I think I was eight the day I died.
I didn’t even have hair beyond my head, and a single strand that had started growing right above my right nipple. That was it. I still sounded like a small girl, and my sister swore I had a lisp.I never caught it. I never heard it. But I stopped fighting her over it the day after I died.
August is a rainy month, and August that year was one of the rainiest of them all. The floods carried away Auntie Cecilia’s house. But then again she had married in Murang’a, a place of restless lands. You would expect she would have been ready, but no one is ready for a flood. The trees had gone and the soils had become restless. When the water came, it stole some soil and carried everything in between. No matter how much you try, you are never really ready for a flood.
The floods also stole one of my dad’s coffee bushes, and swept away a small patch of land I had been farming for my rabbits. My rabbits died the day after I stopped dying, and I named them, and buried them where the tree the flood stole had once stood. I can’t remember what I named those two little ill-fated rabbits.
I don’t remember much from that day, but for some sneaky sun in the afternoon. It must have been a Saturday because mum was home. Mum was never home. She was always seeking Jesus, and hating on Auntie Cecilia, or travelling to save her. Yet here she was, crouched at the dining table reading through her Bible. I had tried, I really had, to read that book with her. I had skimmed through most of Exodus and Deuteronomy thought, and wondered what kind of a deity would ask his people to do such dark things. I had liked Kings. Kings was a good book. Songs of Solomon remained my favorite though, even after I became an atheist when I grew pubic hair. The year after I died, or I stopped dying, I memorized most of Songs of Solomon so I could impress Christine, this lanky lass from the other class who’s smile stole my heart. It worked! But then again I never told her I had died the previous August. That might have changed her mind somewhat.
I could swear it was sleep I felt as I lay on the couch, staring at the ceiling and wondering where Auntie Cecilia would go now that her house was under a small hill of soil. I couldn’t remember her face, maybe because she hadn’t visited since I was five. But I remembered the bananas and her weird laugh. She was a constant subject in the house though, and there was one aging picture of her on the wall above our chimney.
It was sunny, and warm, if only for a few hours that day. So I had taken a walk to visit the spirits of the rabbits, and then took a detour to sneak into our neighbor’s forest. I was alone, as was the pregnant gazelle that stood for a time and stared back at me. I relented, and left, and convinced myself that that had been the wise thing to do. Who knew what a gazelle could do to an eight-year-old alone in the forest?
I felt sleepy, and then there was darkness. But that’s all I remember about the moment I died. I woke up to find a crowd hovered over me, with our grandmother holding my face and for some odd reason, begging me to wake up. Mother was kneeling on the floor behind her, wailing to Him to not take this sacrifice, to take any other sacrifice but this one. I couldn’t understand, and I was thirsty as hell. The only thing I remember now is a patch of darkness and thirst, and a metal cup with weird tasting water being shoved before my face.
No one ever asked me how the other side was, even Auntie Cecilia when she came to live with us after her husband broke her face. She seemed to understand, and only ever asked if I was okay. She always asked that, Auntie Cecilia, sometimes immediately after she had asked the same question. I never seemed to want anything, but she never stopped asking. Except when she went back home, and this time he impaled her with a stick he had sharpened as she stood there wailing, begging him to forgive her. She died, and unlike me, never woke up to find a crowd of people hovered over her. Her’s was my first funeral, as I had narrowly missed mine, and for the first time I thought of asking her if she was okay.
When I think of it, we all have different memories of the day I died. To me though, that was the only day in August when there was some sun, and the day I fled from a pregnant gazelle.
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