Till Death

What is this in my hand? A sharp knife … Fluid oozing down my arm?

I stared at the cutlery in foggy disbelief, fervently shaking my head as if to jolt my brain back to function. My hands shook violently. A sharp pain shot up my left temple and I dropped the knife in the delirium. I had the insistent feeling that something had gone incredibly wrong.

“I’m … I’m so sorry … Oh God …!”

I sunk to the ground staring at my blood stained palms.

Did I just … Was it me who … Am I dreaming?!

A muffle intercepted my morbid deliberation and my glance darted to the towering sight across from me.

“Oh my God! Jema!”

Before my intoxicated hands could creep up Jema’s form, he slumped to the brown tiled floor with a thud, hand to the side of his neck, gaggling and spitting blood. His eyes rolled back in his eyelids.

“Babe! No! No, Jema!”

I had no clue what to do. I could not decide whether to crawl toward him to hold him or out to look for help. I broke down into sobs of shock and disbelief.

What’s going on? What have I done?

I let out a raspy shrill as I tried to come to terms with the scene before me. I looked down at Jema. He was moving less, as if quiet fangs of death were slowly gnawing at him. His eyelids flapped just enough for me to read his resignation, and then finally shut. I sat still.


I turned to the realization of fists that had been pounding at the half glass-penned door, trying frantically to gain access to the room.

No. I clang to the strands of my disheveled afro, searching and scrambling for logic. This is not how my life is going to end. Prison? Execution? Mum … Dad …!

I reached for the knife on the floor. It was still moist, its malignant sharp edge glazed with blood. A tremor stole into my elbow and I caught my breath. I had to do it. There was no other way. I wiped a tear with the back of my hand, trying to gain focus. I then clasped the wooden end with both hands, and in psychotic determination, plunged the blade straight into my side.

That’s it. It’s done. It’s better this way.

A fickle smile crept up my lips as the world around me faded into dark oblivion.

“Busara University.”

I smiled as I softly read the billboard sign. I loved the name. It rolled off my tongue with such entitled sophistication! I could not believe that I was here. All those years of waiting and praying, scavenging for jobs, looking for alternative means because my ideal university was out of reach for me were now in the distant painful past.

I used to drool at the university from bus windows as we rode by the roundabout adjacent to the town campus. In the traffic jam, I would crane my neck to catch a glimpse of the sort that were fortunate enough to make it to the campus. They were always so trendy, so young, so sure of themselves. The brightness of their future seemed to reflect in their freshly made up faces, the trend of their garb, the shimmer of their expensive hairdos and the confidence of their stride. I would look into the parking lot and imagine the sum total of the cars therein. Goodness! Was everyone driving at Busara?! I often wondered whether I could withstand the pressure to keep up with the social standards, if ever I made it there. Was it even realistic to dream that I would ever make it there?

“Maybe not,” I would say to myself, as the bus pulled away home to Kibera. “In some other life maybe.” I would then quickly heap the audacious notion on the pile of unanswered prayers at the back of my mind.

Yet now here I was at the main campus, Savanna City. They said the course of my choice could only be available there. My rich uncle had decided to give a try at providing for my fee, just for a while, to ‘gauge my performance’ before pledging full sponsorship. I was not going to disappoint. I would not give anyone the excuse. I would offer an arm and a leg before I let anything – ANYTHING – come between me and my dreams of graduating from Busara. Being enrolled at Busara was a dream come true, an opportunity of a lifetime, and I did not need much pep talk to understand that it was a miracle I was to take full advantage of, that such opportunities come once in a lifetime.

The bus reached the main gate and we were asked to alight for security check. I quickly obeyed and proceeded to queue in front of a stern looking female security guard.

“Hallo!” I greeted her with a smile, hoping to infect her with it. She responded with a brief undecided one while hastily searching my bag.

“Proceed to the end of the lane. Next!” She quickly moved on to the student behind me. I startled at her frenzy but quickly moved on, the bright smile returning to my face. This was the day that the Lord had made. There was no ruining it.

I walked on as instructed. I realized that some of my colleagues had already started making new connections. I somehow had not. I could hear some of them already engaging in loud conversation and laughter, and I envied them. I quickly numbed any trace of loneliness by a reminder of my resolve. I came to Busara to graduate with honors, and that is what I would do. Everything else can come second.

That did not silence the happy chatter though. I turned to glance at those behind me.

I guess it wouldn’t hurt to make a friend.

Before I knew it, I had bumped into someone. My bag fell and a few of its contents spilled out.

“I am sorry…Pole!”

A young man with a bag on his back quickly squatted and proceeded to help collect the clutter. He was done before I could do much and handed me my possession with a shy smile. My, my! Wasn’t he dashing! The white imprint ‘Mr. Busara 2015’ on the front of his red t-shirt glared at me.

Figures, I mused, smiling back with equal shyness.

I slung the bag on my shoulder, unable to say much. It was only 9 a.m. and the day was already getting better! As if he could read my mind, he immediately stood upright and stretched out a confident hand animatedly. Smiling wider, he exposed exquisite teeth beneath a soft moustache.

“Hallo! My name is Jema!”


“Oh, wow! What a night! I’m so glad I came!” I almost hit my head on the mirror as I scanned my eyes. I smiled in drunken stupor.

“I know, right!” Malika stumbled inside the washroom and slouched over the sink beside me. She quickly proceeded to touch up on her make-up.

“Totally!” I slumped into the bench against the wall. My hand bag as well as some of the displaced pieces of tissue paper fell on the floor. I did not mind. I removed my high heels and tossed them aside. “Hurry up! We’ll miss the ride.”

Malika’s phone rung and startled us.

“Oops!” She said, fumbling for her phone. “Let me get that.” She tried to pick the call from her bag, mascara still in hand, but was desperately losing the battle.

“Here, let me help you.” I swung my hand and grabbed the phone from her before she could protest. The call was dropped before I had the chance to answer it, just in time for me to see the caller ID.

“Bae?!” I smirked and grunted. “Who on earth is Bae?”

“Sanaa, please don’t…!”

Malika dropped her mascara as she reached out for the phone. I chuckled in jest as I swerved my hand away from her, amused by her sudden lack of ease. I slid open the keypad and a Whatsapp conversation embedded with affectionate emojis popped into view.

“Whoa… Malika! You didn’t tell me you were dating! Who is …?”

My voice trailed off into silence as I gawked at the profile picture now displayed on the screen. I peered closer, questioning my sight, but it proved to be just fine. The world around us quickly spun in a bewildering whirlwind, and then almost immediately slowed down into a diabolic stance as our eyes locked. In that instance we knew that our lives would never be the same again.


Image from http://www.wdyl.com



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