Uncle Ayaan had been avoiding me all day, when I tried to talk to him he pretended to be busy. At one point he was giving Barre some instructions, then he was complimenting his wife, Hani on her choice of leso, and at some point, I think I saw him talking to his camel. It was as if he suspected that I was getting ready to bid him farewell. This life of fighting bandits was not for us.
“Let me kick his ass one last time and we will talk all you want,” he finally squeezed me into his busy schedule after I found him playing draft with Barre.
I walked towards the main hut and found Bobobo helping Hani pound maize into flour. “Your fool moves fast. He has the speed and strength of five men,” Hani chirped. Bobobo seemed to fit anywhere. Perhaps all you needed in life was to be a fool. Going through the world demanding nothing from it and being content with what it gave you. I thought while glancing at Beatrice who was rocking back and forth as if in a trance beside them.
“She has been at it for hours,” Hani continued. “Perhaps it’s time we consulted the medicine man,” she added. I looked at Beatrice. Her eyes had a vacant eerie quality to them. She stared at us without really seeing us. “She will come around,” I said dreading the idea of another healer after our last experience. “Come Beatrice, a walk will do you good,” I held her hand while gripping my gun with the other and she followed me mindlessly as though she were blind.
“Do you remember the time we danced at Njoro’s house?” I began as we walked into the vastness of empty fields with nothing in sight except for one or two huts. “Do you remember?” I went on trying to jog her memory like the way Freddie would jump-start a car with a battery back at Churo Village, the battery now being the memories we shared. “Do you remember the time you got drunk? “Look at my hips, video vixens in Nairobi have wide hips like this, do you want to hold my hips, Katana?” I said and chuckled.
But it did nothing for Beatrice. She just walked with her vacant stare and more than once I had to pull her away from tripping on a stone or running into a tree. “There is nothing for us here,” I began “I will talk to Uncle Ayaan today, to see if he can assist us with our journey to Nairobi,” I added obliviously and as I did I saw the color return to Beatrice’s face and the vacant look disappear, albeit momentarily.
We got back just as Uncle Ayaan was finishing his game of draft. “Speak to me young one,” he said while dismissing Barre and pulling chairs for me and Beatrice. “I hope it’s not bad news. Today I pulled out white hair from my head and it was because I have been worrying that you want to leave us. You don’t want to leave do you? Because Hani and Barre are already fond of you and you are the sun that warms me, nephew. Tell me it’s different news you bring, go on, tell me,” he complained.
“There is nothing for us in Dol Dol,” I said feeling guilty.
“What do you mean? Dol Dol is the place to be. There is adventure, more camel milk than you can drink, and fields that go as far as the eye can see. I will tell you what. Start running as fast as you can and after you get tired and stop all the land you will have covered will be yours,” Uncle Ayaan said and looked at me with expectation.
“Dol Dol is not good for Beatrice,” I said. You would have thought the mention of her name would have made her stir but she just stared in the distance at the scorched fields.
“Ah, it always comes down to a woman, doesn’t it?” Uncle Ayaan exclaimed as if he had arrived at a great truth. “Just tell me when and I will officiate your marriage and you can live here, happily ever after,” he added, looked at the serious look I wore and his face sagged. “Alright then. I can see you have made up your mind. Our caravan leaves in a week’s time to raid some villages on the edge of Laikipia, from there I trust you will find your way to the land you dream of.”
“Thank you,” I said. I wanted to tell him to come with us but I looked in his eyes and realized he would die on these scorched sands. This was a man consumed by his own hubris. He was trying to prove the point that he was the king and it did not matter to him if it was ashes that he ruled over.
That evening we ate supper in silence and went back to our hut with heavy hearts. I held my gun and took watch yet again looking around for Barre and wondering which side he would sneak up on me from. I listened to Bobobo snore and Beatrice’s talk in her sleep and I thought it wouldn’t be long now before Nairobi beckoned, before color returned to her face once more and she was herself again.