“Just wait here, mummy’s coming back.” That was the 20th time she had said that to the little boy. He finally let go and stood there unaccompanied. Gathu had been seated outside the shop for over an hour, as usual his colleague was late. He had tried reaching John but there was no response. His newspaper reading had been distracted by the woman and her long pleas of release from this little boy who looked like her child.

The boy stared helplessly as his mother turned round the corner. He was wearing a white bonnet that made his face look the centre of sunflower. His face was drenched in tears and snot, his sobbing distracted Gathu. The poor child kept reaching out for any adult that passed by him screaming “Maaaaaamaaaa! Maaamaaaa!” It was heart wrenching. His little blue shirt was tucked into brown courdoys that were now soaked in the crotch. His little feet buckled and he fell to the ground.

Gathu watched this boy frozen, his eyes were glued on the child’s eyes; he empathized and hadn’t realized that he too was crying. Teardrops flowed from his cheeks and dripped on his khakis. The boy was now seated legs in front and slumped over sobbing so hard his little body shook, he couldn’t have been older than 5. He no longer called out for Mama he just sobbed. Gathu rose, to save this little boy. As he rose his shoulder felt a tap. He turned to see where the tap came from; it was John smiling sheepishly. Gathu gave a blank stare and shook off John’s hand from his shoulder and steadied himself toward the broken child.

He walked eyes fixed on the boy ignoring the oncoming traffic separating him and the boy. Horns blaring, drivers yelling and gesturing profanely. Gathu didn’t care, he was focused on saving the broken boy. He reached and knelt next to the boy. The little boy was now quiet. He lifted the snotty and swollen baby face with his index and middle finger and gave him a warm smile. The boy started sobbing again and reached out arms wide toward Gathu. Gathu picked him up and held him close. His little head rested on his shoulder and he fell quiet. Gathu rocked him.

The madness on the road had died down, John crossed over to find out what Gathu was doing. “Are you insane?” John demanded. Gathu gestured to John to keep quiet and pointed at the boy now falling asleep on his shoulder. Gathu turned around scouting the area for the woman he saw earlier. He saw her, their eyes locked and she shook her head, as if saying she didn’t want the boy. Gathu started toward her and she back paced then turned and ran. Gathu yelled to John pointing him toward her direction. “Get her. Ni Mama wa huyu mtoto.” The boy was startled by the shouting and began sobbing again. Gathu looked down at him and kissed his forehead. “It will be fine Jesse.” He told the boy.


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