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The East African : July 7th 2014
The EastAfrican MAGAZINE JULY 5-11,2014 sho≥t sto≥y Edge of night ‘‘ BY AMOS MUTURI The bright day he silently waited for was darkening into a night that would stretch for many years. all these years,” replied his friend Jake, who sat beside him on the bed. Silence followed as they tried to avoid I the memory of their struggles. Conrad felt the pain. It was all over his body, his mind had endured pain and sorrow, his limbs had walked for long distances and his spirit had been bruised by many setbacks. His pain had started right from his birth. He was born to a poor mother who passed on when he was barely four. He was left on the streets to scavenge for food. He had no taste. Taste was for those who had choice. The nearest choice that could give him hope was death, even that seemed painful. He had to stay alive regardless of what he was going through. He lived like this until he was nine, when his poor grandmother picked him up off the streets and took him to school. He finished school and passed well, earning him admission to a local university. He had learnt many lessons along the way, but the greatest of them all had not yet begun. The bright day he silently waited for was darkening into a night that would stretch on for many years. In his growing age, Conrad never left home, even to visit distant relatives. The only world that he knew was the foot of the Mau ranges where he had grown up, attended the farm and looked after the goats of his grandmother. No sense of humour He went to the university thinking his problems were over but agony and pain never left him. Many students spent their time partying while he kept to himself. He could not afford a their company. He was poor, but worse he was ashamed of it. Poverty was his curse. Pain had taught him to be a cold boy with no sense of humour and luxury. Being ashamed was not the only prob- lem he had. He had grown knowing that no one really cared for him, he never knew family love. He was not shielded like many children of his age. He felt lonely in a world that was full of laughter. His days were always dark. He finally hated himself for having been born poor. He hated himself for being an orphan. He would do anything to please people, if that would make them smile at him. He was addicted to people’s smiles even when they were sarcastic. He didn’t like talking too much lest he say something that would offend them and drive them away. He became an introvert who looked upon people for approval. He fell into many addictions; some were a result of loneliness and others were brought about by lack of self-esteem. He was addicted to self-pity, lust and greed. He never had enough. He complained. He cried in despair every time. Conrad lived in darkness; every world n a dry voice filled with pain and despair, Conrad whispered: “I am going home.” “I know it’s hard, it is not what we wanted, we have worked hard IX was bright except his. The years were long and filled with pain. He could not get anything from class and finally he failed, the once bright boy left the university a failure. He vowed that was his last failure. But it wasn’t. Search for job He had come to the city to look for a job, and jobs here were never lacking, especially odd jobs. He worked really hard, waiting for the day when everything would change. But the night lingered on. Finally he got work at a good company as an intern. It was a company that was reputed for paying its employees well. And being there, he thought he would be paid well, more than his peers were earning. He was told if he worked well, he would be rewarded with a good job. Days turned into months. He worked harder than everybody else until one day he was told he had been given a contract. He felt so happy he danced, but this was before he signed the papers. The day when he was supposed to sign the papers came. The papers were handed to him. But he was shocked when he held the papers in his hands. He almost fainted. The pay was just increased by a few thousand shilling from what he used to earn. He felt cheated. His attempt to refuse to sign the papers did not bear any fruit. He was convinced that he would be given a raise in the course of time. He had only to wait for a few days and all would be well. Sorrowfully, he went back to work as usual. He worked hard hoping that the bright day was near. He hoped. He worked. He prayed. Days turned into months and months into years until now two years later he was still earning the same amount of money. Disillusion He incurred huge debts. Hope was elud- ing him slowly until at the end of these two years he had nothing that was left to hold on to. He had pleaded with the boss many days, but the answer was always the same. Give us some more time. And as he gave them more time, the night lingered on. Now he had nothing to hold on to. He had sunk into debt. He received no salary for the month, for the loans were higher than the pay. The nights and the days were the same, dull as dishwater. He could not see further than his problems. Everything was as heavy as lead. “It’s getting darker and darker. May be I should let everything end here. I can no longer pursue this dream.” He said. Jake couldn’t find the right words to answer Conrad. Silence ensued, the bed they sat on creaked with the weight of the silence. They were quiet listening to the murmur of their hearts, the groaning and deep sighs that nobody ever heard and may be will never hear, the smile they had reserved for the morning once the night was over, and the silent tears that were shed at the labour of many nights.
June 30th 2014
July 14th 2014