Thursday, September 6, 2007
THE DEATH OF THE INNOCENTS
A child laughs; another cries;
The wife giggles; whimpers;
The man looks around himself and stands up;
He stretches his hands, searching his pockets, turning them up;
No cigarettes, again!
He gives his wife a slight peck on the cheek:
Coming back, darling; won’t be long,gotta pee,
The only thing that works in marriage.
Off he goes; a hooded cap on his head;
“The School of Hard Knocks” its front reads,
Seeing him, a crooked smile would indeed appear;
Indeed, he has been knocked over many times by life
But still he remains defiantly hopeful:
Things will get better; the Audacity of hope.
He rounds the corner; hands pocketed,
Eyes scanning every object,every picket;
Watching for danger; in the dark heavy night,
A night pregnant with dread and danger;
For this is no man’s land,
The land of Mother earths’ rejects,
Like foetuses thrown away by their mothers; unwanted,
The Land of the scum, the filth;
where danger lies lurking everywhere,
So he knows, here, any minute, may be your minute!
Seeing no one, he continues on, Heavily breathing; in relief.
On the other side,
Two men in blue; seat huddled on their cold, old car,
Each lies immersed deeply in thought,
Thoughts of their own troubles,
Their own fears; the risks of their job.
one nursing an hangover;another a querulous wife;
The radio starts, suddenly,
Crackling to life:
Red alert, reports, armed robbery,
The suspect: A tall man in a hooded cap,
The Search begins.
The hooded man grits his teeth,
The cold breeze piercing his black skin,
His tall frame bearing it all; defiantly,
He swears to himself, as he does everyday:
This habit, I must stop it: Quit smoking!
Only if I could get out of this hellhole!
He crookedly smiles as he sees the small, mabati shop,
The Coke side of life! Bamba 50 hapa!
The enticing charms of the prostitute: capitalism!
Displaying her wares;
His hope renewed; he quickens his steps,
His lungs near-bursting; the addiction; the overpowering desire.
Only sure route to another,
The death of the innocents.
The police car slowly negotiates the bend,
The driver exasperated; damn these potholes!
Like hunting lions, eyes sweep the area,
Suddenly they light up: Look Our Man!
Oh yes, our man! Tall man in hooded cap!
They exit their car, Commando-style,
Feet hit the road: arms drawn.
As the hooded man turns around from the kiosk,
Unison voices meet him: Hands up!
Uncomprehending, he shields his eyes,
The harsh glare of the flashlight blinding him; monentarily,
As he tries to put the packet into his pocket
One boy in blue shouts; watch out!
He is drawing a gun!
He tries to explain:
It is not a gun; only a packet of cigarettes
Do they hear him?
Hot pellets hit him,
On the hand, on the chest, on the head,
Oh God the pain!
As he slowly falls,
The cold ground, arms outstretched meeting him,
Only one thought remains on his mind,
Now delirious with pain:
Why did I have to die?
Only if I had stopped smoking,
I would not have died like this,
Just because of a cigarette packet!
But he knows,
He would have died; some other time;
Cigarettes or not; innocently!
The School of Hard Knocks to the end!
The death of the innocents.
By: Felix Kyalo Kiteng’e,