Men that have brushed shoulders with death know when it comes knocking. Njoro mentioned it a day before they gunned him down on Koinange Street, on a hot Saturday afternoon. He had told me that Friday that he felt that he wasn’t in control of his life. He said he felt like death lurked at the corner. I laughed his fears aside. Which criminal didn’t feel like that? I asked him and bought him another tot to change the subject.
That Saturday afternoon, I saw him die. I was standing outside F2 discothèque, talking on the phone when the shots rang out. I dived on the ground and turned in time to see his hand going for his inner coat pocket, his voice loud only drowned by the gunshots. He yelled, not cried, and his fall was more like a dive than a fall. He shot at the plain clothes policemen, yelling obscenities. I saw it like the old Commando movies, in slow motion. His death was loud and violent, like the life he lived. I didn’t stick around to see anymore.
Omosh, my high school friend also bid me farewell before his death, only he had not mentioned the word death. He had sipped his brandy, standing next to the counter at Pe-Kah’s pub that night. Njeri and Alice, our regulars at the pub sat a table away from us, waiting for us to finish our business. Omosh had waved the waiter away when he brought another round before he opened up to me. “What does a man want?” He asked in his thick accented often eloquent English. I opened my mouth but he answered before words came out of my mouth. “He wants a wife, a car, a house and a bank account with some coins. What have we got? We got whores, money guns and …” he took a breath and whispered. “Fear”. He looked out of the window and whispered. “I am getting out of this life man.”
Three days after he paid that bill, he died in a car crash running away from the police after an involvement in a robbery and car chase that is still dubbed as the greatest ever seen in the country.
Three days ago, I dreamt I was in a coffin. This morning, I woke up thinking about death. With a job coming in three days, I am drenching in sweat, and the weather in July is pretty cold. Maybe it’s a premonition, I think as I pull out a beer from the fridge. I set it on the table and smile the fears away.