House of Hope



Blood is thicker than porridge
My phone rang about a quarter to 7pm, I heard his voice on the other end of the line, I wondered what was wrong this time? You never know what his calls might bring, from his past I was prepared for the worst. “ he said bro you are the only one I could think of calling, I have been arrested again and have not eaten for hours can you bring me something to eat ?” AGAAAIN? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I TOLD YOU ……[ MBONA UNATUPEA PRESSURE WW? ] he just kept quiet. In the thick of thin my tone forgot he is 5yrs my senior.
Blood is surely thicker than porridge, in the split of a second I went from angry, to sad ,to emotionally nostalgic, by now my eyes had begun to sweat profusely , every tear dropped with a memory I remembered how ladies deflated at his sight, for indeed my brother’s beauty, was only second to his handsomeness, he never spoke much but his appearance was a siren, he had an easy smile, a pleasant personality, his skin tone was not quite black but surely not white, his shade of melamine, had a dense of polished mahogany, his muscle definition was flawless just like his bone structure, there was some shyness in his brevity, but his character, brewed interest more than his beauty, as it was a perfume of commendations.
The first tear dropped with a vivid image of a mini me, when I joined class one and he would hold my hand to Ngunyumu primary school for 3yrs before he did his class eight, he was the first one to get to that in my long line of family. His character of a protecting older brother when I had been bullied, with fatherly instincts, he bought clothes for me and my younger brother while he still was in primary school, I remembered the French National team jersey he had bought me, that one which I wore through to its toothless old age.
This tear dropped with the sibling rivalry, fights we used to have “ wewe unapendwa sana, ngoja mathe atoke utaona” [mum loves you more, when she leaves you’ll see] I hated that I loved him.
This tear dropped with a memory I  wish not to remember, the voice of a neighbor in our single mabati house, that was shelter to my family of 9 “ nmeibiwa viatu, AMA ni mtoto wa huyu mama ndio amechukua? “ [ my shoes have been stolen OR is it this woman’s son who took them] and the next morning he insisted my brother took them. I remember vividly how my brother aged just 16 a form 2 student was arrested like a criminal on our watch. He spent 9 months in remand, how my family fundraised for his bond 3000 shillings for the entire 9 months, I walked with a pen and a book fundraising for 3k this is where I learnt without paying fees, the meaning of blank promises.
This tear dropped with a vision of my brother the day he came out of that shit hole remand they call correctional facility, we were happy, but the eye sees what it sees, he was sickly yellowish, with whitish itchy rashes all over, malnourished, his face was as pale as his faded hopes, the eyes bore a pain that went down to his soul that was emotionally and physically malnourished, I wish this is where this memory ends, but there is more courtesy of our misplaced society, he was thrown in a sea of hardened criminals the rapists, murderers, robbers name them, whereby like a small fish he had to learn how to swim with the big fish or become their food, he went in a boy with an easy smile he came out a man with a care free spirit, angry and hungry and his hunger burnt…….
This tear dropped with memory of how at home complains were trickling in like electoral  results  during presidential elections, people who had suffered at his hands, talking to him didn’t do much for he felt like he needed to punish the society for what it had done to him, its tough to describe the sleepless nights we had after hearing some boys had been stoned to death or lynched, the constant fear might he be one of them? so many times people came home with a package of condolences from rumours that he had been gunned down or lynched by a mob only to find him in the house. Alhamdulillah
This memory is so heavy it took with it a gallon drops of tears, one night a crowd gathered round as group of young men locked horns in a machete party, my brother was on the menu. My mum watched helplessly in the crowd as one of them swung his machete which aimed at his head luckily the machete had other ideas, painfully landing at his left ear and slicing it off that’s how he became “ maskio moja” [ one eared]my mum wept as his firstborn son, lost a part of his body, if that wasn’t traumatizing enough she watched as the ear landed in the nearby mtaro [ditch] and got carried away like sheet and there lied a young man struck down in his prime by the burning harshness of the ghetto.
This tear dropped with how he tried to drink his pain a little at a time but he never could get drunk enough to forget slowly by slowly he became a full blown alcoholic it really didn’t matter to him as long as he was drunk, most of the times he would be stoned as a zombie.
By now the sun was kissing the earth and my phone rung again another strange number he doesn’t have a phone but he knows my number like the palm of his hand “ he said bro on my way to the court, will you come pay my fines”?
willing and able I was, and I couldn’t have been happier “I will be there in shaa Allah
As he walked out, on his long walk to freedom, from a distance I could see all the painful events of his life gathered in one package, and the scar they have left in his life deep enough that a mans palm can disappear into, he did that thing we do, when you raise your upper lip and lower your lower one “smile” he didn’t even care about his disfigured dental formulary.
we embraced like brothers are inclined to, a hug with a double smooth touch, as we approached a diner to cool his hunger pangs he did a charitable act to a passer-by that reminded me that although we might have been stitched differently we are cut from the same cloth.
He asked weren’t you going to work today? this is more important I replied before he could finish, he said you are the only I called, “ ndugu ni kufaana sio kufanana” and he choked in emotions, bursted into a stream of tears shortly before I followed, his eyes were as red as fresh blood.
like a big brother he wiped of his, and mine, he put his arm around my shoulder and said don’t cry, I looked up at him, and through my teary eyes, and through that fogged of a vision of him all I could see is a man whipped by life like puppy and words of Elvis Presley came to life….
On a cold and gray Chicago mornin’
A poor little baby child is born
In the ghetto.
And his mama cries Cause if there’s one thing that she don’t need It’s another hungry mouth to feed In the ghetto.
And his hunger burns so he starts to roam the streets at night and he learns how to steal, and he learns how to fight in the ghetto (in the ghetto)
Then one night in desperation A young man breaks away He buys a gun, steals a car Tries to run, but he don’t get far (in the ghetto) And his mama cries
As a crowd gathers ’round an angry young man Face down on the street with a gun in his hand In the ghetto (in the ghetto)
And as her young man dies On a cold and gray Chicago mornin’ Another little baby child is born In the ghetto (in the ghetto)
And his mama cries.


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