A few months ago, I saw a guy get hit by a car. Well, I should have seen it. I was looking right at him, but my mind was miles away. I noticed the event when some lady tapped me roughly to ask what had happened.

I was in a matatu, and I was seated at the window. Apparently, the guy was crossing the road and he got hit so hard that he was thrown over the wire and into the flower bed. It was on the lower side of Uhuru Highway.

I looked up to see the guy lying there, in between two lines of barbs, with blood and dust on some parts of his face. The car that hit him was 100 metres away, and the driver rushed out and ran to the guy. Another guy got out, and they picked up the injured man and rushed him to their wheels.

In the process, the victim’s shoe fell off.

I wondered if the rescuers would come back to pick it up. It was a gorgeous Timberland boot, tan coloured with some suede detail. I never got to find out, because the lights changed and our matatu sped away. The [other] passengers were left discussing how it had happened while I continued to stare blankly and daydream. They thought the guy was drunk, and claimed he was staggering as he crossed. It’s possible that he had a death wish. Others thought he was distracted. He had a lot on his mind and just wasn’t paying attention … a little like me.

I wondered what would happen to him. The hit-people seemed in a hurry. Maybe they wanted the guy to be treated before he died, or maybe they were scared of crowds, so they moved him before one could develop. Maybe they were late for a meeting and they wanted to get there on time.

I wondered where they’d take the guy. Would they go straight to Kenyatta and dump him in Casualty? Would they take the time to check his wallet, call his loved ones and get him to a doctor? Would they want to hang around the ward and explain the accident, facing the possibility of cops? I figured they’d just get to a crowded space, put him on a stretcher, and go on with their day. I hate to admit it, but it’s exactly what I would do. It’s too much work to sit there, make sure he gets treated, pay his deposit, leave my details, get someone to watch my baby, then get blamed, arrested, or extorted for knocking him over in the first place. It’s expensive work being a good samaritan.

I thought about the other side for a bit. I wondered … if it had been me that got hit … would anyone have stopped or cared? Would they rifle my phone and know who to call? Would someone come to my house and meet my baby when the school bus dropped her off?

If I was knocked unconscious, would anyone know what had happened to me? If my baby got home and found the door locked, how long would she wait before she started to panic? Would she be brave enough to go to her uncles or grandad fifteen minutes away? Would she sit at their gate crying because she has no key and there’s nobody home?

When I eventually did get home that day, I sat down with my little girl and drilled her on worst case scenarios. If she gets home and she doesn’t find me, she’s to get the neighbour or shopkeeper to try calling me. If she can’t get through, she’s to call one of her uncles. They have spare keys, and should be able to do something with that.

Once my heartbeat resolved and I was more rational, I thought about the shoe. I always wondered how people got hit so hard that their shoes flew off. I suppose it’s got something to do with friction and gravity – I was never very good at physics. But it could also be from overzealous rescuers.

There was a story some time back about such stray shoes being donated to charity. I wonder if the shoes have partners, since it’d be kind of hard to be given two mismatched shoes, though it would be such fun for a jigsaw lover … you know … looking through the pile of footwear and trying to find matches in size and style. Of course, they say it’s always the left shoe that gets found, and that could present some problems.

You’re probably wondering what this has to do with the end of the world. Well, the way I see it, my story has several signs of the end times. One, I spent one thousand words talking about shoes, and they’re not even Prada, though they did have heels. Two, despite writing for a living, I failed to catch a true life story because I was too busy daydreaming. Three, I saw someone die – maybe – and all I can think about is lost shoes. This could just be a coping mechanism, but we’re drawing very close to 2012, and you do know about the Mayans, right?

129 thoughts on “The end of the world and a case of missing shoes

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