Surprisingly, as soon as Job Matano was dressed up in the army uniform of the Kenya Defence Force, KDF, his personality felt transformed. It was as if the uniform had added an additional force to him, or as if the KDF uniform was charged with a mysterious power to make him feel an extra man.

Job Matano’s immediate ambition was to become a full man by getting married at the end of this year; to be precise on the twenty-seventh day of December, which l coincided with his birthday. He was engaged to a smashing girl with a peculiar name, Sindilia, whose name made the engagement sexy.

But this morning when the commander of the KDF brigade announced that the brigade should get ready to march to the Westgate Shopping Mall to destroy the Al Shabaab terrorists who had taken the shopping Mall at hostage and started killing people, Job Matano felt cold run down his spine. But so what? His profession was to kill or be killed in defence.

In order to kill that chilling feeling he grabbed his cell phone and rang his fiancé, Sindilia. Her soothing and seductive voice answered just at the right time and he cooed, “Darling, pray for me. We’ve got a small assignment to accomplish at the Westgate Shopping Mall. You already know what is happening out there. We’ll crush those terrorists in a day’s time. See you Sindilia, I must go. I love you.”

He didn’t like the echo of “I must go.” It sounded like he’d be killed. Was his sixth sense right?

Sindilia was not just a beautiful street girl. She was a beautiful and fully fledged university girl doing her third year in Business Administration. Job Matano had the ambition of pursuing military profession up to the highest level. He dreamt of waking up one day to be addressed Colonel Matano on his way to become General Matano.

He was a son of a single mother. The economic fate of his mother had forced him to drop out of college in his second year of studying mechanical engineering. The mother had to support four children and Matano would never forgive her for getting so many children when she was single. One child was enough and two would be the maximum.

Finally, the KDF stormed at the Westgate Shopping Mall ready to destroy the Al Shabaab terrorists. But, suddenly, there ensued a fierce and destructive confrontation between the Police Force and the Army Force regarding who should call shots. Nonetheless the clash finished with KDF taking the day. The Police Force was thrown into the periphery by the real force which should make the terrorists feel most vulnerable.

Matano, armed up to his teeth for the mission, moved forward with extra-force. But a disturbing voice cried from his inside warning that the fight might decide the fate of his marriage to Sindilia. He wanted to prove to Sindilia that being a university person was not that much. So was being the son of a single mother. After all, when the chips were on the table, a man was a man; not a woman. He was going to be the commander of his family brigade.  

Suspended by the hypertension of death and life, they entered the building through a corridor in groups, ready to kill or be killed. There were gunshot sounds from other sides in the building. As they moved most cautiously, Matano’s eyes darted from here to there in search of any sign of terrorist. He was number two in the front. Finally the corridor opened into a row of shops. They stopped at the opening for a security look. The first shop had a wonderful display of jewelery and other precious ornaments objects. Suddenly the leader turned his dismayed face and, for a moment, he and Matano stared at each other in a manner to ask, “Do you see what I see?”

Suddenly their ears didn’t hear any more sound of gunshots for the display of wealth. It happened suddenly. The leader thought fast and saw terrorists in the shopping glass window. He used the military hardware to break the window glass, inviting everybody to help himself. Job Matano saw an unimaginable opportunity to become rich and prove to Sindilia that man was man. He freed his hands by dropping the killing machine after which, employing his hands and agile thinking, he scooped as much wealth as his pockets of the military uniform could carry. He knew fortune strikes once, thank the Al Shabaab terrorists.

In a twinkling of an eye Job Matano realized that he had become a rich man who could afford taking Sindilia for honeymoon outside Kenya, perhaps to Seashells or to Zambia to watch the Victoria Falls. Fully loaded with wealth he picked up his killing machine and moved on. The push from behind didn’t entertain any obstruction since the commander was in control.

He made barely two steps forward when he was struck by an invincible force that spanned him before he staggered and fell. The force was from a terrorist gun, so he thought. He couldn’t believe when, lying on the ground, he tried to stand supporting himself with his right hand – which wasn’t there! The arm had been ripped off by the mighty bullet. It was at that moment when he saw what he couldn’t believe. The ripped off finger-to-elbow arm hung at a portion of a destroyed shelf, part of the arm still bearing a piece of the KDF uniform. That was the last thing he lived to remember.

When he came to he found himself lying in hospital, with a club of bandage to the remainder of the arm. He tried to lift himself only to realize that he could not. His left leg had survived torn off chunks of flesh. He was so lucky that the shot had not reached his bone. Apparently, two host of the AK 47 gun had caught him. He was one of the victims who had lost a lot of blood and needed blood transfusion.

Suddenly he remembered his uniform with the fortune. “Where’s my uniform?” he cried the horror. He was given a polite answer that he had arrived at the hospital partially dressed.

“Where’s my uniform?” he demanded, raising his voice although his energy didn’t allow a forceful voice. The over-worked nurses thought they had given him the answer he deserved. So, they simply walked out on him. Suddenly he felt numb, even his heart numbed. Only then did he realize what the Al Shabaab at the Westgate Shopping Mall had done.

Three days after the incident Sindilia, helped by Matano relatives, traced him to the Bagathi Memorial Hospital. They had been receiving conflicting reports about his fate. One of the reports was that he had been one of the killed KDF officers.

“Oh my God, Job, you are alive!” Sindilia cried tears.

“I don’t know,” replied Job Matano. He, too, wept when he saw his people. It was at that moment when Sindilia realized that her boyfriend’s arm had been ripped off and the leg calf was not there. By then Job Matano had already been wheeled to the dressing room to see the remainder of his empty uniform. The only item left on the blood tainted uniform was his military identity number. Nothing else.

That was the last time Job Matano would ever see Sindilia. Perhaps he had been right when he had replied to her that he didn’t know whether he had survived…