SCROLL down, ROLL down, Ashu is WAITING
The story of how Ashu learnt to dance starts with the Coin’s unlikely friendship with a despairing young man called Kimani. He shares Kimani’s dreary life and grind while facing a deep and unrelenting hopelessness for the future.
Ashu then finds himself in a strange journey that takes him into the hands of Otieno, a gifted ICT software engineer. Through his determination and discipline, Otieno is on the verge of crossing the rickety bridge from the wastelands of the rat race into the Canaan of entrepreneurship.
A twist of fate then flings Ashu into the jacket of Chief Inspector Kiplangat, just in time to witness a daring armed robbery that takes the Coin into a vertigo of familiar faces and unlikeliest of fortunes.
The story spins as well as a good coin should.
Read it at … https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08N45GJVL
This story follows Ashu’s stay in leafy Limuru with the affable Musa, whose contented life is shredded by unexpected catastrophes.
Musa’s contented life is ripped apart as he is thrown in jail for crimes he is not aware of. Witnesses are lined up to ensure he stays there. Law enforcement does not want to listen to him; he was they one they wanted, the one who must disappear.
When they are taking him, an accident is nearly taking his son’s life. They say it is an accident, but he does not believe in such coincidences, not in his quiet sleepy Limuru. The reason was simple, a raging inferno was, at that instant, licking the front doors of his small shop. Another accident? Really?
His life and his livelihood are on the line. As tries to figure out how to take care of his invalid wife, his nephew is caught up in another dangerous roller-coaster that will lead him back to Musa’s doorstep.
Meanwhile, they, those enemies he did not know he had, are circling above, waiting to devour him if he dares raise his voice.
Follow his footsteps … https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08NLK9CT8
Wanja is a little girl who is brutally assaulted and raped in her own home in Nakuru. Ashu was there, but there was nothing he could do. He is, after all, just a coin.
Wanja knows the assailant. She has seen him before. But that is not enough. The law is against her and she is required to prove more than she is able to, more than she can comprehend. More importantly, she is the only witness.
Her word alone would do no good against Kiragu. He is well protected. He has a sophisticated legal team from Nairobi. It is just a matter of time before he walks. He needs to get back to stealing donkeys. Oh yes, and he will come back for her.
The girl’s fight is led by Leshan, a battle-hardened prosecutor who has seen enough of such suffering. But Leshan’s emotions threaten to disentangle the case even further. She must force herself to remain stable. Odhiambo the Magistrate is sympathetic to Wanja, but his hands are tied, they had pushed him into a corner; he must approve Kiragu’s bail.
Ashu’s protests fall on deaf ears. No one is listening to him. No one can hear him, even as he claims to be the other witness.
Follow Wanja’s struggle … https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08NXNHP8M
Everyone wants to kill Birech.
He has lived a life of regret. His world is collapsing around him. His landlord is tired of the begging and has come to throw him out. The police boss hates him and wants him gone, and already had plans as to how.
Birech would not survive the night. His boss has discovered he is robbing the business. His boss is not the kind type. He is ruthless. He never forgives. He has a reputation to uphold and wants to make an example of him.
Their suppliers and customers are looking for him; most of them are gangsters and mobsters. He should have known better. He has been stealing from them, and they all want his head, after they make him suffer.
It is a race for the kill.
All his friends have looked the other way. None wants him near. He has abused their trust. They are no longer his keepers. Cheromei is the only one left. His unintended bride and secret love. But will she stand with him? Will she continue holding his hand? Or will they make him dead before she makes him whole?
He is trapped and ashamed. He is struggling to recover, but the hole is too deep. Control of his life is no longer his own. He already sold it, for a song, a bet and a coin.
Follow his sins … https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08P5D4QSY
Otieno was an incredible boy.
Fate had been unkind and he was born with a serious congenital medical condition. He was autistic. He was forced to bear unimaginable challenges, both mental and physical.
He was unable to relate with the real world. It frightened him. He needed the door to reality constantly locked. The distance between his mind and his heart was unsurpassable. He could never hope to be of one being, one soul.
The only person he could relate to was his father. But they had dragged him away from his father. He was snatched from his home and taken to a vile and wicked place. A place of wretchedness and wickedness. They wanted to make money from him. He was the perfect patient for their donors. He was the ideal match for their customers. It was a place of greed and disorder. It was place of pain and torture.
But Otieno had a secret.
He had only shared his secret with his constant companion; his coin, Ashu. His secret was the only hope he had for surviving the brutal existence of his new prison. He needed to overcome his defective mind and unwilling body to stay alive. The game had to be played in his turf. It was the only way to win.
He needed them to come to his playground.
Follow his secret … https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08PG48LCP
It was Wafula’s day. He had waited for this day for a long time. It was a day to make his father proud. It was a day his clan would remember him by.
Today was the day he would face the cold steel of the lukembe and lose his lifunga. It was his turn to be a basinde. It was his big day. He was going to become a man.
Wafula was consumed in his own passions. Sioyaye had taken over his soul. The dancing had consumed him. His senses were lost in the rhythm. The chanting was hypnotic.
The chinyimba and sirere were about to be removed, never to be worn again. He would enjoy this last dance. He did not notice that the dark forces were on his tail. The sins of his father were catching up to him. The gangs wanted him dead or alive.
He was outnumbered. There was nothing he could do to stop the bloodbath. Only the ancestors could help him. He had fulfilled their wishes. He had done their bidding. Only they could save him from the impending carnage.
A song was all he had.
Follow his song … https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08PW356Y6
The sharp winds were wringing his roll, and the rough sands were testing his metal. It was Ashu’s turn to experience the violence of the Northern Frontier. It was Isiolo.
The open rangelands had refused to be conquered. Their harsh, rough and tough terrain protected them. They remained unspoiled. They retained their enchanting and pristine character.
Ashu discovers that the virgin beauty hides an underlying conflict of cultures. Isiolo is a theatre of cultural fusion. It is also a warhead’s barrel, vibrating with impending nuclear fission. Modern corruption comes face to face with outdated cultures of robbery and death.
The evils of modernisation are confronted by hopeful glimmers of justice. The iron fist of the law must assert itself, or be incinerated in the ensuing anarchy.
The dusty triggers rule the land.
Follow the sandy winds ... https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08QBMZQZG
Ashu found himself in the tormented hands of Serian, a young bride whose world had collapsed. Her womb had not responded to four years as a wife. Fate had made her barren.
It was a fitting punishment for her grave sins. A life of suffering and misery was about to begin. She will be discarded to wander the plains of the savannah. Her restless husband had already spat on her, his other wives despised her and their children wanted her gone. She was unwanted in her tribe.
The days were long and the nights were short. She had none to share her pain and none to make it wane. All she received was disdain. Her prayers knew the way to Ol Doinyo Lengai, the high home of Enkai. They had mastered the route, as she sent them every day.
Her regrets were many; she had broken taboos and upset the gods. Her true love had offered his heart. He had given her solace to ease her aches. She had betrayed him. She had rejected him. Her meadows had turned to deserts, and she had remained without rain.
There was only one last hope left for her. The Sacrament of Olamal.
Ashu was worried about Tenga.
The little girl was desperate. She knew she was helpless against them. She was powerless, but she could not allow them to see the terror in her eyes. She would go and stand with her brother in his moment of death. He was her world, and she would die with him.
The Good News Crusaders of Mtwapa carried machetes and clubs, and sticks and stones. They were infused with apostolic assignment. Their sanctified knives and anointed metal bars were ready for the holy slaughter.
Ndigo was surrounded. They were baying for his blood. He knew this was the end. His sins had finally caught up with him. He was not ashamed of who he was. He was not embarrassed by his nature. His regret was that his small sister would be left all alone. They were the only survivors of the misfortune that had disseminated their family.
He had made the mistake of forgetting about their misfortune. He did not realise that the misfortune had not forgotten them. The world had refused to call them by their names. Fate had been sent back to finish the job.
Brahim scrambled up the ditch and continued running. He could not stop. His leather sandals had long torn apart and fallen off. He had been running barefoot. The road pebbles were sharp and jagged. The soles of his feet were shredded. He was halfway from Multajaʼ.
The terror in his heart had numbed the pain. He had made a grave mistake. He had been careless. His error would case the death of a class full of children. His first born son was among them. All he wanted was to be there. He needed to die with the children. He would be unable to live with the guilt.
He could not stop the explosion. The triggered timer had run its course. The devastation would be catastrophic. The madrassa would be torn to pieces. None of the thirty-two angels would survive.
His business was liberal and his methods were democratic. He never cared for the intentions nor beliefs of his customers. Their delusions or demagoguery were their own burden. His only scripture was currency. His profit margin defined his piety. It was easier to be broke and humble, than meek when loaded. A thick wad of currency in his pocket deafened him from the voice of the muezzin, and his call to prayer.
The time had come to pay for his pretences. Garissa’s children were about to die. Their blood would be in his hands.
Follow his panic ... https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08W214MK3
Gosha was thrown against the mast and flung into the depths of the angry ocean. The buoyant mast was the only thing keeping the boat from turning over, fully capsizing.
Mshamu called desperately to her husband. She screamed his name. Nothing. No response. Gosha had disappeared. The blow to his head must have rendered him unconscious. Drowning was inevitable. The boom had saved her from being thrown clear off the boat. It was now grazing her back as she held on to the centre thwart.
She pulled one arm over the boom as the other remained locked on the thwart. That was when she felt a tingling sensation in her pelvis. It was not painful, nor was it uncomfortable. Next came a dull ache in her lower back. She felt like her spine was being turned outwards. The tingling in her pelvis was still there, but it was consumed by the ache in her spine. Mshamu knew what was coming next. The contractions had arrived. The baby was coming.
Suddenly, she felt a tight grip on her right leg. She panicked and kicked furiously. Whatever had caught her refused to let go. The grip tightened and became painful. She was being pulled underwater. The shadowy monsters of the deep blue were hungry.
Her left arm had already given way. She could no longer hold on to the boat. Her right arm over the boom was her only salvation. As it flipped over, Mshamu knew her time had come. She was flailing helplessly as her head dipped below the surface. The cold water engulfed her.
This was the wrong time to die
Dawida and his little siblings were surrounded by the raging floods. Their cosy enclave had become a trap, and it was getting smaller and tighter. Their little home next to Voi River was gone. It was now part of the furious river. There was no way out.
The ridge on the opposite side was too rocky and steep for their little feet. The angry currents were pulling the children towards the dark abyss. The water was rising up fast. It was already past Dawida’s knees. Soon, it will have risen above his thighs to his waist. By then his brother and sister would have been submerged.
Suddenly, whooping sounds rose above the roaring waters. They were unmistakeable. They came from just above the ridge. The undertakers of the wilderness had arrived. The grunts and groans of the hyenas were impatient, they were hungry. They had come to clean up after the flood.
Dawida could not see very clearly. Twilight was approaching. The angry waters were unrelenting. The hyenas were closing in. He had to lead his siblings to the granary. It was the only structure left standing. The raging currents stood in their way. The short walk would be a gamble for their lives, a stake against their deaths.
Every step would be a battle that must be won. Dawida hoped to win them all. A single defeat would mean the end of his small brother and baby sister. It was another burden he would have to bear. He already carried that of his mother.
The rage of Voi River was soon upon them.
What was about to happen was inevitable. It was also intentional. Muthambi knew what he had done would cause it. He was the cause. And he and I were the only ones who knew what was about to happen.
The previous argument between the truck’s tyres and the road had been forgotten. The potholes had ended well before Sultan Hamud Town. The squabbling and screeching had stopped. The smooth wet tarmac had become irresistible. The virile scent from the spotless tyres was now tantalising. The ebony rubber sliced through the numerous puddles on the road, sanctifying the gloomy air with sprays of cool mist.
The truck was at 160Kph.The muted grunts were not coming from the tyres. The tyres were content. The grunts were coming from the engine and the trailer. The engine was in its usual angry mood, hissing and snorting to journey’s end. It was hot, tired and irritable.
The trailer was in a panic. The snap binders that held the chains against the trailer’s rub rail were already loose. The 40-foot shipping container that sat on it was overloaded. It was five tonnes above its axle limit.
Suddenly, the trailer’s wheels seized up amid a cloud of smoke from the tyres. The parking brakes had engaged. The callipers had clenched their teeth and forced the brake pads against the disks.
The tyres’ romance with the tarmac was at an end. They were now screeching and screaming. The smouldering brakes spewed white smoke, evidence of their new enmity.
That is how the brakes failed, and the incident began.
Hiribae knew this was the most dangerous animal in Africa. He had been careless. His hurry had distracted him. He had failed to double his distance, and triple his fear. His old knees were about to be tested.
He was a Pokomo, one among the people of the Galana Maro, the Mighty Tana River. Today, the pride of the Tana would count for nothing. He would have to run for his life.
The hippo was unforgiving. It could not allow any unpunished invasion of its space. It would make him regret for straying too close. Its enormous mouth was half open as it raced after him. Its large tusks gleamed in the late afternoon sun. They would soon bathe in his blood. One snap between its giant jaws would split him in two. He could hear its heavy grunts right behind him. He could feel a tingling on his back where the first bite would be. The ground trembled as the angry giant drew near.
Hiribae knew this was a fruitless race. The beast was catching up. His escape was futile. He could not outrun it. His two old legs were no match for its four strong pegs. Its anger drove it faster than his fear motivated his ran. It was more inspired to gorge him than his weary body was driven to escape.
Hiribae’s right foot was suddenly caught under a fallen tree branch, hidden in the long grass. He fell headlong to the ground, crashing against a decaying tree trunk. His head met the dead trunk near its centre, almost knocking him out. He looked behind.
The raging hippo was almost upon him.
Lokotu’s enemies were catching up.
They were angry. They were offended and wanted retribution. They would not relent. The law of the tribe must be followed. He must be punished. The had pursued him from his home in Locher Akeny at Namukuse, a village on the western hip of the jade sea, the majestic Lake of the Turkana.
He had sprained his foot at the loose rocks of Eragaleit, but he struggled along, dragging it along. The faulty limb had arrested his escape. It had increased the anguish of his bleeding bare feet, which were already numb from the trauma of a thousand cuts. He was in agony, but could not stop.
He was being hunted by dreaded ngomoroko, the heirs of the ruru military formation. They were the ekaruang’, the unmatched patriots of ngiTurkana.
The punishment for his sins was unbearable. His life would be over. He would be forever defined by the sanction. He preferred the shame of running away than facing the everlasting anguish of the sentence. He preferred the disgrace of an outcast than the indignity of the penalty. He had turned away from the ways of his people, disowned the ways of old. He had spat on the revered ngitalio, the customs of the tribe, the laws that nurtured and protected them. He had betrayed the People of the Grey Bull.
His only refuge was the sacred hill of Lothagam. He needed the cool waters of Nabwal Arangan, the enduring spring in the middle gorge. The barren hill was of no other use to him; it was just an archaic monument of rocks and boulders.
He knew he would find no respite at Lothagam. Its imaginary guardians would not come to his aid. The mythical phantoms of the tribal tales would not come alive and fight his foes … Or would they?
The stranger’s patience had paid off. His restraint was about to be rewarded. The small restaurant was now almost empty. He did not want any witnesses. He had done this many times, but the apprehension never waned.
The hostess had disappeared behind the kitchen door. One of the waitresses was receiving cash from a customer; the other had her hands full with a table’s worth of dishes. No one was paying attention to the little boy.
The stranger had given Muya a lollipop the first time he wobbled by. He gave him a tiny toy car the second time around, filling him with awe. The boy smiled sweetly as he came round the third. He had made a new friend who was loaded with great stuff. Sure enough, a monster mask was now his to keep. The boy gasped in disbelief. He wished he could show it to Auntie, but his friend shook his head. Their friendship was their secret.
The stranger offered his hand, and Muya took it, and the strangeness began. Soon, too many eyes were looking the stranger’s way. Too many witnesses would have something to say.
He held the little boy against his chest with his right arm, and his bag slung over his left. The glances from strange pedestrians scared him. He needed to slow down. He needed to walk as a normal father would, as normally as he could, with his son riding his arm, as normal sons do.
The stranger’s eyes were soon misty from the sweat washing his brow. He had so far only met with fortune on fate’s path. He needed to get off the path, fate will be returning with fortune’s foul twin.
The boy’s distress was seen but unobserved, and his sobs were heard but unperceived. Muya’s strangers then came along, one after another, starting with his mother.
Gateru was out, breathing freedom’s air. He hugged the front of the faded cardigan and narrowed his eyes. The cold Nanyuki breeze cutting across his face was still the same. It was familiar, it was comforting and it was home. His lungs took a gulp of the crisp wind and refused to let go.
He had waited a long time for this. The Main Gate of Nanyuki GK Prison was behind him. He had dreamed of freedom and longed for redemption. He wanted reparation and craved retribution. Patience had been his patron, and it had whispered daily to him, through the four grey walls.
His escape had been smooth, but his freedom was still incomplete. He could not enjoy the fresh breeze, nor delight in the new sights. There was no time. There was so much to be done and so far to run. He only had two months to his release but he had risked it all, or maybe thrown it all away. He needed to follow the plan, the long laboured plan.
It would take them, at most, fifteen minutes to notice he was gone. They would lock down the entire town. His timing had to be perfect or he would be captured by hour’s end. They would add three more years to the three about to end. They would make certain he counted every second and regretted every day. There was no forgiveness for embarrassing the Crown.
Gateru had to do it. He had to draw the first blood. He had no choice. His enemies were powerful, and relentless. The task had to be completed, otherwise everything would be lost. If he failed, his patience would have been forsaken and his courage amounted to nothing. Most of all, his life, and the lives of all who had conspired with him, would be over.
He braced himself against the wind and took the first step. The hunt was about to begin.
Mugendi picked up his daughter and held her up. The small jet of blood was still spurting from her. He looked at the floor. It was carpeted by the clotting juice of his baby’s flesh. He stood there, unsure of what to do, holding Kanini in his outstretched hands.
His little girl had been butchered in his own house. Mugambi was frozen where he stood. His eyes were staring at a reality that his mind was refusing to process. He was stuck in the narrow corridor between horror and terror. He was scrambling up the spiralling stairway from fear to panic.
His baby girl’s throaty howls brought him back. She was calling out to him, begging him to make the pain go away. Her shrieks were getting louder. Her shaking legs had folded up with the soles of her feet against his chest. Her stiffened torso was curled against itself, shuddering sporadically.
Mugendi did not know what to do to make his baby whole again. He just held her to him, trying to absorb her pain, his tears joining her blood on his shirt. She was calling out to him. Her voice was ripping at his insides. Her wailing was shredding his heart.
He was helpless against his daughter’s agony. His mouth had no words. He could not find any. There were none he could give her, none that were worthy. All he could do was hold her and watch her, as she drowned in her own pain.
He refused to let her spirit take flight. He held her closer, trapping it inside.
Ojwang’ was the mark and he knew they were coming. He had seen them coming. The countless heads bobbing about in the ferry were distracting him. The overcrowded assembly inside MV Harambee made it impossible for him to see all of them.
His breathing was sharp and measured. His muscles were tense and wired. Only his experience kept him from unraveling. All the same, he knew it would be over soon
.MV Harambee was making its usual run between Mombasa Island and Likoni, across the Kilindini Harbour. The double-ended ferry had set off from Likoni just moments ago, and all he had to do was stay out of sight for a few more minutes. He would then melt away with the crowd’s mad rush when they reach Mombasa.
Ojwang’ could not remember why he was running from them. He did not know who they were. He did not know for how long he had been running. He could not remember anything prior to boarding the ferry. He only knew that he had to run. It was instinctive, it was his training.
He could no longer deny the possibility. His past had finally caught up with him. His days in special operations had come back to haunt him. The ghosts of his many battles were back to exert retribution. He always knew they would. The unforgotten weeping and lamentations had plagued his mind every night. His days as a Paratrooper in the Special Operations Regiment were fresh in his mind, and the sins of war, even more so.
He was an expert in this business. His many scars bore testament to his many years in the game. He was a soldier’s soldier. He knew he was running out of time, but he could not resist it. He was in his element.
And besides, there was always time for one last run.
Muthoni felt the cold fingers of panic creeping up her spine as the dark abyss approached. The consequences of what she was about to do were unimaginable. This may well become the most important day of her life. It may result in her imprisonment, and a complete destruction of her family. Either way, it would not end as it had started, and it all rested on the next few minutes.
As she strode into the banking hall, she prayed no one recognised her. All it would take was a loud greeting and a careless remark about her vegetables at Kangemi Market. It would be game over. The mask would be stripped and Muthoni would be discovered, uncovered and exposed.
This was not her world. These were not her people. This was not her money. She was a stranger in the land of plenty. These people were part of the system. They were the system. Society had flipped a coin and made them kings, and by the same toss Muthoni’s fate had been sealed.
Who would she complain to? Who would listen to her story? Who would even let her through the door. She was just a simple vegetable vendor. From here, it would be either death or the dungeons. This evening her children may arrive to an empty house. She had tried to leap across poverty’s ravine for them, but she had fallen into doom’s jaws. She was about to fail.
Muthoni needed to realise this was her life’s crossroads, and she had to make a choice. She needed to get rid of the humble woman from the roadside. She needed to become someone else. She could not fight the system, but could she find a crack in the system, or work around it?
Would she sit back and let the system beat her again? Or would she catch the coin before it falls?
No part of The Adventures of Ashu, its books, its stories, its images or any other creation in this website or elsewhere may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for use of brief quotations in a book review.
Copyright @ 2021 by Michael Wanyika. All Rights Reserved