On My Death Bed

What if?

What if you woke up one day and you are gone to the LAND OF NO RETURN?

How will people mourn your demise?

It’s probably a chilly morning when everybody is busy, save for the lazy lot that are still fighting with their alarms, or those on their Annual Leave, or maybe on their Honey Moon, my step-mum is heading to the village to work on the farm, most of my friends here in Nairobi are heading to work, others are going back home after a night shift, then Boom! I gasp my last breathe. News spreads on social Media, “Doreen is No More”.

I will be strategically watching each and every person that I have interacted with while still alive, those we have crossed paths will also me watched, because I wouldn’t want to go to hell because I was holding grudges with people.

My Step Mum back in the village will not see the news of her daughter’s demise on social media because she is only on whatsapp and she checks her whatsapp status after weeks. This happens when I update crazy things probably to do with sex and all that, this is the time she views, damn me! Her phone will ring, she checks…. Baby Sharon calling…… that’s how she has saved my baby sister. She starts lamenting “Mimi sina pesa huyu mtoto anataka kunisumbua sahi” she picks….

Sharon: “Hello Mum..”

Mum: “Hello Sharon, habari ya Nairobi?”

Sharon: (Really trying to control herself) “Poa, but uko na nani hapo?”

Mum: “Niko na baba yako Khaemba, tuna panda njugu”

Sharon: (Almost loosing it, clearing her nose and throat) “Mum, kuna kitu nataka kukushow, please take heart.”

Mum: “Take heart for what? What is wrong? Is everything okay?”

Sharon: “Mum Dee ametuacha.”

Mum: “Dee mgani? Ati? Will you please elaborate? What are you saying?”

Sharon: (She can’t hold it any more, starts to wail) “Mum, Doreen ametuacha, she is no more.”

Mu: “What??????????”

Mum Literally falls in the shamba, my uncle Khaemba not knowing what is happening, he runs and picks the call and asks my sister who was still on phone but wailing. My sister breaks the news to him as well. Ooh Uncle! His world is shattered! Literally!

The whole village is notified. Even though I rarely go to village, I am known, sign! Maybe because I have been on their TV screens and on radio, or maybe because of the way I interact with them when I am home.

Oh My! The village is at a stand still, “What happened to Doreen? She was such a jovial girl. Her late father and mother have not even rested well, their daughter has followed them as well. What is life?” they will ask.

My Sister Brenda, the one we call Simakulu, if she had killed my mother during her birth, then I wouldn’t have been born. We were only two from our mother’s womb, you can imagine what this girl is going through after hearing of my demise. I love you Big Sis, Strong Manze, Strong!

On the other hand, my friends! Oh My friends! My Oh My! My spirit will lead me to facebook, read post after post, “RIP Doreen”, others who never even commented on my posts will write paragraphs on my timeline. Others will be too lazy to write and end up with “RIP”. Others who are not my friends will click on my name and go through my timeline like their lives depend on it. They will check if I had shown any sign of leaving this world. They will pity my child for being left and wonder who will take up the role of raising her. They will leave their condolences messages there!

My close friends will not even have time and energy to write anything on my Timeline. I can imagine Jacqyi Bwayo, you know those friends who can wail, just once then pose, think, then give another big wail, that’s her. I call her my sister. Another one is Clare, this one doesn’t know how to control herself, mbele tu ya watu. She will do what we call ‘Khukwa kiminyikha’ in Bukusu, meaning, falling aimlessly. Marble, Oh Marble! I have no words baby girl. I can only imagine your sad face. Tears rolling down your face. No one to hold your hand because here, God is for you all, everybody for themselves. Rose, my chubby girl. This one cries even in joy. Rose is that girl who can laugh while tears rolling down her chubby cheeks. Imagine what happens when she cries in sadness? My dear Rose, you will be heartbroken, asking God why? How? Putting your hands on your head as you wail around your specious home in the leafy suburbs of Karen. You will call my name but I will be gone. I will be dead! Sorry girls.

Pamela Muthami, it is rare to see this one shedding tears. Is she a hardcore? Maybe, just maybe. First of all she will make several calls to reach my child, she will then ask her husband, Ceph to go and pick my baby to her house. She will then liaise with Respah, Ruth, Diana and Pam Chila, meet up in one of their houses, walie hadi wapoe. But I will be gone ladies. So sad!

Diana Makokha will be at work, she does a morning show on a Sulwe FM. Girl you won’t concentrate, you will forget the rules of radio. You will keep playing music, jingles and adverts  just to avoid wailing while ON AIR. You will play worship songs as tears roll down your slightly red cheeks. You will speak little, just to let your Boss S. K. Macharia know that you are not asleep while at work. You will probably run to Citizen studios to let Jeridah know of my demise. Jeridah is a drama-queen, a big one. This one won’t hold it! Sorry girls, I will be gone to be with our maker.

Nekesa, the girl who fights with my child but best of friends. How she interacts with her is out of this world. You would think they are age-mates. She will be confused, wondering how her friend left without a goodbye. She will cry, throwing herself up and down until her boss gets her an uber to just go home…. Poor girl, you won’t come to Thika Road any more, to see who? Doreen is gone, Forever! She will liaise with Tinah who will be in Bungoma, with red eyes, heading to Kimilili to my home, just to be with my step mum. Poor girl will cover her head with her hands, imagining of the years we have been friends, more that 10 years. Right baby girl? Yeah….. I am sorry dear, it is God’s work.

Morning will be long, nothing moving in my beloved lives. All of them will stare at each other wondering what to do next. They will ask questions that can only be answered by me, but I am not here, I can’t speak or even give a sign. I am gone, forever!

My employer, Hi Sir! My colleagues, they are used to a smiley-melanin woman who laughs with those who love her. They can’t imagine they wont see me again. No one to make noise and run around especially during lunch hours (Food is my husband). They will miss my stories. They will miss someone to tease, Oh my second family. It was not my choice, but nature’s! Please Forgive me!

Plans are made here and there and burial day is here.

My Child, My only Treasure, Jewel of the Nile, My Painkiller, My Moderator, My Listener, My headache, My BBI, Viva! Ooh Baby it is a sad day, maybe you are aware of what death means, maybe not. Most of my friends are crying because of you, not me, they can’t imagine how you are going to adjust in this cruel world without me, your Mama. Who will play with you when you come back from school? Only mama knows how to make you eat well and do your homework on time? I will miss such moments baby. Who will hold you tight at night when you have nightmares? Who will look straight into your small eyes and tell you “I Love you Nafula, my Mother”? Who??? As they say, uchungu wa mwana aujuaye ni mzazi…. Baby girl, even me I am not okay thinking of how this world is so full of bad things. You need my protection honey, but my hands are tied. I am a spirit right now. As you look at everyone around you, they are all crying and showing you sad faces, as always, you start crying “I want my mum”. From the gate, you can spot your paternal uncle, Moses (Bless you) he comes straight to where you are, picks you up and leaves. You start asking him “Uncle umeniletea nini?’ Confused, he replies “Tamu mingi sana” He takes you to his car, tries to play with you just to distract you. He gives you a bar of chocolate. You floss from the car window to people staring at you. Some will even break down, some will want to pick you but you will refuse to leave your uncle. Some will try and have a chit chat with you but you will look at them and wonder why is everyone giving you too much attention. Then you will remember how you have not been with your mama. She has been lying in a box from days, why is she not waking up, you even keep few peaces of chocolates for her saying, “Hii ni ya Mum”.

Dressed in a black ballerina dress, my daughter walks from her uncle’s car to go look for my sisters, Sharon and Brenda. She finds them in the house, sitting next to my coffin, crying. She walks straight to Brenda and ask “Aunty Brenda nani amekuchapa?” By now Brenda is loosing it. She screams out loud and makes you wonder what is happening. You start to scream as well as you walk to where I am lying. You touch my soft face, try to open my eyes the way you do after a Sundays afternoon nap, “Mum huamki? Nakuwacha Mum, ona, bye…. bye Mum” you then realize that I am not reacting to your trick. You walk back and tap on my chest, no reaction, you raise your head to look at everyone around. Why are they all awake, surrounding my Mum with tears rolling down their cheeks and she is not awake? What is wrong with her? Is she sick? Your uncle Shaddy picks you up and leaves. My Child, I am sorry but it was my time to leave. I will miss you the same way you gonna miss me. I love you!

Friends and family walk in, one by one, others in groups, my aunties wailing as they run around the house. You see, in my motherland, this is the real mourning, not wiping tears with a white handkerchief as you wear back your shades. Here we scream, run around the compound. Go near the kitchen, wipe your tears as you slow down the wailing and check if there is tea. If there is tea, increase the volume so that you might be served in a big cup called Lisubila. If there isn’t, my sister, wipe your tears, walk to the coffin tent, view the body, say a word of prayer and proceed to the tent.

The program is going on, my friends are given time to give their speeches, some will not manage to finish because hey yoh, I have a bunch of cry babies as friends, but I love them all. I will be watching them, saying how they met me and all that. I will want to hug them but I can’t. I will give a miss, being a spirit if F*ck, right? My grandma will try speaking Kiswahili but she will unknowingly get back to Bukusu. My old lady will wonder why God did not take her instead. She will praise me, she will even lie that I picked all her calls during end month when her back and knees ache most, LOL!

My Siblings, apart from those who have being raised in our home, the ones people know. My Daddy is an African Man abeg! Daddy played away matches. We are a number…… They will all speak, I love my father’s kids, my blood!

As Mum’s Church members escort her to the stage to give her last respect, she breaks down, she remembers how she has taken care of me ever since my Mother rested. Even though I gave  her headache with some boy from Kamusinga, she admits to still love me as her own. She is held by Mama Kanisa while the Deacons’ wife wipes her cheeks with a white handkerchief. Her sisters will keep telling her “It is well Martha, take heart” but I will be gone. Leaving her with another burden of raising my daughter. As a widow, It is going to be tough. But I will be there to watch over you Mommy. It is well, please take good care of my baby.

After the Church Service, as some of the villagers fight for food in the kitchen, mothers serving for their children and  husbands, my boda-boda friends cursing the store man for not giving them Soda…..

I am being escorted to the grave, my last home….

As you walk down slowly, singing “Chakutumaini Sina”, it’s a sombre mood.

As my baby is carried by my sister, everyone is looking at her. She gives them that priceless smile, she has no idea that she will never see me again.

She later realizes that I am being surrounded by people, near a hole, My Last Home!

After short prayer, I am slowly descended in a grave, my child screams out loud which leaves my friends with no choice but to break down. She wonders why Mama is put in a whole.

It is sad, I know, but what to do! I have to be laid to rest. Forever!

I can hear kuduu kuduu on my coffin, ooh God they are really burying me. I will never be above the soil, never to see my child. Never to laugh with my buddies. Never to eat chicken in my Mum’s kitchen during December Holidays. Wee wacheni jokes!

I am gone, Forever!

But my spirit is still hovering around. People are served food, Nairobians enter their cars and leave for the nearby club just to refresh as they prepare to travel the next day because they were only given one day leave. So they are needed at the office on Monday after Saturday burial. I love you my people! Thank you for giving me such a beautiful SEND OFF!


Doreen Shikuku

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