Life is not short, life is now. So today at 7.45a.m in my small bungalow in Umoja, I woke up to think through my schedule for the day. I lay on my bed, my mind on the diary in my head. There was a meeting to attend at exactly 10a.m. I imagined through the meeting. My boss’ voice and colleagues chipping in. I heard words like motivation, teamwork, excellence, image, competitor buzzing in my head. Then I visualized working after the meeting, sometimes a little more psyched up than before, depending on the meeting.
My mind wandered to my small bro, Aubrey, who will be joining campus in a while. I imagined myself back then. I had been ecstatic. All I had wanted was to leave for campus and live campus life. I am talking crazy life. I am talking booze at 7a.m. I am talking money and women. I am talking come-we-stays that no one judges you; and going back home to a mother who so believes in your innocence. I am talking going to class when you want to. I am talking freedom. I am talking freedom that our forefathers must have had in mind when they fought for our independence. I am talking doing what you want to do when you want to do it. That is at least what my seniors who had been to campus before had told me about campus life.
I pondered over what to do for Aubrey as he starts this long journey. I thought about what back then I needed when I got to Moi University main campus. I remembered how entertainment was everything at campus. I recalled how as a fresher (man) I lost out on a girl I liked to another guy because she could watch movies at his place and yet I had no computer. Campus was no place for the kind of love grandma taught you, I learnt. I remembered how I had to step up and be a man to get myself a computer (I still have it to date).
My alarm clock rang. It was already 8.00am. I was behind schedule. I rushed to the shower. I imagined how as a kid I had dreaded cold water in the morning. Now I didn’t mind it despite the hot shower being available. As water dripped down my dark skin (and please don’t imagine Sudanese), I wallowed in the moment. I felt fresh and focused on the meeting I was going to have shortly afterwards. I reviewed my career in journalism and was grateful that I was doing what I always wanted to do even when I was hydrophobic.
“Beep, beep,” my phone buzzed from the bedroom signaling an incoming text message.
“I know the meeting is at 10a.m, somebody doesn’t need to remind me!” I told myself, still in the shower.
Then there was a call and another, and another. But I let them go. The call-rings interrupted the flow of my thoughts so I found myself just concentrating on my body. I looked at myself in the big mirror in the bathroom. I didn’t like the small swelling that had been on my eye for the last few days. In my village it is believed that you develop such when you deny a dog food. I had no dog, and being in the city, dogs were a rare sight. My villagers must be liars. I reached for the eye-drop medication that a doctor had given me. Life is about trust and confidence, which are brought about by credibility. Yeah, I walked into a hospital and a white-robe-clad stranger who is introduced to me as an eye specialist gives me some small bottle with a prescription to follow for my eye situation. And here I was, doing exactly as he had recommended.
“2*3 drops for 5 days,” the doctor had written. I asked myself what if he decided to put there pepper or sulphuric acid or whatever substance that would turn me blind in a second! I shuddered at the thought of it.
The phone rang again. I ignored. I left the bathroom to dress up but decided to switch on the TV to see what my colleagues on KTN Morning Breakfast were doing.
“BREAKING NEWS…ACCIDENT AT MTINDWA, UMOJA,” the news ID read.
My kikoy dropped (you are allowed to think wild). Mtindwa is a few hundred metres from where I was standing, my day to day route. I turned to my phone and it struck me that the many messages and phone calls I received were actually from friends, family and colleagues concerned about me. I smiled at the thought. Somehow it felt nice. Not the accident, the calls and messages.
Sophia Wanuna, the beautiful Morning Breakfast Show host, finally broke it down. The accident was between a bus and a train. I could have been on that bus. To the passengers who perished in the accident, that was the end of their journey. As I walked out of the house for the morning meeting, I reminded myself that life is a journey, and it’s a journey that can only be enjoyed now. Just like the passengers on that bus and train did a moment before the accident occurred.