She died for two months, woke up with a missing arm

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One day on December 2014, Darcy lost her left hand at their residence in Kileleshwa.  She was just 21, on the eve of Christmas when she and her friends decided that a party had to go down to welcome Jesus to the world. Before, holding parties was a norm, but this one was what she calls ‘mpango major’, meaning it was the biggest she would ever host. Little did she know that it would change her life.

Her parents, The Muthungus, were out of the country on a business trip which ate into their Christmas- something Darcy says was not according to plan.

‘They were supposed to be home two days before Christmas so that we could celebrate together,” She continues, ”But they called in saying their flight would delay till a day after Boxing Day because many of the pilots had gone for the festivities .”

She suggested to her brother, Mike, that they hold a bash. Mike, who always listened to Darcy because he was her junior by three years, agreed. Both of them were used to this kind of life. Their parents being busy somehow left them a path to choose and walk, something that Darcy says ruined their childhoods. “My parents would go for weeks and weeks. Suddenly we would realize we had ourselves to guide our paths. They left us at the mercy of our schools which at best injected peer pressure into us who had no one to direct us.”

It happened that from the age of 19 Darcy would sneak into her parent’s mini-bar and steal shots of alcohol. She had been introduced to alcohol by fellow students in college. She started college, the prestigious Daystar at 19, undertaking mass communication because it is what she looked up to- to be a TV presenter. She had the right face for it, the one that you look at and you don’t want to let your eyes wander off it. That whole picture right now is gone. No amount of effort can revert it.

They made a few calls to their cronies and event organizers. Everyone they called was down, especially her friends who seemed to have constant and consistent appetite for partying. Everything was set up outside. The backyard was big enough to host about 100 guests. Inside, drinks and other stuff were to be served. Booze was delivered, bhang peddlers also made their kill, shisha was in plenty, and music rent the air-with a young guy she calls OJ manning the decks.

Three things dominated the party- getting drunk, dancing and having sex. The place turned into a brothel that night.

Darcy says she got so drunk that actually she could see nothing. She smoked weed for two hours. She then sat around a small circle where people were smoking shisha. “We were in another world. My friends, and friends’ friends were just laughing at nothing, others kissing and many other stupid things.”

Darcy’s best friend, Lin, was a lesbian. Somehow, she had known how to manipulate Darcy into this game of pleasure. “I am straight, but every time I got drunk I suddenly became a lesbian,” she admits. “Lin would make sure I got drunk every time. She liked me and she wanted me to become a lesbian. In my right thinking mind that would be impossible. In my second mind, the booze and the weed would make everything possible.”

Moreen opens her eyes wide in agapeshit. She doesn’t believe what she’s hearing. “I held so many sex toys in my hands. I kissed her lips and her entire body severally when I was drunk.” At this point she stops, I can see her face change. There are tears almost tearing through her eyes. Suddenly there is anger in her voice, “That bitch used me. She always made do things I hate. She turned me into a drug addict just to pleasure herself.”

“What happened to her? Have you ever seen her since then?” I ask to divert her from the painful memories.

“Never! After my incident, I just hoped she died. How do you use a person like that and continue living?”

“Do you ever ask God that question?” I just can’t hold myself. I don’t know what to expect.

“Every time I see people who messed me up living well and doing just fine I get mad. Yeah, at that point I ask God why.” She shrugs after that, probably because she hasn’t thought much about it.

“Don’t you think you might have also made other people’s lives miserable at one point?” No one knows where my question is going, not even me. She thinks pensively. She doesn’t talk for a while. So we walk in silence from their home.

It is her birthday, and she doesn’t know what to do at 25. Moreen, my girlfriend who adamantly tagged along, suggested we stroll to town and treat her to appreciate her time and story. No one is in a hurry so we walk. My phone is in Darcy’s pocket and there is a single earphone clipped to her blouse which acts as an audio-collecting device.

Her left hand, from the elbow downwards, is artificial and there is nothing much she can do with it. Her long-sleeved sweater covers the better part of it. It will take a keen person to realize it is an artificial arm. Each time I look at it my heart skips a beat- it reminds me of the kind of misery you have to put up with once you lose one of your body parts. Life is not the same anymore. Everything acquires a new shape, the same environment treats you like you’re an intruder, you have to fit in, people around you start seeing you as physically handicapped, others pity you, which is the worst thing, and others stigmatize you. It is heartbreaking.

You can no longer do your chores properly, suddenly you need a hand to zip your dress, you start wearing clothes that hide your ‘disability’, people start seeing you as weak and offer to help even with things you can easily do, people start talking behind your back, others get irritated because they have to do everything while you’re seated- you become a burden. Without loving parents and relatives and friends, you become abandoned, you start living like a beggar who rakes a living by imploring people for help. Life lacks meaning. Sucks, right?

She comes out of her long pause. “Actually I have wronged many people. I have destroyed many too. But no one ever taught me what forgiveness means. I heaped up anger all my life-that it is the only thing that occupied me whenever things went wrong.

“That day my life changed. But I am lucky,” she recalls.

Moreen is interested. I can see her face light up although underneath I can see exhaustion. She is feeling tired and she is wondering when we can have a seat. I ignore her as there is a big fish to catch. She holds onto my right arm for support as we walk.

”After drinking and smoking, Lin dragged me to my room and had sex with me for hours. At least that is what people who witnessed said. I was so wasted man. I only felt the world move round and round while she pleasured herself with me. Honestly I wanted to remain still. The moving around bed made me sick. I only wanted to stay still, she wouldn’t let me. I threw up thrice. Nothing could stop her.

“My brother had also gotten drunk and passed out on a couch downstairs. They were doing all kind of nasty things to him. Teasing him, undressing him, throwing cold water on him, making him smoke (he wasn’t a smoker). The party was getting rogue.”

“Your neighbours didn’t complain?” I ask her.

“We only had one close neighbour. An old woman who when she slept, she died. She only resurrected in the morning when all the shit had happened. She was as good as dead. She died a year later by the way.”

“What killed her?” I ask suspiciously as if to die something must kill you, like you just can’t die because it is your destined day of death.

“Old age probably. I mean the woman was older than Methuselah. I often wondered why she lived for that long. She was a poor thing, miserable. She had no teeth. She could only see what was a metre away, past that she saw nothing.” She narrates this without a trace of remorse on her face.

“Did you attend her burial?” I ask.

Moreen pulls my arm and says, “Justine….” Like it’s an odd question to ask.

“I was to, but I was still in hospital. I was in a coma for two months. I was almost written off like that old woman.”

“How did you end up there?” Unable to hide her thirst for the story, Moreen asks.  Darcy looks at me to seek consent because the interview is mine and not Moreen’s. I nod for her to go on.

“In college, there was this guy who was really fighting to date me. I had said no to him so many times that it reached a point all the NOs had emptied. There was no need to fight him anymore, but there was nothing serious between us. He was looking for me during the party when she found Lin doing all the nasty stuff to me. He was angered, fuck!”

Horror spreads across my face and Moreen’s at the mention of this word. “He was a bit drunk, but good enough to make a rational judgment- which was to beat the hell out of Lin. She dragged her from my room. Lin clang to me tightly. He landed blow after blow. Both of us were naked.

“Many hours had passed and my mind was coming around though not good enough to do anything productive. Alex pulled Lin and me out of the room. Lin was a bit strong and she almost overpowered Alex.  She let me go to fight Alex back. As they were fighting, I was crawling, half walking with half dead brain. I had no idea where I was going. And then I slipped and fell off the stairs. My left hand fell on chipped wood at the end of the first turn of the staircase cutting through it.” At this point her mind leaves the us. She is there physically but her mind is on a bus somewhere else. She is almost hit by a bus. I pull her back to the pavement.

At GPO I get my boots cleaned and polished. We all take a break.  As I get the service, I ask Darcy to continue. She doesn’t mind.

“I only wake up two months later with half a hand, in Nairobi Hospital. My memory is almost flat and I can’t make anything out of my surrounding.”

“Wait! Wait! Wait!” I stop her. “You mean you lost your memory?”

“Yeah, temporarily. I had to spend another two months with a specialist to get my head around. I must say she was a good one because my memory came back.”

“What was your first reaction when you popped back into life?” It is a question that excites me. You know some situations can only be imaginable.

“I thought I was wearing someone else’s hand. I tried to shake it. I really wanted to rid it off my body. I couldn’t come into terms that it belonged to me. It looked so awful when I compared it to the other one. Fuck!” She cusses again.

“Do you always want to get rid of it even nowadays?”

“It has been many years now. There is nothing much that I can do about it. When I can’t do what I used to do with both arms intact I usually sit down and weep. I look at my hand and pity myself, asking God why me. Why I had to lose my arm.” She says this while fighting tears.

Mike only came around in the morning when the alcohol in him had drowned. The house was a mess.  Furniture was broken, there was smell of piss everywhere, dirt littered everywhere and blood sprinkled the better part of the house. Everything was a mess. Some of the party animals were drunk silly and were still sleeping. He kicked them up and asked them to leave.

He went to Darcy’s room but it was empty. He searched and tossed everything but he could not find her. He called her phone, it was right in the house. Late that afternoon, he received a phone call from Alex that Darcy was admitted at Nairobi Hospital. He called the cleaning services, took a shower to clear his mind and left for Nairobi Hospital.

He could only see her through the glass at the door. He peeped through only to see that one of her arms had been amputated. The doctor told him she was in a coma. He needed to contact his parents. Upon hearing the depressing news, the parents were devastated. They gambled and took the next available flight the following day.

“What do you think of every time you look at your arm?” I ask once we get off the seats. Moreen offsets the bill and we leave.

“It reminds me of my foolishness. It stings me that I could be that foolish to waste my life away in a world of vanity-full of booze, sex and weed. If I had been smarter, my arm would be okay today and my life would be as I had envisioned.”

“What could you have done right if you had the chance to do it all over again?” That just pops out of nowhere.

“I would maintain a clear conscience of myself. I would trust more in God and avoid bad company. You see when kids are given all the money, and they don’t work for it, the only thing they think of is to spend it.  Most of them spend it on drugs and other things that can rob you your life. I think I would have taken my original path.”

We’re in the middle of town. There is bustling of activity and the chances of our recording to be poor are high. So I pause the recorder. We talk of general things. Moreen leads us to Pizza inn where she places an order for two pizzas, large ones, four pieces of chicken at chicken inn and ice cream. After thirty minutes we get served. We go upstairs.

The room is almost full. We manage to get a spot near the window at the far right corner. I only enjoy the pizza and ice cream while they munch away the pizza and chicken.  And later ice cream. Next to us, three girls sit on one table taking numerous photos of their meals from all angles. “Kila nyani na raha yake, I tell myself.

“So what are you celebrating at 25?” I don’t look at her when I ask her this.

“Life,” She bolts. “Two people lost much more that night. They died in a road accident after they drove home while drunk and rammed into a post and then ditch. They hit 7 posts before they finally died.”

“Six chances and they ignored them? They really wanted to die,” I comment.

“Yeah. Those were plenty of chances. The gods had decided that they had to die.” She tears into her chicken. Her left artificial arm stays on the table, glaring at me lifelessly. Again I try not to look at it because it instills a lot of fear in me.

“Yet your gods had to form a commission of inquiry and two months of discussion to see if you would live. Seems you had many in your favour, don’t you think?” It is not supposed to be a question. She answers anyway.

“But I died for two months.  That was dead enough.” We all laugh heartily.

“How did you find it? By the way were you in hell or heaven?” I ask jokingly.

“I don’t think anyone would come back from heaven to this miserable place. I doubt you would. You don’t look like a guy who would come back.”  This time the laughter is even louder. I like how she converses when the memories of her incompleteness leave her mind. She becomes human and for once you start to see that supreme human need of trying to connect with others.

“I swear I won’t.”

“Not even for your girlfriend here?”

“Hell no! I’ll tell God, screw her!” We laugh lightly. Moreen jabs me on my shoulder.

“How did your parents feel after the whole incident?”

“They were utterly horrified. They never thought I would drink or smoke or do anything crazy. I was their ‘good’ girl. After the incident I changed. They’re caring and loving. They’re closer now and they love us.”

“Will you ever forgive Lin?”

“At some point yes. When you realize that something has already happened and nothing can reverse the situation, there is nothing much holding onto that anger can do. It only paralyzes you. I am working to offload it slowly. After all this is my life, the quicker I accept the better.”

“What lessons have learnt so far since the incident?”

“To be reckless and naïve and foolish is to be wicked to yourself. To live your life is better than to yearn for what you don’t know much about. I have learnt to take care of my shit.”

“Any plans of getting married?” I ask like she was past ‘that age.’

“If someone comes along and thinks my amputated arm is cute and he can handle me, I am willing to take that risk. At the moment, nothing yet. I’d love to be married and have kids of my own and teach them what life has taught me after the incident.”

We wrap up our lunch. We sit for a moment as we soak our straws in the ice cream and let the cool cream  gently massage our tongues and throats. We live in that moment for a while. The ice is so cold that you can’t find the energy to talk to your neighbour.  The only energy is to open your mouth to let in a bit warmer air to get in and level the temperature.

For the first time, I look closely at her face. She is so gorgeous that even with the thought of a missing arm you, as a man, might want to forget everything and buy her as a trophy that you can look at every morning because it will lighten up your morning. Her fair skin stretches long before it meets here delicate hair which suggests a mixed breed. Her face is long and the chin is pointed so well that you want to run your fingers around it like you would the fur of a cat. She is flawless. But her eyes bear pain and desire to live larger than she does now. They’re withdrawn, as if they are not part of her, wanting to run away into a complete body that doesn’t worry every time she has to add another piece to complete her arm.

She catches me stealing a very deep, studying look. I just keep staring at her. Our eyes connect, we achieve a moment of mental telepathy, with silence surrounding us and trying to read what the other is thinking. I think Moreen notices because she slaps me slightly and says we should go.

We hit the streets and disappear into Nairobi Sports House where Moreen wants to buy some sneakers.  I take the phone away and thank Darcy profusely. Now we can talk about anything.

The smell of freedom!

Mzangila Snr

(The supreme hunter in captivity)

Where shall we go, we who wander in this wasteland in search of better selves?

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