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Memoirs of a Corpse
Beauty is defined in many ways, this much is true. It is in the eye of the beholder, they say, to each his own, and such. Looking up at the night sky, I cannot fathom how anyone could not consider this sight utterly sublime. Hundreds of stars glow radiantly in the sky, beckoning to me, mocking me. So far away, untouchable, unattainable, I must admit this is a significant factor in their appeal. Oh, what I would give to dance among them, staring down at the world, all my problems now meaningless. But alas, they are up in the heavens, while my lifeless body is sprawled against the desiccated Sahara earth.
The ghost of a friendly village surrounds me. My restless soul is haunted with memories of what once was and hopes for what could have been. How odd it is, that a way of life that took ages in the making could be so easily destroyed in a mere matter of minutes. I remember the final hour vividly, as if it had just occurred; for in the remnants of my mind, it is still happening, over, and over again.
I recall how the smoke mingled with the chilly African night air, emitting a sense of coziness I could not help but relish. The dark hours were upon us, the only time the temperature was not sweltering against my unadorned back. Weather like this was to be expected, not just in Kajiado, but in the majority of Kenya. The darkness would have left me struggling blindly, had it not been for the glorious full moon. Its glowing white light was my only guide as I gathered the remaining scraps of wood for our dying fire. Bits and pieces of stones and other unidentified objects dug in to my heels with every step I took in the shallow sand.
Gazing at the horizon, I noticed an ominous presence approaching. Never once did they make a noise. Their torches, glorious against the backdrop that is the night sky, headed toward my sleeping village. The sight would have been beautiful, had I not been trembling with fear. Disaster was impending. What was a scrawny young sheepherder to do at times like this?
I was frozen, when they stormed in on their camels yelling foreign battle cries. I was frozen while they tossed their torches on our huts and watched them burn down with glee. I was frozen when my father walked directly in to their war path, spear in hand. I watched as his skinny arms flexed before plunging the sharp instrument into the side of one of the beasts. The repercussion was severe, as seven arrows made their way into his torso. One of them stopped his beating heart. He did not howl in pain as I would have, nor did he shed a single tear. Abuu Razina simply sunk to the ground, dead, his act of bravery complete.
The murderous Dhambizao continued on, stealing our valuables and killing everything in their path. Cries of anguish finally pulled me out of my trance and my sore feet somehow carried me to the source of destruction. Could I make it before they killed the rest of our children? I had to, I just had to. I was but a few feet away when Bititi, a stern woman, marched in front of them shielding the children with her body. Her eyes as fierce as a lion protecting her cubs, she growled at the blood thirsty intruders, daring them to attack. A challenge; their malicious grins widened at the prospect, blood and saliva dripping from the corners of their mouths. There was no hesitation when one shot an arrow through her protruding belly, killing her unborn baby instantly. She, on the other hand, suffered a long and grueling death, as the life poured out from her and into the soil.
The strangled cry started in my chest, rumbling, and escaped through my throat, hot and hoarse. Several of the beasts turned to me in such synchronization, a shiver ran down my spine. One of them locked eyes with me causing my breath to catch in my throat. You see, beauty isn’t the only thing that has such an effect on people. The face of the man before me did not resemble that of a human. Skin scarred with infinite battles, teeth decayed to black stumps, he was drenched in blood, none of it his own. His dark eyes fixed on me; they were different from the intimidating, yet honest ones of my father. He pointed at me with his hand, for there was a stump where his index finger should have been. "Grab the boy" he barked, black veins straining against his strong neck. Fear engulfed my body as his men strode toward me with purpose.
I stood up to my full height, which was no more than an inch in difference, and faced them as a whole. “Leave,” I managed to say in a voice that quivered ever so slightly. Praying they were not too observant of the telltale signs of my fear, I continued. "T-t-this is not your l-l-and you have no r-right being here." My pitiful attempt at bravery was met with cruel laughter. I looked away, my eyes desperately searching for escape, when I noticed something. My sight adjusted and I saw Amali, a quiet village girl not much younger than I, crouching behind a hut several feet ahead of me. We made eye contact, her gaze held such intensity, as if she was attempting to communicate a message. I, as usual, was baffled, until finally, I saw them. Two, then three, then four, petrified children with tear streaked faces and urine stained clothes hiding behind her. Their small hands clung on to the torn fabric on her back for dear life. Eight more sets of eyes focused on me, begging me for their lives. It was now or never.
I faced the beasts again, bracing myself for what was about to take place. Assuming he was their leader, I bowed before the toothless one who had demanded me. Glowing with triumph, he waited for me to approach him. With weak knees, I did. Images of my father’s death flashed before my eyes, bubbling up anger so strong, I saw red. He offered me his calloused hand; I studied it wondering how many lives it had taken. I gathered mucus in the back of my throat and spat into his outstretched palm. Years of spitting for distance with the other village children had finally paid off.
I heard it first, slicing through the air, flying ruthlessly to its target. The arrow surged at me so rapidly that the direction it came from is unknown to me. Though the piercing in my side was unlike any other pain I had ever felt before, it was their words that wounded me. "It is of no use to us".
Lying on the ground bloody and amidst destruction, my eyes hunted frantically for a somewhat pleasant last sight.
And there it was.
Off in to the horizon, I saw a small figure surrounded by even smaller figures, running away. With every step they took, they distanced themselves from the cold grasp of death and left this scrawny sheepherder with a sense of accomplishment.
And that was my final memory, vivid as always.
Though time has passed, the evidence of that night is yet to fade. Sand that was once golden and soft is now tinted with death, mine included.
Scorpions and insects crawl beneath my remains; vultures feast ravenously on my decaying flesh and maggots eat away at my insides. This does not matter though, for at heart, I am finally millions of miles away.
I, Angavu, am among the stars.