I spent my valentines in the most unorthodox way – not that I ever celebrated it in the past – but this year’s valentines will go unmatched, of that I am sure. I was going to see him after all these months. I had managed to delude myself into thinking that I would be just fine, that I was over it, that I had strapped on a pair of balls and I could look him in the eyes and ask him and his comrades: “Was it worth it? Eh? Who is the fool now?” I thought I could do it. I woke up earlier than usually, ready to face the devil… My stomach was like the Europe – Africa path where the butterflies were migrating. I whispered a prayer. I decided to look my best… look sexy. I was proud of the girl who stared back in the mirror when I was done preparing myself. I wondered what the expression on his face would be. I knew he wasn’t expecting to see me… I thrived on the element of surprise.
The room was smaller than I had expected. I had clearly watched too many movies. I was also too confident… That could perhaps explain why I didn’t notice that I had entered the wrong room. Thank heavens for a conversation I had with a police officer.
Police: Madam, habari yako
Me: I have a general sense of apathy towards cops so with a tinge of arrogance, I mumbled: “Salama”
Police: Wewe ni mshtakiwa?
Me: Hapana, nimekuja kuskiza kesi. (I secretly cursed him for thinking I looked like one given how much effort I had put into dressing up that morning.)
Police: Umekuja kesi ya nani?
Me: I struggled to say his name… His name didn’t roll off my tongue easily. Maaa---cha—ria. Joseph Macharia Muchiri vs. the State.
Police: Ameshtakiwa kwa nini?
Police: Aaaaiiii, madam, umepotea. Toka uende……
Yes, I was in the wrong room. I gracefully walked out and with my head held up high. This time, I got the directions right. The room was empty, save for the “washtakiwas”. I stood at the door and wondered whether to walk in or wait for more people to come in. Maybe he had carried a gun with him. Maybe his informants had told him I would show up and he would shoot me too. Yes, paranoia is my new lover in as far as he is concerned…
I walked in. He was the opposite side of the door. I made sure the tap of my heels was loud enough to make him look up. He looked up and he stared… I turned away, then looked down!
I thought I could do this. I was sure I could face him… I was wrong. I had never seen him since the murder of A.N. Ngunjiri. I didn’t even maintain eye-contact with him for more than three-seconds. I looked away and I could still feel his eyes fixed on me. I began to shake, my eyes turned red and my tears welled up in my eyes. My heart… I swear it temporarily left my chest cavity and ran away… Faster than Usain Bolt! He turned to his comrades and they began to whisper as they were pointing at me. It was intimidating…nerve wrecking.