She had been ravished, ravaged and razed. But her pain was deeper than the incessant thrusts of her assailants. It was the pain of loss. The loss of her husband, who sat there lifelessly, like a partially scorched mannequin. It was the pain of uncertainty. The uncertainty for her daughter who had been carried off, into the pitch blackness of night. It was the pain of alienation. The alienation of her son who had been called a bastard since he had been fathered by a man who spoke an outsider’s tongue. Hers was a pain of mortality, a frugality of life. Bought at a soul’s price, then sold cheaply unto death.
This was the price of love. The risk of free will. Her heart had spoken and she never looked back. This man, once the hope of her future, now a corpse. His vitality, extinguished; his voice forever quietened. She impatiently unbound the barbs from his wrists. They had dug in, tearing through flesh, slicing through tendons and ligaments, piercing through bone and marrow. She cut herself. Her blood flowed freely to meet with with his, like magma and lava-rock on the floor. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Perhaps it was because he loved all unconditionally. That he helped even those who mocked him openly. Or maybe it was because she chose love over culture. For her to bring a foreigner into the tent of her father.
It didn’t matter anyway, he was dead and her heart was desolate. It was a time of war. The King had convened a conclave – a Council of his Emissaries. The Secretary of Schism was to see to it that there was a complete separation of all men. The Attorney of Avarice and the Minister of Malice were to ensure that money was laundered to the youth who couldn’t be trusted to make clear judgment. The Commissioner of Chaos and the Director of Death were to ensure that rivers were tinted crimson with blood. And the Proconsul of Propaganda was to see to it that the call to action against the foreigners was heard. All this was done as the Governor of Guilt intoxicated himself with blinding ale. That he would neither See Evil nor Hear Evil.
And so their work had was done. Mothers lamented for their sons, maidens for their suitors, all lost in a war of brothers. Brothers who were countrymen, not tribesmen. Others were maimed, and the women heavy with strangers’ children had their bellies torn open to have the foetuses bashed onto walls and crushed under the boots of demoniacs, seduced by devils. And so, she was just a speck, a grain, a streak in the fresco of fear; the panorama of pain that was drawn across the land.
She remembered singing Harambee, a call to the nation. Peace, Love and Unity, the creed envisioned by the founding fathers, now War, Hatred and Division. The colours of the flag meant nothing to her. Black for the darkness beyond the grave, green for the envying and mistrust, red for the bloodlust, white for the smokescreens and politic run by the Dogs of War.
But in all her pain, she never cried nor shed a tear. Perhaps it was the shock of the world crumbling down around her, an end of days – or rather it was because her tears wouldn’t be enough to turn back the hands of time. Never cry over spilt milk, her grandmother’s pitchy voice floated into her mind. Her husband, her daughter, her son… her life and blood, her sweat and tears, all undone in a moment.
She clung to her husband’s corpse. Pulled him from the chair that he may lay on her bosom like a baby being nursed. She sat on the floor, rocking his body gently, to the faint sound of Ludovico Einaudi’s Primavera playing from their old radio. It was like everything froze up, and started going backward. Back to when she bore him children, back to when she met him, even further to when she was yet a child, when she only knew good in her father’s house, and her eyes had never beheld evil; back to when she was but a toddler, in her cot, winding her tiny fist tightly around her mother’s finger who looked down to her lovingly. Her life was flashing right before her. She closed her eyes and sighed heavily as a single tear escaped her left eye. Then everything fell into perfect darkness. She was finally at peace.
The Coroner’s Report came in; Died of A Broken Heart. Time of Death, half past twilight. On her gravestone was inscribed, ‘Here lies the Hope of A Nation, loving wife to the Promise of A Future (Deceased), mother to Trust (Still Missing) and Unity (Alienated).’ She became a statistic in a violence that was not of her doing. 2007.