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Life shaded

Part 1 The Family

The threat of growing up so fast without a parent's love made her fear whatever was bound to happen in her life. Nyangi was the the second born daughter in a family of five. Her only elder sister Amollo always made her feel like the forgotten child in their extended family.

Life in town was not that simple. Everyday, her father would wake up in the wee hours to go to work at the construction site. He had just acquired job as a manager at the Jaboro construction site. He was very proud of his work even if it paid him so little. What mattered to him was putting food on the table for his family. His wife on the other hand was a dedicated and strict woman. She stayed at home and took care of her children . Every single day, She would wait at the gate for her husband and children whenever any of them had not arrived from work and school respectively.

Every night, before going to bed, their mother Nyar Asembo would gather the family together and say a little prayer to the heavenly father. Her prayers were that God would keep them safe in their endeavours. If the children could not fall alsleep, Nyar Asembo knew their daily sleeping pills. She could tell them the stories of their forefathers that they loved listening to. The animal tales also became part of their interests. Their father on the other hand went to bed. He was so exhausted from the day's tiresome work.

The lose

" Dad, when will you build us a beautiful mansion? Full of toys, a big flat screen tv like the Johnson's, oh a smart phone for each one of us, yes! A swimming pool, just like the one we saw on the tv . A nice garden and ofcouse go to the Indian ocean during vacations and watch the beautiful sunset?" Nyangi was so lost in thoughts that she did not realize what was happening around her. It's like her world had stopped for a while and she saw everything in reality.

" Yes my daughter. One day I am going to make all your dreams come true. You will have all that you have ever wanted. The house, the garden,the toys and everything in life. You are my only family. "

"Yes papa" replied Nyangi looking straight into her father's eyes. Her stare so sharp that it made him think that she was saying something in her heart and mind. A warning, that should he fail to fulfil her dreams, She would never forgive him.

Amollo walks past the two discussing what seems to be a lifetime dream. She calls Nyangi and tells her not to keep holding their father since he may be late for work.

Okumba their father, bids them goodbye and off he goes to work. Pushing Nyangi's head with her finger, Amollo looks at her sternly. She even cautions her for being bothersome." Why do you like bothering father with nonsense? Don't you know that he has a lot to do and think about? You are just a crazy kid! You are one more problem to him. Get moving! We are late." Amollo walks past her briskly. Nyangi looks at her tears rolling out of her eyeballs. She is about to cry when she sees her mother.

" I wonder why she hates me so much."

Part 2 The Disguise

Nyangi could not know why her elder sister hated her so much with venom. Her mother was not aware of the enmity that was developing between her two daughters. All she knew was that the two young ladies had learnt how to cope up with their differences.

" I just want you to know that I love you and I miss you. I miss the days when we were so little and played as if there was no tomorrow. I just want my elder sister back. Who would defend me whenever I was being threatened by my bullies. " Nyangi was leaning on the wall .staring at the skies ,talking to herself. She could not come to terms and understand why her best sister, her only pillar, had become a monster. If only she could turn back the hands of time, all could have been different.

"Are you two fighting again? Why do you like crying over petty issues Nyangi?"

Nyangi is shocked. She leans forward from the wall. She wipes her tears. And looks at her mum." Mother, it's Amollo. I don't know why..."

Before she could explain her ordeal to their mother, her sharp and shrill voice made her to shut up.

"Eeeish! My friend, can you stop nagging doubts about your sister and go to the shopping centre. I don't have time for your quarrels. Call your sister and tell her to be quick. You have to go together. Make sure you come back early from the shopping centre and buy me a few things.

Nyar Asembo never had any emotional attachment for Nyangi. When she was two months old, a woman walked in to Okumba's compound. It was believed that she used to be a maid in that homestead. She got married to Okumba, Nyangi's father when she was just sixteen years old. Ten years later, She divorced him running away with her two sons and leaving behind little Nyangi.

Since he needed someone to take care of little Nyangi, he later got married to Nyar Asembo, a village beauty with whom he paid a lot of bride price. Nyar Asembo also had a child from a previous marriage. It was believed that her husband sent her packing when he found out that she was cheating on him. She found refuge in the arms of Okumba.The two started living together as a couple. As little as she was, Amollo grew up knowing that Nyangi was her step sister. Thus, their rivalry began at a tender age. Whenever their father went to work, Amollo would at times hide Nyangi's toys. Nyar Asembo saw it all, but she kept quite about it.

That evening, their father came back from work carrying very many goodies. It's like lady luck smiled at him that day. For the first time in many years, he was seen carrying a big box of goods.The children Amollo and Nyangi ran to him trying to help him carry the luggage.

Part 3 Papa Goes Missing

That night, at exactly eight pm, the family sat together around their dining table to eat. They all looked happy. The sumptuous meal prepared by Nyar Asembo brought all smiles on their faces . Amollo even offered to pray for The first time. Her mother looked at her in amazement. She had never seen her mischievous daughter being humbled for the longest time of her life. After dinner, Nyangi helped by cleaning up the utensils and preparing hot coffee for their partners- their favourite drink koffi.

Nyar Asembo and Okumba sat on the couch together holding their hands. The two girls had gone to bed. They had not yet slept. They could be heard giggling and laughing loudly. It is like an angel of happiness had once again come into their home . Nyar Asembo remembered how she met Okumba fifteen years ago. It was at the village disco. She had a taste of tall,dark and handsome men. Okumba's dancing style made her notice him. He was dressed in a black jacket , a white T shirt , blue jeans and black leather boots. He also had the cowboy's hat. As he danced his movements calculated the rhythm of the music. You could see his jacket shove from left to right as he held it by the collar. Like a male king penguin trying to be noticed by its females, He danced to impress. Luckily, Nyar Asembo noticed him. She never wasted her time. She approached him and asked for a dance with him. That night, the two became the talk of the show. It was how they met and fell in love. The rest, only to be seen in their love story in their young family. Even to date, Okumba's agemates still call him Johnny walker. For his love of boots.

Okumba laughs and stops for a moment. He stares at his boots smiling. " You know dear, my love for boots have always made me look good. And handsome too."

"Mmmmh. Really? I have a nice taste you know. I chose right. I have the best and I can never trade it for anything. Not even death. " The two cuddle smiling. Okumba kisses her on the forehead and rubs her shoulder gently. Suddenly, He starts coughing slightly.

"Easy, easy with your laughter Okumba. Am sorry. "

"No. It's just a mild one. I felt it even at the work place at lunch time. Don't worry about it. It will be over soon."

He laughs again. Suddenly, the coughing begins again. This time round, it's serious. Nyar Asembo rushes to the dining table and gets a glass of water. She hands it to him and he drinks it. He feels the sigh of relief. He holds his chest as if in pain. She begins to panic as she has never encountered such while with her husband Okumba.

"Are you ok Okumba? Is anything the matter?"

He starts breathing heavily. As if gasping for his breath.

"My dear, don't .. don't be scared. It will be over soon. Just a mild pain n my left chest. I will go to the hospital tomorrow. Very early in the morning. Come and sit next to me.

Nyar Asembo is afraid. She is scared for him. She likes to see him smile all the time. Okumba looks tired. She asks to take him to bed. Still, He insists that she sits down next to him. She wishes that the nearest private hospital be opened. But it's late.

He holds her hand and talks to her gently. His breathing still inconsistent.

" Nyar Asembo, you know that I love you and the children right? And that I will do anything for you." She nodes her head.

"Please, don't talk like that. You make me feel so scared. Can we go to the hospital right now? I don't want to see you in pain." Her watery eyes can tell you that she is in pain more than her husband. A sudden silence makes her to imagine of the worse.

"There is a brown envelope in the bedroom drawers. I need it right now. But before you get it, are the children asleep?"

Nyar Asembo nodes. He holds her hand tightly. " I want my daughters to be learned. They will be great professionals. My quite and ever happy Nyangi. She wants to be a teacher. A high school teacher. I know she will. Amollo, my miscmischievous girl. All that she wants in life is to become a lawyer. My daughters have dreams. They aspire to be great people. We will school them to the highest level."

Okumba was never the quite one. When he finished his talk, He poured towards the drawers. His pain persisted. Nyar Asembo headed towards the drawers and got the envelope. She rushed back, waiting to hear from him again. On coming back, He looked unusually quite and stiff on the couch..

Calling on him, He didn't respond. .She started shaking him on the shoulder. His eyes were shut. There was sweat on his face.

That look brought an eerie feelingon her. She dropped the envelope and started shouting and wailing.

" No! You can't be gone. Noo. ." She had never cried a river in her life. Losing the love of her life was something so serious.

How was she going to come into terms with that?

Her children, what was she going to tell them? This made her cry even more.

" Mother! Mummy what is it? Are you ok?"

She turns to see her daughter Nyangi. Looking scared. She is about to tell her what has happened. Tears still roll down her chubby cheeks. She holds her daughter tightly hugging her. It is at this point that she realizes that she is on her bed."

Your father! Where is your dad? "

Relax mum. Mother! Father has gone to work. He said that he didn't want to wake you up. He prepared breakfasts for all of us and went to work. Is anything the matter?"

Holding her tightly. " A dream. It was just a dream. The worst ever."

© 2020 Millicent Okello

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