On hearing their father’s voice, Waweru and Maina ran to their bed and pretended to be asleep just in case they were asked what they were doing up beyond 7pm. Muchiri believed that his sons should always be in bed before he gets into the house failure to which they or their mother would have to be punished for it.
“Wambui… my dear Wambui… where are the boys. I have some good news!” a drunken Muchiri shouted as he got into the house. “Waweru, Maina…. can you bring your stupid heads here I show you what I got for you today”.
The two boys scrambled from their aged rusty metallic spring bed that was left making all sorts of melodies. They rushed and found their father who was visibly drunk reaching for the inner pocket of his patched coat that had evident signs of long use.
“What could it be this time?” their mother thought to herself given her husband’s history of empty promises. In her heart, she knew nothing good was coming from this latest promise but decided to give her husband another chance.
“Now you don’t have to borrow sharpeners in class to sharpen you pencils. I have a razor blade for each of you,” Muchiri said to the amazement of his two sons.
The two boys took the blades and retreated to their bed chatting in small voices. An angry Wambui decided to confront her husband and soon both were talking at the top of their voice.
“I don’t understand what kind of man you are. Bringing razor blades to your sons like they do not need anything else,” Wambui said.
But in response, Muchiri slapped her scaring the two boys whose bed could be heard screeching as they shook in fear of what would happen next.
“Just appreciate… did you not see that the boys were happy! They will sleep well tonight. Now, give me food!,” Muchiri shouted.
Wambui who was now sitting on the floor from the impact of the slap replied; “Take the razors from the boys and convert them into food! What’s the use of the so-called presents that you have given them if they are going to sleep hungry?”
The comment infuriated Muchiri who staggered towards his wife and started beating her up. Wambui fought back making high-pitched scream with the two now rolling on the floor.
At the other end of the room the two boys held on to each other. They were used to this but today the fight seemed to move on for a longer period than usual. For them they could do nothing but helplessly listen to what was going on to the other side of the bedsheet separating the sitting room and the bedroom.
What they did not know is that in the midst of all this a tragedy was to hit their family.
As Muchiri and Wambui rolled on the floor punching each other mercilessly, they hit one of the stools on which the kerosene lamp had been placed. All of a sudden the house turned dark and shortly a fire started building.
The lamp had lit the kerosene stove as it fell and went off. In shock, the two adults got their self up and as the confusion raged, the fire started razing the kitchen side of their one-room house.
On the other side of the room, two shocked boys sat quietly, shivering not knowing what to do.
The fire was spreading.
… to be cont’d