THE MAN


5,4,3,2,1……. It’s a wrap people”, I shouted happily closing the meeting, “Time to go home”. It always amazes me how eager people in my office are to get out of the office and go get stuck in traffic for the next two hours. Outside a storm was brewing, it was so dark and yet it was only five in the evening. A crack of lighting, I walk from my desk to the large windows overlooking the city. The rain was pouring sideways forming sheets on the road, people running and scampering in the rain, suddenly the clear road is filled with cars. In Nairobi a little bit of rain is equal to a massive traffic jam. “Guess am going to be here a while”, I sighed.

I sat at my desk and started going through the reports from the field, I was so glad to be back, it had been such a long time. I read through one, then another…. What am I doing? It’s a Friday! Work will always be there. I put on a movie, some scary story, about a girl who came back from hell to settle some vendetta, cliché. I had just gotten midway when I heard a knock on my door and the night guard walked in, “Madam tunafunga”, he said. I looked at the time, it was already 8:30, how time flies. I started to put away my things, locked up the office and I walked out, it was still raining, so I joined the hundreds of Kenyans on the road scampering away in the rain.

Finally after an agonizing half walk half run in the rain, I got into a matatu. I looked at some young couple who were walking holding hands and giggling in the rain, all wet. Do their parents know where they are? Who said walking in the rain was romantic? They will get sick, nothing romantic about that. So I paid my fare and the matatu moved for like a hundred meters then we were stuck in the jam, damn Waiyaki way.

I was jerked awake when the matatu hit a pothole on the road, and, judging by the speed at which the matatu was going we were no longer in a jam, I panicked, how did I fall asleep and for how long, “where are we?” I asked the lady seated beside me. She just shook her head and looked at me like I had asked her about the secret to world peace. I tried to look outside in vain. I couldn’t recognize a thing. I called the conductor and asked him where we were, “Si unaenda Kangemi?” he said “Utafika tu”. “No, no am going to church road”, I said. He looked at me amusedly and said, “Mbona hukusema!” and at that point I knew I was in deep trouble.

The matatu had used some back route to avoid the jam, as usual, when this happens it is us who alight midway who suffer. After around 20 min of anxiety, the conductor suddenly called out “Wapi madam wa church road?” He dropped me at some junction. I could not recognize anything outside. He pointed right and said “just go down this road madam, utatokea church road”. Then they left.

So here I was, standing in the dark, alone, in a part of the city that I am not familiar with. I panicked, I felt exposed. All the bad stories about muggings, rapes and carjacking in Westlands came flooding into my mind. “Why did I agree to alight, plus I can’t walk for long distances”, I cursed. At that moment I felt that it was a really bad idea to watch horror movies, my imagination was running wilder than a deer on fire! “Well standing here isn’t helping”, so I started to walk in the direction that I had been shown.

I had barely walked for ten paces when I heard these heavy foot steps behind me. My heart did a dozen back flips and I said numerous prayers and promises to God. I promised to be good, say my rosary daily, I promised to treat my cat better, to go and be a nun, I felt a familiar pain on my side and I had to slow down….. Then the footsteps slowed down and I thought this is it, am done for… then I heard them speed up again and a man walked past me hurriedly.

I was so relieved. I started walking faster so that I can get home or at least a less dark road with people, anything but this dark road. Grosteque shapes formed by the shadows of the tress kept haunting me, I could hear strange noises but I was not so sure if they were in my head or if they were real. Such eerie noises were coming from the tress, suddenly an owl screeched, I jumped.

Then the man started slowing down again when he reached this dark area on the road under a crossing bridge, I slowed down too. “What is he planning, why is he slowing down in the dark?” I thought. I looked behind me and contemplated going back the other way, but only the darkness and the tress stared at me, scared to death cannot describe how I was feeling at that time.

He looked back several times, and then he stopped. I slowed down even more and started planning a plan of action. First al tackle him, then al hit him on his nether then al hit his nose then all run…… “Hey am waiting for you”, he shouted suddenly. I stopped in my tracks. “Aren’t you afraid of the dark? I am”, he said. I looked at him and tried to judge what he was up to. But he just stood there with this matter of fact look on his face. I could not judge his intentions, for a person who makes a living out of making judgments based on body language, it was so frustrating.

Against my better judgment, I walked towards him, and then we stated walking together. He was not a big man, just medium build, maybe in his late thirties. He looked a bit tired and I figured he must have been walking for quite some distance. “Guess you were also dropped far from home huh it happens to me all the time”, he said, “I am going to church road to see some friends and I guess you’re going those sides too”. I felt a little bit at ease knowing I had found someone who knows the way but then again all psychopaths are known to be nice. So I just nodded. He then went on and on talking about himself and what he was doing, apparently he was a pastor and he was going for fellowship. “Oh my”, I thought, “I got a pastor, serial killer, psychopath walking with me”.

“Why are you so quiet”, he asked. “Am not quiet, you talk too much” I said. He laughed and his laughter echoed through the night, through the trees. I changed the subject and started talking about the weather and how we should walk a bit faster because it might start raining soon. He looked up, and then at me with a puzzled expression, I looked up too then laughed nervously. There wasn’t a single cloud in the sky, just the stars and the moon shining brightly on us.

“Are you afraid of me”, he asked “because am afraid of you”. I laughed. “That’s better”, he said. “I normally don’t talk to strangers but I thought it was not nice to leave a lady walking all by herself at night, anything can happen”, he said. I just nodded and at that point my heart started racing again. I started scanning the horizon for a police station, post, anything….nothing. “Am doomed”, I thought.

“So do you have a family”, he asked. “No” I said. “How come?” he asked. “Those are personal things that I wouldn’t tell a stranger” I said. He just looked at me, he looked sad. “Great! Piss off the serial killer guy”, I thought guiltily. “Well I have a cat..”I said, He laughed. “My wife left me” He said, “Just packed her bags and left with our five year old son.” I looked at his face; there was so much pain in it. “Why did she leave” I asked.

He looked up into the sky and said, “There are so many people who are suffering out there and they just need one person to make a sacrifice for them, just one, I gave away something of mine two months ago to somebody who needed it more, my wife did not agree with this so she left, but I don’t regret it…I gave someone a new life…and that’s it… by the way, here we are”, he said. I looked around and we had arrived, I hadn’t even noticed. “See yah”, he said as he walked away. “Am sorry I didn’t get your name”, I shouted. “James Wamugu”, he shouted back as he walked away fast.

For some reason as I walked to the house the name kept playing back in my head. What did he give? The whole night, I felt that there was something about the name, something familiar. I lay in my bed thinking, where had I seen that name, then I woke up and went to get the file, I had never looked at it since the procedure, I opened it and read it for the first time, then at the very bottom, there it was…. I gasped! Had I just been walking with the man who gave me his kidney!!!

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