Give me back my breath

Because i want to live again

Untangle my feet from all these knots of death

For i want to walk out of this pain

Bring me back to the top of my castle

I do not like the view through this foggy pane

Feed me words that nourish my diminishing creative muscle

Because i can feel my energy wane

And when i wade through the dark

You will hear my words reverberate through the woods like a wild dog bark.





The soft hum of the funeral song breaks you into a thousand pieces. The wails from Aunt Monica propel you into a trance. It scatters the pieces like wind does dust. And you bow into silent sobs. Mucus flow. Soft shrieks of a wounded mother. Pain.

Through the thin film, you stare at the little coffins. Shimmering wood reflecting back your loss. You think of the people inside them. Peaceful in their eternal slumber. Ugly skins from the scalds do nothing to remind them of your agony. Patches of dark skin. Dark as night devoid of constellation. And then the original tender skin.

Suddenly you are thrown into a fit. You wail. You drop from your plastic chair and kick in the air like a dying horse. You are choking. Your throat is dry and creaking from the bitterness surging in you. The wig flies off your head revealing smuts of hair knitted in small knots. Women rush to carry you away before you lose your dress as well.

The women, all your friends, stoop by you all wearing weary looks on their faces. They can all feel the torment in you. They are worried as much as they are sorry. While you pant like a racing dog under the huge barren Avocado tree, tears roll down your cheeks ceaselessly.

In the darkness of the moment, fragments of the events leading to the current predicament torture your very existence. Hatred for that night shift surge in your heart. A neighbor had promised to keep an ear on them. To call you on the event of any crooked occurrence. And this you had said without holding much thought about it.

As much as you are whipping yourself, you are fully aware that the world will add threefold on it. All will know you as a mother whose heart is more inclined towards the money than the safety of her children. That you had the misfortune to fail them as a mother more than once is no secret. None will look at it from the perspective that you have been before the fateful night. Their fathers will always associate you with monsters and beasts.

The singing goes on, melancholy. Women use the helms of their lesos with Swahili sayings, uchungu wa mwana aujuae ni mzazi, to wipe their wet eyes. As much as they are in agony like any other mother, they want to look put together for you. Men are grim and darker. Children are confused.

Strength fails you. It is beyond you to walk back to the tent and perhaps pay your last respect to the people who are taking with them a portion of your heart forever. Your bones are brittle. Your vision is hazy. And your heart is too heavy to bear.

How do you bury your two boys in one day? You didn’t even give birth to them in one day. Who will you love now that a part of your heart is crumbled? As you lose them, you fear that you might lose yourself as well. The mournful murmurs of the women drift away as if happening in a dream. The heat of the sun fades away. And in one stock you pass out. Never to come to again.


Prisoners of War (continued)



I was taken back to the events of the fateful day. When the whole world was on fire. Big yellow flames lit up the camp. Loud noises of thunderous blasts mixed with groans of pain from fellow soldiers. People scampered around yelling. I could hardly hear what they said in their guttural cries. At a distance I could see a man wavering while a gigantic tongue of flames licked through him. Gunshots everywhere.

More out of instinct than training, I stayed down. Still struggling to comprehend the happenings in the aura. From all around, my colleagues let out their last shrills of death. The smell of fire and burning tires filled the air. Sweat draped my body and my jungle shirt was all wet.

A soldier on the run was shot in the back and his body fell on me with a thud. His head lay on my chest with warm blood quickly travelling all over my body. I trembled in the heat of bewilderment. The air was awash with their commands and husky voices. They jumbled their Arabic and all I could hear was quarrels. I lay still as a dodo expectant of the worst.

Isolated shots hit and rebounded across all rooms in my head. I knew they weren’t taking any chances. They were here for nothing but to steal, kill and destroy. I tried to put my composure on a handle as I waited impatiently for the bullet. Or to be taken as a POA. The bullets I had been instructed to riddle into the body of my enemy were now about to turn on me. How disloyal.

All these while, the blood of the fallen man laying lifeless over my body oozed and gave me a bloody bath. I persevered the smell of fresh human blood as it glided over my numb skin. Insanity gripped. I wanted the blood to flow into my mouth so I could taste death that hovered around like a dragon fly over a river. My head was blank, plunged into darkness. Suddenly the dead man was followed into his death by a bullet that spread his brains all over my face.

I died long before death descended. But I woke up to gunshots in the air and the heat of the sun. The brutal militants were celebrating their victory. The taste of victory was rife in their celebration. To them, this one win meant universal win against these people who only harbored opinions about humanity. There was a smirk of pain to put on any face that thought life was any special. Every burst of the shot shook my being to the root. I wished I was among those who were already dead. It is always better to wind up dead than have the misfortune of the thought of death while breathing in air smelling of its horrid escapades.

With their heads swollen with pride of having brought down a whole military camp that had thwarted their existence, the wild brutes were at it again. Their voices came in and suddenly, someone was holding my leg. Instinct instructed me to act, perhaps kick whoever it was in the balls and, once free, take off but common sense lurking in the shadows of dread opposed. Clearly the prospects were thinner than a spider’s thread.

I wondered what the militant wanted in a dead bare black leg. Clearly, there was no boot to steal, for the shameless thief who steals from the dead. In retrospect however, this one was into far worse endeavor. He tied my leg with a rope and I was dragged on the hot sand of somali land like a log. Dust flew into my nostrils and I dared not sneeze. I could perceive shuffles of more bodies being dragged by my side. Friction did its part in tuning up the intense pain I was undergoing thus I was knocked unconscious and offered a worthwhile break from the fire.

Later, I could feel the wrath of the sun on my legs. My whole body was on fire, from the pain, from the heat, from the bitterness. Something passed me a note instructing that I lay still if I was to ever look at the faces of my torturers and grin.

The pain became unbearable. I was approaching a breaking point and indeed I snapped and sat up. And I imagined myself looking nothing shot of a zombie. It felt like there was a ball of orange coal logged in my chest. For the first time, I unclosed my eyes. The hot noon sun forced a squint on me. I could only behold a hazy world of dead soldiers strewn all over. Dust repainted their uniform, for those who had any, brown. The militants stooped facing mecca with their wrapped heads moving up and down from the ground.

The same instinct which had been leading me ordered me to leap to a nearby thicket and weigh my chances from there. Between hope and I was darkness. I was not sure if I still had that opportunity to hope. It all ends at the grave. And looking at my situation from all angles, I was headed there real fast.

I sneaked away while they wobbled. In the temporary safety I lay on my back and sighed hesitantly. Whoever their god was had found it in his heart to gift me with a breather. I seized the opportunity to stack up my life. To focus my last thoughts on my wife who had dedicated her life to me. She was beautiful, tender and softhearted. Being a lover of country music I hoped my situation won’t be like that in the video of Brad Presley’s Whiskey Lullaby. The thought of whiskey reminded me that I was thirsty. My tongue was dry and swollen.

Suddenly a wave of grief consumed my soul. I began mumbling to myself how sorry I was not to fulfil the promise of returning to my wife. The shatter of her heart would be heard in my grave when finally she learns of my demise. Tears mixed with blood, brain matter and dust particles and raced towards my ears.

I hated myself for making promises I could not keep. Regrets wielding excruciating pain consumed my soul and smothered the pain on my body. However, I congratulated myself for trying to wear the patriotism jersey that always ended up haunting its bearers. Soon I was to join a team of veterans like Dedan Kimathi who drowned in puddles of their patriotic blood. Somehow I found comfort in that even if there existed zero chance that my statue would make it to the city center or anywhere else for that matter.

A rattle snake glided towards me. Death is like a fisherman. Once in its hook, successfully unhooking yourself never translates to salvation. I lay still, a trick I was now an expert in. The brown snake with black patches slithered over my skin and headed straight into a hole a few yards from my hide out. I let out my breath only to behold two thin militants wielding AK47 rifles surging forth.

I was thrown into the sharp blades of dilemma. It was a game of tiger or woman. However, this one was custom; tiger or tiger.

I willingly chose to die by snake venom than to endure torture from the brutes I so despised. For its worth, it is far better to die by the fangs of an animal itself than those of one passing for a human being. I slid into the anteater hole. The snake, disturbed from its siesta, engaged me in a staring contest. We locked eyes until the viper gave up and crawled out. And I knew I owed him one.

Sounds of sandal crushing on sand drifted closer in doubles and I held my breath. The conversation grew louder and went mute immediately they were near my hiding.

Soon, the whiff of fresh shit filled the air. In my hole I didn’t mind for the stench of death was far much worse. The militants having emptied their bowels walked away feeling good. What with the victory still riding their air. The steps faded away until they merged with the gush of blood in my ears and I let out the breath.

The warmth of the dark hole and the intensity of the pain worked together and sent me into deep sleep. Perhaps it was my last before I was eventually dragged into everlasting slumber.

I woke thundering sounds of helicopters flying over El- Ade town and bombs detonating like the ones in the morning. I suspected it was the KDF rescue team giving the militants a taste of their own battle. I clunk to hope like a kid clinks to its mothers dress when being dropped at school for the first time.

I crawled out and I met images of a town on fire. Tables were turning. What a great way to take turns in setting each other on fire like drunken dragons. I stood stock still, unsure of what to do next. Just then, I heard a commanding voice behind me saying.

“Wewe ni nani?”(who are you?)

And before I could answer we were at the Defense Forces Memorial Hospital. The smell of the medicine made me sick. Corporal Tabut was still mute. He only took instruction as the military regulations clearly stipulated. We lay on our respective hospital beds, with Corporal just across. I stared on the cream walls but actually saw fire embedded deep within the reflection from the overhead fluorescent bulb. And I drifted into sleep.

Saturday, 16th January, 2016 three days after the indelible experience, I was discharged. Corporal Tabut was still mute, unable to speak a word of his meeting with the Lord. I called my wife at the bus station informing her of my arrival. She wasn’t excited at all. Her voice was flat and doubtful.

That evening I arrived home just when the sun was setting. Creepy veins of darkness were starting to show up. The sight of my village gave me a sigh of relieve. I looked at the door to my wooden house and smiled at the fact that behind that door, waited my wife. Behind that door, I knew, was where home was at.

I knocked hesitantly.

I adjusted my packback and entered triumphantly only to meet head on with a sharp cold steel. It drove deep into the side of my neck and I fell. I saw my wife in all her glory leap over my body and embraced the thickening darkness. The world got dingy until I could see nothing. I struggled to see the face of whoever had drove the machete into my flesh to no avail.

As I drifted into gallows of death I had fought with defiance, I received a revelation. I was not only a prisoner of war from the ruthless militants. Behind my back lurked dark figures that had engaged me in an unending battle I did not know I was in. For the fallen in the field, their names made it to the silver plate in the memorial wall at the barracks. For me, I had died a death not befitting a soldier.




I hope his leg kisses the ragged stone and he wails like a woman in labor. I hope he breaks his toe and never gets to play again. I hope his long nail gets stuck in the charred leather. I hope he slams against the whitewashed wall while running blindly after the ball. I hope he loses his front teeth in the process.

But then I hesitate. These thoughts send a wave rippling across my bosom as if I am not justified to wish him well. I can feel my heart skip a beat. How will he walk to the classes that are miles away? Will the little limp accord him the exception of having to ride a bodaboda (motorbike) there? I realize I don’t care unless he has to stop that irregular thud.

The first encounter between the ball and the wall almost killed me with a stroke. That sudden loud bang that reechoed in my heart first and then rung back to my ears. My whole body twitched as if ready to take flight. But I am justified to react so after numerous bomb detonations that have broken legs, reduced to ashes and killed many with sorrow. Can’t a man die honorably these days?

And then it came again and again. This time it threatened to split me apart with loathe. Every time I went back into that word- naked and ready, bang! It pulled me away from the pool.

I’ve wanted to get into these waters of witty words that speak to the depth of my heart. All night I have dreamt of the letters in their intricate form, pregnant of meaning, floating into my sight and whetting my desire. All morning I have scorched my tongue in burning coffee while I thought of those sentences imprisoned in book pages. Waiting for their liberator. Even when the wind whirred through the half open window, I have been listening to the murmurs of those words in my head. And they have been sounding like a horde of ghosts planning an attack in the dark.

But just when I settle down to feast, I am stopped by that sudden bang. I hope they choke on their laughter. I hope they meet with words like arthritis, paralysis and malice. Those words that bring shutters to people’s hearts like they have mine. I hope they perish in a read like this that gets readers lamenting. I hope they swallow a shard of glass after their goddamn ball breaks a pane. Then, only then, will they learn the power of my pen.


I can hear their chuckles. I want to throw these words that have been living in this book, smelling of age and bondage, at them. If I can manage to hurl a handful and show them that walls too have feelings. That you can’t just get away by kicking the ball against a poor wall stripped of paint by weather. If I can make the wall talk and share the torments of its heart in the tranquil of the morning now lying in shambles. If I can turn these words into blades and deflate their bloated egos and the fucking ball. If…

They hit some more. And converse loudly of how harder they can kick. Of how loud they can make the wall moan. Of how deep they can sink my heart. Of how dark they can cast my hatred. Of how further they can place the words so I can’t use them.

I place my back against the window squarely. And hope the ball flies through the glass and drives a shard into my brains. I yearn to feel the warm blood traveling down my spine. Drenching my shirt. Painting it dark like the hatred seething in my heart.

I want to listen to their little moans of regret. The agitation in their scared scratchy voices while they deliberate desperately on what to do. I want to send them into uncertainty. And the bang will forever reverberate down their memory hall like it did my soul. It will haunt them each time they behold a ball. Or a wall. It will haunt them each time they see torn packets of MacCoffee. And then the smell will remind them some more.

For now, I will wait. That confused look in their eyes will be the last thing in my eyes when I drift into oblivion. They will shake me no more with their stupid bangs. Unless they slit their throats with the last shards of glass I couldn’t take.

May these words come true.