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Eddy passed on two days before the Christmas of 2020. It was just before dawn, according to police reports. He was found lying lifeless by a stranger somewhere in the deep of Kisumu’s Milimani Estate. He was my cousin and friend. He lived with us intermittently on holidays and on periods when he felt like he needed a distraction.

The first time we were introduced as family, he had come to visit in the company of his mum, dad and younger sister. That was circa 2005. He was quite the skinny kid. He barely ate. And he had a charming smile that made him everyone’s darling. It was ethereal. That day, he showed us some fight moves he had learnt in the dangerous corners of Nyalenda slums. He was ever the confident kid. The world was his playground. He could talk wrestling and try out risky Chris Benoit moves that made us cringe.

He came from a modest lakeside background. It was easy to tell because he walked with his shoulders high and never shied away from anything at a young age. He would have made a ferocious warrior in another world. Despite the little hints of ferocity, he was quite the smooth talker with a confusing Suba-Luo accent. He took his time during speech and when something came out of his mouth, it was most likely a silly joke or a terrific idea that made my mum uneasy. His mind was so golden that he could conjure up funny scenarios effortlessly like a nineteenth century comedian.

For the Southerner that he was, it was quite jolting that he never loved fish a bit. He loathed fishing in equal measure and couldn’t care less about swimming. You could almost get the feel that he was running away something. It took me a while to eventually figure out that he was slowly walking away from himself. He was starving for a new identity. His interests changed with each passing day and he sometimes talked with the kind of resignation that should never find life inside a young man.  He even began to spend less and less time at his birthplace much to my astonishment.

His father would shockingly die a few years later a short illness. He was never the same after the incident. He got detached and isolated. After much thought, his mum felt that he would be better off staying at our place. It was a great idea for everyone. My mum loved the kid. Damn! It was overwhelmingly natural. Who wouldn’t? Eddy was charming. He had a litany of jokes that could make even old men show their lose teeth. He also had his way with kids. I often wondered how he could get Josh to follow him around at a time when I struggled to connect with the little nerdy kid. Ryan and Joy adored him too. Like all my other nieces and nephews.

The years that Eddy lived with us will forever be etched in my heart. We were all so free-spirited and comfortable with one another not just as family but friends too. He was majorly soft-spoken with just a little bit of wildness. That made us click. He loved games too, like I do. On some Friday nights we would play cards or draughts or Tekken on PS3 till the small hours of morning much to the chagrin of mum and dad. Josh would join sometimes but he was quite the nagging sleepy head.

It is not like we never had fights. We fought and argued a lot. Sometimes about chores and other times because of his rebellious spirit. I miss how he’d get so annoyed when I pulled up rank on him. I was older than him by a few years but I didn’t throw it around unless I felt it was of essence. My brothers were irked by it and felt like I misused the power but that is debatable. They were undoubtedly captives of Eddy’s charm. They sided with him almost all the time. The fights never lasted a day however. His ebullient nature couldn’t let him frown at anyone or at life generally. He’d be in high spirits as if none of the chaos ever occurred. He’d then be breaking bones in FIFA and cheating in charades within no time. Ooh, how we loved charades!

He was slow in academics but he had relentless determination nevertheless. You could tell by how he cracked his head late into cold nights trying to solve his Math homework. Or how he took his Science projects seriously. He disliked English but I always reminded him that he had no other way around it. He just had to master his vocabulary and practice good writing. To this effect, he borrowed some of my early comic books like “Tintin In America”, “Cigars Of Pharaoh” and “Goosebumps And Horrorland”. He was making real progress. My younger brother never liked my taste in books so when Eddy developed a liking for them our friendship evolved to the skies.  

We had more things to talk about when he started reading broadly. He’d tell me sometimes in precise detail why he found “Tintin and the Picaros” to be bland and also why he thought “The Secret of the Unicorn” was on a class of its own. It was hard to conceal my joy every time he talked comics and books. I marveled at how much he had evolved. He was no longer the boy who hated long winding sentences. He was now the boy who found a safety net in words and used them as expressively as he could.

Eddy was a bright star in our home. He connected with everyone beyond the superficiality of casual talk. He was one of us. He did house chores for my mum when she was busy with her businesses and she rewarded his loyalty with motherliness. He played football with my other brothers and had their backs both in and out of the pitch. He sometimes stood up for them when they had no voice of their own. His mum often joked that he had probably been born in the wrong family.

On the last day that I saw him, he was livid about something. He was on a break from school due to COVID and was back at their place to be with his mum. I could tell from a mile that something was bothering him. We talked a little and he said something about his late father that has since faded off my memory. He was a little weary and anxious but he insisted on being okay. The Eddy I had known was ever faultlessly sure-footed but not on that day. He was curious as to why I was leaving for Ngong but didn’t take a keen interest in my response. That was the last conversation Eddy and I ever had.

He was found dead not long after that. Some wicked person beat him to death. He was just a little boy for chrissake. Just a little boy. To this date, investigations go on. The police still try to piece together the mystery behind and the motive of the cold killer(s).

We loved Eddy and he knew it in the inner recesses of his heart. We particularly loved his carefree dancing and heart-warming sincerity. He was ever the real person. If there is any essence of his spirit lingering out there, I know with the certainty of a Biblical prophet that it will descend in our hearts and stay inside us forever.

I have been struggling to pen this tribute for sixty days. In each of my previous attempts, I couldn’t go past two sentences without immersing myself in the bright old memories and clutching away from my laptop. It’s 2 am as I wrap it up today. I have found acceptance in the harsh reality. I know Eddy rests peacefully and I live on with the hope of a perfect reunion in a distant world and future.

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