By Habiba Wakio
Rama stopped by the market to get some groceries. The prices had fluctuated; therefore he could only afford a few items. He had promised his ten-year-old son and twelve-year-old daughter presents, but he was no longer able to keep that promise. After losing his well-paying job, he had searched tirelessly for another, but to no avail. Since he did not want his wife to know about his loss, he decided to hustle like any hardworking man to shoulder his responsibilities. He had only stayed at home for a week, saying that he was on leave. His mind was always thinking of where to get another job, but it was not an easy task. So far, he had not received any invitation to interviews from the applications he had sent.
The schools his children attended were a headache since they were expensive private schools. He needed to transfer them without his wife realizing the main reason behind it. It was also necessary for his family to move to a more affordable house.
“Thank you,” the grocer said when he paid for his items.
He smiled back at the cheerful lady and left for the bus stop. Having returned the company’s car, he was back to using public transport. He jostled through the crowd, careful not to get knocked over by porters. As he crossed the road, a message popped up. He stared at the screen, not noticing the approaching car until it honked at him. He jumped back, just in time. Then he slid his phone into his pocket and took in deep breaths before crossing over to the other side of the road. Sitting on the passenger seat at the back of the matatu, Rama felt suffocated and irritated. The sound of the music playing was deafening. He badly missed the air conditioner in his former car and the slow, soft music he often played.
When he got home, he was welcomed by the silent building. He changed into a short vest and left for the back of the building. Minutes later, he was in the water, gulping for air. He felt strong arms grabbing him. Help had finally come! He had not anticipated that he would be happy to be saved. On reaching the seashore, Okoa pressed Rama’s stomach until he coughed out some water. It was a good thing he had arrived in time to save his friend. Today was Rama’s birthday and as per their tradition, they met at the exact spot to pop champagne and eat roasted chicken.
“What were you thinking?” Okoa demanded. “Why did you get into the water when you don’t know how to swim?”
Rama began sobbing.
“It’s okay, bro,” said Okoa, squeezing his friend’s hand. “Let it all out. I’m here for you.”
Rama squeezed his eyes shut to fight back tears. Finally, someone was willing to listen to him. That was a good therapy. He had not realized how much he needed a listening ear. He might not get all the help he needed, but this was a good start.