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WHEN LIFE IS LOST ALL IS LOST.

I got up very late that morning, prepared myself in a hurry and left in a jiffy running all the way to the bus station. It was my second month at my place of work, Kenyatta National Hospital as a cook. The previous day we had been paid. This was my second salary and I still wanted to make a difference in my life especially after suffering for a long time without employment. I had gone out to drink with friends at a popular joint in Nairobi West known as ‘Jamas Den’. Somehow I got carried away and took one too many. That made me gets home some minutes past midnight. My wife Alico was least amused bf* there was nothing she could do to me being the head of the household and the provider of her daily bread. Little did I know that she would not wake me up as she usually did. That was why I had over slept.

When I got to the bus stop, there was a ‘matatu’ with a conductor shouting for passengers as they usually did. Without any hesitation, I jumped into it and got myself a seat next to the driver. As I was just settling down, I realized that the driver was James Matano. Matano was a very good friend of mine and the previous night we had been together at the ‘Jamas Den’. In fact I had left him at the joint. I could not believe my eyes that James was behind the wheel because I knew that he still had Iasi evening’s hangover of the beer we had drunk. “Is he really going to drive safely?” I soliloquized looking into his eyes once we had exchanged niceties. What I saw when I looked into his eyes made my hear jump to my mouth as the hair at the back of my head stood on ends. I was very frightened. I felt as if was staring at the ugly face of death. James looked dazed and his hands were shaking on the steering wheel. I wanted to confront him and ask him not to drive if he knew he could not, but on second thoughts I did not since, I was also late for ‘work. When the ‘Matatu’’ was full to capacity with commuters we took off.

Right from the start, James was not steady. I watched in awe and wonder as he accelerated dangerously from zero to one hundred kilometers per hour instead of the accepted eighty kilometer per hour. I knew it was just a matter of time before James lost control of the vehicle. The other passenger was likewise very frightened. I heard women complain as they held their babies tenaciously against their chests. A man, who had sat behind me, screamed “Stop driving as if you are carrying potatoes t the market, we are human or else we shall forcibly remove you from the wheel.” Immediately he spoke the rest unanimously echoed their approval. Somehow, this angered the driver who temporarily looked behind hurling obscene abuses at his critics. This was the blunder of the year that James made.

Immediately he looked back, he lost control and ran into a herd of Masaai cattle which were herding by the road side. Screams, wailing women, crying babies and voices of cursing men rent the air. The impact was so intense that the driver was thrown out of the vehicle through the windscreen. I- landed on the road and the matatu’ which was still on motion ran over him crashing his head into pulp I screamed as I watched all this from my seat. I shut my eyes and when I opened them he was now under the vehicle. I had never seen such a thing before. Meanwhile the matatu had stopped moving the wails and screams were now dying out as everybody tried to alight from the ill-fated vehicle. It was each person for himself and God for us all. I got up from my seat and called for some order. All the mi were to wait for the women especially those with babies to alight first. Thank God none of t passengers had been injured even the conductor was all right. All the women left the vehicle in a Indian file followed by old men then the rest of us.

When I got down, I went round the ‘matatu’ only to be met by one of James’ arms. It had be severed off from the shoulder. It was lying beside the ‘matatu’ on the driver’s side. I felt nauseated a sick in my stomach. I could not control the flow of tears from my eyes as i watched the pathetic sir before me. I moaned bitterly the ugly death of my friend. At that time, life had no meaning. The won- screamed once more at the grotesque sight as the men stood, watching holding their chins. It looh very pathetic and sad. Thinking fast of what to do next, I decided to call for an ambulanc

hospital as we were not far from it. The response was immediate. When \ saw the paramedics gaihe the remains of my friend into a big black body bag, I knew that when life is lost all is lost. As the ambulance left with James’ remains, everybody went his or her way. I also decided to gc home thanking God for sparing my life. Indeed when life is lost all is lost

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