I won’t ever forget that day. It was an ordinary April day like most of my days usually are. Actually it was not ordinary as such. I just remembered. I had woken up at 7 am which was unusual. But it was even more unusual that my mum had not prepared me breakfast like she promised she would do the previous night. So I went to court hungry (Back then I was still doing my judicial attachment). My mum can be like that at times. She breaks her promises and laughs at how good she is at it. I bet it’s not only her. It’s a ladies’ thing and it’s innate. 
Court, that day, was like it had been in the last thirty days. New matters being brought in. Some matters were funny as expected while others were sad. But then one important lesson that I had learnt at that point was that life can be very extreme in both good and bad ways. I came to this conclusion because of the things I used to see. With time I got used to seeing witnesses break down at the stand while narrating some of the vilest stories I’ve ever heard. At some point, I became unfazed about the whole lot of those stories to the extent that I questioned my sense of empathy.
At around 9am that day, there was a break from court like the norm dictated. So I went to the registry to get some water from the dispenser. The habit of taking cold water in the morning isn’t quite easy to get rid of. My phone rang for the first time but I ignored. It was one of those mornings where someone feels so heavy in the head and slow in the mind. I was feeling very less productive and my bones ached. When it rang the second time, I still didn’t reach out for it. I, however, couldn’t ignore it the third time.
So I hurriedly removed it from my left pocket. The caller was the most unexpected person. You ever had one of those moments when someone from the old days call you and you blankly stare at your screen wondering what they want after so many years? It’s like let’s say I receive a call from Erick Tevin today. I would be shocked. In fact, I would be immobile for ten minutes. Erick Tevin was my desk mate in 2011. I haven’t seen him since we did our Social Studies paper sometime back in November that year. I have tried so hard to locate him to no avail. Last I heard he went to Kisumu Boys High School. Then as I was close to finding him, I heard that he dropped out. Then a little later after that, I heard that he moved out of the country. I have looked on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Still no sign of him. The reason I keep looking that hard for him is that he left with my mountain bike. My bike was so new that sometimes when I think about it I get depressed. If any of you ever hear of a guy called Erick Tevin please give me a call. Other than the bike, we were so good friends. I miss the friendship. 
So my point here is that if today I get a call from Erick Tevin, I wouldn’t even know what to tell him. What would you say if you were me? That morning, an old friend’s name was on the screen. I had no option but to receive. When I did, all I heard for the first ten minutes was sobs and sounds of a crying man. His name is Lokuchagi. But I used to call him Lok. He is a young man from Lodwar. We met at a function in Kisumu Hotel back in 2015 and became active friends till 2017 when I joined campus in Nairobi. 
Lok and I became friends because he is a computer geek. If there is one thing I ever admired about him during that period was his ability to navigate through the complex world of programming. He could code and design websites that are quite appealing to the eye. He could do that seamlessly with Javascript, Python, HTML, XML..name it. To find a boy from Turkana who could do all that can be equated to finding a tear drop from the vast Pacific Ocean. He is smart. That year (2015), as I did my final submissions on my KCSE Computer Project, my teacher Mr. Ojwang asked me ‘who is this Lokuchagi you are thanking in your acknowledgement?’ I told him that he is skinny boy from Turkana with mad programming skills. 
It had been exactly one and a half a years since we last talked. And now he was there crying over the phone. By that time, I had long forgotten about my thirst and found my way out of the noisy registry. I have never known how to console a crying person. So when I managed to console Lok till he was composed I was quiet amazed at the much growing I had undertaken. Then he started telling me his cause of grief. My day couldn’t have gone any worse. 
He narrated to me how he was in class when he got this text which is the saddest he has received. “MOTHER HAS PASSED ON” read the text. Four words. All his life, he had never been crushed as he was that morning. He burst into tears inside the class. He cried loudly in class. All eyes turned on him but he didn’t care. The lecturer was a fierce one but he wasn’t fazed by any of that at the moment. When your mother dies, such things don’t even matter. The waves of pain that strike through your chest sting more than the bite of an African female wasp.  
At this point, I couldn’t hold it any more. I shed tears for my friend. Prior to that, I hadn’t cried in a very long time. But I couldn’t hold my tears back this day. I was there thinking that no person should ever find themselves in such a situation. Yet life dictates otherwise. 
I took the rest of the day off from court and looked for a cab to take me to town. We met at Tebs View Court. Death really disorients and cuts people from within. Lok hadn’t even found the courage to head to the morgue where the rest of his family members had since converged. At Tebs, one of my favorite waiters, Martin, was on duty. Martin was usually a happy person and he served people well. I often tipped him if my pocket allowed whenever I passed by for some pizza or coffee or for their tasty desserts. That day, he come all smiling and happy as like he usually did but I told him “NOT TODAY MARTIN”. He is a good man. He understood. 
He brought us some iced tea and omelets. Lok never touched his. He gave the food a distant stare. I wonder the kind of thoughts that went through his mind. So we just sat there in silence for the next three hours. Sometimes, the best consolation to offer a grieving friend is to just be present and say nothing. I asked no questions. Neither did I engage him in some cliché condolence conversation. I just stayed silence. I perfectly understood the gravity of that moment. I knew that the pain is beyond comprehension. 
Later on that day, I finally convinced him that it would be nice for him to join his family members at the morgue. And so we found ourselves at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Referral and Teaching Hospital. Family and friends were already there. More were streaming in. At some corner, there were some people I never knew having a conversation in small voices. Sadness was all over the place. I wish there was a way everything could all be reversed. 
Inside the viewing room was his two siblings and their dad. They were huddled together like the way sheep usually do when rainfall catch up with them in the grazing fields. When they saw him, it’s like the pain emerged in fresh from its hiding place and took over the room. For the second time that day, I noticed that my tears were rolling down sub-consciously. I prodded myself with deep queries inside myself about what life was. Just a year or so ago, the lady lying there lifeless had welcomed me to her house whole-heartedly and we had a massive Saturday dinner filled with so many jokes.Later on that evening when I returned home, my mother asked me why my eyes were so red.
“I have been crying.” I told her. 
I pondered over the simplicity of that statement. It was simple but the real reason behind it went deep into my whole being. I went straight to bed without eating that night but didn’t sleep till 5am in the morning. If this was me having trouble sleeping what was my friend Lok going through? Did he get sleep that night? How was he going to pull through?
Days went by quickly. We met often at either their home or at Tebs. Soon, it was time for the burial. I took some three days off my attachment, packed my travel bag and embarked on a journey to Lodwar to pay my last respects. We passed through places I had only read about in books. We passed through maize plantations, dusty roads, tarmack roads and at some point went beyond hills that looked like mountains. By the time we reached Lodwar, I blacked out. The home was a few kilometers from the urban center. 
We were met by ululations. An intense mourning then commenced. Tradition dictated that a departed soul must be accorded the best sendoff imaginable. That night, we gathered around Lynn’s car and told stories beneath the bright full moon. Lynn switched the radio on and put the volume at maximum. We listened to old blues as we talked about old days. There was a guy from Central Kenya. There was another one from Machakos. There were four from Kisumu since that’s where Lok’s family stayed. And of course Lynn from Mazeras in Coast. We hardly knew each other but at that moment we were bound by grief. 
We told jokes. There were drinks of different kinds at the car boot. Some people took wine. Others drank alcohol. I chose to take Fanta Passion. I was sugar fetish that night. Fanta Passion came through for me. We laughed at the randomness of the situation. We were basically strangers to one another having the longest conversation at the most unexpected of places in this nation. But we understood the unpredictability of life. At about 2 am we called it a night and slept on our chairs. The next day was quite eventful.
There were speeches mostly in the native Turkana language. But beyond the language barrier you could almost understand the grief that came with those words. The burial took place much later in the afternoon. Lok bid goodbye to his mother forever. His younger sister didn’t seem to understand much of what was happening as she kept asking ‘when is mum waking up from sleep?’ The innocence of her questions evoked more tears among those around. How could anyone tell her the sad truth that her mum wouldn’t ever rise up from her sleep? It was impossible. So no one gave her an answer.The day after that, we threw ourselves into Lynn’s car and headed back to Kisumu. Four people were inside that car. Four people who I had not known a week ago but now felt like family to me. We drove in turns because of the exhaustion. There was deathly silence inside. What could we say anyway? There wasn’t much to say. 
We all owe ourselves the best life we can achieve. What makes life precious is that it ends.

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