I racconti del Premio Energheia Africa Teller

A brighter tomorrow_Paul Kiruri Kamure

africa_Africa Teller 2007.


Patrick sat on his bed holding his cup of black tea staring at it as if it were

a puzzle. His mind was recalling a dream he had had a few hours earlier

in which he was chasing a creature with a human body but an animal

head that was holding a piece of gold. The creature had suddenly turned

around and started to chase him. It then stopped and handed him the piece

of gold peacefully. What was this creature? Why was it so indecisive

and how… His thoughts were interrupted by a feeble knock at the door.

As he put his cup of black tea on the table to go and open the door, it was

pushed opened and there she was standing at the entrance staring at him.

She wore a red skirt that reached her knees. The upper most two buttons

of her white blouse were unbuttoned exposing her golden chain. A red and

black kerchief tug around her long black hair. Her face was reddened by

what seamed to him an emotional mixture of hatred, anger, love and a felling

of despair. Her small brown eyes looked dark with tears threatening

to fall anytime.

Without uttering a word, she rushed to where he was and embraced him

tightly as if she would never let go. He could feel the pain inside her. He

knew that her heart had been broken and was bleeding. He wished he could

kiss it all away and reassure her of his love. She finally let go but quickly

held his hand as though if she didn’t he’d run away from her. As she

sat on the bed, her eyes travelled around the room.

It was a wooden house too small to be considered anybody’s home but

big enough for his few belongings. On the left side was the bed with a

long thin sponge for a mattress and a single blanket. He slept on it during

the night and it served as a chair during the day. On the opposite side was

on old wooden table on which lay two cups one with his black tea, a plate,

three spoons, a knife and a pan, which were all the utensils, he owned.

Next to the table were a small stove and a tin lump.

“I’m going to Mombassa for three years”, she finally said. Her voice was

full of tears.

He felt like a red-hot iron had been placed on his skin. He wanted to ask

questions but couldn’t find the words so he just looked at her questioningly.

“My father hired a detective and he knows everything about us”, she continued.

“He said that no daughter of his will have a relationship with a…”,

she paused and looked down.

“Go on”.

“Poor illiterate good for nothing social climber”. Her tears now flowed


He felt like he had been stabbed. He hated being blamed for no faults of

his own but he couldn’t let her see his pain. He hugged her and assured

her that their love would pass the test of time.

“I must go”. She said still looking devastated but feeling a little better.

“I’m sure that the detective’s eyes and ears are on me. I fear what dad might

do to you but remember no matter how far apart we shall be, you will always

be in my heart”.

At the door he kissed her goodbye and she left, his eyes followed her. He

thought of that as the last talk, the last kiss and perhaps the last time he’d

see her. He watched her until she disappeared, out of sight but certainly

not out of mind. He could still remember vividly how they had met eighteen

months ago as if it had just been yesterday.

He had woken up bright and early that Thursday morning and gone to Imani

Children’s home. It was a hot dry sunny windless day typical December

weather in central Kenya. The short rains had subsided but their effects

could still be felt. The grass had grown tall and the flower garden

was weedy. The festive season was fast approaching and many people were

becoming more and more mindful of the welfare of the less fortunate.

Some brought clothes, others foodstuffs, few gave balls and other playing

equipments, many donated money but for those who didn’t have much

like Patrick, their energy was all they could give and they gave it whole


He had put his best foot forward and had done an excellent job with the

flower garden. It could never be said of him that he was not a hard worker.

He was now cutting the grass his eyes and mind fixed on his job such

that he didn’t realize her coming.

“Hello”, she greeted him. “My name is Clare”.

“Hello Clare”, he replied turning around to see a pretty girl in her early

twenties smiling at him but her eyes betraying her smile and showing her

loneliness “My name is Patrick”.

“Are you the one who weeded the flower garden?”, she enquired. “I was

here yesterday and I looked like a bush”.

“Yes”, he replied flatly. She was clearly impressed.

“Is this your first time here?”

“No. He found himself explaining to her that this home had fathered and

mothered him for the first sixteen years of his life. His mother had given

birth to him and died, a river having run it’s course. He was among the

pioneer children of this home at a time when they only offered food, clothes

and shelter but not education.

She left but told him that she’d like them to meet on Saturday and get

to know each other. Her parents would be away and she could give the

house help an afternoon off. She told her the exact place she’d have liked

them to meet.

On Friday time seamed to move painfully slow. He thought about her and

was worried that she only wanted to talk to someone that day and would

not turn up. He was even worried that she might turn up but the joy of

seeing her could be outweighed by the shame of rejection by her parents

if they learned of his poverty.

He had no problems locating her at their meeting place on Saturday afternoon

and she took him home. At the gate was a flower garden with red

roses, green China grass, yellowish green verte, hybrid hibiscus that yielded

purple, orange and white flowers and a variety of other flowers he

didn’t know. He was sure that in his twenty-seven years of life, he had

never seen such a beautiful sight.

The house was a massive stone mansion with red carpet on the sitting room

floor. There were four different sets of sofa sets with a golden yellow

polished, mahogany oak made table at the centre of the room. Most of

the electronic goods in this room were foreign to his eyes. On the frames

were valuable stone and woodcarvings that demonstrated the economic

stability and financial ability of this home’s occupants.

She talked of her loneliness and for that he offered her his unconditional

friendship. He talked of his poverty and she was to find him a job

as a driver and gardener in a nearby school. From that day theirs grew

from a casual friendship of suiting each other to a steady strong deep

love but which was kept a secret, only known to them and so it was that

Patrick had never met Clare’s parents.

Patrick closed the door of his room and left for Hekima School absent mindedly.

He was contemplating on Clare’s departure and the creature in his

dream. He began to water the flowers which was his first task. It did not take

a genius to figure out that his work that day left a lot to be desired. The

school’s principal called him late that afternoon and asked him to take three

students who were complaining of abdominal pains to the hospital.

Being the second largest hospital in the district, Kikuyu hospital has various

units; the eye unit, the general unit and a funeral home. In a small

room with a single window that looked like a kiosk, Patrick paid three

hundred shilling as card fee for the students and they were ushered into

the waiting room. The waiting room was a long hallway with wards numbered

1 to 5 on one side and 6 to 11 on the other. When they entered the

waiting room a nurse and a desperate looking woman whose name Patrick

came to realize later was Mrs. Anderson, were making a desperate

plea, not to the patients but to those who had accompanied them. Their

plea however seemed to be landing on deaf ears.

“We have a patient who is in urgent need of blood type B-. If he doesn’t

have a transfusion sooner than later, he’s going to die. If you have

this blood type and you can find it in your heart to, please donate”. The

nurse was saying.

“Please help my husband. Think of him as your brother, your son, your

father or your husband, I’m sure you’d lend a helping hand. Remember

that the hand that gives is the same hand that receives”, Mrs Anderson


Patrick had donated blood before and knew he had blood type B-. He saw

this as an opportunity to give back to the community. And volunteered to

donate. Mrs Andreson’s face now shone with joy as she shook Patrick’s

hand and told him countless thank you. She felt an overweening love for

the young man and wished she could power it out on him. What Patrick

didn’t know was that that woman was Clare’s mother. He was assured that

the students would be treated and taken back to school as he went to the

blood laboratory with the nurse and Mrs. Anderson went to give her husband

the good news.

Mr. Anderson lay on the bed looking weak but his mind still active. He

thought of his enormous wealth, his big house, his thousands acres of

land, his fat bank account, his new expensive car and thought it ironic

that his wealth couldn’t help him now. He thought of the many things

that money couldn’t buy health, kindness, generosity blood and love.

He thought of love. He had sent his one and only daughter to Mombasa

to separate her from the man she loved and get a chance to wipe him

out of existence. Now with death staring at him and knocking on his door,

he wished regretfully that he could see her and give her his blessings

but knew it was too late as the water would spill anytime. He wondered

what kind of a person he was. On one hand he went to church and

gave money to his wife and daughter to donate to the less fortunate in

society while on the other hand he had planned to kill his daughter’s boy

friend. He thought of a Cameroon that changes it’s colour in different

environments to suit itself. He was just like it.

“Honey, we’ve found a donor”, said Mrs. Anderson optimistically. She

always called him honey and had stood by his side through thick and thin.

His joy was her joy and his tears were hers, always offering him a shoulder

to lean on. The doctor entered and asked her to leave and come the

following morning just, as he had asked Patrick after donating.

Patrick arrived the following morning a few minutes after Mrs. Anderson

and went straight to Mr. Anderson’s room. He looked much stronger and

more enthusiastic to live.

“Honey, this is the nice man who donated blood”. Mrs Anderson introduced

Patrick to her husband.

In a second Mr. Anderson scanned Patrick from head to toe and saw not

his poverty portrayed by the clothes he wore but his inner wealth outlined

by his generosity even to strangers. He stretched his hand and held

Patrick’s arm firmly.

“You truly have a heart of gold”. He had begun speaking from the inner

most part of his heart. “You helped me in my greatest time of need. To a

man who is dying of thirst, a glass of water is worth much more than gold.

Anything that you want ask and I will move heaven and earth if I have

to, to give it to you”.

Outside, Clare had just arrived by plane and the nurse had allowed her to

enter the room informing her that the only people who were in were her

parents and the man who had helped her father win the battle for his life.

“I don’t want anything from you Sir”, Patrick said. “I only…”.

The door was opened violently. “Dad, Patrick, Mum”, Clare called out

loudly as she closed the door behind her, went to her Dad’s bedside, knelt

on one knee and kissed him them rose up and embraced Patrick and her

mother. It dawned on them on what their relationships were. Their faces

told of their surprise and disbelief.

The moon shone brightly. A still wind blew softly as if singing a sweet

song of joy and victory to Clare. Standing close to the gate, she could now

see the beauty of the flower garden that so many people had talked about

but her eyes had remained blind to even in broad daylight. She smiled at

the flowers, not the smile of loneliness she once had, no loneliness was

now a part of her history just like poverty was a part of Patrick’s history.

She looked at the countless stars in the sky and the countless people who

had come to be with her this night. Tomorrow she is getting married.