Letter to Heaven by Peter Ngila

Dear woman,
I am too dirty in body, heart and soul – too unqualified and out of place to pass greetings to you. Let truth be told! In fact, as I write these simple words to you, I am on a long, black jacket which is long-sleeved. Its left sleeve is fixed almost tightly in my mouth. It is as though the two are in marital companionship.
For none can leave the company of the other. In short terms, they are trying to abide to the Holy Scripture which forbids their separation. My face does not boast of the colour which many years ago had subjected you to envy from our neighbours. I can catch the breath of my lungs relaxing and contracting regularly with secret joy. Yes, a joy which is traveling throughout my entire body.
Nobody can be able to see or be aware of its presence. But only the eye which watches over me can have the capability of catching the sight of my face which is wrinkled like that of your aging father-my grandfather-after having several sniffs of his snuff.
Woman of above the skies, if you see me; even though they say that water is only a child when compared to blood, you would not do as the Christian you had been. Yes, the aggressive woman you had been when provoked; the one I had severally bit in the breasts for trying to deprive me of my first food after birth.
You would obviously plead with your Master to send the Evil One to me with his spirit of torture, but not to make a kill. Woman; the one whose bones have already surrendered to decay, do not be angry with me. For Africa as a continent is changing every day. The messenger angels who severally tours the earth must have confirmed this fact to you. Our Africa, mother is undergoing revolution; a great one. This is the condition to which the tide of the African sea has turned me to.
Africa has really transformed me. My clothes are dazzling with great whiteness. The sea has drowned me and turned me into something else. However, woman, sometimes I do have in possession that concern and kindness, like yours when you had been rewarding my exemplary performance in class with some mangoes. Let me tell you, oh woman—–.
Oh! Get my apologies. I am trying to climb the mountain from the top; let me make a rush to the stepping stones at its bottom part. I still care very much about your spirit. That is why I cannot live being aware of offending you. I do not want your soul to break and therefore, slip from the safe hands of that heavenly father you had taught me to be mentioning and requesting for favours in my communication with him. I really don’t want you to slip to purgatory and therefore, sustain some fire injuries.
Here in the Africa of suffering, all boys call me a stone. My heart has in fact been turned into a real stone. No longer am I that meek boy you had known. However, as I hold this stub of a pencil to write these words to you, I can feel an enclosed stream of tears in my eyes struggling; being about to gain freedom.
Here on top of this black soil, your son is undergoing a lot of trouble. The leisure of the land above is far nicer to the soul than here. My eyes are now heaven bound. The sight of those birds high above the sky cannot be registered in my eyes. What I see is only you, seated at the feet of your senior father with your right leg crossed on top of the other and your hands folded across your bosom.

One, two, three, four…; a collection of years has drifted along since the beginning of the new millennium; when you left me in this world of solitude. You went to the next one, where the intimidating brothers and sisters of hunger, strife, and sniffing of tobacco is a baseless piece of history.
By then, I had only been a mere class two pupil at the village school. No longer am I that kid who had been conceptualized in the bedding of your womb. I am in that stage whose members have strong muscles such that they walk about punching and kicking the innocent air. Woman, I call that mere evolution. The man you had been working with at the village teaching school now fathers me. He tells me that he is my earthly father. But I would rather call him a brute!
A fortnight after the soil with which your body was composed of reverted to its former scattered state, he brought home a new woman. She was to fit in your shoes. But her heart contained in it envy and wrath) – the messengers of evil. Although at first she appeared to be serene and loving.
She would deliberately administer to me several strokes of the cane, as though I were a prisoner. Under her custody, my stomach barely got the chance to be fed. Therefore, I developed into a thin boy; as thin as that needle of yours you had used for knitting cloth straps to cover our sofa sets. And I grew up as an overworked lad. My school performance dwindled considerably to the concern of my teachers. No longer was I that bright pupil you had known.
Father and his lover did not care a hoot about me. I used to go to school attired in tatters. Yes, clothes which we had got used to referring to as ‘fleshy torches’. This made me a very depressed pupil. Years marched forward. And my contribution as a member of the school choir attracted and penetrated into the hearts of the clergy.
A new door was now laying ajar for me. The church voluntarily offered a fraction of its offerings as a contribution for financing my education. I enrolled in a good high school. When a stick is not bent while it is green, it is difficult to manipulate when it dries. My moral conduct was rotten. It was as common as the scripture to hear of my name in every sort of mischief.
The principal severally summoned me to his office. With his face formed into wrinkles, he could issue me with a string of stern warnings: “Leave the path of spoilt children if you have the desire of taking your KCSE examinations”. However, it was as though I had swallowed some sour herbs of deafness.
The advice entered into the first year and departed through the other one, and swam through the air probably to find shelter and accommodation in willing ears somewhere else. I followed the law of magnetism efficiently. Like charges repelled and unlike charges attracted. Many school children were subjected into carrying into their tummies other children. Before the Board of Directors got a wind of the happenings, several dormitories lay in ashes.

Now, here I am in the city. I had sneaked out of school. Not really sneaking but awarding myself an expulsion after school became unbearable to me. Nobody knows where I am, except people like you who reside in heaven. Several months run after each other. I have nowhere to lay my head.
Who can accommodate an outcast in his house? However, God’s salt is not usually rained on. Every day I squeeze in between people’s vacant stalls to find some rest. Worse still, I have nothing to bribe my rumbling stomach into silence. When decent people who were created for prosperity take meals at places like the Java restaurant, I have to settle in the gutter. In there, there is a mixture of very juicy meals; ranging from ugali, all sorts of vegetables, drinks to roasted and partially chewed chunks of meat.
Mostly do I wonder why people tightly hold their noses when they come across such “joints”. They don’t know that our meals are well-balanced. That’s why all diseases fear me like a ghost. To survive in African streets you have to be opportunistic. Yes, to be quick to filter the positive things of life from the negative ones. So now you will not ask me why my right hand is always in compliance; in close union with my mouth.
It’s this high opportunism which attracts property dispensers to us. This is like the holy delegation of heaven making a purposeful approach on Satan’s suffering followers. Yes, in the bid of maximizing holiness at the expense of the other.
Anyway, the people and everybody else is preparing for the impending general elections. A group of several development-minded people call us for a meeting. They are all dressed in black shining suits, with a tie which holds their expensive shirts in position at the helm of their necks. Their feet are clothed in long black shoes which are curved at the tips, facing sky bound.
“All sons of Africa must be presented with promising chances to develop their lives; instead of aimlessly roaming the streets and towns”, one of them says, a loudspeaker sending the voice in an irregular form to places afar.
Let me tell you, Mama. These people are like twin brothers to that former husband of yours. Their words are smeared with honey. That is what he had put into use to win the heart of his mistress.
Where was I? Yes…… At last, alongside other youths we decide to lick the honey. Nothing will occur to us. After all, we would one day march to Gikomba market and purchase some cheap outfits. This would be when the then already-earned salaries from the promised government pioneered Kazi kwa vijana – job opportunities for the youth- initiative would materialize. Thus our insane minds would be repaired; dehumanized from wild insanity to considerable humanity.
However, the child who is delivered after the conception of the idea is crippled. Like the commander of one army, I lead the doomed union of African orphans; as we call ourselves. Beating up, maiming, shedding blood, even killing; that’s what we do to our fellow country people.
African blood flows, sinks into the heart of the soil. Links us to the likes of Tom Mboya and other heroes who had wrestled independence from British grip. Now tell me; these complacent people who are sweetening our hearts to displease the heavenly Father – will they concede to carry our crosses when man would be judged according to his deeds?
All this time, I have been sitting on a lane. Shouts of “choma, piga, mek sure hajabaki na pumzi any” (burn, beat, ensure he remains not with any breath) flows into my ears. It’s so dis-heartening to watch Africans de – Africanize their humanity. Now they are surrounding a church building – which they; or rather we, have already put ablaze. Is that not a curse from the One who had commanded the structuring of this holy building?

Woman, my letter is nearing an end. So beautifully done but there is something to worry about. I do not figure out the best way in which to send it you. Actually, which postal office has the address of heaven? At last. At last! I scratch my dirty – haired head. And an idea strikes my mind.
There is this ‘his honourable’ we are going to stone the breath out of him before the death of today. He has been threatening to politically kill another politician friend of ours. I would slip the letter into the pockets of his soul and demand that he delivers it to the right receiver.
But his soul is already infected with the disease of the dirty game. Therefore, it would not make it to heaven; But to hell where the Evil One – the one who gladdens in wickedness like a fly; would rejoice in having defeated the heavens for a moment.
What do I do now that things have turned against me? I cast my gaze heavenwards with the flat of my palm shielding my eyes from heat. Not heat from the sun. It is coming from clouds of smoke which are ensuing from the burning church. Mum, it is as though African mother had already died and left the childish continent at the mercy of her atrocious wicked husband.
I would have wished to write to you a whole book; as large in size as the Holy Bible. Yes, so that you may also know how to handle controversial moments in heaven; to know what to do when you pick quarrels with your fellow saints up there. But they are coming to ask me for another rat to strangle with bare hands. Nonetheless, whatever comes is welcomed; the letter must reach you.
Hastily I wrap my legs around a fairly burning building and climbs up. I extract the string which is belting my pair of white shorts. Then I tie the fairly long thread to the tip of the unparcelled – kite like piece of paper containing the letter. And like long time ago as a child, I hopefully toss it exactly in the middle part of smoke plumes probably bound to heaven.
I stand transfixed in this spot as it sails up and up. Things are at least now working according to my wish. Satan will always fight for supremacy, however. He sends a roaring gale of wind across the sky. The clouds of smoke are washed away and they begin falling down in scattered structures. Mama, send the chariot of fire so that I can rise and pick up the letter before it lands on the wrong hands of the earth!
Almost at the same time of my petition, a white-feather coloured dove appears along the sky. And she fastens her beak onto the thread. Alleluia! Alleluia; praised be the heavens! Praised be your God; the creater of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! The dove is a gentle and obedient messenger of God. She would undoubtedly deliver it. Did she not bring back the information of the ending of the floods to Noah and other creatures inside the huge ark?
Your soul has an inner heart which has feelings; not stones. After getting the letter, I am sure you will shed tears. Dropping tears onto the letter would perhaps re-unite mother and son for a moment. But mama, I remonstrate with you not to do so. You would desecrate the heavenly surface which gleams with holiness and contravene divine rules.
And another thing; do not dare to pass my regards to any member of the holy trinity. I will be left on this world. Yes, perhaps undergoing more transformation. But I sense changing for the last time. Soon or later I would see you. We shall hug for long agonizing minutes, just the way you will do with the letter!

Yours dearly,
An African of the streets,
Leader of the doomed union of African orphans

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