It’s a dark Sunday night in Nairobi.

A bit chilly considering it’s December. She is heaving and trying to breath but her heart is about to give out. She hasn’t felt like this in years. You can almost smell the sweat falling down her brow.  Her tongue tastes like sweat. When the night started she had no idea she would be celebrating the new year in a toilet in Tribeka….almost naked. I know what you are thinking but this is not that sort of story. You know the type you like, the borderline erotica.

You are freaky, huh?

She throws up in the toilet. It’s the third time tonight. She hasn’t drunk anything tonight. So her friends cannot quite understand why this is happening. She has always been a party girl. You know, the type that you smell like fire from afar. Their eyes warn you to stay the fuck away. Unless you enjoy the taste of burning flesh… Yours.

Sheila has had an interesting day today. She figured she’d end the year with a bit of a bang, start of some trouble. Plus, new year parties are boring. After you attend a couple you can literally predict the script. There’s going to be two “big parties” one somewhere at the coast. Then another in “Vasha” probably at that funky resort… Craysomething.

Her sponsor has been acting hella shady over the Christmas period. Can’t really blame Kevo, his wife doesn’t mess around during the holidays. “Ati unaenda wapi babe?” Is the constant question the wife asks when he tries to leave and go see his clande. Plus, the way the wife is set up she is happy to claw his eyes out, if he messes around. This should have probably been warning enough not to fuck around. But a man is a man, that’s how he consoles himself.

He’s always liked them feisty. Sheila is a fighter not a lover. Jealous as hell but not the lovey dovey type. Sheila wasn’t cool with the explanation that the mama wasn’t letting Kevo out. So she decides to go see the wife, for a woman to woman talk. Of course she doesn’t tell Kevo. That would spoil the fun of looking into the bitch’s eyes and telling her she’s screwing the heck out of her man. She had it all planned out, she’d saunter into their house, sometime in the morning of the 31st. Then she’d lay it all out and just enjoy the scene the woman would create. Considering what Kevo had told her about his wife, there was going to be fireworks.

He’s sleeping on the couch tonight!

Finding her way there wasn’t much of a problem. Kevo had taken her there on one of their trysts . He’d wanted to take her right there at his gate. Knowing his wife was a couple of meters away had driven him crazy. It made the experience all the more enjoyable.

She honked and the gate-man quickly opened the gate. It wasn’t every day that big cars drove into the compound. He figured this was probably one of madam’s uppity friends. You know, the type to raise hell because you didn’t open the freaking gate a millisecond earlier. She drove in and packed the car just opposite the front door. She quickly jumped out without switching off the engine. She figured she might need to make a quick getaway. The wife opened the door, smiling, not knowing Sheila was about to ruin her world.

Madam gently lead her guest in, wondering who she was and again why that scent was so familiar. Once in, after madam had failed to get Sheila to at least take a drink. It was time to drop the freaking bomb. Sheila, not one to mince her words simply said want needed to be said. “I’m fucking your husband!” Madam did not quite react. She stood there, with a certain regality within her. An almost indiscernible allure of aloofness, being above what was happening. Sheila obviously did not anticipate this. So she quickly moved to plan B.

She slowly but deliberately took off her clothes. Showing with great detail the marks her lover had left. On her back, the way he longingly tattooed his name all over her spine. Her thighs, laying testament to the things his mouth could do. Teeth marks all over her breasts, evidence of a skillful lover. Madam finally broke free of her regality. She asked Sheila to wear her clothes. In that tone mothers use when you’ve done something that is beneath your dignity. That messed with Sheila’s mind more than any tantrum would have. Madam gently led her back to her car, no words were spoken. But it was clear, she was unwelcome here. As she got back into her car, the first tinge of shame washed over her. It came in spasms. One wave smashing over the other. She cried all the way back home. Knowing she had broken that woman’s heart in a way that could never be forgiven.

Sheila cried all afternoon but forgot it once her crew came over that evening, time to let loose. She hadn’t heard from Kevo but she figured he had not yet gone home. That was a problem for tomorrow. It was time to party.

Happy new year…or is it?

The text came in at about 11:17pm. It was minutes to midnight. Her stomach gave way and she threw up on everyone around her. She ran to the toilets and spent the next few minutes retching. The text was from Jemo, Kevo’s best friend. He had found them, Madam and Kevo burning. The house looking eerily beautiful as the flames quickly engulfed two lives and everything they owned. The stars shrinking back into their cocoons allowing a black sky to reign over the evil that reigned that day.

Madam had gone quickly into her bedroom once Sheila left. She was naturally distraught, and that quickly gave way to consuming anger.  She could not understand why he would do this. She literally fed him, got him a job and gave him everything she was and had. She was not one to forgive easily, she had forgiven once before. He had promised, his lips touching the soles of her feet never again to cheat on her again. She decided today was the day, to remind him, who he had married. He would be back from watching the game soon. She went to the garage and got the lighter fluid. She doused the mattress with it. She slowly undressed and wore sexier clothes. She chose them deliberately. A brassiere with significantly more padding. The better to absorb more fluid. She then doused herself fully in the lighter fluid. Then…. She waited.

What is she gonna do?

He came in at 9, 5 hours later than he was supposed to show up. She knew he was drunk by the way he banged the doors and insulted the driver. She stood up, and when he saw her….he smiled. She looked beautiful. He was too drunk to smell it in the air, death. She longingly drew him in. He, happy to avoid an argument, willingly gave himself to her. He carried her quickly to their bedroom. He did not notice the wetness of the bed. As he fumbled with his zipper, she drew out the matchbox. He got even more excited. He always liked his pleasure with a side dish of pain. Funny, he would get more than his fair share tonight. She drew him onto her chest and as he tried desperately to unhook her bra. He heard it, the match stick striking the box and suddenly his whole being was on fire. Her feet locked around him and her hands held him tightly. His face still on her chest. The smoke, his cries, her acceptance of death as an old friend. A potent mixture for any artist.

He had at least fulfilled the only part of his wedding vows he had not broken. He had died with her.

Sheila reread that text one more time before sliding the broken glass across her wrist. She remembered how royal madam had seemed. She wondered, sitting there in a pile of puke in a toilet in Tribeka, whether they would be friends in Paradise. She doubted it. It was minutes to midnight


Hi guys, 

This blog post is inspired by Warsan Shire’s seminal poem which you can find here.

35 thoughts on “MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT

      1. Yeap, exactly. She dies as the year turns….the term, “Minutes to Midnight” is in reference to the Doomsday Clock. When the clock strikes 12 Midnight, we all die.


  1. Mr Gicheru…..mwalim i never knew you could write.
    it captivated me you know.
    Thankyou for making my today with your script of work.

    Liked by 1 person

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