I used to be a good girl. A reeeaaally good girl. The kind that’s made of sugar, spice and everything nice. Back then, I didn’t know better. I didn’t know that the only way to live life to the full is to live it on the edge. Live it like you are going to die tomorrow. Live like you have no care in the world. That is what life is. And until the beginning of this year, that is what I was living. I was the ultimate bad girl. The one that my girls knew would and could do anything. And I do mean ANYTHING. Life was a big red juicy apple and I was taking huge bites with the juice running down my chin. Then it all changed.

It was New Year’s Eve. My girls and I had the whole night all planned out. We met at Diana’s flat at dusk. The Sun was going down in a blaze of oranges, pinks and a whole range of other beautiful colours. I was watching the sunset through her window. In the background the girls were changing into party gear. I came wearing mine. The heads that turned in my direction on my way there were countless. Some were admiring but some were sneering. I was used to that. I really have no care in the world what others think of me. Their opinion is their own. Anyway, the other girls were not as daring as I am so they brought their party gear in their bags. As I stood there watching the sunset with the chattering in the background, I felt impending danger. I had the feeling that something was going to go horribly wrong. I just didn’t know what. So I went to D’s kitchen and took three straight shots of vodka. As the alcohol calmed me down, I found it easier to ignore the feeling but I still couldn’t shake it. We left the flat a few minutes to eight o’clock. Ivy was driving – she had ‘borrowed her parents’ car as they were at the Coast on some sort of romantic holiday.

The night begun with the classic Kenyan party food, Nyama Choma! We almost paid for it when a nice gentleman stopped our waiter and paid the bill for us. He must have thought we would go over and keep him and his friends busy. A minute after the waiter told us the bill had been settled, we stood up and left. We didn’t even acknowledge his presence. I was trying to teach my girls the art of the bad girl. You never acknowledge a man’s presence until he comes up to you and begs you attention. The names he must have called us… Anyway, the next stop was a pub were a friend of ours worked. Kevo was a childhood friend of mine who made a living as a part time bar tender. He is the only tender in town who makes margaritas. It makes him a favourite with the ladies but he treats me special. He calls me ‘little sis’ and won’t sell me more than three glasses of margaritas. He is however very notorious with my friends and gets them very drunk and tries to get them to ditch me for him for the night. He has succeeded on several occasions. I don’t know why that makes me smile.

However, this night we were sticking together, no boys were going to break us up. From Kevo’s pub we went to yet another pub that has the lowest prices in town. Our mission was to get drunk past the point of no return. That is, before we got to our main destination – the biggest New Year’s party in the country! Ivy, being the designated driver was allowed one drink per pub. By the time we were done ‘club hopping’ she had had a total of five drinks. We piled into the car and Ivy, ‘sober’ as she was, took the wheel and off we went to tell 2009 goodbye. The road leading to the party venue is a dark road with lots of vegetation on the side and people tend to speed while driving on it. Driving while under the influence makes it even worse ‘cause trying to see what’s coming is like trying to get a cat to swim – impossible is an understatement. However, I dare say we all saw the headlights coming at us before everything went black and quiet.

It was the sound of a door closing that woke me up. The first thing that hit my senses was the smell. I immediately concluded I was either sleeping over in a chemical plant or a hospital. Then I felt the texture of the fabric around me – it was soft and warm. I also noticed that someone had undressed me and put me in something bigger than a Yoko Zuna’s robe! Who? Before I could search my memory, the headache hit me at full impact! “Fuck!” I swore, my hands flying to my head. “Finally, you’re up,” someone said. I opened my eyes in a squint to look in the direction of the female voice. It was a nurse and as my eyes adjusted to the light of the rising sun streaming through the open window, I noticed she was injecting something into the IV lodged in my left arm. “Morning,” she was smiling. I nodded, “What day is it?” “Friday.” I did some math in my head, “Ah, new year’s.” She shook her head and said, “No, it’s new year’s eve. 31st December 2010.”

Still holding my head to stop the room from spinning out of focus, I slowly processed the new information. The nurse was done administering my dose of whatever I was to be given and was standing by my bed, her hands in her pockets observing me. “No. It can’t be. Yesterday was Thursday, 31st December 2009. It can’t be the end of the year already. It starts today,” I was trying to make her see her mistake. Noting my confusion, she put a hand on my arm and said, “You’ve been in a comma for the last twelve months. Excuse me, let me get your doctor.” She left the room leaving me in a state of utter shock. Comma? One year? Had I spent a whole year in the darkness of unconsciousness? No. I couldn’t believe it. I WOULDN’T believe until they proved it to me. One year?!

Just then, my family doctor walked in with a huge smile on her face, “Mel! You’re finally awake. We’ve been waiting for you for the past year,” She gave me a hug then held me back by the shoulders and stared at me in amazement. I was still in disbelief, “Are you sure I’ve spent the past year in this bed?” Dr. Murugi finally understood the confusion written on my face, “Yes. You were brought in after a bad accident last new year’s and have been floating in and out of consciousness ever since. You’d open your eyes for five minutes then sink back in. It was very frustrating.” I tried to sit up and winced when the aching head protested. She held me down indicating I should not try to get up, “Stay down. We have to do a lot of tests on you to ascertain your condition. How do you feel? Any pain?” “My head feels like someone was using it for a football. Why does it ache so much?” I asked ‘cause my head did not ache very often. “Well, we have been feeding your body a battery of medicines for a year, you are going to feel the after effects of that for a couple of days. Don’t worry, it wears off easily as long as you eat the food the nurses bring you,” she was smiling reassuringly, “I’ll go put down your name for all the tests we have to do. I’ll be back. Lie down, don’t try to get up. I’ll also send the nurse with something for you to eat. I imagine you are pretty hungry. And make the all-important phone call” She left the room still smiling. She was glad I was up- I must have been troublesome.

(Read part 2 here)

© afra njoki