Mama I’m Sorry (Final)

Victoria, the female cop whose name Amara did not know yet, lowered her gun and placed it back in its holster before walking in, eyes fixed on the three criminals seated on the floor. She bent in front of Abdi Hassan, raising his chin with her finger so she could look at him, but she quickly lost interest in him. She turned to Masai and noticed he was holding the area on his chest where he had been cut, and blood was leaking from between his fingers. “Doesn’t anyone here know that his wound needs to be attended to?” Worried, she walked to him and pulled his hand away so she could have a look at his cut. Without waiting for an answer, walked Masai to the couch, picked his reaped shirt from the floor and gently wiped out the blood with it.

Everyone turned to Amara who wasn’t sure how she felt about this. She loathed how Victoria had swung into action, attending to Masai as if she didn’t know she was his girlfriend, yet she had done nothing when she had the chance. She looked at Masai and he had his eyes shut. She hated him too but did not why exactly. She felt that she had forgiven him too easily. That he had not proved in any way he was worthy of her forgiveness, yet she had given it to him, and now she wished she could take it back.

“Can I have water in a basin and a clean washcloth, please?” Victoria asked.

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Mama I’m Sorry

Alexis held Amara’s legs tightly immediately she placed him down as if he was afraid she would run and leave him in the hands of these gun-wielding people. Amara bent and reassuringly ran her palm over his head until he broke into a smile, heedlessly tugging on her dress. He did not look hurt or famished, only relieved. She looked up and all the three men had their guns pointed at Hassan who had his hands lifted in surrender. The air was thick with tension, and she felt a little bit hot under her dress. She swooped Alexis from the ground and walked towards the door while patting his back, but one of Abdi Hassan’s bodyguard pointed his gun at them and Amara took a step back. She looked at Alexis whose tired eyes innocently stared at the barrel of the gun like it was a toy he could play with. Her eyes wondered to Hassan as if to remind him that now was the time for him to put his plan into action.

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Mama I’m Sorry

Amara sat on the floor with her back propped against the wall and a pillowcase between her thighs, fighting hard to stop tears from rolling. Her mind was being tormented by her mother’s voice, cursing and crying, wondering how she could be so insensitive that she hadn’t bothered going to the village to help in the search for her brother. Visions of where and how her brother was, came and went out of her mind in a flash. She imagined he had already passed out from crying a lot since Alexis hated being in unfamiliar places amid unfamiliar people, even when Amara and his mother were around. He loved home. He loved being in a space where he could play freely; disorganize everything in the house without backlash, other than a warning look from either his mother or Amara. He was probably confined in a dark room somewhere, where he would occasionally be given a plate of suspicious-looking food until something happened; something like giving Masai up.

She glanced up to see Masai pacing the room, her phone on his ear. He snapped his fingers and mumbled something under his breath as if willing for whoever was on the other end of the phone to answer. He turned to Amara and their eyes met. He froze for a second, before looking the other way as he paced around. Moments later he sat next to Amara without saying anything. Amara was crying silently, her head thrown back against the wall. He stroked her dreadlocks and later rested his hand on her shoulder, pulling her closer.

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Mama I’m Sorry

The last bit of her scream was muffled up with a sigh of relief when she ascertained that it was Masai in her house. Neither of them said nor did anything for the next few seconds. They stared at each other in silence, his red unblinking eyes showing he had been crying. His hair, just like his beard, was unkempt, one would think he had been living in a forest. But even in the midst of all this mess that was him, she couldn’t help noticing that he had grown more handsome. His lips moved with a twinge of a smile and hers trembled with both excitement and anxiety. When he stood and started walking towards her, she took a step back, almost as if she was terrified of him. He stopped and threw his hands up in the air.

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Mama I’m Sorry

While applying lipstick, pouting her lips towards the mirror, Amara felt guilty that she was only going to church because she was in trouble and wanted pastor Andrew to pray for her. Granted, it was her mother’s idea, but she did not object to it when her mother said she would talk to pastor Andrew so he can pray for her and cover her with the blood of Jesus now that she was famous and enemies of progress were out to destroy her. She spun in front of the mirror, taking a good look at herself to make sure her dress was not too tight. Even with her baby bump, she still wore fitting dresses because she hated walking around in a dress that felt like a balloon, ready to drift into the air at the slightest blow of the wind. She tied her dreads behind her and as she took a final look in the mirror, was surprised at how her skin glowed, despite everything. It must be the pregnancy, she thought. She slipped into a pair of black flat shoes and walked out of her room to find her mother and Alexis waiting for her in the living room. They both stood as she entered the room, a sign that they were ready to leave.

From the way her mother looked outside the car window and waved at everyone she recognized, Amara was convinced she didn’t just want her to come to church for prayers, but also to give her the opportunity to drive through the village in her car, showing everyone that her daughter had made it. This thought filled Amara with joy and it was because of this that she said, “Soon you will have your own car, Mama.”

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Mama I’m Sorry

She remained rooted to the spot long after they were gone. Shuddering with fear, she held her waist with one hand and her cheek with the other, occasionally pinching herself, hoping to wake up from this nightmare. The cologne of the man who had, not long ago, threatened to shatter her world by killing her brother or cutting Masai open to retrieve his kidney, lingered in the air that was heavy with tension, and it sickened her. She began pacing the room as she tried figuring who these people were and how they knew Masai. When she failed to come up with something meaningful, she turned to Google. In the search bar, she typed, ‘The most dangerous men in Kenya.’ Google search brought forward names of people she knew nothing about and so she narrowed her search to ‘Wanted Human Organs traffickers in Kenya,’ but that too brought names and faces of people she did not recognize. She stepped back from the laptop, thinking, and then walked back to it and typed, ‘Wanted Drug Lords In Kenya,’ and to her horror, the face, and name of the man she was looking for popped up.

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Mama I’m Sorry

Amara shifted to the very edge of the seat and leaned against the car’s door. She hadn’t known what seeing Masai would have amounted to, but she hadn’t expected it to fill her with more pain and emptiness. Nothing Masai said made sense and it was worse he had already given up on her by declaring he would be okay with her moving on with her life. She raised her head and stared outside the moving car. It was hot outside. The women had a few buttons of their blouses loosened and the men held their jackets in their hands. She was envious of them when she imagined that maybe the hotness of the son was the only thing bothering them. James sped past a speed bump, throwing her in the air, her head almost hitting the roof. She turned to look at him with scolding eyes and he apologized profusely without turning to meet her gaze. From the way he held the steering wheel with a firm grip and how his eyes deliberately refused to look her way, she knew something was eating him up.

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Mama I’m Sorry

Amara found a duvet and nightdress waiting for her on the couch when she got home from work; it was her idea that her mother spends the night in her room while she takes the couch. She changed into the nightdress and turned the TV on, tuning into the channel that was showing Masai’s arrest but a late-night action movie was on instead. Tired, she turned the TV off and slipped under the duvet to catch some sleep. At six o’clock, she woke up, stripped her nightdress and placed it in the laundry basket. She stepped into the bathroom and as the warm water rushed over her skin, placed her hands on the wall and closed her eyes, uncertain of what lay ahead. Almost twenty minutes later she stepped out of the bathroom with a warm towel wrapped around her chest, silently opening her bedroom door and tiptoeing in so she doesn’t wake her mother up. She took her lotion, perfume, and makeup from the top of her bedside cabinet and went to apply them in the living room before coming for the red flare dress she was to wear. After dressing up, feeling ready for the day, ready to see Masai and listen to his excuses, she fixed herself a cup of tea and fried eggs, which she slowly took from the living room as she waited for James to pick her up.

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Mama I’m Sorry

Growing up, her mother threatened her with death for mistakes so small it would take one with a cleansed soul to notice them, so it wasn’t difficult for Amara to imagine what her mother’s reaction was going to be, now that she had found her smoking like a chimney and drinking like a fish. She dropped the cigarette butt in the sink before going to open the door, all the while feigning a smile. She hugged Achika first, and if it wasn’t for the fact that her mother was standing within an earshot, she would have demanded to know how Achika could lead her mother to her house without giving her a heads-up. She then walked to her mother, hesitantly, almost as if she expected her to push her away but when she wrapped her arms around her, her mother hugged her back and a wind of relief swept across her. The hug lingered for a little longer and Amara beamed when her mother rubbed her back gently like she knew she could do with a little of comforting.

“I am so happy to see you, mum,” Amara said.

Her mother pulled away from the hug but still held her by the arms, eyes fixed on hers.

“Amara, what happened to you?”

It was a loaded question, one that turned Amara into a stammerer when she tried to answer it. Was it that her mother wanted to know what happened, or was she wondering, aloud, how her own daughter, one she had brought up to be self-respecting, would turn into drinking and smoking just because she was facing some difficulties.

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Mama I’m Sorry

She loved the soft touch of the ragged carpet’s fur caressing her skin as she lay sprawled in Achika’s living room, her short dress barely covering her thighs. In her right hand was an unlit cigarette, which she had been contemplating for a while now, even though she had asked for it with the confidence of a chain smoker. Her head was tipped to the left, eyes staring at Achika who was standing at the window, blowing a thin string of smoke from the corner of her mouth outside the window. Sometimes, the smoke came out of her nose and when she looked at Amara, Amara was fascinated by how her eyes burned red as if a small fire had been lit underneath her eyeballs. She also loved how Achika closed her eyes when she rubbed the back of her neck. It felt suggestive. And each time their eyes met, they both smiled and continued to gaze at each other until one of them, mostly Achika, looked away. It was like two people noticing each other in a club, neither of them willing to be the first one to approach the other.

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