The steam rises from the hot shower of water falling onto his body. It fills the tiny bathroom and the little space inside looks like a cloud of mist. It is a cloud of mist that has engulfed him these couple of days after returning. A cloud that he cannot simply swipe away. Thick and blinding. He lets the water run down his body, dripping from his skin that has been soaked in that shower for the past half hour. And now, it has been rid of all its natural elasticity and brownness to become a shade of grey. He lets the water fall off his body, watching it as it falls to the floor and down the drain. It has become a ritual -Looking and watching the water glide from the shower head and onto him and into oblivion. For in this way, he looks to the water to wash away his secrets and find redemption.
Mulé has been doing this while his family was away. His two sons were off to school and his wife was working all day. He especially showered in the hot afternoon, when his heart felt heavy enough. He had not mastered the will to work since he got back from his journey to Isiolo and said that he needed a couple of days of work.
It was three days now and his wife, Chebii, started to feel that something had happened in Isiolo. They had not sat down and talked about it because every time Mulé seemed immersed in his work. All the time. And she did not want to distract him. In truth, Mulé had deliberately painted this picture for the whole of his family, as if he was working on something really important and his wife had avoided disturbing him. She even held back the children from running towards their father for a story after a long day at school.
As the night fell above their home in Kikuyu, Mulé hesitated accompanying his wife to bed. Siting that he would join her later. Chebii had missed his warm embrace. She had missed his gentle kiss on her small lips. She had missed how he would hold her and never let go. How he tightened his fingers into hers as she towered above him in bed. And how the feeling of Mulé’s strong dick discovered hidden places in her body. Like an enchantment. She longed for him again. But that night, Mulé found himself drifting off into sleep on that hard two-seater couch in the living room downstairs. Under a single light bulb over his head. Truly, Mulé had never found the couch in any way a comfortable place, with all its hardness and rigidness. It was not a well-designed couch. However, at four in the morning, he found himself pulling himself from the couch and wiping the saliva from his mouth, jolting himself upright. He caught his neck, feeling it for some time before noticing that he had to stretch his neck a bit before it became less painful for him to turn his head.
He had for the first time, since they got married, not shared a bed while they were in the same house. Mulé knew Chebii would take notice but somehow the though was not strong enough to drive him to bed. Instead, Mulé stepped outside in the dewy darkness and smelt the air around him. Like a cold freezing breeze. That was how he felt life had become to him. He wanted to be blown away like chaff.
Mulé looked at the overgrown grass in the lawn against the dim light and took the slasher. He decided to let his mind go, to wander off into other places. Into his church where he preached. Into his past and present. But not into the future. Because he was afraid what it held for him.
It was a simple journey. A short visit over the weekend. Mulé had planned on visiting his church that he was funding in Isiolo. It was during this trip that he would also visit Moraa, his child who was in the care of a Mr. Ambrose. Moraa was six, and was a hiccup in his life left to him by Jen. Jen was lovely company during his visits to Isiolo. She had been there to show him where to buy his food while in Isiolo. She had advised him on who to avoid while buying land and getting a license to plant a church. And so when Mulé found himself with Jen, he couldn’t resist her soft touch and sweet smelling perfume. He fucked her and fucked her hard.
Three months later, when she confronted Mulé with a pregnant belly, he said that he would take the baby and protect her. Mulé found a friend with whom he could trust to take care of the child in Isiolo- Mr. Ambrose. He was a good man during the first few days of their acquaintance. Later on, they betted on games and ended up winning money of each other. Therefore, while Mulé was away, he left Ambrose with little Moraa, sending him money regularly in order to feed the extra stomach. This way Ambrose would tell everyone that Moraa was his own child instead of Mulé’s. It was a well-balanced agreement. Moraa would now have turned six when Mule made his most recent visit to Isiolo.
But when Mulé got there on Saturday evening, he landed on an empty house. Ambrose was not there in his house. The little feeble mabati structure was deserted. When he asked around, he found out that Ambrose had packed his bags about two months ago after his child, a girl, was knocked over by a vehicle and died. Mulé felt his heart wanting to rip itself out of his eye sockets. He felt anger. That night he searched every street and alley of Isiolo. Until at the watchful hour of the night, a short man with a tiny afro and some overgrown beard opened the door. Mulé grabbed Ambrose by the collar, pushing him back to the floor in the process.
“You killed her!!” Mulé screamed.
“No… No… Please!”
“You devil! How can you be se cruel?
“It’s the drugs man… She took them…!!” Ambrose rose to his feet and took a defensive stance towards Mulé. Mulé was outraged. He couldn’t take betrayal for an answer. He thrust Ambrose backwards with a push, as he felt the anger course through his veins. But in that single action, Ambrose staggered backwards dancing away, and hit his head on the edge of a table. When he fell down, blood oozed from his cranium. At that instant, Mulé stood still. And for once he wondered how had anger got the best of him. Like a demon that had possessed him.
Ambrose had been a drug addict much to the ignorance of Mulé. Mulé had failed to notice the reddish eyes every time they talked. Mulé had not noticed that sometimes, Ambrose would laugh at anything he said. Mulé did not notice that Ambrose had pokes on his arm. So blatant. And so, while he left Moraa under Ambrose, one day Moraa found some white fluffy substance hidden in a container in the toilet sink. When she opened the container and smelt the coke, Moraa went into a trance, stepping out of the house, in broad daylight, and onto the highway and in front of an onrushing trailer. When Ambrose came back home that evening, he immediately packed his bags and left his house. Because he was afraid.
That same night, Mulé took the next bus home and arrived the next morning, back at home in Kikuyu. A changed person.
As he slashes the grass outside, Mulé wishes some things did not exist. His love. His pain. His anger. Mulé has to hide his secret even from himself, in order to move on; never letting it emerge into his consciousness. Darkness has crept into his soul and he decides that he can no longer serve in the church.
He hasn’t looked at his wife or his children in the eye since he came back. How could he? How death is painful to those who haven’t experienced it. Every time his phone rings, he stands still for a moment, taking a deeper breath. Because now he has fear overcoming him. As the dawn gallops slowly, the beams of light land on his skin, warming his cold skin. He will take another shower today. In the house, his wife is preparing tea that she will leave for him on the table until it gets cold. Mulé bends down again, to try to shave off the green overgrowth.