The air was hot and dry. It smelt of hope. It reeked of dust levitated by the sweeping wind. The brownish-yellow grasses were crisp and twisted. They ran lowly and sideways along the dusty brown roads till they touched the skyline. Dadaab was probably a few more miles away, a little less far from hell.
Aziza pulled the sleeves of her dark silk robes up to her elbows as she took one harrowing glare at me. She stooped and began to move her palms across her hand as though performing an ablution without water.
“Please let me say one more prayer” she said.
She stepped onto the cloth she had laid on the floor. It was a fabric of white cashmere turned light brown with streaks of dark red from her bloodied feet and the brown footpaths that led away from the city of Mogadishu.
Her gaze rested on Abdi who lay still, perfectly still in the warmth of the crimson earth. She knelt down to pray, her cracked, wrinkled lips barely moving. For a moment, I thought it was her eyelids that did the supplication. She bowed her head to the dust.
I had first set my eyes on her just a few months back while doing my routine inspection in the city of Mogadishu. Sounds of explosions and gunshots laced the airwaves. Glasses shatter, dust and madness twirling the deserted marketplace like the fury of an aggrieved tempest. This occurrence wasn’t unusual. It wasn’t the first I had experienced. It was probably the most pitiful. Confusion was out on the streets as buildings collapsed during grenade explosions. Women clustered in tiny groups and took refuge behind the burnt, rusty skeletons of military trucks while they talked in hushed tones.
The air was filled with acrid smoke from burning rubber. Aziza had rushed into the compound with bloodshot eyes, her red pashmina scarf loosely wound around her head. She had made her way past without noticing me. Once she was in the house, she had Kofar’s head on her laps. He had looked at her as if to assure her that the war was over. Her eyes were moist and she blinked back the tears that would have fallen. Kofar’s dark pupils had rested on her cheeks; they seemed to foretell that the rains that hadn’t poured in three seasons would eventually fall. She shut her eyelids and allowed her eyes to burn in the pool of hot tears that she had refused passage. His body had lost the warmth that she had felt for the ten years that they had been married. It was cold and still. She opened her eyes and allowed her blistering tears pour on his skin. If he had listened and stayed away from the battle front of the civil war, if only he had loved his life more than his hatred of finding refuge in Kenya, he wouldn’t have looked so lost in his frozen stare.