I am just a girl who loves reading and talking about books
She died while I was away. I had travelled out of the country when the call came in. My best friend Linda just fell sick and died. What is worse is that she died from typhoid. I have had typhoid before. Not once but more than three times because I went to boarding school in primary school. We used to drink un-boiled water from the river and so I got sick every time. They would then put me on 2 weeks medication and prohibit me from drinking milk while on treatment and then I would be well again. Not Linda, her first time and she died. I was angry, it just didn’t make sense. She was young, healthy and full of life, so why couldn’t she fight the illness like I had done so many times before.
Immediately I got back home, I made plans to go visit her at Langata cemetery where she rested. I didn’t carry any flowers since Linda hated them. I knew what she liked though, my favorite pink scarf. She had borrowed it so many times before but I had to say no each time since well, it was my favorite scarf after all. Now all that seemed trivial. If she came back I would have given her the scarf and anything else she had ever wanted.
Her grave was full of flowers! I guess I was the only one who knew her well enough. She would have been appalled by the sight in front of me. I looked at her gravestone “Linda Wariamu Murimi” Oh boy! Sorry Linda but now they have told the whole world that your name is Wariamu. She used to hate that name so much. She must be cringing in her grave, turning and hoping the flowers would cover that part of the stone.
I said a prayer for her. No tears just anger and pain. The loss was immense. I never even had a chance to say goodbye before they put her so deep in the ground. I never got to tell her all I wanted to tell her. I had finally decided to come clean and let her know that I was pregnant. He denied the pregnancy leaving me scared and alone but I was keeping the baby. I hadn’t told anyone yet since I was ashamed. I was scared of having let down my parents again. I was embarrassed of having conceived out of wedlock. The thought of being a mother terrified me and having to do it alone was even worse. I decided to tell Linda about it while I was on my trip. I knew she would understand. She wouldn’t have judged me. Hell Linda would even have offered to be the father to my child. That is who my best friend was and I wish I had told her all this before she died. Now she was gone and I was all alone in the world.
I told her that I loved her and would miss her. I let her know that I forgave her a long time ago for reading my diary when I was a teen and sharing my private thoughts with others. I told her that she could keep the jeans that I lent her ages ago which she failed to return. I apologized for the flowers and the gravestone with her name on it. I said goodbye.
I was walking out of the cemetery when I heard someone sobbing softly. Well I spook easily and so I thought of just running out of there. However, I turned around and that is when I saw her. A gorgeous, pregnant woman seated on a grave. She was crying softly and my heart went out for her. Could it be that she was a grieving widow, maybe a daughter who had lost parent or maybe like me, she was mourning her own Linda.
Something in me wouldn’t let my feet move forward towards the gate. I just walked back to her and sat down next to her. I didn’t know whether to put my hand around her. That would be weird for a stranger, right? So I opted to rub her back and say sorry. She leaned on me and started weeping. I rocked her like a child and once again told her how sorry I was. For the first time, with that stranger, I wept for Linda. My heart broke for my young friend lying in a wooden box covered with dirt and no longer part of the living. We stayed like that for a while and just cried until my heart felt lighter.
She then started talking. She told me of all things that she would miss, like the sun, morning and night, the food, laughter and just being with loved ones especially her husband and mum. Oh boy! I just met a suicidal person. I tried to interrupt her but she kept talking. She was so sad and spoke so softly that I strained to hear her. She asked me about my family. I simply told her that we weren’t talking. I had let them down by dropping out of medical school to follow my dream of being a writer. Now I was struggling to get published and to add to their shame I was having a child out of wedlock. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and then, she called me stupid! Unbelievable! Even a suicidal stranger thought I was stupid. She quickly explained that I was stupid for alienating my family for such reasons. She told that I need to make peace with them and fix things. She mentioned that if she had a chance, that is exactly what she would have done!
She asked me about my writing career. I told her that I had never been published and was struggling to find a job because the media industry was saturated. She asked about where I had sent my work to and I mentioned that magazine that had rejected my article some four years ago. She called me lazy! Wow! This woman was starting to annoy me. She told me that I wouldn’t have forever to follow my dreams. She didn’t think I was working hard enough. She then told me that she had always wanted to be a chef and open her own restaurant. However, she postponed that dream for so long and now it was too late.
She asked me about my pregnancy and I told her about Alex. He was young and ambitious and I fell in love with him since he was a dreamer like me. He broke my heart though when he denied our un-born. She asked me why that had happened I explained that Alex like me had no job and no prospects and so he wanted me to get rid of the baby since we didn’t have a way of raising it. We had no money and couldn’t even feed ourselves at times. She encouraged me to keep the baby and not lose faith. Babies are gifts from God, she said. She told me that Alex and I would do alright even if it will be a struggle at first.
We talked about Linda and she told me that she hopes Linda had lived the kind of life that she wanted. I told her that she did. Linda had been a go-getter, the kind of girl who went after what she wanted. She was a happy girl who never took any day for granted. That was Linda. The stranger told me that I should be like Linda and I just smiled at her.
She told me that she was eight months pregnant and had been trying to have a baby for the past 12 years! That was shocking because she didn’t even look that old. She spoke of her struggles with infertility and the strain it had on her marriage. When she spoke of when she became pregnant, her face lit up and I could tell that she was very happy. I wondered why she wanted to commit suicide with a baby on her way.
I asked her why she wanted to end her life and she gave me a weird reply about it not being her choice. She spoke of all things we take for granted in life, family, friends, health, the beautiful sights and sounds all around us. I looked at her and could feel just how much she wanted to be alive. I know she had so much to do still and she even had a life to bring to earth. I made up my mind to support this stranger and just ensure that she doesn’t take her own life. She told me that her name was Myra Atieno Omondi and I knew that I had made a new friend. That chance meeting would change the rest of our lives.
I told her to get up on her feet since I was going to buy her coffee. She looked and me and gave me a sad smile whispering, “coffee”. It sounded like she had never had coffee before. Strange woman this Myra was!
I walked in front of her and just then I thought of asking her who she was visiting. We had not even talked about that. I hadn’t even looked at the gravestone that we had sat on. I never got my answer. I looked back and Myra wasn’t with me. Sneaky woman! I headed back to where we had sat thinking that she was still there weeping. She wasn’t. I looked everywhere but I couldn’t find her. That was weird!
I went back to the gravestone and then for the first time, I saw the engravement, “Myra Atieno Omondi, Loving wife and daughter!”
Suddenly, It all made sense! Of course I took off running, scared out of my mind. However, the woman with no tomorrow definitely changed the rest of my life. I have thought of her every single day since. It took a dead woman to make me start living again!