PAUL AND I -The tragedy

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(image courtesy of pintrest)

“I am not afraid of living too long. I am afraid of living for ever” those were the words he first said.

I was puzzled. He never seemed so dark, even on the most god- forsaken of days. I still didn’t ask what had him so wound up. He took another long swig, and then smiled a comforting yet eerie smile.

            “Cheer up man; you know the moon always glows even when you don’t seem to see it,”

            “True, I am the one who told you that,”

            “Of course you did, of course you did,” Paul replied, this time a bit softer. His thoughts seemed to drift off in to the distance. I dared not interrupt them, this was the best therapy he could get.

That was what I believed then.  Right now looking at this grave, I know better. I never thought myself to be a counselor, I despised the term. The very fact that I had been appointed the school counselor on my arrival was an insult. But hell, I couldn’t turn it down.  Getting the job was a favor in the first place. The greatest favor Mzee Henry had done me.

He had been my father’s friend, Mzee Henry that is. Paul was his son, and the fellow I had called friend for thirty even years. I hope I am not keeping you, no? Well I should be at the school myself. It’s my week on duty, though I am in no state. I had too much to drink. I’ve always had too much to drink if you consider my past. That is why I consider the job the greatest favor I ever got.

We were barely out of high school when Paul and I started drinking. Ah! The good days, not a shred of responsibility. Living by the moment, or is it for the moment. Don’t blame your children for the poor grammar. I don’t fare any better.  Where was I again? Oh! Yes, high school. Mukibi’s was what we called it because we thought we had adventure better than the Moses series. We were up to all kinds of unthinkable mischief, because my father was the P.C. and Mzee Henry was the minister of education.

Anyway, that was then. When we did our K.C.S.E we failed miserably. My father swore to send me to the juvenile prison, said he was soft on me. He said,

“ Look at your mother’s stupidity. I should castrate you. How dare you shame me like that? Puh! Get out, go to that bar and never come back, I disown you. If you ever call me father again I will kill you.  TOKAAA!!!!

Mzee Henry managed to pacify his rage before any physical harm was inflicted. My mother just wept for my soul. I wish I could go back and do things right… We both know wishes are not horse, or else beggars would ride. Mzee got me into a teachers training college and begged me not to waste this chance. Paul got into the police service, that’s what he chose.

We still met up and drunk ourselves silly, but Mzee never gave up on us. He made sure we never dropped out, or rather never got kicked out. I somehow managed to graduate, and Paul by the same miracle, became a cadet. He cleaned up, stopped the excessive drinking and became a model citizen. I , well, I ….. Let’s just say I got worse. I was beyond redemption in most people’s eyes, most except Mzee.

Paul rose through the ranks. Constable, sergeant, superintendent , commissioner, all that in five years. That was good fortune. Me, where do we start, the numerous arrests, the innumerable bar fights or the never- ending hospitalizations. The bar owners in the entire district stopped selling me drinks for a month at one point. Mzee got me rehabilitated to the best I could ever get to. Then he gave me the job as a teacher in his school, after which he made me a counselor because I ought to have picked some transferable skills from all the years of counseling I had received.

“My boy, he said to me, prove all of them wrong, show them that you can make something of yourself, if not for yourself  then for the years of belief I have put in you, this is all I ask.”

And so I did, I taught the boys and girls. Counseled them and coached them in drama, we even won the nationals two years in a row. Imagine that. They even stopped calling me a drunkard. I started courting Cecilia. Thing were looking up. Things were really looking up. I even put on eight kilos. Tell me that was not good.

Then three months ago, Paul came back, and it was not the Paul that left me wallowing in the streets. He and Mzee argued bitterly, I don’t know what it was about, but it had Mzee shed silent tears.

            “Paul, rafiki, what’s up? Papa what is going on, you have everyone worried.”   

Mzee response was so feeble my heart sank.

            “ Talk to him, let him tell you what he has done,”

            “ Yes my brother, let’s have one and let’s  talk, you are the one who might understand.”

I can’t say what he said to me, but midway during our conversation then some men walked in. I still believe death himself was among them. The air around us grew cold and still. All the warmth dissipated. Paul stood up said, “ it’s  been good knowing you” and walked out.

            “What do you mean?” I asked.

“You remember what you told me when you were in college, “Even when the land eats its people, the moon will shine to give people hope,”

PAUL walked out

With that he walked out, leaving his weapon on the table. As soon as they were out, I heard several blasts and that was it. I knew why they did it, but I still had my questions. I should have done something, but I didn’t. They had secrets to hide, but I knew what the secrets were, sorry, are. I hope they never figure it out.  I hope whoever they were, don’t come for me. The alcohol I hope will help me forget, though I highly doubt it.

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