The day Elizabeth Ochanya died,
I was at work,
Reading emails, talking, laughing,
While she went quietly into the night.
When I told my girlfriend the story,
We held each other in our small kitchen,
For a minute, it felt like we were slow dancing to the music from a boiling pot,
Later, I caught her staring into space,
Do not think too much of it, I said,
There are too many people dying on too many days,
The heart cannot hold too much pain,
So we have to make like Tinder and swipe left till we find a broken body our hearts can hold.
The next day I went for a protest walk
Just before work,
Nobody talks, about the silence that weighs like gravity in the places protests are planned,
The morning before we start,
They ask if anyone is an artist?
We need to design the placards,
I do not volunteer,
I am too afraid,
Someone picks up a marker,
Writes Justice for Ochanya in red across the face of the cardboard,
I wish for two things,
1. That he had written it across the sky,
2. He had used Elizabeth in the hashtag, Ochanya is a man’s name,
The marker punches a hole in the ice,
Our voices come through,
We argue the legalities,
Discuss death sentences for rapists,
We check the placards for typos,
I learn the logistics of protest,
Should we be smiling?
Should there be jokes?
I write on one placard – Why do we only believe the dead?
I do not say: Why do we sacrifice our daughters like Lot?
The walk begins late,
I have to go back