“Take your position!” screams the Sargent.
I head towards the other side of the courtyard. As I walk I remember the night in June that landed me in court, and now in jail.
“You were found in Obi City smuggling, justify your action before the court,” were the last words I heard from the judge.
The magistrate accorded me a maximum of a twelve-year jail term followed by eighteen strokes of cane. I deserved it. After all, life was cruel to many defenceless minors. I can remember every detail of the night that landed me in Obi City Court.
McAndroid, as the gang members knew him, was one of the toughest boys roaming around Obi City at night. He would often rob residents of their hard earned money, but on that Friday night in June he suggested we smuggle cocaine.
“Business is booming guys, we only need one shot to get rich and you can all buy those big wheels you’ve always wanted!” shouted McAndroid.
That night, three of us gathered behind our usual spot smoking and drinking. The rest of the group was still at work.
It was late when we received an SMS from our ringleader McAndroid:
Coast is clear, meet me at Mama Benta’s cafeteria after this, good luck.
We all set to work. Our van was parked just outside our hideout. I made sure that there was enough petrol and started the engine. We drove off to Moi Avenue wearing civilian clothes to avoid arousing suspicion from city folk. We walked about a kilometre to our destination. We got into another car parked near a mall and saw two men staring at us through the side mirrors of their giant BMW whistling a familiar tune, which signalled all was set. Without wasting time they opened the glove compartment and shoved two shots of cocaine into my overstretched hands.
“Thirty million gees,” he said. “That cocaine is worth twice your life. Mess it up, and I’ll mess with you. Got it, kids?” he finished and sped off before any of us could answer.
“Well guys we better split up and get this job done, move it!” I said.
“Fancy calling us kids? Take a look at some of us, Jake. We are in our late forties. They look at messages on their phones at an arm’s length using with glasses on. Who the fuck does that nigga think he is?” moaned Norman.
“Stop whining and shut that shit, Norman, acha siasa za CORD na JUBILEE. We got enough issues,” I replied.
We had managed to smuggle two shots of cocaine around the city until we were standing outside club Lambada near the outskirts of the city. Loud sirens that could only come from police cars were approaching. We instantly moved into action. Everybody ran for their lives as far as their legs would carry them, but to no avail. The police shot one of my guys and he dropped dead.
We had no time to lose. The police were advancing and that meant several years in prison, eating dried beans and ugali for anyone they caught. We had to survive despite one of us already laying dead on the pavement. I opened fire at the cops. I knew this would land me into more trouble, but so what?
After one hour of exchanging bullets with the men in blue, I shot one policeman straight in the head. I knew that I was done. I had signed my death warrant by killing him. In Kenya, there is nothing worse than messing with a police officer.
Just then McAndroid came to our rescue driving the van.
“Hop in! Let’s get outta here!” he screamed. After a moment of fierce combat, I jumped in the van with Norman who had been shot in the left arm.
We took off at supersonic speed. Norman’s left arm was still bleeding, and I bandaged it using my handkerchief.
“How’s Norman’s arm?” asked McAndroid.
“Still bleeding, we should take him to the hospital,” I replied.
“Those police killed our friend and now this? They have to pay!” cursed McAndroid.
“I believe… someone…had a… hand in this,” muttered Norman amid gasps of pain.
“I believe you Norman. That traitor should say his or her last prayer before I pounce on him and tear him to pieces!” Cursed McAndroid.
I swallowed hard. The police were tailing us, and firing at us. Bullet holes shattered the side mirrors and smashed the rear windshield of our van. We bent low in the van trying to avoid getting hit. My heart was pounding, cold chills were crawling up my back. I felt sick.
“Drive faster, McAndroid! They’re tailing us!”
“Relax, bro. We’ll be out of town in no time. We’re getting close to Nakuru,” said McAndroid.
I popped my head out of the car window carefully and vomited. Due to the speed and proximity of the police car some of the vomit landed on their car. They did not look happy.
“Uh-oh,” muttered Norman.
“Bull’s eye!” jeered McAndroid.
“We’re screwed!” I screamed. Right in front of us was a steep cliff with nowhere to turn.
“Stop the car!” I shouted, but my warning fell on deaf ears.
McAndroid was motionless. His head was lying against the wheel as if he was sleeping.
“No, McAndroid! You can’t die on us, especially now!” shouted Norman.
The car started moving faster and faster and soon the car was going down the cliff into the dark endless abyss. Everything became a blur and soon I was unconscious.
When I woke up I was in a hospital. I had a serious headache, pain in my joints, my left hand was in an armsling and my bandaged right leg was propped up in a sling that was attached to the ceiling. I had never felt so miserable. Adding salt to the wound, I saw the two officers standing beside my bed. They both looked murderous and victorious.
A week later, I was discharged from the hospital. I was immediately handcuffed and taken to a nearby police station. After my hearing, I was escorted behind bars.
Three days later, at Kamiti Maximum Prison my right leg was amputated – it had gotten infected. Crime crippled me for the rest of my life. Right then, inside the dark walls of the dungeon, I came to learn the bitter truth about life. It has no shortcuts. Each and every sinful act has a dire consequence. As we say in Swahili: “Malipo ni hapa hapa duniani,” (payment is right here on earth.)
Things only got worse when I learned about Norman, my partner-in-crime. He couldn’t face jail, so he had jumped from the car while it was spinning down the cliff. He landed on a sharp stone and it speared through his abdomen spewing his bowels on the ground. He died a very painful death.
Tell us what you think: Do you agree with the Kenyan saying: “Payment is right here on earth?”