BESPOKE BIGOTRY

An urban area with the characteristic of a rural center wasn't the only thing that made this neighborhood special. Mokua's clan drama, holidays and symbolic solidarity that screamed, “We are family” made it twice as special. “When will you move out?” they asked. “Err not now, not ever,” I always responded. How can people as educated as them be this foul-mouthed and short tempered? It always started with hurling of insults before quickly escalating to physical fights. Mokua's clan made it difficult to imagine peace, love and harmony in a large family; every day there was factional fighting in their compound. Somehow, it always ended on the adjacent road. Neighbors knew better not to get involved in any of their actions; they are family after all. I was channeling my inner lazy self on this day, the 10 o'clock heat is what woke me up. Never knew being in a class full of noise makers could one day pay off. I easily over-slept amidst all that noise outside. A holiday it was for children were playing along the estate streets and music blaring from each household. Music genres were like a plate of Bombay mix, made of beats ranging from slow to fast pace ones. Some of my friends stated, “It's a coping mechanism for the withdrawal symptoms from club music”, while the rest continuously made fun of the amplifier competition and questioned, “When will a winner be declared?” My brother Ohm wasn't home when I went to bed last night. Hoping he made it back from his nighttime escapade, I loudly called out his name. This name calling ritual was initiated by him. As annoying and irritating as it seemed, he justified his actions saying, “I am on energy saving mode each morning, be it my strength or call credit. Therefore, that's how I call the family register.” “Ohm, are you there?” No response indicated either he came back and already left, has too much hangover and is still in bed or never came back at all. I left bed and walked towards his room to confirm which is correct. His opened door indicated the latter was more of it. He neither had called nor texted. Not his usual trait but there is a first time to everything, so no need to panic. I repeatedly told this to myself as time passed by, but even I didn't believe me. “What moonshine could he have taken this time around? Not even a message to indicate his whereabouts? If I complete all my chores having not heard from him, I will call,” I said with a sigh. The urge for a daily dose of Mokua's clan drama was for once overtaken by something else. I was desperately waiting for a reply from Ohm. I had called, texted but all remained unanswered. His last seen on WhatsApp was yesterday at 11pm. His friends were all saying they parted ways at 3am, almost fifteen hours later, where could he be? After a while there was commotion outside. Weirdly, it was in motion and towards my home. In my head, The Mokua's had outdone themselves this time around. Clearly the mountain of drama had brought itself to Muhammed. I lowered the volume of my music system, to listen to everything while in the house. A lesson learnt way earlier in life not to be anywhere where the drama can spill over and get to me was; a friend died from a stray bullet in a distance she thought was the safest. Like tornadoes, the more the number of walls between you and the incident the better. As if every neighbor was in tune with each other's thoughts, the music suddenly stopped. “Beat him!!!” “What kind of behavior is that???” “The audacity of this people baffles everyone” “What has he done? Is he even from this place?” Screams of pain could be heard from the person being pelted with stones, whipped, hurled with insults and bombarded with questions. “I didn't do it. I am innocent!” he repeatedly said. Immediately, it didn't sound like the noise always heard from the Mokua's. The previous time it took this characteristic, it ended up being a thief. He was stoned to death and burnt to ashes. Not even a week has passed, could this be another one? Don't they learn? What degree of thuggery has the country's economy turned its people to? The screams grew faint, until they could no longer be heard. From my sash window, I couldn't see who had been mobbed. I left the house to have a closer look before the tyre doused with gasoline and a matchbox arrived. An idea I will live to regret. That scene was gory, but the amulet around his neck looked very familiar. “Ohm”, I faintly called out. He just didn't respond as I knelt, vigorously shook and tightly held his lifeless body. “God let this not be him; this can't be him, not today.” In shock everyone turned to look at me. “This boll weevil to our societal values is your relative?” someone asked. Immediately I knew he had been lynch mobbed for being gay. I feared this would happen one day, and it did. What hurt the most, the rabble rousers weren't strangers but neighbors and his friends. Stolidly I told myself, “I'm done with them all.”

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