He sighs, he can feel it. He will die today.
The truck rumbles on as it passes through the narrow road. The driver, an absolute moron seems inclined to pass over every bump and through every pothole. Otieno corks his gun and prepares for the battle ahead. He has been preparing for this since his country sent him to war. It is 7 pm in Mogadishu, but it might as well have been 3pm. There is no difference,electricity exists in only a handful of houses. The city smells of garbage. Its been 7 months since anyone gave enough of a shit to clean up. This is why there’s human excrement after every 10 meters. As if the city’s inhabitants have an agreement – You can shit, but only after 10 meters. Otieno has 12 men under him. All willing to die at his command. He knows it. He wonders what it feels like, to be willing to die when told. He would die for his family maybe perhaps even for his young wife at home. He remembers the way her nubile body felt next to his. The way a letter feels in an envelope. As if it was designed to be in it. The way he was designed to be in her. The thought raises a wrench in his pants. He shifts his leg to hide it. No point his men knowing what he packs in his pants apart from ammunition. He wills himself into the moment. He begins to steel himself for the moment that must surely come.
What’s going to happen?
It’s been 30 minutes since the call came on the radio. The Kenya Army base at the Mogadishu Airport had been hit by terrorists, and as standing orders demanded, the Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) went to the rescue. He was the rescue team. He wondered what had made him choose the RDF. He could have chosen to go into procurement. He would be sitted somewhere at Defence HQ, looting the coffers dry while sending the cheapest and shittiest of rations to the boys on the ground. He would get to hit on some fine interns. Especially the ones from Moi University. Those ones almost always had the biggest breasts. He had always been a boobs’ guy. Instead he chose this, the excitement, his heart beating faster every second. Knowing that there was a bullet with his name out there, waiting patiently to say hello to him. There were no firm or soft breasts here. Only hardened men whose only inclination to be soft was perhaps only when the food rations ran low and they had to share.
The private brought the truck to a halt. It was time to take over. He orders his men off the truck. They disembark immediately even Kamau who usually takes a couple of seconds to respond, knows this is not the day to test him. Every man is alert. Their fingers millimeters from the triggers. Ready to send anyone and anything to an early death. He smiles, glad at least that his unit is ready. He orders every man into his position. Their orders are clear to wait for any terrorists that show up and push them back. Which is military parlance for shoot any fucker that shows up. Other units will be working on getting them to his unit.
His men are settled, each behind some form of debris. Their eyes peeled forward for the slightest hint of movement. They know though not to shoot without his command. He promised them he would shoot anyone who disobeyed him today. He was not joking. He crawls into the foxhole surrounded by 2 privates. The youngest of all his men. They are barely men. They smell of boyhood. He wonders if they know the singular joy of cupping a woman’s breast in your hand and….The first shot rings out, breaking the steely silence the night had created. Somewhere in his heart he knows it. He will die today. Surrounded by 12 odd men, who will gladly die with him. He wonders again why he is here. Fighting men he does not know, for a government that he owes nothing. He can smell it, death. Or perhaps that is the smell of the private’s balls. He has never been a fan of soap and water. He hears it, the gentle shrill of a missile flying. He wonders why it sounds so peaceful. Almost like the way a private jet lands in Nakuru when it brings in naughty Kenyans to their naughtiest town. Before the bazooka lands in his foxhole he thinks of the short taita girl who said no to him. Perhaps, he should have tried a little harder.