If you have reached here without having read Part 1 to 5, please read them to catch up on where we have come from. As always, comments and (constructive) criticism welcome….
I glanced at my watch, it was nearly 2.00am. I was weary. I was tired. I was beat. I was sweating from places I did not know existed in my body.
“I don’t know what to do. What should I do?” I asked no one in particular. My voice was a few decibels above a whisper. I looked around the room. Jemo, Cathy and our two guests (I never found out the name of Linda’s friend) were all staring at me expectantly. It was not a rhetoric question and advise of any kind would have been greatly appreciated at that particular moment.
“Rest it out Sam, we will figure it out in the morning” Cathy said reassuringly placing her arm on my shoulder. I looked at her then at Jemo.
My mum had always told me it was hopeless to worry about things not in our control but I could not make myself believe that maxim at this time. I could not believe all this was really happening. Not then.
I got up and went to my room. I always felt colder than other people and thus had a thick 11 tog duvet. I did not even bother to get under it. I did not even bother to rid the clothes I had on including the socks.
It was a restless sleep but thankfully I did not dream of raspy nor his goons. When I woke up I realised that somehow I had managed to get under the duvet during the night. I looked out of the window and the sky was pink and slightly cloudy. The weather was chilly as most January mornings are. I looked out of the window and people were already shuffling. It was a Saturday, so most people did go into work. There were wisps of smoke in the air, probably from wooden fires in the lean-to shelters or breakfast banda’s just outside BGA. There was dampness in the air. To me, it smelt of despair. I had a dull throbbing ache in my head but it was not the usual headache that I woke up with every Saturday since I started drinking.
My bedside clock informed me that it was 6.22am. I could hear some mumbling from the living room. Again another absurdity as no one on my side of the block wakes before 7.00am, not even on working days.
I ignored the noises and headed for a shower. I turned the hot water tap to its extreme end and the cold water tap just under half way. The water was just a few degrees shy of egg-boiling hot but it felt good. I spent some extra time under the hot needles of water hoping that they will wash away the events of the previous night.
Jeans have been my uniform but unlike Jemo I owned more than one pair. Absent minded from the stress, I put on the same pair from the previous night, I put on a freshly laundered t-shirt which was fragrant with the detergent powder that had been used to wash it. As I transferred the contents of my jacket into a new jacket and tried to understand the conversation that was going on.
Walking into the living room it became clear to me that the mumbling was the TV, it was still turned on from last night. Cathy and Jemo were absent, but Linda and her friend were still there. They were huddled under a light shawl sleeping on the sofa and one of them was definitely snoring. It was a picture to excite many a male fantasy but they seemed to be huddled for warmth more than anything else.
I looked at the news channel that was being broadcasted. It was one of our usually biased news channels but the reporter looked suave and knowledgeable this time. It was a gentleman. He was dressed in a sharp suit that was definitely not mitumba. He had a strong English accent which I was sure was cultivated for the role and not a sign of his educational background. He was analysing the newspapers and their headlines. I was eager to know more of Friday night’s saga but there was no mention of it. I remembered that the newspapers roll off the press by 10.00pm or 11.00pm the previous night and thus the events may have not made it to their reporters in time.
I decided to go for a walk. I went back to the room to put on my jacket took my wallet and phone, out of habit I guess and stepped out. There was no breeze and the air was cold. I walked towards the main exit gate. Reuben the day watchman was already at his post, cheerful as usual. He had a habit of giving crisp salutes when any residents of BGA passed him, whether on foot or on car. He was deceivingly strong and was extremely possessive of our compound. He was also an ace at negotiating with the mama mbogas that came peddling their fruits and vegetable and from what I had heard from one of the neighbours, he was an ace with the house maids too.
I acknowledged his greeting as he opened the pedestrian gate for me. I stood there not knowing which direction to take. Left was towards more residential quarters that led to a slightly seedier neighbourhood. Right led to a stretch of kiosks and open air vegetable stalls and then towards a shopping mall and a busier section of town.
I headed right.
Despite the early hour there was already a lot of energy on the streets. The vendors were setting up their stalls. It was hard to imagine the rioting, looting and burning that had gone on just days before at this very same place. There were burn marks on the floor where tyres and other flammable materials had been lit. The blood had been washed off the streets but not off the minds of these people. There was the usual rhythm of work but not the usual rhythm of life. It would take a long time for their scars to heal.
My predicament was different.
<<< To be continued >>>