My Life is a Big Mess

By Guest Writer

Yesterday morning, I found a body of a man mutilated in the corridors of Kayole. I was on my way to work but I stopped to look. I took a long look at this hopeless soul that had been left for the dogs and smiled. “You look beautiful son,” I thought. Then I jumped over whatever was left of this hopeless fool and made my way to work. Do not judge me. I was not always like this. Life has taught me that it is all vanity and I cannot think about anything for too long. Before you wonder why I was not gutted to see the dead body; before you curse at why I was not afraid to look at a dead body of some stranger from wherever he was picked; before you call me a monster for jumping over him and going my way; before you ask why I did not call the police; just hear me out.

I have lived in Kayole for thirteen years. I was not born here. I was born in Kapenguria, Rift Valley, in 1985. My parents were loving people and harmless at worst. I remember my father, a tall, dark, and muscled man, who cared for everything around him so much. He showed me what a man should be; caring, loving, a listener, considerate, and charming. I loved that man to death. Then there was my mother. She was the true definition of a housewife; submissive, loving, hardworking, and charming. My father worked in Posta in Kapenguria while my mother did nothing except take care of the home and myself. My father and mother were true lovebirds. They shared kisses and hugs and planned everything together. I never knew violence for the entirety of my childhood, except that my childhood did not last very long. On the Friday of November 1 1991, I was woken up by commotion and cries from my mother. What sounded like a slap extinguished her voice in a flash. I did not bother to look for my koroboi. I slowly opened the door to my room and attempted to crawl out. That did not take me anywhere as what felt like a frying pan of a palm grabbed me by the neck and dragged me to the living room. My parents were tied up and made to sit on a sofa in the room, naked. In no time, I was bound and gagged just like my parents. “Who are they,” I wondered. After what sounded like a decade of searching through the house, two other men joined the three in the room.

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“It is not here,” one of them said.

There was a long moment of silence and frustration in the room. A man who had been with us in the room the whole time lowered his trousers and forced himself on my mother as my father and I watched helplessly. They wanted us to see it. One after the other, they raped my mother. I cried until I could not cry any more. After what felt like hell, the last man zipped his trouser and laughed. I looked at the clock on the wall. 2:27 Am. Then my eyes landed back on the man zipping his trousers and I saw a scar on his left arm, one that would remain a permanent picture in my head. I thought the ordeal was over but it wasn’t. One of the men slit my mum’s throat before my eyes. I screamed but none of it was heard because of the gag. The man with a scar on the left arm then stabbed my father right through the heart and then ordered the rest to make their way out. My parents were killed before my eyes in one night.

That night was as long as any I have ever had. I stayed with two dead bodies for hours before the sun rose and Susan, my cousin whose house was metres from ours, came calling my name as she normally did every morning that we went to school together. She turned and ran back to her house when she saw the scene. A week later, I was a total orphan adopted into the family of my paternal uncle. He was good to me and a father figure. He treated me like he did my cousins. I should have felt lucky to have him except that he had a scar on his left arm. Before you ask it, it was the exact scar I had seen on the night of November 1, 1991. I heard that they never found the killers of my parents and motive of the murder. Every day that I lived in Uncle Patrick’s house, the image of the last man who raped my mother and the man who stabbed my father right through the heart flashed through my face. And hey, do not even imagine it. I never saw their faces. They were all covered.

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On May 13 1994, my cousin (Uncle Patrick’s elder son) was hit by a car on a busy market day and died on the spot. I remember that night when the body was brought home. I was so happy because I felt that a power stronger than me was fighting my battles. I looked at his body and felt nothing; no pain, no grief, no fear, no anxiety; Nothing. In 1997, my uncle got ill and was nearing his last days when I took food to him one day and posed the tough question to him: why? Why did you have to kill my father? He never answered that question. A day later, he died a natural death. I was so furious that I took the five litres of kerosene that had been bought for lighting for that night and poured it on his coffin then set it ablaze. I do not remember much about that day except for the fact that I woke up in police custody and was admitted to a mental hospital days later.

So forgive me if my actions yesterday do not tie well into your normal way of thinking because mine is not a normal life. I cannot think normal or act normal because I am not normal. May be they were right to lock me up with the mentally ill because my life was changed forever in 1991. However old I grow, I will never be able to shake off the image of how the man I should call my uncle had all the pleasure as he raped my mother. I cannot shake off the image of my mother choking on her own blood after her throat was slit. I cannot get over the image of my father trying to stay alive after a knife was drilled through his heart. Worst of all, I cannot shake off the years I lived and imaginations of all the possible ways I could kill my uncle to avenge my parents’ deaths.

My mind is haunted. My childhood was not one to admire. I need help but not the help you are thinking of. Help me by helping the children to not turn out like I did. The childhood of many children is being messed up by actions of adults that can be controlled. Children are raped. Children are sodomized. Children are violated in ways you cannot imagine. You know what is more painful? Most of these atrocities are committed by people that the children trust.

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A Misfit by Birth

By Guest Writer

Yesterday someone stepped on my toe in a matatu in Nairobi, I said sorry. Later in the day, as I was cycling along outer ring road, a driver accidentally touched his horn and I thought I was in his way. I squeezed myself close to the guard rail and let him pass. A few metres ahead, he stopped and waited for me to approach so that he could apologize. He said sorry and I said it is okay. That it was not a problem and I planned to stop anyway. I lied and he drove off, satisfied that he had hurt no one. I helped a man to cross the road by putting my bike right across the Zebra crossing so that vehicles had no choice but to stop. Immediately he crossed, I jumped on my bike and sped off. I did not want to hear him say “thank you” because those words do not make sense to my ears. If anything, “thank you” and “sorry” are the three words I love to use on people but hate it when they are used on me.

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Growing up, I lived in a broken family. My father was a business man (in my village, this was anyone who owned a kiosk that sold anything to the people especially household stuff like sugar and salt and kerosene to the villager) and my mother was a chef in a school mile away. I do not know if I was born in or out of wedlock and never have I bothered to find out because I do not see the value in it. Whether I am a daughter of fate or a product of a mistake remains a mystery I do not intend to solve or even hear anything about. The fact is, I never saw my parents married and have never seen them in conflict. Whatever happened to them or between them better remains in the past. I was brought up mostly by my father and my late stepmother, Nelly (May her soul rest in peace). Nelly was an incredible woman. When I was still a baby (hardly five), I have memories of Nelly washing me and washing my clothes alongside those of my father and my younger brother, Philip, who was her first born. I remember Nelly insisting on teaching us household chores together. I knew how to do dishes before I stepped in a class and knew how to cook before I could learn how to write. She was a virtuous woman, for most part, and a religious one (a little).

For most part, she was incredible. She taught me everything that I know today. She gave me my first sanitary towel and explained to me what was happening when I had my first period. She insisted that I go to school and take my academics seriously. Whether it was her design or my father’s pressure, she did the best a mother could do. She taught me to be a woman before I was old enough to be a girl. She taught me respect and service and showed me patience and love. She protected me and gave me parenting that modern children can only read in classic.

However, it was not all rosy. My teen years defined something of a nightmare in my life. I was made to apologise for everything whether it was my fault or not. I learnt to say thank you whenever she gave me anything because that was my punching ticket to whatever she would have next. I observed that this was not the case with my brothers and sisters but I had long learnt that survival was the path I was walking. Everything that enabled me to survive was my forte. I became withdrawn and introverted because I feared saying something that would be hurtful or cause me trouble. Whenever I opened the door, I said sorry just in case there was anyone behind the door who would feel like I “intentionally” wanted to hurt them. I started eating last and finished first because I did not want any of my siblings complaining that I had eaten “their share” of the food. Sometimes, I kept myself busy as the rest of the family was eating so that I would only eat what was left. All I wanted was peace. I could have contacted my mother and told her that I was “suffering” and she would have come for me the next day but I did not. To date, I do not know what informed that decision.

Life became harder when I joined high school. I went to a school 4 kilometres away from home. Our school had a 45-minute remedial lesson that ran between 5pm and 5:45pm, which meant that for five out of seven days a week, I arrived home at 7pm or later. My siblings were still in primary school, 100 metres or less from home. However, when I arrived home, there were chores like fetching water that I needed to undertake. For my stepmother, her cooking time and that of my siblings ended when I arrived from the river to fetch water. If I did not fetch water, I would not be allowed to drink any water or even wash my face in the morning because “my share of water was not there” and I had no right to eat other people’s sweat. I remember a day when I arrived home at 7:30pm, wet from being rained on and I could not fetch any water. The next morning, I washed my face at the river on my way to school because I was not entitled to any water in the house. When I came back in the evening. I apologized for having not fetched water although it had rained and apologised again for washing my face at the river on my way to school. I apologised for having not taken breakfast although I was not allowed to because the water that cooked it was not my sweat. Then I thanked my stepmother for allowing me to sleep in the house because she had all the right to send me out for not doing anything. I did not know why I had to but I said thank you and sorry anyway.

Soon after I sat my KCSE examination in 2007, I got pregnant with my on. I said sorry for the last time and then thanked my stepmother for everything and fled. The next time I saw my stepmother, she was dead. I cried over her lifeless body and felt no weight in my heart because I did not hold it against her. At the funeral, I hated everyone saying sorry to the family. It was at that moment that I noticed I hate being thanked and sympathised with.

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I don’t know how many exist that are like me in society. I do not know how many people were brought up to know that they were wrong before they were right. That everything was a mistake before it was an effort. That every effort was a failure before it was a success. That before they become anybody, they are nobody. That is my childhood. Do not expect me to ask for help from you because that is not who I am. I would rather go down fighting it on my own than ask for help because I know how you will look at me. I will help you whenever you need it without you asking but I do not want your help. And after I have helped you, do not thank me. Just go on your way. After you hurt me, do not apologize. Just go on your way. I am a vase whose content neither you nor anyone else will understand because that is how I was moulded. That is the clay that made me.


The Distress Call

“Hello Douglas. Where are you?” this was an unusual question from Douglas.

Douglas has been my friend for over eleven years. When I first met him, we were on opposing teams in a soccer tournament in a certain Gavudia Primary School stadium in Sabatia constituency playing for a certain Musalia Mudavadi Cup. I was a defender for my team, then known as Hard Boys while he was a midfielder for his team, Nacet. Back in the day, a half of football ended when the referee decided to end it. There were no minutes. Some halves took 20 minutes and others took 65 minutes. During the early minutes of the second half, I got injured and was substituted. I elected to go and sit near our goalkeeper to chat with him as the game wore on. After all, he was my former classmate in primary school. Minutes later, I was distracted only for Nacet’s striker, Agesa (RIP) to hit a fierce shot that went off target and straight into my face. That was the first and last time I fainted in my life. When I regained my senses, an hour or so later, I was told that Douglas helped bring me back. That the game was abandoned and everyone ran because they thought I was dead. All of them, except Douglas.

“I am somewhere between Isinya and Kitengela. I have been cycling all day and I am heading home now,” I answered. This response was casual. Being a Saturday, I thought all Douglas wanted was to grab some tea or catch a game or play chess. How wrong could I have been?

“I want to talk to you bro. As soon as possible,” he said.

“Okay. I will call you immediately I get home. Hang in there.”

As I got back on my journey home, I could not help but wonder what prompted this call. Douglas’s voice grew louder, more persistent, and more insistent in my head. As soon as possible. As soon as possible. As soon… I wanted answers immediately but waiting was all I could do. Well, not all. I could also cycle faster and get home sooner.

“Can I ask you something Douglas?” He started as soon as I handed him a cup of tea. I did the listening as he did the talking. “Are there some people who are just born to be unhappy?”

“What do you mean?” I asked. His question may have been rhetoric but I felt my question was reasonable.

“Yesterday, I arrived home with enormous stress. I learnt that I will be jobless in a month because my company is resizing and I am one of the casualties. However, being the first born that I am, I soldiered on. I had hope that I would get a new job and everything would be okay. However, at this point in time, I needed support. I needed someone to talk to.”

He paused and looked up, perhaps hoping to find me browsing or watching the soccer match on the screen. However, I was all ears.

“I know what you are thinking,” he continued. “My wife. I told her about the whole story. I don’t even know what she thinks. My daughter will be sent for school fees soon, my rent will be due soon, my father relies on me, and many other things that have been overwhelming while I was employed. They will still be here while I am unemployed. Everyone looks at me and thinks I am managing well but I am not. I am messed up Douglas, I really am.”

I looked at my friend straight in the eye without showing any emotion. I wanted to tell him that he was not alone in this but it hardly sounded right in my own head. I wanted to tell him to calm down and take a rest. That sounded crazy as well. I wanted to ask him whether he would fancy the “work-from-home” ideas and self-employment but even that did not sound right. I sympathised with him from within but my face showed no emotion.

“No. You are not messed up Douglas,” I said at last, feeling stupid immediately after saying it.

“You really believe that?” he asked.

On a normal day, the answer to this question would be a no-brainer. Of course I believe in it, I would say. I would then accompany it with a long speech full of motivation and reasons why my friend should see the good side of this bad situation. However, it was not a normal day and I did not think Douglas was done.

“You know what is worse, Idiot?” he continued. “This is not an isolated situation. For the past two years, my life has been moving in reverse gear. I have stagnated at work. I cannot seem to get a promotion, training, pay rise, or even a new sitting station. I started my Masters degree and then stopped because I could not afford it. I started a business and it failed because I could not put in the time it needed. Worst of all, my family has been drifting further and further away from me. All over a sudden, they are all too busy for me. They no longer visit and when I visit, they no longer seem interested. My friends. Do I still have any friends? Okay, those I call friends. I can no longer ask for help from most of them. No one supports me. Everyone who claims to is only pretending.”

Douglas paused and took a few gulps of tea. He seemed deep in thoughts but unable to think. I could not help but relate to his story. I have heard so many of these stories that whenever I hear one, I think it is a past one being replayed. I wondered what the statistics would be if an honest survey of stress levels was carried out among my peers. Would the rate of stress be closer to zero or a hundred percent?

“Look here buddy. I hope I am not boring you but I did not know anyone else I could talk to.”

“No no no,” I interjected. “You are not boring me. You are speaking my language more than you may realize it. You are not alone,” I said. I felt disappointed in myself for saying this. It sounded wrong to say such at this point in time.

“Are we ever supposed to be understood?”

This question caught me unawares. For the first time in this conversation, I did not understand what Douglas was asking me. I did not understand what “we” meant just as I did not know what he wanted whom to understand. For the first time in the conversation, my face betrayed my emotion. Such had been my expression that he must have thought I was disinterested. At the moment I wanted to ask for clarification, the question replayed itself in my head louder and clearer. Really?-I thought. I could not help but wonder how many people asked themselves this question on a minute by minute basis. It must feel absurd to be in a bubble where you are a certain anomaly.

“Yes. There is someone who understands everyone,” I answered.

There was a long silence that left me thinking about how heard people like Douglas are. I wondered whether there were hundreds if not thousands that live in “silent depression” in Kenya. My thoughts wandered to the rising cases of “crimes of passion” of “murders-for-love” as people call them. I wondered how many of those may be results of silent depression. Then I wondered how many people believe they live for others. I wondered how many people thought their only purpose in life was making others happy at whatever cost.

“Would you like to play chess?” I asked, offering a distraction. It did not seem to work as there was some more silent before Douglas stood up to pick the chess board.

“Some of us have to be stressed for others to be happy, right?”

It was rhetoric, but a question either way.

“No. I don’t think so,” I responded.

As we played, I wondered about other people. How often do we listen to those who are suffering from different situations? How supportive are you? Do you think he or she is depressed?


Curve of Love

Queen “Maya” 
I called 
I called because I wanted to talk to you
I called because I wanted to say hi
I called kuuliza kama kuna chai
I called because I wanted to be sure you are well
I called because I did not want you to be alone
I called, because… Well, I called!

I wrote you a message
I wrote to you to remind you of your worth
I wrote to remind you not to dispair
I wrote to tell you that you should hold on
I wrote to show you love and care
I wrote because… Well, I wrote!

I sent a voice note
I spoke of the memories we have had together
I spoke of the countless conversations by the bridge
I spoke of kangumu and strong tea
I spoke of the couch, the brown couch
I spoke of the bedsitter and its chronicles
I spoke of the journey through the wanted and unwanted
I spoke of the chance I missed to be with you forever
I spoke because… Well, I spoke!

I sent a parcel to you, my dear
I sent a parcel of love and care
I sent hugs and an angel to be with you every moment of the evening
I sent a serenading bird to peep through your window
I sent a silent shadow of me to watch over you as you sleep
I sent a charm of good luck to cover your entire presence
I sent a hand, an extension of God to care for you
I sent my heart to offer comfort
I sent a shoulder
I sent an ear
I sent an eye
I sent my whole being, just for you
I sent it because…. Well, I sent it

The depths will only be understood by you
The steps will only be comprehended by you
For when I talk about memories, I talk you
For when I whisper silly words, they are a song to you
Your intelligence, dear sapiosexual
Your wit, dear human-magnet
Your charm, dear keeper
Your love, hopeless romantic
Are the reason why, here I lay

Is it a boy? Is it a girl?
I search for answers because I want to know
I search for peace because I want to feel
I search for love because I want to live it
I search for identity because I lost you
Yet here I sit, alone
Alone with my mind and crazy love for you
You with whom I can never spend all my life
Life which doesn’t make any sense any more
Any more than your elegant presence
Yet I still ask
Is it a boy? Is it a girl?



To You

That was the moment I talked to you

For the serenade voice I listened to you

My heart knew right there I wanted you

Love to build together with you

My heart came out and sounded out to you

I have not much but love for you

Whatever the journey let me go with you

And I still sit here hoping, to hear from you.


When you say it, oh dear girl

My hear is waiting to love and care

My soul is waiting to cherish and embrace

My mind is focused on everything and anything

The brakes you pulled are waiting for release

The three words be the key to the lock

A lock of the world we will enjoy

And I still sit here hoping, to hear from you.


I met you by the cool pool

A befitting dress made all look and feel cool

Your taste of phone made your class sky cool

Your hug made my chest-thumping cool

You knew I had said the words before in full

“I love you” was not a piece of old wool

And yet you are glued right on the stool

And I still sit here hoping, to hear from you.


I have done my best for the test

I have shown my taste for the best

You seem to have a quest for no guest

But am waiting for some fest

I am giving it to you a test

Embrace the love I give if you can

Lock my heart in your tin of caring can

As I still sit here hoping, to hear from you.


And when you decide to say the three words

Know what they mean with their open studs

Am not looking for a bazooka bayonet

Am not looking for mental whips and sticks

If you can’t be a lady, dump the tricks

If I can’t be a man, pass by the sticks

Chandelier love drops and dries

Yet here I wait and hope, to hear from you


My Name is Chris

My name is Chris, I am three,
My eyes are swollen, I cannot see,
I must be stupid, I must be bad,
What else could have made
My daddy so mad?

I wish I were better,
I wish I weren’t ugly,
Then maybe my mommy
Would still want to hug me.
I can’t do a wrong
I cant speak at all
Or else I’m locked up
All day long.

When I’m awake I’m all alone
The house is dark
My folks aren’t home
When my mommy does come home
I’ll try and be nice,
So maybe I’ll just get
One whipping tonight.

I just heard a car, My daddy is back
From Chariles bar, I hear him curse
My name is called, I press myself
Against the wall, I try to hide
From his evil eyes, I’m so afraid now
I’m starting to cry

He finds me weeping
Calls me ugly words,
He says it’s my fault
He suffers at work.
He slaps and hits me
And yells at me more,
I finally get free
And run to the door

He’s already locked it
And I start to bawl,
He takes me and throws me
Against the hard wall
I fall to the floor
With my bones nearly broken,
And my daddy continues
With more bad words spoken,

“I’m sorry!”, I scream
But it’s now much too late
His face has been twisted
Into an unimaginable shape
The hurt and the pain
Again and again
Oh please God, have mercy!
Oh please let it end!

And he finally stops
And heads for the door
While I lay there motionless
Brawled on the floor
I cry for mommy help
You silly piece of meat
It is your fault am obese
It is your fault I have a cold
It is your fault, all of it.

Daddy sits at his corner seat
Sipping more muratina and cigar
Mommy finds my helpless body on the floor
She kicks me in anger
She yells how I anger
It’s her turn to turn me in out
By mistake I cry and call out
Daddy comes and joins the party
Whips and sticks my back cracks
What have I done?

Dear father, dear mother,
Don’t be like my daddy and mommy
Love the kid you have
She may be all that you have
Encourage him and care for him
Let him not end up like me
My name is Chris
I am three,
Tonight my daddy and mommy
They murdered me.