How much do we Know?
The block, which housed 3 one-bedroomed units, stood at the extreme corner of a large extended family’s homestead. The place had a rural feel to it complete with napier grass, bananas and even about a half dozen coffee bushes. In front of the three houses, the other side of a well-trimmed live hedge was a kitchen garden. The garden belonged to the landlord’s mother.
The thing that drew us to the place was its countryside’s setup. Going home to the tranquil place sounded like a welcome escape from the hassles of the city; traffic and all.
When we moved in, the block was fairly new. Of the three units, only one had been occupied. The remaining one would be occupied two weeks later by a lady I never came to know well enough. Boyfriend and I chose the house in the middle. To our right was the lady I’ve just mentioned, while to the left was a young couple just like us. Now allow me to talk about the couple…
The landlord said that they had moved in just a week before us. Though I didn’t know at the time, the guy was a Luo while the Lady was a Kalenjin. And friendly people they were. Before long, we were all friends. Not bosom buddies kind of friends, but the kind that un-hang your cloths when it rains and you’re at work. The lady would even come to my house to borrow my movies.
That year, Christmas came and went. I saw our neighbors slaughtering a chicken over the festive season, and saw them again escorting their visitors. It therefore came as a surprise when boyfriend came about a week or two later and asked me whether I’d seen the young man. According to boyfriend, the man looked emaciated.
Apparently, he’d felt sick and went to the hospital. Unfortunately though, he was wrongly diagnosed and the doctor had been treating him for malaria while in the real sense, he had diabetes. He told boyfriend that as a result, he was to be operated on the following Tuesday.
Though I did not understand why a diabetic patient would need an operation, boyfriend looked rather shaken and I suggested that we needed to pay a visit to our neighbors. But we kept postponing the visit. Days turned into weeks.
The weekend before Valentines I flew to Western Kenya. Boyfriend was also away on business. When I came back that Sunday, I saw my landlord come with some people who were clearly looking for a house. I was confused. You see, I’d not even noticed that my neighbors had moved. Maybe I was selfish or needy, but I felt betrayed. I wondered whether something was wrong with the place, or maybe they’d found a better place. Either way, I felt that they should have told me that they were moving. Plus they left with my movies.
Going against my better judgment, I called the lady. She surprised me by telling me that it had in fact been a week since they moved! She also said that she was a little busy and would call me back in no time.
I took that to mean that she was calling back in a heartbeat. But several heartbeats later, the call was not forthcoming. I had a burning urge to know why they had moved and it was killing me. And remember that we were not tight enough, so calling her and nagging her with questions was not an option. I therefore devised a devilish idea. How about I call her, ask her where she is and say that it’s because I need my movies back? That sounded like a very bright idea. And that’s exactly what I did.
When I Told her that I needed to know where she was so I could get my movies back, she told me that she was in a small family meeting and would get back to me. A week passed and she never called me.
As I did laundry outside my house on weekends, my landlord’s mum would be in her garden chatting me up. At times she’d even give me green maize to make githeri. And that particular weekend, the week after talking to my now former neighbor, was no different. But what she asked that day almost made me faint.
‘Did they finally bury your neighbor?’ she asked.
‘Wait. What?’ I exclaimed obviously confused.
‘Your neighbor, was he buried? ’ she repeated.
And that is when she explained that my neighbor had passed and that is why his young wife had moved to her sister’s. And the time I was calling her asking for my movies she was probably at her husband’s wake. 🙁