‘We buried him.’ Katherine sniffed and coughed. ‘The press arrived before we took Kennedy home, so they captured him lying in his pool of blood. They came to the house after the burial and wanted a couple of interview. The man who killed my brother was sent into thick clouds and not presented to face the consequence of his action.’
‘I honored one interview where Nigerians were given the opportunity to call in.’ She continued weakly. ‘They expressed their grievances to the extent I broke into tears right there in the studio and then it dawned on me that it can only be talked about until the matter dies and whatever force or click he belonged to would protect him. So when I was asked for an interview to talk about the horrifying experience, I refused.’
Kelvin placed the thick woollen shawl around her shoulders because she was shivering and the sea breeze had become cooler.
‘Did you check his name tag, can you remember his ranking from his uniform?’ There was optimism in his voice and expectation in his eyes.
‘I don’t even know if I can recognise him, I can’t remember what force he was in, all I know is that he was top ranked. Kelvin, no matter how people like me try, we don’t have advantage over people of high class. He was so protected that even his name wasn’t released. The law can always be modified to suit people who know how to grease the right palms.’ She blew her nose and wiped it. ‘You wouldn’t believe the number of terrifying that are allowed to slide on daily basis.’
‘That’s crap.’ Kelvin said irritated. ‘How can it just be swept under the carpet?’
‘For the fact that he had committed murder when his defense was not threatened, for the fact that he was a uniformed man and should know better would have been the reason while he shouldn’t go unpunished. That is obtainable in this part of the world. When a poor person tries to get justice done, he will eventually discover that he had wasted his resources, time and hurt himself more.’
‘That is baloney…absolute nonsense.’ He bobbed his head from side to side before drumming his fingers on the table in controlled agitation.
‘I have learnt to place my solace in God.’ She said calmly and glanced at the sea. ‘Let’s hear the conclusion.’ She drew out a shaky breath.
He directed his attention back to her.
‘Kennedy and I were born with golden spoon yet our parents taught us that life was not a bed of roses, times of yesterday might never be that of today. When the rainy days came, we were able to find our feeting, when Kennedy dropped the baton, I picked it up with determination. What he wouldn’t have me do, I was compelled to. I had to fend for my daddy and I. I got a teaching job.
My dad and I were closer than ever. ‘She blinked severally and tears fell off her bloodshot eyes. ‘Those days, I used to have horrible nightmares, he was there for me and we were always there for us. We spent most of our nights crying. We couldn’t recover from the absence of Kennedy. My daddy was not happy that I had to work, he didn’t express it though but I could see it eyes, in the way he looked me over when I came back from work. His eyes held disapproval when Kenny was working talk more of his baby girl. He wasn’t pleased that he had to helplessly watch his children fend for themselves and him so early.
In the course of working, I did understand what my big brother was trying to protect me from. Despite how they tried they couldn’t change me because I had already took the words of my parents and brother to heart and sealed it there.
When my brother was alive, I was ready to wait for him to gain his feeting before going to college.’ Katherine shrugged.
‘When all expenses were deducted from my salary including my daddy monthly appointment with an orthopaedic doctor, there was hardly anything left. ‘ She shrugged and exhaled. ‘My dream was to become accountant and a financial consultant as I go higher.’
‘My daddy was an orphan but he had two younger step brothers from my grand mum who remarried after the death of grand dad. Being from a poor family, my dad struggled through school and worked his way to the top, he sponsored his much younger brothers through school and got them connected to good jobs after they graduated.’ She gave a short laugh and dabbed her eyes.
‘I remember those beautiful days when our lives were rosy, they were always around the house at the littlest break, they enjoyed the treat in my mum’s restaurant like they were Co founders. I remember the special treat every weekends.’ She inhaled deeply and exhaled. ‘Wind of fate could be such a merciless snatcher. The home front was my mum priority, she was kind hearted and an epitome of the Bible’s virtuous woman. I remember how my friends, classmates and neighbours wished my she was theirs. They all looked out for invitation to treats in my house. Every Sunday was Africa salad treat.’ She smiled at him.
‘I see.’ Kelvin chuckled.
‘When things changed, we stopped seeing the faces of my uncles, the older one got married a couple of months before mummy died. They attended her funeral but they didn’t come for Kenny funeral. They didn’t give any assistance… I mean any.’
Kelvin raised a brow.
‘When Kenny was alive, how I love that guy. He didn’t consider begging anyone. I decided to give a trial without my dad approval but in his presence I called them and a minute into the conversation, I was so pissed, I hanged up and switched off the phone.
As days rolled into weeks, I did my best to take care of us. Four months after Kennedy passed on, that month was a rainy one, that very week got streets and houses flooded, so many were displaced.’ Tears formed in her eyes and she extended a palm to Kelvin.
He took the palm and placed his free palm over it. It was cold.
‘The weather situation made news because the rain descended the earth with no mercy. It was so serious that most couldn’t go out to work.’ She closed her eyes briefly and took a couple of deep breaths. ‘You remember I told you about having nightmares.
‘At a point, I couldn’t sleep alone so I slept with my dad. On that particular day, I woke up to discover my daddy wasn’t in bed, I turned on the table lamp and the table clock told me it was forty minutes past four a.m.
I went to the sitting room and discovered he had gone outside. Out of curiosity, I lingered at the window with a worried frown because he was allergic especially to such weather condition. I couldn’t hear him but from his geetures, I knew he was pouring his heart to God so I didn’t interrupt.’ She paused and stared into space as tears now flowed in torrents. ‘If I was not too young, if I had known that the wind of fate was not through with me…I would have know…I would have known.’ She bit her quivering lower lips and sneezed.
Kelvin jaw dropped at her last statement.
‘I left the window before he came in to boil water for his bath and make breakfast, his cloths were soaked and dropping, it was all stained. He met me at the kitchen, I had planned a surprise breakfast for him. When I told him, he told me I should have prepared for me alone.’ She smiled amidst tears. ‘I wouldn’t hear of such. He told me how much he loved me, I never knew it was the last -I love you, his last words. He also asked me to take care of myself.’ She rocked herself obviously in pain. ‘I promised him I would. Oh my God…’ She broke into sobs.
Kelvin took her into her arms.
‘By the time I went to his room to wake him for the breakfast but he had passed on.’
He closed his eyes feeling her pain and conscious of the wetness on his shoulder. He felt her neck temperature was on the high side when he rested his palm on it momentarily.
‘He was my mentor, the best daddy in the world, the only person I lived for.’ She shut her eyes tightly though it was burning. ‘I was dazed, I was only sixteen. I had perspectives of human and a distasteful taste of wind of fate.’ She placed an arm around his neck. ‘There is still more to come.’
‘More to come?’ Kelvin muttered flabbergasted.
‘Yes Kel.’ The sound of her voice more like a croak. ‘After all, the Lord said in the book of Jeremiah chapter seventeen verse five that “Cursed be the man that register in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.”
Verse nine said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked who can know it?” She freed herself and looked him in the eyes. ‘Let me make you understand why I quoted from the holy Scripture.’ She adjusted the shawl around shoulders.
He opened a bottle of water and handed it to her. ‘Drink water. ‘
‘Drink more. ‘ He told her when she took only a sip.
She took more almost emptying the 75cl bottle.
‘My daddy died and had to be buried. I couldn’t do that on my own so I called my uncles. They came and decided to bury him in the cemetery but I wanted him buried in the house. Their will prevailed despite my objection. They left me after that.’
‘How can they leave just like that, after everything your parents did for them.’ Kelvin frowned.
Katherine laughed heartily and then held her throat. ‘They left me just like that, not even interested in my welfare or how I would cope.’
Kelvin shook his head.
‘Two days after my dad’s burial, I went to their various office to ask for advise and help. They told me same thing.’ She smiled bitterly and wiped her face. ‘They told me looking me straight in the eyes that life was a ”scratch my back, I scratch yours affair”. That was the first time I heard that, so I didn’t understand what it meant and I did ask them to explain and they told me, I will be having coitus with them and they in turn would take care of everything I needed.
‘Jeez! You were only sixteen! ‘
She pursed her lips and tears flowed. ‘Right there in their office, I felt as though a bomb had exploded in the premises. ‘
‘Oh my God…I thought this only happens in the imagination of a writer. This is ridiculous. ‘
‘I guess I was like you until I was a victim.’
‘What did you do? ‘ He searched her facial expression.
‘Tears just welled in my eyes…I was too disappointed, too dazed to utter a word. I picked my bag and left their office. By the time I got home, I was seriously comtemplating suicide. I knew I would rather die than do want they wanted. ‘
Kelvin exhaled pained.
‘I picked to knife to stab myself but I couldn’t because I knew my family especially God would be disappointed in me and I wouldn’t go to the resting place up above…I wouldn’t go where my parents and Kennedy were.’ She sobbed.
Kelvin stared at her with so much respect trying not to think of what he would have done in her shoes. He would have been a trained assassin. He took her palms in his.
‘A week later, my eldest uncle came to the house and told me he was giving me twenty fours to vacate my father’s house. He asked for the documents of the three plot of land.
Three days before my dad passed on, he handed them over to me. One part of me wanted to deny knowledge of it, so I could burn them before vacating. I suppressed that part and handed them over to him.’
My brother girlfriend came that evening and I narrated the latest to her. She arranged for a lorry and people who helped move everything movable property in the house.
The house I am living in was giving to me by her as a parting gift. She left to live abroad where her family was.’ She looked at him.
‘I wished so many times that everything that had happened to me was a horrible dream. Nineteen months had gone and many months after, it is still difficult for me…loosing them all. It is still like an horrible nightmare. Do you know it means to lose people you’ve know all your life and learn to live life without them? Do you know the pain and emptiness that engulfs me anytime I wake just to realise they are no more? Do you know Kel… do you? ‘ She clasped a palm over quivering lips.
Kelvin heaved. ‘No dear I don’t, I can only imagine.’
‘Imagination can never do, never.’ She sniffed and her tears began rolling down her tears-stained cheeks. ‘Those who have a suffered a broken relationship don’t even know how it hurts because family is very important. ‘ Katherine closed her eyes momentarily.
Kelvin was heartbroken to see she still had more tears in spite of the multitude she had shed already.
‘My brother girlfriend left two days after I moved in, her family were aware of their relationship and were on her neck for her to come over knowing she was devastated.
The days that followed…’ She stared into space. ‘I slumped in and out of consciousness. I hardly ate, I lived behind closed door for about three moon, I longed for death as though it was natural. When I saw it wasn’t forthcoming, I went back to God and his words. I got uplifted, little by little, I was able to pick up the broken pieces of my heart and put them together.
I willed my heart to forget special dates and days like my birthday for me to move on. ‘
Kelvin remembered the look on her face when she came to his office with the birthday gift. He understood it all, all the lack of trust she had put up. It was all clear.
‘I took jobs, I was a cook in the first and soon enough the boss son wouldn’t let me be, my colleagues got jealous and I had to quit.
Same for other jobs I took, it’s either the boss, the son or their guests. I worked in one as a companion to three children for two years before their father started giving me unnecessary attention. The man was an engineer and the wife a bank manager. When I told the children I was leaving, they wept because I more like a mum to them. I made them promise not to forget all I taught them. They made promise to check on them someday. I wish I could see them. ‘ She smiled.
‘Nothing is holding you back darling, when you’re ready, I’ll come with you.’
‘Kelvin.’ She whispered and her smile widened. ‘You are crying.’
‘Am I? ‘ He touched his face. ‘Oh my…’ He chuckled embarrassed and wiped his tears.
‘It was when I was going back home, I saw SIC and the advert for a cleaner. You know the rest of the story.’
‘I do darling. ‘ He took her palm and kissed it.
She coughed, her body ached and felt hot. ‘Thank you for everything… everything. I can’t begin to express… ‘
‘Shhhh…thank you for being you.’ He beamed at her. ‘I have learnt a lot from you today.’ He said and opened another bottled water. ‘Drink water.’
She shook her head.
‘I’m not asking you Sweetie, I’m telling you. You’ve lost so much fluid.’
She obeyed him.
He poured some water on a napkin and wiped her face and then dabbed her neck.
He took all they brought for picnic to the car.
Katherine bend over rocking herself with a palm over her forehead with shut eyes. She winced in pain.
Soon, they were walking to where the car was parked with Kelvin hand around her waist supporting her.
Suddenly, she lurched and he felt her become limp against him.
He grabbed her as panick surged him through him.
‘Katherine… ‘ He shook her arms.
As her head fell back, he saw only the white of her eyes before it closed.
He swept her off her feet and hurried as fast as he could to the car.
He laid her and felt for pulse on her wrist. He didn’t feel any.
‘Katherine please… don’t give up on me….’ He slammed the back door shut and entered the driver side.
‘Oh God please…help me… help me please… ‘ He let a shaky breath as he glanced at the side mirror and then reversed. ‘God please… no traffic.’ He muttered. ‘ Katherine… ‘ He called and glanced at the inner mirror, hoping she would stir to no avail. ‘Stay with me darling. ‘ He muttered as he gripped the steering wheel and joined the express road leaving dust behind.
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