The Stolen Bible

Omar looks at the bible in his hands. Funny how he had revered it, used it to turn the hearts of others and even worshipped it. He now considered it an abomination. It is the one that had made him chase away his younger brother. Just because he had stolen it. The bible.

But today he is going to make all that change. Today he will go look for his brother wherever he will be and apologize to him. Today he will bring him back home and they will live together forever after, with no bible coming in between them. He carries the bible, and a recent photo of his brother between the pages. And of course he has to have the collar in his shirt. He is a pastor after all.

These streets are unfamiliar to him. They stink of rotten cabbages and sweat from workers. It is hard to believe that his brother now lives on these streets. He has to get him out. He removes the photo from the bible and starts showing it to the sellers.

Some faces turn to look away, others twist into queer shapes. He looks at the picture again. Yes it is his brother, and they resemble one another.

Maybe adding a verse or two from the bible might help.

He opens the bible and start reading, but still they won’t look at him.

He walks away downcast, feeling dejected, shaking his head. He has to get his brother away from these people who don’t even know how to welcome a visitor, let alone listen to a man of God.

He turns a corner, and it is as if he has walked into heaven. He sees his brother running down a hill, a clutch bag in his hands. He spreads his arms wide and wears a great smile. But his brother won’t stop. He knocks Omar over and continues running. Soon a crowd appears in hot pursuit. He tries to rise up but his legs won’t just move.

***

Mosoti reaches the shantie glad that he has made it alive. It was close, he had almost got lynched, but somehow the crowd baying for his blood had stopped chasing after him. He was glad he had passed the test, and would now become a member of the gang.

He found the senior most member of the gang seated alone on the bed, a gun on the table.

Mosoti could tell that Senor, as he was referred to by everyone else, did not like him very much. He wished that Sammy, Senor’s junior, would have been there.

“Ako wapi Sammy?”

Mosoti gathered his guts and asked. After all he was a member of the gang now.

“Umekaa sana nikamwambia akuje kukutafuta.” The bearded face of Senor didn’t even turn to look at him. Did that mean that he had failed the test now? Because he stayed too long?

Mosoti opened his mouth to speak, but stopped when a figure appeared at the door.

“Mosoti anauliwa huko kwa barabara, twende tukamsaidie.”

“Mosoti ako hapa.”

Sammy looked at Mosoti and blinked.

“Nani huyo anauliwa huko kwa barabara.”

“Mi sijui, na hiyo si shida yangu, mi niko uhai hapa.

Sammy sits down, but the gloom never leaves his face. He hold his chin in contemplation.

“Huyo mtu anakaa ka wewe”

The comment sets Mosoti’s mind in motion. Only one person looks like him. But he lives in uptown. No, he couldn’t be the one.

“Nadhani Mosoti sasa amepita mtihani wa kwanza.”

Mosoti almost jumped at Senor’s words, hoping to catch them and fly with them out of the window, but he controlled himself.

“Lakini mtihani wa pili bado.”

“Twambie kwa nini umetoka kwenye umetoka ukakuja kujiunga na sisi?”

That was the question he dreaded most. It wouldn’t make sense to anyone that he had ran away from home after an argument with his elder brother about a misplaced bible. Was that why he wanted to join the gang? Mosoti swallowed hard and opened his mouth to speak.

“Na ukitudanganya tutajua.”

Senor’s words cut the air like a sharp razor. And Mosoti was sure they were true.

“Tulikosana na bro yangu nikatoroka nyumbani?

“Uko na bro?” “ Anakaaje?”

Sammy’s hand were now on the gun.

“Hawezi kuwa ndo huyo.”

“Ebu nifuateni, hatutaitikia mtu auwawe juu ya makosa yetu.”

Mosoti is out on impulse. Senor is reluctant but Sammy points the gun at him. He follows.

***

 

A stone hits his side, someone steps on his stomach, another kicks his groin. The pain is unbearable.

“Choma yeye, mwizi.” They shout in unison.

These slum people, they just won’t understand.

“Mi ni Pastor, mi si mwizi.”  He tries their lingo.

“Nyi mapastor tunawajua sana. Nyi ndo wezi wakubwa zaidi.” The voice sounds familiar, maybe from the earlier encounters in the street.

A tyre is brought. The petrol too. He can do no more to protect himself. He is slowly slipping into unconsciousness. He clutches tighter to his bible. He will die with it, and the picture of his brother inside.

There is a gun shot in the air, and everything goes still. He thinks he is dead, but he can still hear their voices, see their faces.

A familiar face stands a short distance from him.

It is his younger brother, Mosoti, holding a gun in his hands. Two other rugged youths stand beside him.

He gathers all his strength, covers the short distance between them in short painful knee steps. Everyone stands still, staring, breathless. He reaches them a short moment later, presents the bible to Mosoti and mutters the most painful words in his life.

“Sorry for calling you a thief. I am the one who had misplaced the bible.”

And then he collapses, gives up his life.

***

Mosoti leads the memorial service by the grave. He wears a cloak and carries The Bible. Sammy and Senor are by his side. The people listen and watch on.