I kid you not it’s easy to die once you know what you’re dying for and Aunty did know why she was dying. I stand up and take a few steps back. I’ve done it. I’ve slayed the dragon. I am now free. But no! Not just yet. I have to clean up the scene of crime to make it look like an accident. Now, how does one make poisoning look like an accident? It seems stupid to ask now that the deal’s done. I should have thought about this beforehand. I guess I was in too much of a hurry to set myself free before I became the next meal. This will crush my dad but he need not worry, I’ll be here for him. In the midst of all these thoughts I decide to take another step back to look at the bigger picture. Aunty was still seated on the kitchen stool in her bright velvet dress. Her head leaned against the kitchen table with her mouth open. Milk still dripped out of it. Her bowl of milk and cereals still had the spoon in it. Suddenly, it dawned on me that I had just taken human life.
‘It’s her fault! She brought this upon herself!’ I whispered to myself.
I wasn’t wrong, though. I had already lost my naivety and it was only a matter of time before I lost my innocence all because of her.
‘That’s it!’ I clap as an ingenious idea floods my mind. I rush to my room to start the preparations…
Seated on the dining table, I stroke Kid. He was beautiful. This always seemed to relax me but it wasn’t working today. I had only half drunk my tea but I didn’t feel like finishing it. Everything tasted sour. My mother’s cries from her room did nothing to brighten the situation. It was quarter to midday and the aroma from the soil signaled it was going to rain. I didn’t have much to do since Kimathi had fixed the gutter system for rainwater collection a week ago. At least he had done something for us for a change. That, however, would not excuse all the mean words he had hurled at my mum today morning.
‘You’re a slut!’ Kimathi had begun that morning. I held Kid even closer as I peeped through the kitchen door to see them arguing in the dining room. It was funny that he would be the one to face my mum. Kimathi had been born out of wedlock a decade before my mum. It was rumored that he was an accident and grandpa had no plans of keeping him. Fortunately, abortion was not an option to his mother. She, however, died during childbirth. His dad blamed him. They never had a good relationship; I guess that runs in the family. He was a rebel from the very start. He abused drugs, had several sexual escapades and was even imprisoned at one time. He was the one who distanced himself from the family. His father made no effort to bring him back. It would seem that he was relieved to have him off his hands for he was a handful, to say the least.
Though she did try her best to answer to Kimathi’s concerns, she wasn’t as confident as she had been with dad around. My dad had a way to inspire confidence even in those who didn’t like him. Once mum chose dad over her family, her parents considered her of the same caliber as Kimathi. Since we all know about birds of a feather I guess it was only logical for Kimathi to come live with my parents (His alienation from his family didn’t exactly help his already miserable financial situation). Yes, he was a freeloader and yes he always had this misplaced sense of entitlement but for as long as he was around, mum felt as if it wasn’t the entire family that had forsaken her. He wasn’t family; He was a leech! I just couldn’t understand his ingratitude no matter how hard I tried.
When Kimathi left, mum’s expression was empty. It was like her life had gone with him. Looking into her eyes, one could really tell just how much she depended on him emotionally. I wonder if it was the same expression she had on when dad left. They had argued the previous night and dad had resolved to sleep in the guestroom. Early the next morning I was seated on the terrace for it was during school holidays when I saw dad walk out of the house with a suitcase. He avoided eye contact the entire time.
‘Dad!’ I called out. He stopped and for a moment I was convinced that he would turn around if only to bid me goodbye. No, I was wrong. His Juliet must have been the impatient kind for he hurried out of our compound like he had never done before; Not even when he was late for work. Perhaps he was tired of us. I picked Kid up went into the house. My destination was my parent’s, now mum’s, bedroom but my lack of confidence made me take a detour to the kitchen. Milk always boosted my confidence levels. I poured Kid a glass too so that he wouldn’t feel left out.
It had started with foreign scents, late night calls and even extended work trips. Soon enough it was evident to even me that my dad was having an affair. We never were a happy family but this was sure to take away the family bit of that clause. Despite all proof being to the contrary, I convinced myself that dad worked hard so that he would be deserving of mum. Mum had hailed from a prominent family. When she fell for dad, because she did fall, all her family could grant her as a parting gift was this five-acre piece of land. They cut her off for loving a poor orphaned peasant boy. I never met my grandparents but I hear my grandfather is the head of a profitable export business and grandma runs a series of hotels. What a power couple! I wish I could say the same about my parents. It was clear to everyone that dad had anger issues. He would sometimes go overboard in his aggression and become physically abusive. Contrary to what one would expect, however, he never laid a hand on my mother. He never touched me too but that was different. In my mum’s mind, dad came first. It was sad that she wasn’t first in his and neither was I. I doubted I ever was in his mind at all. He was always formal with me. It was like I was a liability, not even a responsibility.
‘Now, what am I going to tell her? That from now on I am going to be the man of the house and that she has nothing to worry about? That everything is going to be fine? Her knight has just left and these are the only words I can come up with? I hate playing victim but isn’t it me who should be told these reassuring words? I mean…I’m the Kid here, right?’ Kid looked at me as if he had understood what I asked.
‘Well, you too but that’s different,’ I smiled. The lighthearted moment was interrupted when mum walked into the kitchen. She was still in her nightgown. I stood from my seat and put Kid down. Mum picked up the Vodka bottle she had halved the previous day and turned around to return to her room. Her hair was shaggy and she hadn’t washed her face yet. Though she, too, avoided eye contact I could sense that she had been crying.
‘Mum?’ I sounded desperate. She stood at the entrance door and without turning around said,
‘Be careful when you go out herding later on,’ then walked away.
The butts that I emptied from her dustbin that week were infinite. She had taken to smoking as fish does to water. Sad to say she hadn’t left drinking hanging. I now had one parent and it was beginning to dawn on me that soon I would have none. Fortunately, I was wrong. I would soon have both parents but it would have been better if I had none for I would have gotten used to the loneliness earlier…
‘Goat?’ I asked as the worst came to mind. ‘What goat exactly?’ I stole a glance from dad before looking back at Aunty.
‘You know…. That little one you walk around with. Kitten…Kiddy, I think?’
‘Kid?’ I asked with the highest intonation.
‘Yeah, that one. Who could’ve known that he would be this sweet? Plus, the soup is just to die for! That Kid of yours sure had a lot of bone marrow my dear,’ it was now clear that for me to live she had to die. This woman was pure evil. Kid wasn’t a pet; he was more of the brother I never had. He understood me in ways no one would.
I clutch my napkin tightly as I look at Aunty with teary eyes. I recall the first time I recognized Kid. I had been out herding the entire day and was tired. It was almost sunset so I hurried to get the flock back home. In my haste I slid and fell into a ditch. Our foreman was a very organized fellow. He had taught the flock the way to the farm very early on. I remember commending him on this but on that particular day I cursed him for the same. We never had dinner as a family and so the only possible cause for my parents seeking me out would be if the pen was incomplete meaning if an animal was missing. That would not be the case since they all knew the way back home. I tried climbing up but I had hurt my ankle. As the sun set, I was sure I was doomed to spend the night there. Suddenly I heard a sound. It was the bleating of a kid. I smiled thinking of how loyal these creatures must be not to leave me behind. Soon, a search party arrived and managed to get me out of the ditch. I was surprised to hear that only one goat had stayed behind, a kid actually. That night he slept in my room. He would no longer stay in the pen anymore. I gave him a bath and fed him milk. My parents didn’t mind; a position that would soon change. I thought of naming him William, not from Billy goat but from Bill gates, but settled on Kid instead.
Christmas had been a very difficult time for Kid and I. I had to defend him from my parents so that he wouldn’t end up in our plates. It seems milk wasn’t the only thing capable of boosting my confidence levels. I even played victim and blamed them for being too distant. It all worked out when they chose one of his cousins to replace him. Of course I kept him in my room as we ravaged his relative; I didn’t want him rebelling because of his blood ties. I had worked tirelessly yet the day had come. I regretted commending Aunty on her cooking skills. I had thought we were opening up to each other and starting to get along but no, it was all a trick. Mum was right: This woman is rotten to the core. I used my napkin to wipe my tears then ran to my room. I heard them arguing before my dad knocked on my door. I covered my head with the blanket and faced the wall as he came in. As expected, he was on her side.
‘You would have had to let him go someday,’ yeah but not now, not like this. He left after close to 15 minutes of futile persuasion attempts. It was just impossible to reason with me when it came to Kid. I remember him crying when he saw me crying. It had been a rainy day but the rain had taken a break. They say the rain are God’s tears; Well, he can’t cry forever, can he? Besides, real men don’t cry. It’s proof of weakness. I guess that really did resonate with what I was feeling at the time. Kimathi and mum had just arrived home from God-knows-where. Mum seemed super nice to me. She tried to smile but there was something sad behind her smile. Her eyes weren’t good at hiding stuff. I thought of asking but it was of no use; She would just lie to me. I waited for her to go to the bathroom and went through her purse. I found a hospital letter and decided to go read it in my room to avoid getting caught.
This is what denial looks like. I couldn’t believe it. She had stage four lung cancer and had only a couple of months left. I had dismissed her persistent cough as smoker’s cough and felt guilty for it. As I cried, Kid cried with me. She wanted to leave me just like dad did without saying a word. I kept my mouth shut. I realized that since she would be leaving me anyway, the only way not to get hurt is to not be too close to her. It still hurts me that I refused to go see her on her death bed. I had asked to be excused so that I go and bring Kid with me. They didn’t see me again until the following day. I was told that she died saying that she forgave me. I, however, have never forgiven her. I guess that’s why I see her spirit on a daily basis. At least that’s what my shrink tells me. I don’t like that shrink. Her name is Brigit and she’s quite young but she has this commanding personality. They say she runs a children’s home and I pity the kids under her care.
After mum’s death, I didn’t cry. At least not in public. Dad had attended the funeral and offered to take me with him. Where else would I have gone? He introduced his Juliet to me as Aunty Grace.
‘You can just call me Aunty.’ Grace was the last thing this lady had as I came to learn later on. She was manipulative and possessive in a sadistic way. It was nice to know that dad did not exercise the same amount of restraint on her as he did with mum. I first noticed this when I saw the bruises on her arms.
‘What happened?’ I asked, pretending to be surprised when I was actually rejoicing within.
‘Your dad happened,’ she was enraged. ‘One of these days, when I get fed up of his anger issues, I’ll feed him this.’ She held up a medium-sized white bottle with ‘rat poison’ written on it. She had just given me what I would need to kill her…
‘You know what to do,’ mum said to me right after dad left my room.
‘Yes, I do,’ I replied without uncovering myself to check whether she was actually there. It didn’t matter whether she was in my head or not. What mattered was that she was right. Aunty had to go!
I had never been much of a believer let alone a good Christian so when I walked back into the kitchen with her fake suicide note only to find Aunty finishing her breakfast the first thing that came to mind was not that this was a miracle. I had heard of Lazarus but I always felt like there was something the scriptures weren’t telling us. I stand on the kitchen door perplexed.
‘Come finish your breakfast or you’ll be late on your first day at school.’ They had transferred me to a nearby day school and today was my start day.
‘How…?’ I managed to ask.
‘Look, Kid. I know how you think. I was once your age too. Now, why the hell would I put rat poison on my kitchen cabinet? Even if I did, would I really tell you that I would one day use it to kill your own father? Think about it!’
‘So that wasn’t rat poison?’
‘Nope. It was sugar, grade I sugar,’ She must’ve seen my shocked look for she added: ‘You wouldn’t get it.’
I can’t believe she was playing dead this entire time.
‘Don’t worry, it was just a game. It was fun seeing you like that. Nice try though!’ I wished she were dead. I didn’t have to wait long, though, for in four months’ time both she and my dad met their fate at some godforsaken road in the countryside. As usual, I didn’t cry in public. In private, however, I cried much more than I ever did. I guess wishes really do come true. Soon, I would join the kids I once pitied, under Brigit’s care. At least her assistant Martha was nice. Fun days were up ahead. More days, however, would be much less fun…