Fiction: A New Life in Kigali

Kyeto spent his Friday evening hunched onto a wooden chair ceaselessly staring and typing figures into his computer. It fitted his life well. Kyeto did not drink or smoke. He wore kindness on his long agile face and the hours spend clicking away at that computer left him with bad eyes, a lazy stoop, and an evening of finger flexing.

Kyeto spent his Friday evening hunched onto a wooden chair ceaselessly staring and typing figures into his computer. It fitted his life well. Kyeto did not drink or smoke. He wore kindness on his long agile face and the hours spend clicking away at that computer left him with bad eyes, a lazy stoop, and an evening of finger flexing.

Kyeto had come to Rwanda only four months ago after Omondi, a school friend, now an accountant, had called him to  offer an end to his long sojourn from the streets of Nairobi. It had taken him six years since he graduated from the University of Nairobi to get a job.

He did not understand how of all his class, only he, the most obedient, most focused student, had failed to find something to do for a living. It had ached him. For the first time in his adult life, he had cried, not once, but many times, under the sheets, in the middle of the night.

His uncle and guardian, Wamalwa and his wife did not say a thing about a job to him for all those six years and that added to his pain. He had tried a lot of things, hawking fake golden watches, preaching on the streets, selling generic Chinese paracetamols, but somehow everything usually fell apart after a few months.

He was mugged, beaten and left for the dead, or simply failed to break even. When Angela, his school time sweetheart finally got impatient with him, with a tear rolling down her cheek and decided to marry his local member of parliament under duress from her parents, he collected his stock of Chinese paracetamols and made a thick syrup with milk and drunk it.

For four months Mr. Umuneza had treated him with respect because he was grateful that he had come to grips with his company’s accounts. He advised him not to stay late in office and gave him the office keys on weekends. Kyeto always agreed to not staying late but never came around to doing it.

At about ten pm, he would go through the same routine of counting money and placing it in the safe. He would then arrange everything, switch of his computer and check all the doors in the office before leaving.

Along Avenue De La Paix, his long slim figure would saunter on the pavements, accompanied by his own shadows, stopping to obey the red lights when no one else was using the roads, like a priest saying mass on a Monday morning in front of the altar, alone. He strode around the dust bins and admired the clean Kigali streets, the quietness of the late evening.

Kigali was the complete opposite of Nairobi to him. The noise, the thugs, the polythene strewn all over the place and the selfish manners.

This particular Friday, Kyeto was unusually happy. The image of Angela, calm and composed at the Nyabugogo bus park three days before stuck in his mind.

He could tell that she was not exactly as happy as she should have been. Perhaps it was the journey. Kyeto reached the UTC roundabout and in front of him, pictures of a mobile phone blinked on an electronic bill board, promising him better life, a happy family in English and French and Kinyarwanda.

All three happy lives in three different languages. He stood and smiled at himself. He did not need a better life. Here he was standing amidst an ocean on neatly kept flowers and Christmas lights, alone, looking forward to meeting Angela. His life was already better.

Kyeto recalled the day he himself arrived at Nyabugogo with a thread bare suit case containing all his belongings.

Omondi and his wife Uwase, a well endowed Munyarwanda woman had received him with an open heart into their home of two girl children. Uwase seemed to understand his silence more but his husband could not.

“I don’t know what happened to him.” He confided to his wife that night. “He used to be so full of life.”

It was easy for Uwase to understand that blank stare, on anyone’s face. She too for a long time used to have it. Omondi was puzzled by his friend Kyeto but was happy that his wife knew her way around him.

Two days after he had come, Uwase had taken the children along with Uncle Kyeto to Bambino, for a Saturday picnic, just two adults with complicated pasts and two innocent happy children.

She let the children play and without saying a word from their pasts except for the innocent charter about Rwanda and Kenya, Kyeto felt comfortable. When they came back from the picnic, Omondi began to see his old friend again.  

He thought Uwase had told him about her family and how some people hacked her parents and brothers to death in front of her eyes, when she was only three.

He was sure that she had not told him about how she was raped and how she lived the better part of her life wondering whether that monster of man had given her HIV.

Like him, he knew that the strength that Uwase transmitted whenever she spoke about her life story was enough to change most human beings’ attitude. He knew that Kyeto was now ready for a new life in Rwanda. (To be continued)

kelviod@yahoo.com

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