Kyalo stood in front of the bathroom mirror staring at the man he now resented. He took a closer look at the man staring back at him. For the first time in a long time, he took note of his big jaws. He had never seen the lines underneath his eyes. He saw the bloodshot eyes looking back at him and he could almost hear himself ask who that man standing there was. He didn’t recognise himself. Was he out of touch with himself this long? He turned to walk out but he suddenly stopped and crashed the mirror with his fist. How could the mirror be that honest with him? It deserved to be crashed. Kyalo thought to himself.
He was woken up by the pain in his right hand. He couldn’t remember what had happened because he was drunk. All he remembered was himself in front of a mirror then breaking it with his fist. He couldn’t remember how he had ended up on the kitchen floor after he walked out of the bathroom. He tried to recollect his cobwebbed thoughts. He couldn’t recall the fight he had with his brother and the bitter exchange of words they had. All he knew was that his body ached. His head ached like someone was inside it banging with a hammer and his right hand was in excruciating pain. He regretted drinking too much and hitting the bathroom mirror.
Kyalo tried to pick himself up from the floor. His first attempt was a fiasco. He landed back on the floor hitting his already aching head. It then hit him that he had not locked the door after coming back to his apartment last night. He attempted to get on his feet again, this time holding on to the kitchen counter. He got up and headed to the living room. He rubbed his blurred eyes. He thought he saw someone seated on his couch. Unable to see who it was, he dragged his feet back to the kitchen unbothered. He didn’t care if it was a thug or not. He instead poured himself ice-cold water from the water dispenser. He prepared some coffee and went back to the living room. His brother sat on the couch like he owned the place.
“What are you doing here and how did you get in?” Kyalo asked through gritted teeth, the coffee mug in his hand threatening to shatter in his grip.
“The door was not locked. So I let myself in. We need to talk.”
“Talk about what? Mutua, you need to leave!”
“Listen Kyalo, none of what you said is true.”
“Really? Including what your wife said?”
“No! You listen here Mr Perfect, I know I will never measure up to you. I know I will always be your shadow. That’s my reality. I am sick and tired of my name being mentioned in the same breath as yours.”
Mutua got up unsure what to say to his obviously exasperated brother and headed for the door. He got to the door and paused. He turned to his brother who seemed out of it, “If you never hear from me again, know this, I love you bro”, then walked out closing the door behind him.
Growing up, Kyalo hated how people compared him to his older brother Mutua. Mutua was everyone’s darling. Why are you not like your brother Mutua, he’d be asked by people. He loathed the endless compliments people especially girls paid Mutua. They were always talking about his good looks, how smart and charming he was. This killed Kyalo.
Now both of them grown up, Kyalo still struggles to get out of the shadow of his brother. Family gatherings are his worst places to be at. His uncles go on and on about how Mutua is an accomplished business and family man. They then turn to Kyalo and ask him a bunch of questions; what he is up to, what does he do with his time, when is he getting married, why can’t he be like his brother.
Yesterday, they were at a cousin’s homecoming party. Their cousin was visiting the family after 10 years of being away in the United States God who knows doing what. So as guys devoured food and drinks, Mutua’s wife walked up to Kyalo and told him to look at what success looked like pointing to his cousin. Kyalo held himself back from hitting her and instead walked away. Kyalo didn’t have a stable job. He did manual jobs to get him by. His brother, on the other hand, was a successful businessman. He had a Tours and Travelling company that made him profits in millions. Mutua tried to talk his brother into joining him but Kyalo turned the offer down. He didn’t want any offers from his brother just because he felt guilty or viewed him as a loser who needed a saviour.
Kyalo was seen by many as the black sheep of the family. He knew most of his family members looked down on him. He didn’t know how much until that homecoming party. His cousins, uncles, aunties went on and on about his accomplished brother. Now his family shoved down his throat the accomplishment of his cousin who was younger than him.
That evening, the youngsters and few uncles were left at the party drinking themselves silly. Kyalo was drunk unable to stand on his feet. Mutua tried to get him to sit down and that’s when Kyalo lost it. He tried to hit his brother with a beer bottle. Mutua ducked, the bottle missing his head by a whisker.
“Get away from me Mr Perfect. You think you are better than me because you made something out of your sorry life? And tell your wife the next time she comes to me with her nonsense, I will not be held responsible for what will happen to her. I am done living in your shadow. For the record, I blame this on mother for always making me feel like a lesser child. I don’t ever want to see you”, Kyalo blasted at his brother as everyone looked at him in disbelief.
As Kyalo turned to leave, Mutua grabbed his shoulder making him turn around and shouted at him, “don’t you ever mention my wife with your filthy mouth. You are responsible for your own failures. So deal with it!”
Kyalo snubbed him then left the party and went home.
There was an emptiness in Kyalo’s heart that tore him apart. He didn’t understand why no one ever saw him and accepted him for who he was. His brother had said what he needed to have said a long time ago. No one had a clue that Kyalo had sunk so low, that he had been battling with depression and had flirted with suicide.
As soon as Mutua left his house that morning, Kyalo decided that that night would be the night to put an end to his misery. He didn’t see the point of living if everything about his life was centred on what he was not. None of his family members ever saw the little he had done like that day his mother’s house accidentally caught fire. He later helped in rebuilding the house. But all he heard was gratitude directed to Mutua for giving money to buy the materials needed to rebuild their mother’s house.
Kyalo’s head was still aching by nightfall. He had drunk coffee but the hangover was too overwhelming. His hand was less painful. He went back to the bathroom ignoring the pieces of broken mirror scattered on the floor. He opened the small cabinet next to the sink and took some painkillers he had bought a week prior. He went back to the living room. He sat on the cold floor and filled his palm with about 200 pills. As he was about to put them in his mouth, his phone rang. It was his brother.
He ignored the call but the phone kept ringing. He took the pills and put them in his wide-opened mouth. Shortly after, his lifeless body lay on that cold floor.
“I should have read the signs. I should have been a better brother and a friend to Kyalo. I blame myself for his death. That night, I had gone back to pick my keys. I realised after I got home that I must have dropped my office keys on his couch. As I stood outside his door and called him, I could hear his phone ring. I checked to see if the door was locked unfortunately it was. I ran downstairs and asked the caretaker to get a spare key if he had one. I knew Kyalo was not at a good place mentally that morning. Luckily, the caretaker had a spare key. He opened the door and that’s when we saw Kyalo on the floor. We rushed him to the hospital but it was too late”, Mutua narrated to his friends a year after the death of his brother.
Since his brother’s death, Mutua devotes his time to raise awareness of depression. He talks about the tell-tale signs and how to offer support to those suffering from depression. He has since become an ambassador of mental health awareness. Even though he still blames himself for the death of Kyalo, he hopes that it’s not too late to make things right.