spoke so softly that saying no would feel like breaking her even more.
It was some minutes past 8pm and I was hungry so I thought the pizza would come in handy. We got in and I got to my phone. The first text I got was about a credit transaction made on my account. I smiled. “That must be someone you love” Roisin commented. I was stunned. I hated the fact that I was so transparent to this human. I changed the perspective. “What’s up? You look fucked up.” “My dad has been killed. He has been assassinated today.” Roisin said. “Damn, that’s bad.” I said while comprehending how our killing industry was advancing. “How did it happen?” I added. “He was going to a press conference in Malinalco. It’s in Mexico.” Roisin said between sobs. My pupils dilated. I felt some bitter saliva go down my gut. I hugged her. Gave her the shoulder. It was the first time I ever felt sorry for anyone since I started reasoning. I felt her pain. I felt her weakness.
There is a very thin line between love, lust and infatuation. A few can distinguish the difference but most humans cannot. The concepts get even further blurry when there is some disposable pussies and influx of dicks. Pussy niggers get even more confused, especially when one can be absorbed into a clitoris for a whole night. Well, for a feminist, women rule the world but for a chauvinist, dicks are far more paramount. That’s the very reason why the population of women outshines that of men by more than a dozen times. It’s all God’s doing.
So many thoughts were still piling up while I was still comprehending the magnitude of the situation. The phone was still ringing. Then some bright light interrupted me. I raised my head. My gaze moved from the bed to the path that led to the bathroom. It was a glowing female body. It was blinding me. She was entirely naked. I was first amazed, then amused. All my reflexes were put on sudden halt. I was drawn to another world of fantasy. I got stuck in the exotic world. A world full of intense intimacy. I saw her kiss me. I felt her lips. My fantasy was curtailed by the lady coaking a gun. She had already concealed the heaven that I had seen. The phone was still ringing. My first words to her “nice trick.”
She looked down my torso, saw the bulge and gave a crooked smile. She switched the play. “Pick it up” she said, so candidly. She had a Smith and Wesson .38 special on my forehead.
“A blessing in disguise” I commented. “I won’t ask again Robert” now in a firmer voice.
Tequila was still calling. I picked it up and listened. My head was not in the call. I was calculating how I would take the Smith and Wesson .38 special from her. My calculations were perturbed by the familiar voice I heard. “Robert, this line is secure. The bag contains all that you require for tomorrow. Make sure to confirm execution before leaving. Half of the cash is in your account…” “Wait, what?” I interrupted. “You are too fast. Is it my Barret.50 Cal? And what’s with the female eventualities?”. I knew the voice was Abraham’s and he had some important information. “You are too slow. Your favorites are in the bag. And the girl who has a Smith and Wesson .38 special with her is yours for the night. Make the best out of it. However, the Barrett.50 Cal is loaded with one bullet, you only have one shot” He hang up.
I looked up and smiled. She handed back my gun and smiled. I opened the bag and confirmed his utterances. Things were getting harder each minute. She watched me go back and forth. She stood there. Silent. I went for my laptop. I saw the cash. It was there. She also saw it. She was stunned of course and all she could say was “wow.” I closed the laptop so she won’t see more. The door was still open. As I went for the door, she started undressing. She got on the bed. The door was now closed. I turned, looked straight to her eyes and said “Robert.” She giggled. “Well, I could have the pleasure of knowing your name.” I continued. “Oh, c’mon Allan. I know all about you. I came here on my own volition. I’m sorry for the unpleasant welcome. Come to bed, I’ll make it up.” She giggled again. I know it was foolish for me to hesitate but who gets served with gold on a silver platter?
Just like the juxtaposition of choosing stupidity over intelligence, I headed for the washroom to take out the heat. I got out to find dinner. She got us some fast foods. We traded stories as we ate. We talked mostly about the missions I’ve done and how excellent I have been. I told her I had never missed a target. We got so much attached with Cassie and we kicked it. We got hail Mary for like 2 hours and I wasn’t entirely exhausted. She did most of the job. I said most, not all. She was better than me of course, that’s what you get when you dedicate half of your life learning how to kill people and spending the other half killing for a living.
We both slept off and some bad dream woke me up earlier than expected. In that dream, Roisin and I were holding hands. Dancing. It was all night and we were in a cemetery. Dancing on our graves. It was creepy how a delivery girl would come to my head and dance. It was even more creepy when we danced on our graves. I left Cassie on the bed and got to my laptop. I confirmed the attendance of Miguel. I watched his videos more and remembered his moustache and the rings on his left fingers. I got my equipment, everything was in check. No faults.
My map, my calculations were all in my head. No tangible calculations. All of them, the execution, the escape. All of it. There’s no way something was going to be wrong. Cassie woke up to find me cleaning my Smith and Wesson .38 special “want to kill me darling?” she joked. “I want to have you for breakfast.” “Oh, you getting addicted. Your reputation allows you to get more than Cassie. The Kardashians are your level.” What better thing than a woman putting you on a pedestal?
The morning was glorious. Despite all that Cassie and I did, I felt some premonition of doom. My intuitions were telling me that something is entirely off. I scrapped it off since my paranoid self would ruin the moment. And Cassie had a good way of making me think of other human things. I felt relieved. Still, I didn’t go to Mexico to get laid. I woke up. Put my stuff in check. My flight back was at 1730 hours, approximately 2 hours after execution. With all that commotion built up and the time wasted at the 4 stops for security check up before boarding the plane, I wouldn’t have time to pack.
All was set and I left for Malinalco at 1500 hours. Maneuvered through some path ways and got to some restaurant to assess the situation. My bag pack with me. There was so much security and it was so much satirical that the Angel of death was there and they did not recognize him. I turned my gaze only to find Cassie coming. She was damn sexy and I hated her for being a distraction. She knew what I would say so she spoke first. She was brief. “Accommodate the back door.” She left. I knew where the backdoor was but the shot from there was quite risky. A reflection could expose me.
I took the drive way to the end of the cul-de-sac and got to the Royal hotel. The room I had booked yesterday was still unoccupied. It was half past 3 and I was running out of time. I got to the window. It was confusing that the only way to get the view of the back door was if I made the shot from the balcony. It was not that hard considering that the room was at the top floor of a 21 storey building but that would expose me to the scorching sun. I had to make a decision. I took out my Barrett.50 Cal and confirmed the single bullet. I raised it and waited. Targeting both the front and the back door. There were so many cars but I knew his car. 20 minutes past and still his car was not there.
It was past time but I still waited. I couldn’t afford to fail the mission. As I thought how hard I worked and how far I came from, his car came in and the applause from people alerted me. Everyone got out but the sight of Miguel Garcia was still unconfirmed. I moved my Barrett.50 Cal to the back door just in time to see some security detail opening the door. I felt his presence. They moved as a unit but I noticed the silver rings shining on his left fingers. I had to make a calculated guess on where his head would be. I took a deep breath, held my lover tightly and released my baby. The bullet got through the wooden door and someone was down. I confirmed the rings on the fingers of the dead person. Perfect shot. Cassie was right. I smiled.
Its my sincere hope that this benedicted piece of paper finds you in your best moods; and that you are fairing on well at the other end of the country. You’ll be flabbergasted, no doubt, to receive this letter but I could not withhold myself from scribbling because of reasons best known to the High Deity. Well, we are just condemned to live in this world, as for the planning and how things would run chronologically, that’s for God.
I know that you might consider my handwriting so pathetic as my desk mate Joe Ngatia does but, that’s how I massage the truth with oils of words. However, for me this letter is a celebration, a final act of love, a quality which, in spite of my studies, in spite of tomorrow’s verdict (which you have no idea about but in the fullness of time you’ll hear about), I do possess in abundance.
Its been a while, hasn’t it? Usually I pour out a few words at this juncture to explain why I’ve not written to you for such an elongated period of time. I could, but I’m not going to. Words of excuse may seem boring at this stage and also a little bit pointless. This is because from being a desk mate I may be an inmate and if the judge is so much considerate, subject me to the chair which will not let me see the struggle again behind bars. At least that was my thought when I pleaded guilty. Promise me that you won’t cry.
I always treasure the day I met you and that was when I realized that the world was new and fishes flew in golden ponds while pigeons swam in sapphire skies. In the love we them shared have I found happiness, a true resting place, a shelter from the many storms that have buffeted my brief life. This may surprise you considering that our love was never consummated and that you may have possibly forgotten me, having not seen me these two years but it is logic that on the night before tomorrow I should write to you and pour out my consolement.
Have you ever been on the eye of a raging hurricane or in the middle of a fierce storm such that the storm destroys everything around it? Well, I was attracted by the storm in your eyes which inexorably pulls me towards you and I never gained the strength to resist.
For as much the reason for writing to you is unknown and the reason for refraining myself was also in absentia, the reason why I wrote to you in the near past was that the zeal and anxiety would grow in you so that every day, you may want me in the threshold of your being. I miss you. Actually, my dream was for us to have an extremely fabulous and outrageous wedding that will culminate to a humongous house on a hill-top in the leafy suburbs of Nairobi. That dream is no more valid.
I am not asking for your understanding nor sympathy, I need neither. What I want is for you to take care of yourself and I must confess that without you, the world would come to a standstill. I know you would weep for having lost the best but the only step is to move on. Don’t settle for a single star while there’s a whole galaxy to be explored.
I love you with all the strength of my tenacious mind. My heart is as light as the daylight which seeps stealthily into our darkened world. My time is up sweetheart. Its dawn. I send you all my love. Be a good girl.
Yours loving, Chidy
A bullet will kill you in three ways. The first one. One shot on your lower abdomen that penetrates your liver, stomach or a major artery. It takes 10 to 15 minutes before you bleed out. Or you give in to a fatal hemorrhage. The second one. Any where on the chest. The bullet will tumble, lots of bones breaking. Separating. The heart or the arteries get hit. Blood pressure drops to zero. The final one is the kill shot. On your head. The bullet will open up your skull and disturb the serenity of your brain matter. You are dead before your brain can process what happened. Snipers change everything.
I was packing so hurriedly since Abraham Satraken had put me on an emergency flight that was to take off at 0530 hours on 18/7/2015. I barely slept at night. The emergency flight was to and fro. The return ticket was indicated that I would travel back to Belfast on Saturday, 19/7/2015 at 1730 hours. My time in Mexico was so limited. The mission was so abrupt and I felt the pressure. The difficulty. It would normally take me two weeks before execution to get the right spot to take the shot. This would entail calculating air resistance, getting the speed of the bullet and the distance the bullet will travel. All these were dependent on the gun I would use. This was uncertain since I was supposed to be entirely unarmed. I was also supposed to watch the target’s vehicle as so to know which car he will travel in, that is in case of tinted windows. How the car will be packed and from which side of the car he will get out. It was a whole load of calculations that I was supposed to do in 24 hours. It was extremely tiresome. I hated the mission already. But after all, I signed up for it.
I took a taxi through Maori highway. The driver deviated to another route which I later realised it was a shorter route to the airport. The atmosphere at Belfast International Airport was quite lovely and I had an exquisite trip. I watched so many videos of Miguel Garcia. I got familiar with every aspect of his being. I could recognise his smile without seeing his whole body. He had a moustache, protruding forehead and big eyes that would lead you to hate him at first sight.
I finally arrived at Mexico. Not so much jet lag as I had presumed. A taxi was sent specifically for Robert Bangford. I bought the local newspaper on my way to the hotel. News about the Minister of Education attending the press conference at Malinalco hit the front page. I got absorbed. Then I fell asleep.
“Mr Robert. We have arrived.”The driver confidently said. It was barely two hours! I took out my bag and briefcase which had some clothes and a laptop respectively. I turned round and saw a banner written ToptankHotel. I was taken to room 59, third floor.
The room was lovely. I thought of bringing a hoe, sometime. After all, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. But that part would come later. I checked the washroom, closets and under the bed to see if there’s any Assassins planted. I only trust my instincts. I sat on the bed. Took out my laptop. Copied the coordinates of Malinalco Conference Hall on a piece of paper and walked out. Unarmed. I only carried my keys and some cash. A taxi cab pulled up on the driveway and I got in. “Malinalco,” I coughed. And the engine was hot. I marked all landmarks that led to Malinalco from Toptank Hotel. I got to the hall and admired how spacious it was. As the amazing tall buildings impressed me, I wondered why I was supposed to assassinate the Minister of Education and not the damn President. Killing prominent people was quite fun. Drawing their lives was very exciting. They didn’t know when it was coming. How and when the lights will go out. I will know if someone is coming to take my life. And when they come, I will take theirs first. Even the angel of death knows, that’s why he doesn’t come. Or maybe I am the angel of death. Maybe. But I fear death. I fear death not because oblivion might lie beyond it but oblivion might not.
I got familiar with the neighborhood. Got in a cyber cafe to get a Google map of the location. I drew the plan, the roads, the landmarks. All the relevant information. I couldn’t establish for sure where it would be the most approximate position to make the execution because the guns and my bike were still uncertain. I walked on the subways, making turns in driveways and parkways. I programmed the routes in me like I was a native. It takes a great deal of ingenuity.
I always love night missions because the camouflage is easier. With here, so many people will flock the streets. This makes the security agile. The sun may also bring inconveniences for a reflection may be created. I stayed in Malinalco for the rest of the midmorning, through the afternoon and down to the dawn. I wanted to see the sun set. Having covered all aspects, I headed back to Toptank Hotel. As I alighted from the cab, I noticed the lights in my room were on. I checked in and took the stairs to the third floor. I was even more confused when I saw the door to room 59 slightly open. I pushed it wide and took cover. I waited. Nothing. I crouched and peeped. No one. Behind the door. No one. I saw a big bag on the bed. Beside it, a phone. Then I heard movements in the washroom. The shower was on. Before I made a step to the washroom, the phone rang. The caller’s name, Tequila.
Time has been more or less like every physical entity. It is just that it has always been vaunted curative powers, since time immemorial. I always fed on it. I always embraced patience. I always waited. The correct time to strike was not to be speculated but established. That is better than blowing everything up. It saves on energy and also on time. Just as the words of a certain philosopher which go as “Be sure to put your legs in the right place, then stand firm.”
All these thoughts of time and optimism saturated my brain and a man who came from behind, taking my Smith and Wesson .38 special brought me back to reality. The other guy was still pointing the gun towards me. My heart was drilling through my ribs. I felt nauseated. For the first time in my life, I was afraid. I had to put my hands in my pockets as so these bozos won’t see them shaking. What gave me hope was that these guys were not cops. If they were, where are their badges? What bugged me the most is how they knew my name. Allan Cork McCummings was a fictional name. After the real me died.
The guy sank in my chair. He was rolling my Smith and Wesson .38 special in his finger as he made himself comfortable. He spoke. “Great job you did Marcus, I’ll take it from here.” No sooner had Marcus put down his aim than I turned him round and skillfully took his gun out of him. My left hand firmly on his neck and my right hand pointing the gun on his head.
“Wow Allan. Relax. We are here to talk.” The other guy spoke so candidly. He was still rolling my Smith and Wesson .38 special.
“Start talking before I blow his brains.” I said.
“Don’t do something you will regret.”
“No one tells me what to do.”
“I am Abraham Satraken.”
Abraham Satraken was the owner of the armoury where I ordered my guns and ammunition. We never met because the order is done online and the deliveries always go to a different address. Then I could pick up my parcel later on. Payment was made before deliveries. By bank.
” I know all my clients and since you’ve been a consistent buyer, I did a speed check on you. I have to know everyone so no one can turn on me. You have a great deal of skill, I’m impressed. ” He spoke with a face life had chewed on.
“What do you want?” I asked condescendingly. Holding Marcus even more firm.
“I have a proposal for you. I give you assignments. Fire arms on discount. Most of them will be international missions.”
“I work alone.”
“If you don’t want to be a part of it, you can do only this one. It has to be executed. It has to be perfect. It has to be you. I’m not begging, I’m insisting.”
“Goes through me. There’s a good potato in it cork sucker.”
“I’ll sleep on it.” I said. Face expressionless.
“Great talking to you Allan Cork McCummings.”
“Next time. Get your formalities right. Its Allan Wolf.” I said as I let Marcus loose.
“There will never be a next time Allan Wolf. Give me your answer before today midnight. Anchor is up by midnight, don’t be late.” Abraham Satraken said while handing me my Smith and Wesson .38 special. He opened the door.
“Oh! Look who’s hungry. Pizza is here.” Abraham Satraken added.
Marcus snatched his gun and followed Abraham Satraken. I put my Smith and Wesson .38 special at the back and waited. For the pizza ofcourse. I had even forgotten that I had ordered pizza from Dick’s. Dick’s always delivered their pizzas at my doorstep every Thursday and Sunday night. At exactly 17 minutes to 10 o’clock.
Apart from gas, pizza was the only thing I paid by cash. The delivery girl always handed the pizza, took the cash and left. Today she spoke.
“Those guys have colder eyes than yours.”
I was silent. Still wondering if I was so transparent.
“You are the only one out of town who orders pizza at night.” I was silent.
“Your wall clock is 6 hours and 11 minutes ahead. Creepy.” That captured me.
“Hey observant woman, you making me uncomfortable.” Already feeling my gun. Prepared.
“Roisin,” she said. “Although it’s written on my tag.”
“Jack,” I lied. “Your cash is on the table.”
“Have a good night Jack.”
“Great night to you.” I faked a smile. I watched her drive away. I closed the door. I put off the lights.
I sat down and reflected on the day. It was fucked up. I had no ride. The thoughts of Abraham Satraken pissing on my face and Roisin shitting even more were disturbing. I knew death if I saw it. It wasn’t nigh. I kinda liked Roisin because she had been nice. She was beautiful and had a fine posterior to match with. For Abraham Satraken, it was more than blackmail. He was desperate and I was the only hitman who could deliver. If I ordered ammunition that day, someone had to die. That was clear and evident. 13 missions all successful. 13 and counting because I just got started. I looked at my wall clock and did the maths. It was 17 minutes to midnight. I took my laptop and typed an email to ASSAD, Abraham Satraken Supplies of Armoury and Deliveries. ‘I’m in.’ Almost immediately, a reply came.
Mission: Terminate the target
Time: 1540 – 1550 hours
Target: Miguel Garcia
Mexico Minister of Education
45 years of age
Location: Malinalco at a press conference. Hint: silver rings on fingers of left hand. If you accept the assignment. Send ACCEPT.
CHAPTER TWO: 17 SECONDS OF DEATH
One evening when the sun was at its most beautiful state, I lay still and quiet at my required position. With my Barrett. 50 Cal in front of me, already in position. Relaxed. I also carried a Smith and Wesson .38 Special just in case some uncertainties came by. The orders I got before the mission were so clear. Rules were upheld. No names. Half of the payment made before the mission and completed when the mission was confirmed successful. Payments made by bank. My bank account was untraceable. Cash flows and activities erased every 17 seconds. The holder unknown. It was like it never existed, but it was there.
“Target heading your way. Do you copy?”
I hurriedly put aside the bread and packet of milk that I was eating while crouching in the deserted house. Some of the milk poured, but I didn’t care. The job was worth a pool of diamonds. The procession moved so slowly to their desired destination. Wherever the were heading. I didn’t care. All I knew was that someone in the inside was coordinating.
“Copy that.” I replied. I knew which car he will be driven in and at what position he would be sitted at. In the car. Although the windows were tinted. All closed. I could still see the target. It was like I had a form of power embedded in me. More of a strategist than sheer luck, the rays of the sun were alongside my aim. No reflection was created.
I was very sure the coordinator, who was female, didn’t know me. I always put my identity confidential. I worked alone. The tales of partners turning on each other and blowing each other’s brain matter off was not pleasing.
She started the count down from 17 down. When she was 5, she became quiet. I counted by heart. My finger firmly on the trigger of my lover. I released one of my babies and the perfect shot got the eye of the target and the bullet went through and out on the other side of the head. Bam! No air resistance. Perfect shot.
The fracas, noises, screams and uncontrolled pandemonium gave a chance for me to gather my equipment, put it in place, get on my motorbike. Ride away. No sooner had I fled than a black car was on my ass. I could see it from the side mirror how hard it was tailing me. Fuck! The nigger had security, agile security. They were on the verge of getting on my ass when I took out my Smith and Wesson .38 special and shot the driver dead. My aiming was stunningly accurate. It was exquisite. One shot one kill. Take the shot or lose the chance. Well I shot at them because I could not afford getting caught. I did something wrong. I carried the murder weapon. We were always supposed to leave it. That is one of the sniper rules. But I loved the Barrett. 50 Cal. This mind-blowing single shot, bolt-action weapon comes with a maximum fire range of 2600 metres. And, it can shoot through a wall! I called it my lover, I didn’t part with it. I even slept with it. It was this emotions that always made an assassin vulnerable.
The pursuers stopped, got out and shot at me, intently wanting to draw the life out of me. All this time I moved towards the suburbs, I pulled them to where there was less attention so my escape could be easier. Strategic retreat. I got into the Catullus Woods heading North. I dumped the motorbike in a hole, cleaned, no prints. Took a North Eastern bearing. I knew where it led.
It took me 13 kilometers to get to the Maori highway that led to my home which was situated at the outskirts of town. I got home just in time to get the 9 o’clock news. What hit the breaking news was the assassination of the tycoon. His picture was on the screen and a poem written under it. I felt the poem was familiar. I recalled it was a requiem by Robert Luis Stevenson. It apparently was my favourite.
As I finished reading the poem, a text popped up in my cell phone.
“$375,000 deposited for the account number 06678149256 at 9.17 pm on 17/7/2015.”
I heaved a sigh of relief. Before I sat down, I heard a loud knock on the front door. I thought of opening the back door to go check out the front door from the outside, it was safer. With my Smith and Wesson .38 special in my hand. No sooner had I opened the back door than a gun was raised and the muzzle on my forehead. My hands were up without being told to raise them. The gun did not freak me out. What freaked me out was what the one who bore the gun said.
“Allan Cork McCummings you are under arrest for the attempted murder of AbdulMutwalib Sagaf. What you say may and will be used against you in the court of law.”
She jumped out of the bed and ran wild to pick up the ringing phone. I lay there like a dead vegetable, startled, saying nothing. Nothing was running through my mind. You would mistake me for a zombie. The best I could do was breathe and wait for the next step. Roisin always liked to dance and sing to my ringtone word by word. I found that childish but she enjoyed it and I had no right to rob her off her happiness. She would sing until it stopped ringing, then hand me the phone the second time it rang.
Roisin loved my Ringtones. It was Adele who always sang. On this day, Adele and Roisin sang : This is the end
Hold your breathe and count to ten
Feel the earth move, and then
Hear my heart burst, again
For this is the end
I’ve drowned and dreamt this moment
So overdue I owe them
Swept away, I’m stolen
Let the sky fall
When it crumbles
We will stand tall
Face it all ,together
Let the sky fall
When it crumbles
We will stand tall
Face it all, together
This day, she sang, glanced at my phone, kept quiet then passed the phone. The caller’s name read Witch. I didn’t want to ruin our second year anniversary with Roisin. I fucking put it clear to the bozos that I won’t take any assignments. Not until I’m done celebrating with my woman.
With the type of vocation that I had, I was not supposed to have any strong links to people or even fall in love, but then love comes, and there we were.
Roisin did not know what kind of job I was doing. All I had to do was tell her that it was safer that she didn’t know, and just like magic, she understood. At least that was one thing I could count on her.
The weird name made her angry and the fact that I didn’t pick up made her angrier. I didn’t want to ruin the moment of course, so I soothed her with oils of words.
Things took a turn when the Chief himself sent a text and it popped up. It read:
Allan, our efforts are futile without your input. Get your ass in the fucking conference room, it’s the only shot we got. Renege on me at the expense of your girl.
My tears did not stop pouring, it was like I had acquired a tender of filling a swimming pool at the middle of a desert and the best I could do was cry. The note that Arthur Clarke had written was submerged in my tears and my convulsions made my hands weaker; I could hold nothing anymore. Batra, who was my most loyal companion sat on my laps, he joined my weeping although no tears came out of his face. He was a beautiful cat. Our meeting was very peculiar and I was more of a master to him, because I understood his anger, his hunger, his laughter, his exhaustion, every bit of his feelings. Arthur loved him too because I starved with him and when it came to celebrating my affluence, he was a part of it. He knew that I was weeping to take out all the bitterness that laid inside and he didn’t mind the fact that I was weeping like I was to baptise him with tears. Was it suicide? Did he know his fate? I wasn’t sure of all this but one thing I was sure of is that the day when Arthur Clarke died, something died inside me. I don’t know what it is, but I will find out in the soonest of time.
I had put Arthur Clarke on a pedestal, it was so strong that I even thought he was immortal. Actually, he knew that it was all risky but he went on with it. I lay in painful confusion.
We had been seeing the dust on the sea – which was something unprecedented – since the previous month. Our own curiosity led us to go and find out what caused the dust to float and not dissolve in the sea, or even sink. Was it really dust? Was it natural? Did it have effects or not?
To reach the dust on the sea, we were supposed to swim across some planktons, then swim on top of a natural depression, then get to the dust. That was close to a kilometer and a half from the sea-shore.
On that day, the tides were low. So we manoeuvred through the water with ease. The dust consisted of a thick circular layer of sand. It was purely sand with a little impurities. It smelled of lilacs. This floating suspension was just out of this world. As we filled our bottles with the mixture, I started to feel my feet being pulled. My ingenuity led me to deduce that the distortion of the composition created a vacuum. Then suddenly, the mixture started to sink, were also sinking. Arthur Clarke gave me a mighty push. He strategically did that when a tide was coming so I was moved further by two metres away. Under the water, I saw the circular motion of water and Arthur was hopeless in its might. He was being pulled to the centre, farthest below where I noticed a big dark hole.
The distance to the sea floor was unfathomable. Well you see, time of death is more elusive than most people think. Death by asphyxiation takes only several minutes. That’s a very long time when every cell in your body is screaming for air. I made a decision and swam back to the shore. I had no mixture with me. I had lost everything and no body would believe what I had seen. Trauma hit me hard and for once in my life I regretted doing something. I then woke up and vowed to myself that I will accomplish all that Arthur Clarke had started so he would be proud of me wherever he is. I promised to stay true to my oath.
I picked my weary self up and put Batra aside. I picked up the wet note that Arthur had left in my book the previous night. I started rereading it with controlled emotions. I read it out loud this time so that Batra could listen, may be he could understand. I read like my whole life depended on the reading. I read it without sighing. The note read: Robby Palmer
Let me sleep for my soul is intoxicated by love and let me rest for my spirit has had its bounty of days and nights. Let me embrace the arms of slumber for my open eyes are tired.
Dry your tears my friend and raise your head as flowers raise their crowns to greet the dawn.
Do not sing of the past for the song will rob you off all these life’s pleasures. Sing of the future with smiling lips even though your voice is reduced to silence and do what I wasn’t able to achieve, that is when my soul will be at peace.
Disturb not the air’s tranquility with chanting and requiems but let your heart sing with me the song of the future. Talk not of my departure with sighs in your heart. Close your eyes and you will see me forevermore.
Here, I can hear music of heaven in exact harmony with my spirits desires. I am cloaked in full whiteness, I am in comfort; I am at peace. I have gone to rest upon the wind but in due time, I will be born again of another woman.
what happened to pan-africanism? What happened to the African pride? The African dream of being an industrialized self-reliant continent? Are we making the best of our potential? Do we the African youth know where we are from and where we want to go as a people?
The truth is that we African youth are a lost herd.A derailed locomotive. African economies are ships in the doldrums moving foward but not reflecting the maximum knots and horsepower that our engines can generate. We are quick to blame the colonialists for stealing our resources and causing African suffering but for God’s sake it has beenover 50 years since they left, can’t we just let this archaic thinking go and get down with business?
The carribeans were once the epitome of the African awakening in the late 19th and early 20th century.The likes of Marcus Garvey pioneered the concept of Pan-Africanism,advocated for…
The first time you are selling a gun is like the first time you are having sex. You don’t know what you are doing, but you just enjoy doing it. And just like sex, you need words and phrases to let you get through without too much friction. Again, without too much friction. They make you look professional, like a guru. Phrases like:
Hey, in my business, I believe in the philosophy of ‘one shot one kill’. I always hit my target, or,
Anchor is up by mid-day, don’t be late,or,
A missile here, a chopper there, business is booming. It is true that words are a measure of intelligence.
Also, in this business, you have to be brave, intelligent, creative and lucky, all at the same time. So it calls for huge loads of ingenuity.
It was in the business of Ethan for the last fortnight to sell guns to expand his father’s business who had been ruthlessly gunned down – by the Black Scorpions – three weeks ago. Already, Ethan had escaped death twice and the last scenario nearly got him walking out of the business. He had to jump through the washroom window, land on his posterior and limp home. He knew he had to be resilient and let the river water to flow without much turbulence. After all, it is the challenges that make victory sweeter.
Today, the sun looks dull in Northern Belfast and there isn’t many people walking in the drive ways. May be it is because the number of the uniformed men was increased, or may be people have gone to church since it is a Sunday. He thinks. He does not believe in the existence of a superior being and there’s so much he could do on a Sunday morning. So much. He feels disoriented. The fact that his girlfriend is unfaithful is eating him up.
Ethan’s intuition leads him to close his secret gun store – which he pays for every week to the police to let him have it – and walks three blocks down right, takes a right corner along Lincoln street and goes ten blocks to the Mexican pub. It smells of cigarettes there and he loves it. He asks for a bottle of Black Martini and gets a table. The music goes beyond the sound proof walls, through his legs and into his drink, but that is none of his business. Half way through the bottle, a lady comes and offers him a cigar. They start trading stories and Ethan realises that the lady is Mexican. ‘I’m gonna get some fresh air,’ Ethan shouts over the loud music. He walks through the groups of people, there was no one in the dance floor, every one was dancing where their drinks are, with their heads. Ethan had to just touch a person’s shoulder and they would melt away to create space.
The fresh air hits his face. He feels relieved. He leans on the wall and closes his eyes. ‘Weed?’ Velma asks with youthful enthusiasm. ‘You freaked me out,’ Ethan complained. He had just known her for two hours. Velma takes his hand and leads him down the driveway in Lincoln street and down left to some darker street considered safer to smoke Marijuana and avoid getting lifted.
Velma lights the joint, places it on Ethan’s mouth for him to get the virgin puffs. Ethan inhales, lets the air burn his lungs for some seconds, exhales, then smiles. Velma pushes Ethan to the wall, gets her face so close to his that they are almost kissing, then whispers, ‘blow job?’ Ethan had his first blow job at fourteen so he didn’t mind. The intimacy made him close his eyes. The feeling of being high mixed with the intimacy led him to cloud 56. He was literally on air. Then he saw the tatoo of Black Scorpions on Velma’s neck. Just like in sky diving, if your parachute fails to deploy, you literally have the rest of your life to try to fix it.
Ethan takes out his gun but he already lost his stamina so he points it at her like he is handing her a gift. She takes it and embraces a long and carefully withdrawn kiss on his lips. A single shot fired on Velma’s upper arm from an unknown location changes the situation. Now both of them are targets. Velma has to complete her mission though. Without a thought, Ethan bends down to his shoes and as he stands up, Velma falls down with a dagger sticking out of her left eye. His run is lazy, unplanned and slow. He knows the sniper is in pursuit and in the soonest of time he’d be meeting his demise. He manuevers through the subways, he doesn’t know where he is going but he keeps low. He spots a metal dust bin. He jumps in and closes the lid. The world is not sweet and fresh inside there, but at least, death wouldn’t find him. He passes out.