I grew up without a father. My mother doubled up as both parents to me and my sister. She did one helluva job. We are living proof of that.

She was a nurse and was proud of her independence. My sister Sisinei, and I were her whole life. She sacrificed everything for us. And I always admired her for that. Mum was a staunch catholic. So, growing up, we never missed church. She volunteered a lot. At one point, she taught Sunday school. I ended up becoming an altar boy up until my KCPE.

I’m not an atheist but I’ve grown distant ever since I joined high school. Last I set foot in church was in Form 2. I consider myself a spiritual person but not religious. Mum is always praying for me to go back to church.

My sister is now a surgeon. My mum sort of had a hand in that. I’m a computer scientist. It goes without saying that Sisinei earns a hefty pay. I also make enough to get by. But it pales in comparison to hers. The peanuts I get for the kind of pressure I go through is quite the corporate injustice.

Regardless, I have a nice life and wife. Great apartment in a lovely neighbourhood. Nice car. And we are expecting. The typical African middle class, I guess.

I love what I do. I’d do it for free. But this is no charity. Bills have to be paid and a kid these days is quite expensive.

My sister is married to a fellow doctor. I hear that these are the kind of careers that you have no choice but to marry within the profession. Crazy working hours and shifts. No one else would understand.

My dad left while I was still young – six and a half. My sister was two.

I can’t quite recall much about the fella. I’d probably pass him by if we met in the streets. Legend has it that he did love his beer. Tusker, it was. Baada ya kazi… If there is one thing that tells me I’m his offspring, it’s my drinking.

I once bumped into an old photo album. We were moving houses. His photos were in there. We were together in some – the entire family. In others, just him and mum, in love. In another, he was with a group of guys. Several women too. The men had beers in their hands. The women, Fanta or Coke bottles. It seemed like a company event. He was sandwiched between two good looking ladies, I’d say the best looking of the bunch. His hands over their shoulders. His Tusker, or should I say his real love, in one hand. He left us for one of the women in the photo.

My life right now is not far from that image of my old man. Two women. A kid on the way. And White Cap, the real mistress, at the center of it all.

I open the hotel room door. It’s my brother-in-law. I’m relieved and surprised all at once. Relieved because it could have been worse. Surprised because for him to track me down to my secret hide out, this must be serious.

I step outside, slowly, then shut the door behind me as I quickly scan the area.

“What’s going on Chris? How did you even know I was here?”

“We tracked your car.”

“We? Who’s we? And what do you mean you tracked my car?”

“You’re not going to like this.” He says as he quickly glances left then right. He is evidently nervous. It’s like he’s afraid someone is following him.

“I’m not going to like what?”

“I’m here with Maya. She’s in the car.”

“Are you crazy? Why on earth would you bring her here?” I’m livid. My fists ready to punch his brown teeth out.

Chris is aware of my affair. He’s the one guy I can trust with such a secret. Reason being, I also have some dirt on him. He’s the younger brother to my sister’s husband. Married with twins. He doesn’t drink but sure loves the ladies. One of the chics he’s having an affair with just happens to be Dee’s friend. Small world, huh?! The thing is, we’ve never really seen eye to eye with him. I don’t like his guts and I’m sure he could put poison in my drink given the chance. So, what I have on Chris is nothing more than collateral. We’re birds of a feather that obviously hate flying together.

“Jay, that’s not important right now. Something terrible has happened.” He pauses. “There was an accident. Your mum was involved.”

“What do you mean an accident? Is my mum okay?”

“She’s at Nairobi Womens. In critical condition. We’ve been trying to reach you, but your phone is off.”

“Holy shit! The missed calls from Maya? She must have been calling to tell me about the accident.” I quickly reach for my Samsung in my pocket, turn off airplane mode and messages start streaming in.

“Come on Jay, we need to get to the hospital, now!” He reaches for my shoulder and without hesitation, I oblige. I have a ton of questions, but I’m so confused I don’t know where to start. What exactly happened? When exactly did it happen? I also wonder how the hell Chris found me. How did he know my room number? What did he tell Maya?

We pace down the poorly lit corridor of Winter and head for the parking lot.

A familiar figure approaches from that direction. Her walking style confirms my worst fears. It’s Maya. She’s furious. I can tell from her strut.

“Why is your phone off?” Her opening statement doesn’t surprise me at all.

“What do you mean it’s off? It’s been on the whole day.” I wave the LED light across her face.

“Must be the poor reception down here.”

We argue for a while then Chris saves the day.

“You guys can finish this fight later. We need to get to the hospital now.” We realise he’s right and feel like two children being scolded by an adult.

For our sanity, I drive alone in my Allion, Maya hops into Chris’ CRV and I follow them.

As we head off towards the city, I text Dee:

“Really sorry dear. Had to dash off. Family emergency. I’ll call you tomorrow.”

The hospital is filled with family members: cousins, in-laws, friends and even some colleagues. Families of the other victims are also there, waiting, for some news, any news. A few ambulance chasers are in the ER, looking for easy prey.

I find my sister in the crowd. She’s on duty. She tells us that mum is in surgery and that things are not looking good for her. But we have to keep hope alive.

“Jay, she has always prayed for us. Now it’s our turn,” Sisi says as we hug.

At a reception area, family members are reconstructing and dissecting the accident scene. The story is that a drunk driver swerved off his lane and into the oncoming traffic. My mum and her women’s guild were heading home from a church meeting in a sedan. The collision was fatal, and the sedan bore the brunt of it all. It was no match for the Isuzu pick-up. Two of the women who were seated at the front died at the scene. Another, who was seated at the back, succumbed as paramedics were rushing her to hospital. My mum and another lady came out with serious injuries and doctors were now desperately trying everything to save them.

The pick-up driver, also survived. But his life was hanging on a thread in the operating room.

Three more cars were involved in the crash, but no major casualties were reported. Just a few cuts and bruises and the victims were released by the hospital.

By 3 o’clock, most of the folks had already left. Maya too. I insisted.

My sister walks up to me. She’s with another surgeon, the one who was operating on my mum. He explains that the operation was successful and that my mum is out of danger, though not entirely. Visitors cannot be allowed at this point as her condition is still fragile. She suffered broken ribs and neck, and her left hip was badly fractured. She had internal bleeding, but the doctors had managed to stop it. The other lady is stable as well.

Sisinei asks that I go home and get some sleep. Her shift doesn’t end until dawn.

It’s 07:00 in the morning. I’ve barely slept. Still, Maya wakes me up, probably for another fight.

“There are some guys here to see you. They say it’s important,” she shouts.

“What guys?” I retort.

“Say they are police officers. I’m sure it’s about the accident.”

My mind is all over the place. But I’m still groggy. I can’t help but think about my mum. Are the police here to deliver the bad news? Then again, since three people died, this is now a homicide or at the least, vehicular manslaughter. Which means, a thorough investigation has to be done and criminal charges filed against the pick-up driver, should he make it. The police are probably doing preliminary investigation work which would naturally include interviewing the family members. It’s quite early but I figure I need a shot of whiskey to calm my nerves. “My mum will be okay,” I whisper to myself as I head out towards the living room. I’m hoping for the best but still expecting the worst of news.

“Good morning Mr. Mukoma.” The man in a navy trench coat says.

I respond with not so much enthusiasm. What’s good in it anyway.

“I’m Detective Kipng’etich with the CID.” He waves a badge across my face. He is dark but neither tall nor handsome. In his early fourties but looks older. From his pot belly, I can tell his BMI is quite high and probably a concern for his wife and doctor. His face tells you he rarely smiles.

“And this is Detective Denise.” He points at a woman standing next to him. She’s also in a trench coat, beige.

“Sorry for waking you up this early. We understand you had a rough night.” Denise’s attempt at an apology is pathetic but since she is good looking, I’ll accept it. She’s definitely a few years younger than Kipng’etich and by the look of it, he’s her superior.

“That’s alright. What’s this about Detectives?”

“Do you know a lady by the name Diana Mueni?” Kipng’etich goes in his heavy Kalenjin accent.

I turn and look at Maya, who is looking at me, confused and curious, as if ready to say, “Well, do you?”

I am inclined to deny any knowledge of such a person. But something else strongly advises against it. This is the government asking, not my wife. So, no need to lie.

“Mr. Mukoma?” The detective calls.

“Yes. Yes, I do know her.” I am struggling to figure out the link between my mum’s crash and Dee.

“Why? Is there a problem Detective?” I ask.

“She was found dead in a room at Seasons early this morning. Witnesses say you were the last person seen with her, alive.”

Suddenly, I am wide awake. I now need that whiskey shot more than ever.

Stay tuned for Part 5.