Every one of us has that friend who will crave for attention, usually, by not necessarily seeking it. They are mostly loners. They do not do crowds. They are the type that will keep to themselves even when on a night out and everyone else is screaming their lungs out.
Like a startled centipede, they will curl up in one corner, face pensively glued on some smart phone in their hands. Some people gradually slip into depression with no idea what they are getting into.
A little over a decade ago, one young man sat in a form 1 class with kids several years younger. For some reason, he mostly kept to himself. Other times, he kept a small circle of friends he felt understood him. He probably felt out of place. Sometimes.
He had forged friendship with students a couple of years and classes his senior, despite his calm and reserved persona. Once in a while, he and two of his friends would pass by State House (as our room was then referred to) for the occasional chitchat.
Sometime towards the end of second term, James came by. He looked a little bothered and pensive, though one could easily have mistaken his veneer for his usual behavior. I do not recall what he mumbled, and would not have made much sense of it had it not been for an incident that happened a couple of weeks later.
James had known about the existence of a mini home armory for a while. He was friends with the guys that were entrusted to take charge of the place. He could sneak in and pick a gun and (almost) do anything he wanted.
He did, one day.
It was a cold Saturday evening when James eventually found his way into the store and reached out for an AK47. His guardian – then the army chief – was away, having travelled on some official assignment. Cold muzzle pointed to one side of his head and one hand in firm grip on the other end of the Kalashnikov, he pulled the trigger. In a flash, James was no more.
News of his death spread like wild fire. We were both in shock and total disbelief. I still recall Radio West’s Birungi Michael Bahinyoza’s headline that evening like it was yesterday. Then followed Capital FM, and Sunday Vision carried a screaming headline the following morning. James, indeed, was gone.
A suicide note, probably written in haste, did not say much, save for the fact one could only hazard implied betrayal and frustration.
James Kikukule Kigo would probably still be alive, going about his business like any other 28 year-old would, had someone whispered words of encouragement months before he made that tragic decision to take his own life.
- Dan A.