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Election Day

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Last week:

We couldn’t afford to bury our brothers…. they’d found Shem in Yamboo…. Carl in Argyle

…Christopher and I had been in the hospital…. Christopher’s kneecap had been smashed…. My arm had been broken and my rib had been fractured.

…Every time I’d closed my eyes I’d been sucked back into the belly of the river… Christopher knew how to avoid the nightmares – he stopped trying to sleep….

…At home I had lain awake too… Christopher had sat on the ground with that now familiar, vacant look in his eyes….{{more}}

…He had suddenly risen “Ah try fu save them Kita… ah try fu save everybody….” I had hugged him and he’d hugged me back and our tears had mingled and soothed and healed us just a little bit… enough for us to fall asleep in each other’s arms.

…After the first night and then the second and the third the guilt and fear of it begun to dissipate and on the forth night he whispered the rules to me. The days would turn into weeks, the weeks into months… we would continue to sleep hugged tightly together until…

I hug the phone tightly as relief and panic marry in my veins and surge into my heart: relief that I had won my seat; panic for the same reason? We are still waiting for nine results; but we had won four so far. I am a breath away from my ultimate goal.

I sigh as I plop onto the sofa. I want to call someone to try and offload the traffic of thoughts and feelings; but who? Christopher? Ha! My mom? I haven’t spoken to her in months. Hezron? I suppose. Lord, it’s been a long, lonely journey…

I remember the day all those years ago. It was not too long after the river ordeal. I’d been looking through our drawer for my school uniform and I’d found Shem’s worn khaki pants. I’d felt weak. I’d sat on the ground and for some reason the thought had come to me… ‘this would’ve never happened if we were rich.’

Then I had reasoned: If we weren’t poor, Mammy would not have been so frustrated; we would have been supervised or doing something more dignified than playing in the dirty river. The conclusion was that being poor cost my brother his life. The decision at that point was that I was that when I grew I was going to be rich. I was young but somehow I had figured out that the only way out of my poverty was to excel academically.

From that point I’d begun to stay back at school to get my homework done. I would even ask teachers for extra help. Mammy didn’t seem to care that I came home late almost every day. Actually, she didn’t seem to care about anything much since Shem died. She would sit in the porch for hours looking into space. She’d become like a robot; operating without emotion. Not that she had ever been one to shower us with hugs and kisses; but we used to know she cared – even though the message was most times conveyed through a sound beating.

Ironically Christopher had also buckled down at school. At the end of that school year, he had come first in his class – and so had I. It had been a big shock to everyone, when he’d passed his common entrance exams with flying colours; coming 30th overall and 11th for boys.

In the meantime, we’d continued sleeping beside each other. It had now become a routine; he would snuggle next to me and we would fall asleep. There’d never been any conversation until one night, out of the blue…

“Kita?” he’d whispered.

“Yes,” I had whispered back.

“You sleeping?”

“No,” I had answered with a smile.

“Oh… wey yo want to do when yo grow up?” he had asked and I had wrinkled my brows as my brain had searched for a suitable answer to his unexpected question.

“I ain’t sure yet; but I definitely not going to be poor…” I had finally replied.

“Well, I used to think I want to be a van conductor. But I change my mind. You know what I going to be?”

“No,” I had replied.

“I going to be Prime Minister.”

He had said it with such conviction, there had not been any speck of doubt in my mind that he’d meant it and it would be accomplished.

It’s strange how I’d stolen his dream and made it mine. He had changed so much since the accident; I think I’d begun to look up to him.

Then one day, about a year later it happened.

I had been sitting under the shade of a plum rose tree, picking up blossoms with my toes, when he’d come to sit beside me. Then I’d watched his lips move as he’d spoken the words that would turn my world upside down again…

More next week…

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