Draining my beer, I checked my watch.
'I reckon we’ve got time for another one,’ I smiled at my wife, Kathy.
It was September 2013. Originally from New Zealand, Kathy and I had been living in Nairobi, Kenya for six months with my work at an edible oils company.
We’d been shopping in the mall and were now relaxing in a cafe, afternoon sunlight streaming onto the balcony where we were sitting.
While I loved the city, I knew Kathy was itching to be back in NZ and there wasn’t long to go. We were due home in four days.
Just as the waiter set down another drink, I heard a deafening bang.
I thought it was a car backfire, then I heard two more huge booms.
Who’s letting off fireworks here? I thought.
But turning to the entrance of the cafe, I saw people dropping like flies.
My world seemed to lapse into slow motion.
‘Get down!’ I roared to Kathy.
A bullet sailed past me as I hit the ground, cowering under the table.
Milliseconds later, an unsettling warmth spread over my back – blood!
I’d been hit and I hadn’t even felt it.
Then crack, another bullet tore into my side and pain hit.
‘I’ve been shot,’ I moaned, crawling towards Kathy.
Wanting to shield her, I dragged my body on top of hers.
Shrapnel exploded around us as a grenade blasted only metres away.
I knew we had to get out of there.
Mustering all my strength, I stood up and dashed to the exit.
‘You can’t go that way,’ another customer warned. ‘They’re everywhere.’
By now, blood was spurting out of the wound on my back and my vision was fuzzy.
A cafe worker next to us took off his apron and used it as a tourniquet.
‘Please don’t die,’ Kathy begged me.
The balcony leading onto the street seemed to be the only safe way out.
Climbing over and dropping 4ft onto the ground, we rushed down some stairs with two other people from the cafe.
I held the flaps of flesh on my back that had burst open, while the bullet in my side was absolute agony.
Operating on pure adrenalin, I could feel my wound pulsing as I lodged my hand in the bullet hole, running towards safety.
Kathy frantically pounded her hands on a man’s car window, pleading with him for help.
Seeing me covered in blood, he looked horrified and locked his doors.
Luckily, we spotted a taxi among the chaos.
‘We need to get to the hospital!’ Kathy cried, as we bundled inside.
He weaved in and out of traffic as I lay on the back seat, trying not to pass out.
Is this how I die? I wondered hazily.
We were the first of many wounded to make it to the hospital.
Struggling to breathe, I staggered through the entrance.
‘I think I was shot in a robbery,’ I told the doctors.
Whisked to theatre, a nurse grabbed my hand.
‘You need to be brave, sir,’ she said.
‘We don’t have time to give you anaesthetic.’
I lay there for a confused moment, before I felt them slice my side wide open to put a tube in my collapsed lung. A guttural scream escaped my throat.
I would have taken being shot again over this excruciating pain.
‘Stop!’ I howled, before blacking out.
When I next woke up, I was in the ICU.
The two bullets were still lodged inside me.
Aside from the gunshot wounds, I was cut up from the grenade shrapnel.
Kathy was by my side when the news flashed up on a tiny screen in my room.
TERROR IN NAIROBI: GUNMEN STORM WESTGATE MALL
Now it made sense. In the bloodbath, 71 people had been killed and nearly 200 injured.
The four men who stormed the mall – Islamic extremists – were among the dead.
By now, the hospital was overflowing with victims needing urgent care.
The next morning, I had surgery to remove the bullets from my body.
Incredibly, one was only 2mm away from hitting my heart.
‘I could see it moving with every heartbeat,’ my doctor told me.
It was a miracle I was alive.
After just 12 days, I was discharged.
Kathy and I spent a few weeks recovering in Nairobi, before heading home to New Zealand.
And a month after the attack, I was back at work.
Nearly six years on, I feel my blood run cold whenever there’s news of another terror attack.
Some, such as the Christchurch or recent Sri Lankan massacres, feel eerily familiar.
You never think it’ll happen to you… until it does.
Kathy and I have never let this trauma define us.
Sometimes, we both feel survivor’s guilt and have flashbacks to the horror.
But then we both remember – that’s exactly what the terrorists want.
Terror and violence will never win.
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