January 29, 2016
Words may not break bones but they can tear even the strongest heart apart. I pulled my phone from my ear where I held it, pressed the speakerphone button and lay it on the arm of the couch. The man on the other end was still speaking and he seemed to be having the time of his life ruining mine.
“I’m Saitoti” he mocked and I could tell he was smiling, and lying. “Go check the owner of this phone at the Mortuary because he is dead”
5 Minutes beforehand
I sat with my little girls playing before bedtime. I’d had a crazy day at work and I could feel a migraine slowly slipping in. Still I knew my daughters enjoyed ruffling me up so I let them. Suddenly my phone rang. It was my mom. I figured she must have missed me as she calls her children during dinner, or when it rains and thunders too loudly…or when she sees riots on TV. I shushed the noisy girls and said Hello.
My mom was crying and I could barely make out what she was saying. Finally I caught the words ‘police’, ‘My brother, Jay’ and ‘a shooting’. My heart stopped, or nearly did. I didn’t give up though. He could have survived, right? I asked where he’d been shot, because it could have been his head or his heart…and it could have been his leg or hand and nothing too critical. “They shot him in the hand and leg. Please rush to Jamaa Mission Hospital.. He has no family with him, just neighbours. I’m recording a statement. I’ll join you as soon as I can.” She said something to someone she was with that I didn’t hear “where was he when it happened?” my loud mouth questioned. I should have kept quiet because the response had a lot of shouting and commanding involved. I didn’t think it was so serious, perhaps my bro and his friends saw cops approaching and they chose to run which meant if they were shot at, then its got to have been on his heels…yes that made much more sense. I almost laughed at the thought but decided to call my brother and hear it from the horses mouth. The thieves picked the call instead.
“He is dead. I shot him myself.” The self-proclaimed Askari, Saitoti declared. “I saw him going down hahaha! he is no more” My heart sank at the thought of his joy. It was the cruelest thing anyone has ever said to me. I instantly forgave all my High School frenemies and decided this would be my new found hatred- an armed robber.
I met a huge crowd at the hospital’s emergency room. My brother lay at the centre of it all on a bed, strapped with bandages on both his thighs and right hand. This was definitely bad. “Hi there” I greeted and he looked away almost immediately. Tears ran down to his ear and before they could land on the pillow below a young lady holding a small towel caught it and soak it into the towel. I looked closely. She too was quietly weeping but didn’t want her tears to dry.
Then followed the story of that brought everyone together. They had already mugged him, turned and started to leave when one of my brother’s friends shouted “Fake Gun!” That ticked off Jay, who was already wondering what explanation he would give my mom . His phone was barely three days old. Without a second thought he ran and caught up with the only un armed one of the thieves, a kid probably 17 years old. He punched him hard and he fell. The other two rushed back and one placed a gun on his chest. “You say its fake yeah?” he dared jeeringly. Jay put his hand against the barrel and pushed it away from his chest. Agitated, the kid fired twice. The first bullet crashed into the side of his thumb and burnt a hole in his T-shirt as it left, the second got lodged into his index finger. The kid turned and ran, knowing all too well he had attracted attention with the loud bangs. My brother, now filled with adrenalin and anger (That originates from the deep parts of Gusii land) chased after him.
The other armed kid ran back and shot twice at Derrick, Jay’s friend. He shot him on both legs and he fell instantly. Jay stopped and realised it was setried. He tried to politely ask for his ID but that instead earned him one shot though both his legs before the thieves fled into the darkness.
Five gunshots and all of them met flesh and blood. They were rushed to hospital and both went under the knife, and for what? a phone that would probably be sold at Kshs. 1,000? Was it really worth it? Perhaps it was because to a thief 1,000 shillings is so much more relaxing than your life.
My brother is recuperating, thanks to God and through the great doctor who operated on him…so is Derrick. But the psychological trauma may last, the fear of darkness may creep in every so often and the sound of a gunshot may make them jump. Life may just never be the same for them.
Its only nice that I say a big thanks to Nurses Steve and Callisto of Jamaa Hospital for the great kindness they showed us and for allowing me to take a good look at the retrieved bullet.. a pic too… 🙂 scary but hey, such is life right?