Tuesday, 25 October 2011

My 9/11

Nothing about the events of August 5th 2011 made sense; and I hate it when things don't make sense. I hate grey areas and uncertainty. It was a long weekend that one. One that came with many lessons. You see, after the unraveling events of 1 a.m. I constantly wondered how someone with a wife could behave in such a manner. Why wasn't she his voice of reason? I concluded that she was one to be seen and not to be heard... That was before I met her. I met her the following day... Actually I encountered her. Meet sounds like it was a pleasant scenario.  Far from it. The encounter was something like this: "This is our land (read drive way)! We are going to gain possession of it even if it means shedding blood. Death is not a big deal....... “ Those were the first words I ever heard her utter. She was talking AT my mother and I. In my head I thought vitisho vya penny mbili. Her utterances got personal... We walked away.

The 9th day of the 9th Month of the Year 2011.

Before I indulge you on the events of the 9th, note that at least every week, my mum and I spoke about our crazy neighbors. That week however, we spoke of him every day, without fail. I guess that was God's way of revealing something to us.

1232hrs (Midday) 

I recieved a phone call. It was my sister-from-another-mother. I was in a meeting of sorts. I disconnected the call. In less than thirty seconds, she had called back. I disconnected. She called back again. I knew something was wrong.... I knew what was wrong and the only reason why I picked up was to confirm that which I was already suspecting... Her words: "They have come back to demolish the house."

I know I said I knew what was wrong when I picked up, but if there is something I have learned, you can never really prepare yourself for bad news. I actually asked who had come back... Her response: "Macharia, Nairobi City Council and the police are even here, they have guns. What will I do?"

What should I have said? What? All I said was, "Let me call you back, I'll tell you what to do."  I didn't know what to do. If the same events played out today, I'd still not know what to do.

I like to think life prepares us for just about anything. Earthquake - you know you are supposed to stand in an open field, you can scream too. Death - you know you are supposed to cry. Sickness - go see a doctor. Accident - go see a doctor, insurance company and life moves on. Drought - donate food stuffs. Loss of a job - cry a little then pick yourself up and get another one or create one. Demolition of a friends property: Oh, no! I'm so sorry, you should go to court! Demolition of your home for 23 years.....*Sigh* How is one expected to react to such news?!? Should I cry? Scream? Kill someone? Life didn't prepare us for this. It doesn't prepare you for some things.

I decided to start making phone calls to everyone but my folks and my sister. So, I called my cousin, he didn't pick up. Called my brother, didn't pick up. Called my brother-in-law, didn't pick up. Called my cousin again, didn't pick up. Called my brother, didn't pick up. By this time I was shaking uncontrollably. I wondered if my phone was lying to me that it was connecting my calls... So I restarted it! With little options left, I called my dad. "Dad, the house is being demolished." The line went dead. How did I expect him to react? I think I was hoping he would curse the son-of-a-gun who was responsible for this whole drama to his grave. But the phone just went dead! I called my sister... Told her in the exact same words. Everyone else I called, I said it to them in the exact same words... A stranger could have easily thought I had been programmed... or was a broken record... or a parrot.

My phone rang. It was my sister-from-another-mother: "What should I do? They have already finished your bedroom?" Tears welled up in my eyes. I didn't have an answer. I hate not having answers... *Sigh* "Just leave them alone, I said."  I didn't cry. I went back into the meeting, excused myself and left. On my way to town, I tried to prepare my mind on what to expect once I got home - or what was left of it. I knew I couldn't face it alone, so I called my cousin for moral support. On the way home, I tried to imagine how my father was handling the news. I was worried sick about my mother.

The walk to the house was shorter than usual. My stomach was in pain and my eyes wet with tears - but they wouldn't fall from my eyes. I saw my dad from a distance. Even as I write this, the feeling I felt on that day when I saw him still engulfs me. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. His eyes were bloodshot red from anger. His first words to me: "He has finally done it. I'm sorry you don't have a bedroom." All I could say was "I'm so so sorry dad." We broke eye contact at the same time. I walked away first. I HATED Macharia; hated that he had done this to my parents.  I wanted to throw the demolished stones at his tile/glass house... I especially wanted to throw one at his big round head. A small crowd had gathered, most of them family and close friends... Everyone said "SORRY." It was as though death had befallen our family... But at the time, it felt worse than death. I HATED Macharia some more!

I got home at 1500hrs. Macharia was standing where my bedroom  previously was. He was in a black and white checked shirt, beige khaki-like pants. He was smiling. I wanted to spit on the bastards face then throw one of the demolished stones at him! I was DISGUSTED at the sight of him.

The damage was not as bad as I had expected. I also forgot the day was far from over... 


Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Prelude

August 4th 2011.

It was a day that came with many thoughts... Far too many. Some good, some bad but on the most part, they were all good thoughts... I was looking forward to a night out with the girls that weekend. However, this thought was occasionally interrupted by  thoughts of my grandma. She had just come from undergoing a second heart operation due to clotted veins... Would she be OK?

The day wore on and by nightfall I had shelved thoughts of my grandma... more like left her to God. That would perhaps explain why I didn't care to ask my mum why she looked so distressed that night when I got home. I figured she was worried about her mom, naturally so. So, when I got home and she was not interested in conversation, I hurriedly went to bed. In retrospect, I should have asked her what was wrong.

After what seemed to me like a few minutes, maybe an hour tops, I heard her shouting my name.... Again, I made an assumption; that she wanted me to go and open the gate for my dad. I refused to answer and she called out to my sister-from-another-mother... She too ignored. Then I heard my dad's voice calling out my name. I got up - confused, thinking I was dreaming. 

I checked the time on my phone. 1:23 a.m. It was not a few minutes later, not even an hour after I went to bed... It was four hours later and it was not August 4th 2011 anymore. 

It was August 5th 2011.  This time I had my mum screaming... "Woooooiiiiii! Girls, can you wake up and get out of the house or else you will be killed... GET OUT! They are coming to demolish the house. Remove your things."

I got out of my bedroom, the same time as my sister-from-another-mother - got out of hers. She asked me what was going on. I could hear the  Nairobi City Council bulldozer demolishing the far end of the wall. They were coming to demolish the house at 1:23 a.m. I didn't know what was going on. My dad made phone calls hoping to get help. My mum made phone calls. I ran for my phone and started making phone calls. It seemed unbelievable to everyone that something like this was happening at such an ungodly hour. The bulldozer was still at the far end, moving closer with every passing minute. I asked my mum what was going on... She said it was "Macharia - the next door neighbor." I tried to put the pieces together... Why? How? At this time? Nothing made sense. Nothing at all.

My dad ran back to the house... Told me to pull the alarms. In a fraction of a minute, the alarms went off. In less than two minutes, the demolition had stopped and the bulldozer sped off. My dad tried to catch up with it... No luck. It was now  around 1:35 a.m. My feet were wobbly, my hands shaking and my  heart was racing. I asked my mum what was going on.... "Its a land dispute" she said. It still didn't make sense to me.... We had lived here for 23 years, the next door neighbor for less than 2 years.  How could it be a land dispute? The timing of the demolition made no sense either.... Nothing made sense.... But one thing was for sure, we were in for a painful experience with this guy.