I Am Because He Is

May 5th, 2005 was a Friday. It had rained in Nairobi that evening. The city was abuzz with hawkers, umbrellas, mad people running for matatus and very wet buildings, whose warmth nobody cared about. Kanjo must have taken shelter from the downpour or had probably wound up their day at work. Who would chase those witty mama mbogas in the rain anyway? For what use?
I had just completed that day’s tuition class at St.Peter’s Clever Primary School, right across OTC. The roads were soaked in thick brown soggy water. They were barely crossable with the mad traffic that dashed into the city center. It was 4pm, cold starting to creep deeper into my small body. I had a light jumper on and cream shorts that went about 15 centimeters below my knees, headed for Bomb Blast from where I’d take a 110 matatu to Mlolongo, my home.
Something was going through my mind. I was joining Pumwani Secondary School when the new term would begin, transferring from AIC Athiriver Secondary School where I was a Form 3 student but was getting back to Form 2 in the new school since missing my second term a year before due to expulsion from St.Joseph’s Rapogi. Father had therefore wanted me to touch base on a few things during that holiday hence enrolling me for tuition. I hated it because I had to keep recycling the few clothes I had too often and when you’re an adolescent, you want to dress well – new, all the time.
I made my way into Bus Station. My folder had these: two pens, a Math exercise book, two ruled ones, a scientific calculator and a CD of my first ever recorded song titled ‘Tuliwachagua’ that I had collaborated with Rapho Msanii. I’d carry it everywhere I went. Yes, I still rap. The rain had ceased but the city ran faster. There were no bus queues back then. A matatu would come and everyone would hustle their way in for a seat. Kenyans have always been energetic human beings. It has always been in our culture to fight for things.
The hawkers outside Tuskys Supermarket made the town smaller. Everybody sold everything, from those huge yellow paper bags with calendars on them that mother shopped with on her Gikomba visits to raincoats and big faced green oranges.
”Tatu kumi, tatu kumi!” from this end, and,
”Twedy bo-ob, esherene, twedy bo-ob!” from another.
The Duka La Kukopesha that stood opposite the supermarket had its doors flooded with water and worried legs trying to leap to avoid getting wetter. It’s Nairobi. Here, when it pours, another city emerges. It lets go of its colourful make up, exposing all its dirt, like a woman who doesn’t care about herself anymore.
My head faced down when I was crossing the road to get to Afya Center. And then something happened…
I felt myself hanging in the air.
I saw my folder landing on the dirty tarmac, puking out everything, like it had been struggling to put itself together all that time.
Then I saw the sky; it looked at me with its dull grey eyes. The kind of look a lover gives you when they are leaving.
Then…my head hit the supermarket rails so hard! It felt like those ngotos Mr.Warutere gave us in class 8 Math lessons. Yes, our heads would vibrate with every hit.
I saw the matatu speed off. It was when I registered that I had just been hit by my right ribs. That’s when the pain came in. I ran for my belongings. I’d rather have lost everything else but not the CD, put my things back into the folder hurriedly before the hawkers surrounded me. They seemed so concerned, asking if I was okay, if I needed any help, if I was hurt, if I could walk – all that. They had a million eyes and I was down there getting drowsy looking at them, not knowing who to answer first. You’d think someone had just died, probably by getting stoned for stealing something. This man handed me one of those huge paper bags and I put my folder in it. They gave me way as I stood.
I pretended to be okay. You are a man, you have to pretend to be okay. My right ribs felt colder and seemingly angry, like they were throwing tantrums at my body. I walked towards the Railways Roundabout to find the fare hiked. With 30/- short, there was nowhere else to go. So I thought.
Makongeni was the nearest place I could go. Aunty lived there. I had no phone, no means to communicate to anyone at home. So I began walking to the estate, trekking past OTC, Machakos Country Bus, City Stadium, Kaloleni and finally Makongeni, with my small cold feet. My mind had frozen. I wanted to die.
For close to an hour I trudged, literally holding myself together like I was the only person I had – for indeed it was. Cousin opened the door to welcome me. Her eyes were fazed when she saw me clutching myself like death was chasing me and this place was my last hide out plan. I almost fell when I entered, then blacked out after narrating the ordeal to her.
I woke up at Nairobi West Hospital later into the night. Father was there with his workmate and long time friend, Mr.Muriithi. I tried to feel my legs but could barely move a toe. Then my mind replayed everything that had happened a few hours before, which I later told the doctor. The pain on my ribs had subsided. He did some tests on my eyes and abdomen, took about three minutes spreading the cold mouth of that stethoscope on my upper body then made me understand that I needed to have an X-Ray.
There was no fracture found, no blood clot; nothing but a bruise on my skin. A month before I hit 17. It was enough to make me realize there is something more to my life than breathing in and out. It had been just five months since coming from a botched suicide mission in Malindi, then this.
It was time to start living my second life – my borrowed life. And I’m here today to say that God is good all the time. I serve Him because He lives. I am because He is.




Post Author: Eric Onyango Otieno

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