So much of what happened to me during my time with the Mai Mai is a blur. It's hard to know what was real and what was hallucinations caused by the untreated malaria I was suffering from during that time. What I do remember, and maybe it's because it was the last conversation we had before he was murdered, was the one Patrique and I had on the Holy Spirit. It's hard not to think that I was the one responsible for his being drawn to their attention. If I had remained silent would his fate have been the same?
Kneeling there in the blistering heat I remember asking him if he was religious as the Mai Mai were moving among us, stripping us of wallets, jewelry, shoes. I told him my mother was, and I'd go to church with her because I liked the music. For some reason this set one of the rebels off and he kept shoving Patrique from behind as I talked, he'd push him forward and I just kept on talking like nothing was happening. I think one of the last things I said to him was how hard it was to feel the Holy Spirit in a place like that. He was murdered within minutes of the conversation as he pleaded for them to spare my life rather than his own.
The remaining men being held were drug one by one into one of the tents where they were killed. Chance and her mother were huddled outside, forced to listen, not knowing if they would be raped, or killed next, and Patrique's lifeless body lay where he had fallen next to me.
It's funny how things change you. The first time we encountered the Mai Mai in Matenda I taunted them, I think I wanted them to kill me. I was daring them to do it. Now, three weeks later, I'm searching for something I haven't had in my life for twelve years. Amidst all that death, I found the strength to drag myself to my knees and pray for my life. I can't say that I knew at the time that what I was doing would save my life, that it would save the lives of Chance and her mother, but it did.
So I guess I was wrong, even in a place of such horror as that the Holy Spirit did exist. I only wish more lives could have received the gift that we three did on that day. At the very least I wish Patrique could have.