Graveside Banter

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Photo Credits: Chanchori Toilet Selfies. The rest of the shit done (Designed) by: Silas Kamanza (Sharafa)

Today, I put my old man to rest. It was a small ceremony, just as I imagined it would. There were less than twenty people at his grave. All of them threw the red soil on his cheap wooden coffin, made in a hurry by a drunk carpenter. All of them but one. Me.

Today I laid my old man to rest. One last time. While he lived, I harbored no feelings for him. No love. No hate. No memories that brought a smile to my face. None that brought tears to my eyes either.

Now that today I laid him to rest, I can finally breathe, stand up, dust my pants and walk off into my life.

It is 19:00h somewhere close to the Aberdare Ranges. I am cold. At least I think I am. So I take another large swig of the Vodka I am holding in my hand.

I told the guys to dig my father’s grave in the middle of our banana plantation. Hidden away from everyone. From everything. He will rest as he lived. Alone. Hidden from the world. Fearing that something will crouch into his personal space, take his hand, lead him out of his comfort zone and into the world and really make him live. Poor old man. Died as he lived. Alone.

Darkness befalls the mountain side fast. In the dimming light I catch a last glimpse of the engraving on the cheap, frail, hurriedly crafted cross on the freshly dug grave.

“Duncan Herufi.

Sunrise: 1965

Sunset: 2017

He Came. He Saw. He Deid. He Reft No Mak Behid.”

I told the drunk carpenter to engrave those specific words on the cross. I wonder what went wrong with the spelling. Maybe I should have written it down on a piece of paper.

I take another large swig of the Vodka straight from the bottle and look for feeling inside me. But I strike zilch. Again. I am dead inside.

Behind me leaves rustle as feet step on them and I don’t even turn around. A hand rests on my shoulder. It is dark now. Something touches my face. Another cobweb.

Someone speaks. My elder brother. His voice sounds like mine in more ways than one. Low. Confident. Lost. Without a hint of light in it.

Brother: So he is dead, huh?

Me: Finally.

He stands beside me and sighs. Looking down at the grave. He didn’t make it to the burial. I wouldn’t either if I were him.

Brother: Poor bastard.

Me: Poor bastard.

Crickets come alive. Owls hoot in the distance. A cow moos. A dog barks from one side of the valley and it is responded to by another from another side of the valley. I take another swig from the bottle. I am warmer now. It is comforting to have my brother with me.

Me: I thought you were dead.

Brother: It’s only been four years little brother. Don’t be dramatic.

Me: Four years, nobody has heard from you. Maybe I am not being dramatic enough.

Brother: I was out. Running away from my father.

Me: Sure doesn’t look like he was chasing you.

Brother: When you close your eyes and still see your father chasing you with a metal bar, trust me he’ll always be chasing you. Even if you find yourself in Bangkok with a prostitute who smokes cigarettes with her anus.

Me: Now that he is dead, you think he’ll stop chasing us?

Brother: He was born to destroy. You and I, we are damaged. But maybe we can show our little ones another way.

Me: Little ones. (I chuckle) Little ones.

I pour a little Vodka on his grave. There are no flowers. He died last night. He had been bedridden for a while, but he simply wasn’t dying. Until last night. This morning I swung by the carpenter’s. Ordered the cheapest coffin and the cheapest cross available. No time to get him to the morgue. I’ll register his death when the government comes knocking on my door.

Me: How did you hear?

Brother: Hear what?

Me: About his death? You’ve been gone four years. Then you came barely twenty-fours after his death. Why?

Brother: Little birds.

Me: Little birds?

Brother: Little birds.

Me: He left no will.

Brother: I don’t want anything he touched. Afraid he poisoned it all.

Me: At least you hated him.

Brother: You didn’t?

Me: Maybe one day I will.

He chuckles and runs his palm down his face. He sits on the wet soil on the grave and releases a loud sigh.

Brother: Do you think there is a god little brother?

He fumbles his pockets, finds a crumpled packet of cheap Rooster cigarettes, picks one out and lights up.

Me: A god? There has to be, right?

Brother: You in a mood for cancer?

Me: (Lifting up my bottle and taking a generous swig from it) I’ll just go the cirrhosis way if that’s OK.

Brother: Yeah. If Herufi couldn’t kill us, we just might be invincible.

Me: Been meaning to ask; think he killed mom?

Brother: I wouldn’t be surprised. Been meaning to ask; you killed him?

I don’t answer. Not immediately. The banana leaves rustle deeply in the evening July wind. It begins drizzling lightly and I zip my jacket up. Another swig from the bottle and it doesn’t feel so cold.

Me: When He created Daniel, he created Nebuchadnezzar too, right?

Brother: When He created good, he created bad.

Me: The Yin and the Yang.

Brother: By that definition He created Herufi here? (Pats the wet soil)

Me: Poor bastard.

Brother: (Places the cigarette on his lips and a bright red dot forms at the tip of the cigarette) Created Nebuchadnezzar bad, then made him eat grass for seven years just to make him nicer.

Me: Poor bastard.

Brother: (Thoughtfully) Poor bastard.

I join him on the wet soil. I sink a little when I sit on it. My ass feels a little wet too. Another swig from the bottle and it doesn’t feel so wet anymore.

Me: Four years, huh?

Brother: Four years.

Me: Got a lady?

Brother: Got a bitch.

Me: She bites?

Brother: She bites.

Me: You like her?

Brother: I love her.

Me: You going to hold on to her?

Brother: With everything I’ve got.

Me: Lucky bastard.

Brother: You?

Me: I have a lady.

Brother: You like her?

Me: She keeps me warm when I need it.

Brother: You like her?

Me: She cooks great.

Brother: You like her?

Me: I like her legs.

Brother: You don’t like her, do you?

Me: I’m warming to it.

Brother: Moron.

Me: Yeah. That’s me. The old man, think the Devil has gotten to him yet?

Brother: Well, (Looks up) They are just about to serve dinner in Hell now. I hope they are having Herufi’s thighs as the main course.

Me: And drinking soup from his femur as the starter.

Brother: Poor bastard.

Me: Poor bastard.

Brother: You should stop wasting her time.

Me: I know.

Brother: These past four years, I have learned. I have changed.

Me: You still carry your gun?

Brother: I surrendered it.

Me: They could have killed you.

Brother: Cops? Maybe. But I would have definitely killed myself.

Me: Maybe I should surrender mine too.

Brother: Tired of it?

Me: It is growing heavy in my hands.

Brother: I know what you mean little brother. Where is it?

Me: Where I always keep it.

Brother: Can I see it?

With my free hand, I take out the gun at the back of my waist. Stationed parallel to my backbone like a loyal soldier. A Beretta I love more than I love my woman. It feels a little heavy in my hand, but it is warm. I hand it to him and feel my nose run cold.

Brother: Beretta, huh?

Me: Always had a thing for Italians.

Brother: It will get you dead.

Me: It feels a little heavy in my hands now.

Brother: (Holds the cigarette lazily between his lips, holds the gun in both hands, corks it and aims in the darkness) Not in your hands. Only in your mind.

Me: Yeah. (I take another swig and shake the bottle next to my ear. I am running out.) You put babies in her?

Brother: My lady?

Me: Uh huh.

Brother: Yeah. One boy. Naughty little shit. I hate that kid. But I love him with my whole life.

Me: Lucky bastard.

Brother: Yeah. Lucky bastard. (He takes the magazine off the gun, looks at it in whatever little light sips through the banana leaves and into the garden, and fits it back in the gun.) Luckier now that Herufi is dead. Now I can bring him home.

Me: Sad thing. For a son not to want to introduce his son to his father.

Brother: I don’t know. Never really thought about it. (Hands the gun back to me.) Here. These things will kill you.

Me: (Taking the gun back) Which things? The guns, the cigarettes, or the liquor?

Brother: The guns, little brother. The guns.

Me: When they do, don’t lay me next to him.

Brother: Wouldn’t even dream about it. (He takes a generous drag from his cigarette, crashes the bright end out with his finger and buries the butt in the wet soil.) You want to take a walk?

I take the last drink in one generous swig and bury the bottle in my old man’s grave. My brother stands up and pulls me to my feet. I can feel the drink in my head. Vodka. God bless the Russians.

There is a river at the foot of the land. From the graveside, we can hear its waters flow with some disturbance down the rocks. The river and the rocks. Maybe I should write about that. The river and the rocks. Siblings. Born of one womb. Always fighting. The rock always stubborn. Stagnant. The river always stubborn. Mobile. No wonder the water smashes against the rocks with such anger.

Me: Yeah I did.

Brother: Did what?

Me: Kill him. Last night.

Brother: Held on to life too long, did he?

Me: Old bastard refused to die. So I put the pillow on his face and put him out of his misery.

Brother: Did he see it coming?

Me: Yeah. Yeah I think he did. I walked into the room and he must have seen the look of fatigue and determination in my eyes. He saw the pillow in my hands and said weakly, “Took you long enough. You have your mother’s weakness.”

Brother: What did you say?

Me: Nothing.

Brother: Nothing?

Me: Nothing.

Brother: You just put the pillow on his face and ended it?

Me: Yeah. If you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything with much ease.

Brother: I know what you mean. You think God will judge you for that?

Me: Don’t know. Haven’t thought much about it. I just feel like I have been holding my breath too long. When he stopped struggling, I sighed and sat on the bed beside him. Just breathing.

Brother: And said nothing?

Me: And said nothing.

We are at the riverbed now. The water rushes loudly now. We stand there in silence for a long time just staring at the water. The clouds above are clearing out and there is the moon trying to sneak a little light through. The drizzle is gone.

My brother fetches another cigarette and lights up.

Brother: She loves you?

Me: My lady?

Brother: Your lady.

Me: She cooks for me.

Brother: She loves you?

Me: She keeps me warm when I need it.

Brother: She loves you?

Me: She said once, “I love you a little more than you love me. And that’s OK. Because when Peter asks what I did with my life, I’ll say, ‘I loved. Just like Jesus asked of me.'”

Brother: She loves you. (Sad sigh) Poor girl.

Me: Poor girl.

Brother: We used to hide in the water when Herufi was mad. And we would hope that the pain from our freshest wounds would go away.

Me: Be washed off by the water.

The moon above now takes a more confident step in the sky and shines down on us with more authority. The water appears to twinkle in the light.

Brother: Think we should take one last swim? For old times sake?

The gun in my hand feels heavy. And the metal is getting colder than I can handle. I take a long look at it. The shiny metal glistening in the moonlight. I don’t even think about it. I just toss it in the water.

Brother: Well that was abrupt.

I look up in the sky. Right at the moon. I take a deep breath. The deepest my lungs can handle. Something chokes me up and I can’t breathe through my nose anymore so my mouth hangs open.

There is a sudden dull ache in my chest and I hug it.

I see my lady waiting for me back in Nairobi. Seated on the couch. Her smooth legs tucked up under her. Smiling at me as I walk inside the house and flash a tired smile at her. I miss her. I can’t wait to see her again. Maybe, just maybe, I love more than those legs.

I breathe out through my mouth and spread out my arms wide beside me. I bathe in the moonlight and allow the dull ache to move from my chest to my throat. Then out through this liquid just streaming effortlessly down my face.

Brother: You OK brother?

Me: We’re free.

He looks up to the sky; searching for what I am looking at.

Me: WE’RE FREE!

Brother: (Smiling) Met a prostitute who could smoke a cigarette with her anus in Bangkok. And she told me, “You are only as wise as your willingness to learn.”

Me: What did you want to learn?

Brother: How to come home and kill my father.

Me: Did you learn?

Brother: You beat me to it.

I smile too despite the tears drenching my face.

Me: (Mumble) We’re free.

Brother: Maybe the water will wash the wounds away one last time.

Me: One last swim? (I am already taking off my jacket)

Brother: When we come out, there will be no more guns, no more Herufi and no more murder.

Me: One last swim?

Brother: One last swim.

11 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve come to comment about the toilet selfie, then I’ll go back to reading 😃😃
    I like the photo!! 😁😁

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