Daily Prompt: Close Call
Tell us about a bullet you’re glad you dodged — when something awful almost happened, but didn’t.
Photographers, artists, poets: show us CLOSE.
Life is a series of close calls. The “something awful” still happens, only not to you. It shocks us when friends and family don’t get it. For them “almost” has no meaning — it’s as if it never happened. For us it’s a reminder of our mortality. There’s no “relief” that we dodged the bullet, no gladness, only sadness and a vague guilt.
On the morning of August 7, 1998, we left our Nairobi hotel and headed for the city centre. Someone needed the bank, as one does on the verge of a trip into the wilderness where there’s nothing to spend money on within 100 km. I remember being vaguely irritated. Why now, in rush hour? They should have drawn money the day before. I think we double parked. The US Embassy was right next door. When at last we headed out of town to Mount Kenya, it must have been some time after 09:00 but certainly before 10:30. I can’t remember the exact time. All I know now is that at 10:30, 900 kg of TNT was detonated in a truck in the parking area behind the US Embassy, killing over 200 people and injuring thousands. The bank and the embassy took the brunt of the blast.
At the time we knew nothing of this. When, after ten days away, we emerged from the sanctitude of a mountain paradise, the national flag at the information centre was at half mast. It was our first indication of the tragedy. The nation was in mourning. We returned to Nairobi to find the city centre still a no-go area. The chaos was unbelievable.
At our Nairobi hotel, life went on, hustlers, businessmen, tourists, the usual rubbish, but all now empty, dark and desperate, because irreplaceable lives, routines, careers, futures were destroyed.