Wounds of a Man
By Agufa Kivuya (Kenya)
All the details of the following days’ robbery were at Juniors’ fingertips. He had done his work like a pundit. He was Makali Junior, an intelligentsia. Everything was meticulously planned: the exact time to leave the neighbors’ room and the exact time to arrive at the bank. Makali’s neighbor was quite a young man whose humility shone bright at first sight. At first Makali thought he was investigating a wrong person. The first time he spoke to the young man the young man literally preached to him! Makali had an avalanche of experience in this field but had never met a smart and meek robber like him.
John Makali’s’ neighbor was a regular church goer and his pastor had entrusted him with the praise and worship leadership docket. It was quite a paradox whenever John took the microphone, for the church was reinvigorated with zealous praise and worshipping. The congregation adored him and the pastor loved him and always extolled him. John’s innocent smile just drove away all specks of suspicion for a hasty investigator. John needed much more time and caution to every detail to nab him. At the apartment he was the only one who prayed loudly enough to be heard by everyone in the crowded apartment before ostensibly retiring to bed. At first he confused Makali, and it took him a month to get a slight hint to his actual lifestyle. Junior did not underestimate the other gang members for entrusting him with all the robbery paraphernalia
Minutes before 10 o’clock at night, Junior left to his neighbors’ room at an expert time. He literally waited at his door for an ‘Amen’. The moment John shouted ‘Amen’ Junior knocked on his door. Junior didn’t wait for a reply but hastily pushed the door open. He had done his calculations meticulously to miss even a point. As he had estimated, all the robbery paraphernalia were laid out on a broad table in the sitting room.
“Don’t sweat too much neighbor; this is no news to me?” Junior said softly to ease the apprehension in the room.
John was too discomfited to speak, so Junior went on, “I know you have been doing this for the last four years since you joined the university. Moreover, you work with a group of five: two fellow students and three non-students. Because of your naturally innocent composure, they chose you as a paraphernalia keeper. Even right now you have twenty thousand shillings in your pocket that you robbed from a drunkard man a few hours back just outside the estate.
John wanted to deny this, but the pin pointing by Junior was too exact to be refuted. Junior seemed even to know the color of his innerwear. He was versed with everything in the room. He had known Junior as a good, indifferent man who always minded his own business. His conjectures were wrong, and now he knew better. Junior was a CID officer and was his neighbor only for the mandate of spying on him. He had been a fool not to have realized it long before.
“Why do you do this at your tender age?” Junior enquired from his perspiring neighbor.
The shuddering John fell on his knees and implored him, “I beg you, please have mercy on me. It’s a pal of mine who introduced me to this. I come from a poor family and I have to wrestle it out to see my survival in the university. I’m a parallel student and you know how costly it is in this nation for people like us. No part-time job, no money from my pauper background, so I’m compelled by the situation to do this. Please have compassion on me, and I will never do it again.
The tears that dripped from Johns’ innocent eyes drove Junior madly to pity. There was something about this robber that remained a mystery to him. For the first time in his profession Junior winked tears from his eyes as he listened to John. John startled him as most of the robbers he had dealt with always denied it, even when nabbed on the spot. His estimates were right; this young man was criminal because of sultry temptations.
“Now listen to me,” Junior started off, clearing his throat to prepare the way for the real thing that brought him there, because he was running short of time. “I know tomorrow you are going to rob that mall on Jogoo road, and your fate is sealed so I \am here out of sheer pity. The stage is accurately set and you have to bid your comrades’ farewell hugs as they will be in the morgue tomorrow at such a time.
His neighbor shuddered like a fan at this. “So should we not go?”
Junior replied, “Well I have to let you off on a condition. Don’t let any of your comrades know of this, lest you will be gunned down inside here before pursuing your friends. Do these now: feign illness then let your comrade walk to the world of darkness and gloom. Warn them, and you will all die, as just from now onwards there is 24-hour surveillance on all of you.” This is the final surveillance on your comrades.
After Junior left John could not sleep the whole night. He really wanted to save two of his fellow students so he was moved with sympathy. He could not imagine all his friends’ dead. Life was too unfair to him. His comrades were the only ones who made him glad and comfortable in the world where the poor are disdained even by their friends. He feared death and yet he was tired of life.
When his comrades came to pick him up, plus robbery paraphernalia, John was too sick to get out of his bed. But as his friends left the room he beckoned his two fellow students back as he had something secret to share with them. He could not let his friends die like that. The drive to save them welled in his heart. No, he simply had to save them.
Before John commenced his saving words, his phone rang, and for the first time Junior sounded like a brute on the phone with his stern words. “Last warning. Do it and you are all dying right there.” John feebly woke up from his bed, hugged them and wished them success in the midst of tears. Success he knew was not there.
At exactly 7 o’clock in the evening, John was seated next to Junior, their eyes glued on the television screen. John watched in utter disbelief and in tears as his aggressive friend’s lifeless bodies were uploaded into a police Landrover for a botched robbery in a mall. John mourned for his friends.
After John calmed down, Junior opened another chapter in Johns’ life. “Now you are saved from the merciless jaws of death and for a certain purpose. From now on you will be on our side”.
“From now on you will be on our side,” John wondered.
Junior went on, “We have all the information regarding you, and we are well versed with your complex network in the world of crime in this city. You are well connected with criminal gangs and even right now you have innumerable rounds of ammunition, two rifles, five pistols, one AK 47 and a homemade bomb inside this room, well tucked inside that mattress.”
Junior was quite an expert in the field of investigation. He appalled John. Junior knew where he kept the robbery paraphernalia, a thing that was even hidden from his gang friends. Junior seldom visited his room, yet he had complete information concerning John’s well-guarded secrets. John could not do away with the thought that his life was precariously hanging in the hands of Junior and any slight provocation would allow him to shutter it. His life was like a glass hanging precariously in the hands of Junior standing on a hard rocky floor. If it fell, there was no hope. That would be the end.
Junior went on, “You will continue working with them but now with four eyes. Two for them, two for us. From now on you are on payroll as our key spy in this city. Work with them and then report every nitty gritty to us. Failure to do so and you will pay with your blood.
John feared death. He could have rejected this job but paying with his blood just made it the best option. Junior introduced him to his fellow investigators and all other police officers in town. So whenever there was a robbery, all the criminals were gunned down, apart from one, John. The job became an exciting assignment to him.