THE PATH - Episode 6

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“Please pick up! Pick up honey!” James commanded his phone as though Margret could hear him through the phone wherever she was. He had ...

“Please pick up! Pick up honey!” James commanded his phone as though Margret could hear him through the phone wherever she was. He had been ringing her all evening to no avail. No evening ever went by without the two of them chatting. President Obama was giving a speech at some event. He tossed his phone aside and increased the volume of his little old television. As if interested in CNN news, he scrutinized the images on the screen with a frown on his face. He picked up his phone again and rang her up, yet there was no answer. He dialed Mary…he could no longer bear it. It was getting really late in Kenya. He had concluded that Margret was either ill or something else had gone wrong. She hardly missed their evening chats, especially since he returned to the US. “Mary, have you any idea where Maggy might be?” “I have no clue, James. I have tried to reach her by phone but she is not taking my call,” Mary answered. She too was riddled with worry and concern. “Would you be able to run over to check in on her please?” “Of course, why not? I am getting ready to visit her apartment.” “Thank you very much Mary.” “She is my beloved sister you know. There is no need to thank me.” “I know, but she means a lot to me.” “I am glad to hear that. I hope it stays that way.” “It will. Please, will you call me as soon as you find out what is going on?” “Yes I will, James.”

Elim dragged a chair closer and sat in front of Margret. Even with smears and patches of tears on her face, he could not help but admire her beauty, which surpassed her immediate pain. Her skin was richly dark – chocolatey in texture. Her dark, silky, long braids undulated invitingly with every shake of her head. Her big, bright bold eyes and full lips were the icing on the cake. He wanted to reach out and yank her clothes off. A part of him kept him from going through with that – perhaps, he had the hope that she would still come to love him. “I recall watching you for several months before I finally made my first approach towards you,” he said calmly. His eyes were fixated upon her. She listened with a rapt attention. “I guess it was not meant to be. I have tried to find true love you know. I won’t say I have been the best guy out there, but I have sought true love diligently. Somehow, true love eludes me.” “Have you loved someone else before,” Margret asked, keen to keep him talking. “You have no idea how many times I have been in love Maggy. There was Anna. She was my first love. Back in secondary school, she meant the world to me. Both of my parents had died a year earlier in a ghastly car crash just outside Mombasa, where I was born.”

He lowered his head for a moment. Margret could see that he was battling with his emotions. “I am sorry to hear that Elim. You never talked about your parents. I did not realize you were bottling up the painful emotions”. “I loved them to death and they loved me too. I had everything I wanted as an only child…I was thoroughly spoilt. Then one day, they were no more. A drunk lorry driver rammed into their car and plastered them against the road dividers in their cars.” He paused again. This time, he could no longer suppress the tears. A deluge poured down his face. He looked away as he tried to pull himself together. “I am really sorry Elim. I am very sorry to hear that. I have never really lost anyone close to me, so I cannot say that I know how it feels, but I can see the scars of pains all over your face. I am very sorry for your pain. You rarely ever allowed this side of your life to come to light,” Margret offered. “Somethings are not meant to be relived often. They are better forgotten because the pains burn like coal in a furnace.” “I am genuinely sorry Elim.” “They were the very first love that deserted me when I needed them the most – My parents died and I had to live with family friends. None of my relatives wanted to take me in after my parents passed away. People that my parents, who were fairly well off when they were alive helped a lot, gathered and split every possession of my parents’ they could lay their hands on and vanished into thin air. Everyone made excuses as to why they could not take me in. Our house was sold by those monstrous relatives, so I had nowhere to live. In the end, a neighbor; a close friend of my mother’s took me in. I was very bitter towards my relatives. I am probably still very bitter towards them.

“It was as if life was bent on stripping me of every good thing I had. Soon, my mother’s friend’s husband lost his job. They moved from Mombasa to Nairobi. We were forced to stay in the shanty ghettos due to lack of money. I was pleased to have a roof over my head and siblings – the woman’s children to play with. As we all got older though, they began to treat their children preferentially over me. I would do the dishes and the laundry, wash the floors, cook, and iron everyone else’s clothes, only to be fed a single mango for the entire day. At the slightest offence, I was battered like a cow that failed to obey the herdsman’s instruction. One night, I was filling our drum in the rain. I had not eaten all day, mind you. My legs could barely carry me. I was probably going to faint out of fatigue and cold. Then, this girl came to my rescue. She offered me some bread and fried egg, and helped me fill our drum. They lived a few doors away. Her name was Anna. A year or two later, Anna and I were inseparable.  At night, we would climb a mound in the ghetto and share snacks or whatever Anna had for us to eat. I went to school sporadically on the orders of guardians. Anna’s parents were not rich – nobody was rich in the ghetto, but by ghetto standard, they were fine.

“She used to come over to teach me how to read whenever she could. Soon, we began to hide in street corners and kiss. Anna was my life…my love and my anchor. I’d lie on my mat (while my half siblings snored away on the mattress), thinking of her lips brushing against mine. She had a distinctive aroma…it was mesmeric. She went off to University eventually, and when she returned on holiday, she began to avoid me. I had become inconsequential to her. She told someone she was dating a much more aware and refined guy at the time. My brittle confidence was shattered. The anchor to which the ship of my life was tethered broke. Like a balloon on water, I watched my life dangle away at sea in no particular direction. I packed my things and ran away.” Margret felt a deep sense of pity for him. With tears in her eyes, she said, “I can’t believe you went through all that, Elim. I feel very sorry for you.” Elim wiped his eyes and continued. “I lived on the refuse dump from one ghetto to another. I was beaten severally by thieves and stabbed once – I nearly died. I picked and sold metal scraps until I raised money for a small apartment. Then I began to buy scraps from others. Soon, I was making money. I went back and studied as much as I could and made my way to University of Nairobi. There, I met Caroline.” He paused as another wave of sadness went through him.

Mary used her spare keys and entered the apartment. It was getting late already and Margret was not home. Her heart sank into her mouth. She quickly called back James, who had been waiting eagerly for the call. His heart began to beat faster right away. “Call the police. No, go there in person and do everything you can to get them to check when she left the office today. Could her car still be at the office?” James instructed. Panting and shaking, Mary raced to the nearest police station. Soon, a small team was on the hunt for Margret after Mary had doled out some money to mobilize them. She sat at the police station, refusing to leave until she got word from them. She refused to call her family yet. She did not want to throw them into panic, especially their father who had a history of heart condition. “Madam, we found your sister car in her bank’s car park. She did not leave the office voluntarily. We suspect that she may have been abducted, unless she decided to have a good time with her friends or something like that,” said a tall, lanky police officer.

James searched frantically for Mathew Amimo’s phone number. They were great friends back in the day. He got word from another old friend that Mathew was now a top-ranking police officer in Nairobi. His hands quivered frenetically as he searched for Mathew’s number. He prayed as he waded through his old address book. Just when he was about to give up, he hit the bull’s eye. Immediately, he dialed Mathew. After a few pleasantries, he delved right into the thick of his intent. Mathew listened intently. Afterwards, he promised to deploy some of his men to work on the case. Mary reluctantly went home. Neither she nor James slept that night. In the morning, Mathew’s men began to comb the entire area near the Barclays head office car park in Nairobi. They interviewed everyone in the vicinity. Colleagues at work said Margret had been in good spirit when she left the office the previous day. “I saw them…yes there were three of them. They made her get into a big vehicle,” a middle-aged woman who owned a kiosk across the street recalled. “Was the lady you saw the same as the one in this picture?” A police officer probed her further. She scanned the picture for a moment and nodded. “Yes. It was her,” she answered emphatically. “I was not sure what was going on, but now that I hear she has been missing, that struck me as odd,” she added. “Her name is Margret. You will find her right?” “We are doing our best,” the police officer answered. “Please do. She is a very nice girl. She stops by all the time to buy pea nut or something else from me…very courteous and well behaved.” The police man scribbled in his note pad as he nodded absent-mindedly to the woman.     STORY CONTINUES...
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Victor Chinoo

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THE PATH - Episode 6 An African Literary Blog
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