I watched life drown out of him. His hand was reaching out to me, begging for that last squeeze, that last embrace. He fell midway the sitting room, as he crawled towards me. I stood there in fright, my stool running freely down my legs, forming a small pool at my feet.
“Hamuka wewe,” the command in Swahili jolted me. It was the taller one. His mask on. He towered towards me. “Where is his passport?” he barked. “I don’tttt know,” I stammered back.
“Go get it,” he commanded.
I stepped into the small pool, splashing some on him—earning me a slap. I dashed upstairs. I knew where Moses kept his passport. It was always in the big case stacked in the upper shelf in the bedroom. As I struggled to stand on a stool and pluck down the case, I felt my body shiver. My hands were trembling—drops of sweat streaming from my head—midway mixing with leftovers of the stool.
As I fumbled, the thickset arms moved fast, pulling down the case—and bringing me along—sending me tumbling downwards, hitting my head on the nearby bed.
I could scarcely see as he opened the case—plucking out the passport that was lying atop of books. The rough fingers then made their way to my hair. Grabbing me and dragging me along downstairs—back to the sitting room, where Moses’ body now lay lifeless.
“Inaonesha nini,” asked the smaller, darker one who had remained down, the pistol still glued to his fingers.
“He last travelled two years ago,” the burly one replied, in perfect English. “To Nairobi.”
“What?” the other replied, surprise written on his face. “Nothing to do with Juba, Kinshasha?”
“No. And look. He is Masaba Moses.”
“Holy shit! We got the wrong person,” the burly one spat. He quickly stole a glance at me.
“You,” he pointed at me. “How were you related to this guy?”
“He was my husband.”
“For how long were you married?”
After what looked like an eternity, the smaller one turned to me.
“Madam, we are sorry. Looks like we got the wrong person. Is this 11th street?”
“No,” I stammered back, my tears gushing. “It is 10th.”
I could see the bigger one look at me with a grin. The magnitude of their error just seemed to dawn on him. He spoke to me.
“You may never really know who we are. But we were looking for someone who has in the past six months been moving out of this country, going to neighbouring states with what we believe are ill motives against our government.” He paused and after ages returned to the narration.
“The people we work for told us he has been going to Juba and visiting Zaire. He was mobilizing guns to uproot this regime. It is unfortunate that we got some of our facts mixed up. But that is how we operate. In our world, it is called collateral damage.”
The smaller one interjected.
“Consider yourself lucky. We could have taken down both of you. At least you can live to get another husband.”
I stood there rooted like a statue. How could these men who had brought my innocent husband’s life to a grinding halt speak to me thus? Who the hell did they think they were? I was now ready to put up a fight. With my fists slowly clenching and in a trance, I moved towards what I thought was the smaller man. I hurled myself at him—only to hit the chair hard. They were nowhere to be seen.