On 10/10/2010, a tragic road accident in Gilgil took a 25-year-old quiet young man from our midst. Victor is his name. He was violently snatched from us by the grim reaper’s blade. His evil intention was to wipe him off from our memories as if his name was written on sand.
Yet like ancient drawings, his name & memory is forever engraved in our DNA. We walk with him. He lives in us.
On that fateful day, from around 8 am, numerous calls started coming in. I ignored them at first in a bid to lay to rest the power nap I was having. The more I ignored them, the more they increased. I decided to reluctantly pick one of them. The person on the other side was my sister in law. The words she told me slapped consciousness into me.
My brother was dead.
For a second I was confused. My brain was frozen. The words she was uttering were lies. I told her to stop but she kept on telling me that it was confirmed that he is dead. I hang up and tried to call my brother who was allegedly dead. His phone was off. Panic and fear struck me like a sword driven deep into the belly of a man. A running stomach followed thereafter. Tears blinded my eyes and I wailed with such intense pain like a wounded dog.
I mastered the strength I had and we headed off to Gilgil. On my way there, I couldn’t stop wishing and praying that it was a lie. A certain dark hollow fear had consumed my soul. I was scared that the news was true yet I didn’t want to admit it.
We landed in Gilgil and met my parents who had traveled from Kisumu. My mom was inconsolable. Her wrinkled face was downcast with the kind of emptiness only a mother can experience. The reality of losing a son she bore for 9 months, and then toiled in rice farms to put food on the table only for him to die at 25 was simply unbearable. He died without a wife. He left no offspring behind. He left this earth just the way he came.
Dad was composed. But as we headed to the public mortuary in Gilgil and the body was placed on the viewing table, the old man broke down. I had never seen him like that. He was always a macho man who had been the disciplinarian in our family. He was feared and revered in equal measure. A cop at some point who later joined the security firms had no time to be soft and to be seen as a weak man. Yet on this day, he crumbled down like a piece of chalk. The weight of his son’s death was too much to bear.
He broke down and wailed like a baby. On this particular day, he was broken to pieces like a glass that had fallen down. My mom had fainted. I started to sing hymns with tears rolling down my eyes. My sisters and brothers broke down too. The scene at the mortuary was hard to bear. The accident was brutal on him. It had crushed his head. The man was always very quiet and never argued with anyone. We wondered; could it be that he wasn’t able to bargain with death for a less brutal exit? Why did he have to die such a violent death for a man who lived a peaceful life?
His death is the most painful event I’ve ever gone through in my short life. It flooded our souls to the brim with unending sorrow. As a family, we tasted the bitter cup of death’s wrath. I’d never felt such a searing pain before. I’d never been a tenant in the abyss of pain before.
But we became accustomed to random rivers of tears. We became tight friends with endless days & nights of mourning. Nightmares replaced the once upon a time peaceful nights we used to have.
But through God’s grace, His healing balm soothed our pain and his hand stitched our broken hearts. We slowly dragged ourselves from the side of his grave. We aren’t the same again. The scars are still visible. But we are hopeful because we know he is in a better place. And one day we will be reunited with him in glory.
6 years after his death, we have learned valuable lessons from his demise:
Family is important
Sometimes we tend to focus our energies on the wrong things, wrong people or non-beneficial stuff. We are ready and willing to bankroll random escapades with friends who won’t be there for us yet we neglect family members. We are on to the next nyama choma fest. We are attending the latest blankets and wine. We party every Friday, blowing money left right and center. Yet our parents struggle to live a life that’s decent. They struggle with basic needs yet we drown in unnecessary luxury.
When was the last time you surprised your family with gifts? When was the last time you took your nieces and nephews out for a treat? When was the last time you bought a gift for your mom or dad? Do they walk with tattered clothes in upcountry while you buy expensive attires, which you barely wear?
Fiercely love your family. However messed up or broken they are, love them. Because a day is coming when they won’t be there. A day is coming when you will long to consult them but they won’t be there. Life is short.
Live for a purpose
When my brother died, it didn’t matter what he had left behind. He shifted from being Victor to being the body. His name didn’t matter. His titles surely didn’t matter. He was gone. His life was no more. Yet we keep on being suffocated in the wrong careers. We hold on to wrong places hoping that they will somehow make us feel complete. Like whitewashed tombs, we are shining on the outside, attending the latest social events but we are dying on the inside. We carry skeletons of frustrated dreams, suffocated ambitions, strangled hopes etc.
And we can’t breathe life into them because we value a paycheck over passion. We value stability over a rollercoaster of an adventure. We value stability over legacy.
But when death knocks, it won’t matter which company you worked for. It won’t matter how much money you have in your bank account. The question will be one; did you live your life to the fullest?
Do not only desire to own luxuries products but also desire to own a life worth celebrating when you are gone.
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