That was yester morning, Holy Thursday Morning. I was just waking up and still snuggling with my duvet in the chilly dewy morning. Getting out of bed gets really hard in mornings like these, and so I stayed on. Half asleep, quarter in my usual morning fantasies, and quarter listening to the loud news broadcast.
That was what I heard. For all I remember, she sounded calm and composed. From her strong voice, fleeing sounded easy, she sounded calm, and the police were there too. And so I brushed it off with a sigh, they’ll be fine, it’s all well. At that point, I was unaware that the massacre was happening to a University, to students beaming with potential and with a fire so intense to succeed. I did not imagine for a moment that behind the silent voice, were waves of trepidation from a death so close: escaped by a whisker.
I went on with my usual morning fantasies, turning a deaf ear to the worrying news! I was determined not to worry about things I was not in control over, and excited that Easter was finally here. That by his death, he redeemed us. As a child, I had always fancied that my death bed come by somewhere during Easter, so that people would commemorate my death with that of Jesus. Scary, I know! But that was me as a child. Mommie had taught me that death was not bad, it was what happened to good people who needed to rest, eternally. I look back and wonder how I was so calm about the thought of death back then.
Today, I dread it whenever someone walks up to me to break the awful news that they have lost a loved one. I almost always want to run away from being the one comforting them. I lost my childhood friend Dorah to an accident two years ago. Sad!… I still remember the somber conversation with her Mom days after the news were broken… “I always thought my children would be the ones to bury me, she was the warmth here, she was that child I couldn’t wait to see her future, she was my girl, still my small bubbly girl and you know, she was so close to the finish line, it hurts… I stood there listening to the Mom, unsure of how to react. She tried to keep the talk on her bubbly little girl but anguish overcame her. She broke down for the umpteenth time. Dorah was everywhere in her memories, in her call log, in the family photos, in her siblings and all over their home. She was a final year student in the University, they had big dreams for her. It broke us all, her parents being the most affected. Only then did I know the pain of losing a child, an even more, losing a child in the University. It’s a death beyond the normal death, because you will look at their peers progressing through life, making it big in the charts of fame, and wonder what your child would have turned out to be had she lived longer. You will hear of opportunities and wish your baby was there to grab them. Every parent hopes that their child will live to accomplish the dreams that they themselves did not achieve in their youthful days.
The news of the attack at Garissa went on and on. Another terror attack. My whatsapp was flooded with all sorts of condolence messages in the groups, I can’t be too sure how many of us have their loved ones in this massacre. Some angry posts on the alshabaab trickled in, and some cold threats to the Alshabaab if they were responsible. I read through them all, feeling helpless. I am a University student, and this was happening students just like us, perfectly in the same age bracket as us, in the same lecture halls, and in hostels as our hostels here.
The hostels have become our safest homes, and our fondest places to rest. Every day is an excitement to do something new, to catch up with our friends and exchange never ending pleasantries. On a normal day, we wake up to our peers in the corridors, to interactions in the sinks and knocks at your door. A friend just dropping by to wake you up for an early morning class. We wake up and prepare breakfast for two, because you are sure another friend will pop in with hunger pangs, and you will be glad to be the hospitable savior. On your lazy days, you simply walk in next door and delay your chit chat until lunch is ready. We are all full of life. We talk about latest series,movies and bucket lists as though there is an exam for them… In all my years of study, these years here have been the most spectacular. At this point in time, our shared excitement as the next cream of graduates is transition… The aptitudes, interviews and planning for what next after school with your peers is an exciting experience…
Not a single day have I ever woken up scared for my life, or scared that I would walk to the next room only to be greeted by lifeless bodies.The closest I have been to being worried are the days that I doubted myself, days when I got jittery of what next or when I was disappointed. But not a single day did I ever wake up scared that death was a close reality. I plan for tomorrow as though it’s a right, I know I will wake up safe and sound. I cannot even remember the last time I had my Easter death fantasies.
Today is Friday, Good Friday. I woke up to the sad news, 147 people lost their lives. I am worried about their families; it is absolute pain and anguish for them. Chiromo Mortuary is crowded with families unable to contain their ache for the loss of their dear ones. I wonder what disturbs them more, the fact that their children were so close to the finish line, or the manner in which they were killed. Are they still trying to call them with baited breath, and at the last ring, going down on their knees in prayer that they will return their call later? Hoping that somehow they survived? Are they looking out at other University students and getting jealous that they are still alive? Envious that their slain sons and daughters would still be walking around with glee and beaming with potential? Are they going to walk the streets a few years from now, and see young people in suits…and immediately start thinking about their children, and the legendary marks they would have made had they lived longer?
I might not know how best to put my condolence in words, I may not even utter any word that will fail to remind the affected families of the gap left behind. The lights of glory will truly welcome the victims to heaven… But to the country, to the citizens so keen to point out hypocrisy in leadership by comparing the westgate attack to the Garissa attack, and to the world that is so quick to judge Kenyans and the government…No amount of criticism and venting will bring the innocent souls back to life. No amount of judgment will save the situation. So, rather than flooding social media with complains and angry vents, take a moment and pray for the country, for insecurity and for the families. Make donations as faithfully as you did during the westgate attack without complaining that the media and the government are not giving the attack the attention it deserves. Because whether we like it or not, we can never be all the same, and all situations can never be given exactly the same degree of attention. The wounds are still so open that any word spoken to fuel the anger only serves as an addition to the open wound.And a nation that violates human rights in the name of fighting terrorism has already joined the terrorists. I leave it at that.