Every day was a struggle. A struggle to survive. A struggle to have something to calm our growling stomachs.
Being in a family of three with just our mother as the bread winner was never easy. Two years ago, I remember standing over my dad as he took his last breath. He had instructed me to take care of my two sisters and mom in his absence.
That was not an easy responsibility to be placed on my frail shoulders.
Two years down the line and I have moved from a gang to the next trying to keep my siblings in school.
Our living conditions compared to those living next to us was a complete contrast. I had already dropped out of school in an attempt to give my sisters the opportunity to learn and be part of an education which upto now I believed was the key to a successful life.
The struggling continued. In and out of police cells was my way of life. Several times I was bedridden in hospitals but not just as a regular patient, I always had cuffs tying me to the bed.
Each of these times someone always bailed me out. I didn’t bother to know who it was… I assumed it was shear luck. Little did I know that one day I would have to pay for everything.
One Friday evening on arrival home, I noticed a black BMW packed outside my mother’s house. I proceeded to the house to enquire if the owner of the sleek machine had happened to lose their way.
I met with Miss Gichuhi (not her real name) upon entering the house. She hadn’t lost her way, she had come to look for me.
In her own words she had watched our family for some months and she had been moved by the level of poverty we languished in. She wanted to give me education and provide me a future.
Why me? She said it was because I had given up my life for the sake of my sisters and since they were almost through with their secondary education, it was time I gave the same a shot. She would pay the remaining fees for my sisters on condition that I proceeded to Nairobi with her to get an education of my own.
My mother was so moved by Madam Gichuhi’s offer that she didn’t know what to say but just nod. The offer was enticing enough for me and based on everything I had heard about Nairobi, moving from my village in Central Kenya to the City In The Sun was a big leap and a big promise.
A promise to what? I would ask myself later… A promise of sacrificing my only family?
Nairobi was breathtaking. From a village boy’s eyes, it seemed like a dream..only the dream was completely real. The streets, the extended lines of vehicles (traffic jams), the beautiful ladies all around, the nights out in clubs (I didn’t know these would turn out to be my places of work. Not as a waiter or anything…)… It was more than I had bargained for.
Miss Gichuhi turned out to be a fun loving person and all weekends we were out clubbing and drinking..
Days turned to weeks and later to months. No school for me. It was just endless picnics, outings, shopping sprees… It was a perfect life compared to what I had before.
Every morning, Miss Gichuhi would wake up at 5 am and start cooking. This food would later be packed and she would go out with it later to come back with empty dishes.
I didn’t dare ask where the food went but as the trend continued, my curiosity grew.
One morning I gathered courage and asked her why I wasn’t allowed to eat that food and where she took it.
“Do you really want to know?” She enquired. Sure is the word that came out without me thinking of the consequence of uttering the same. She said she wanted to surprise me so she had to blindfold me. I didn’t object.
Off we drove from the compound. I could sense her discomfort and fear as she drove. She didn’t talk to me the entire drive, which happened to be taking a direction outside Nairobi. (Being blindfolded I couldn’t see a thing. I only sensed this since the noise was getting minimal the more we drove). We drove for an hour and 30 minutes after which I sensed us going into a rough road. The dust was getting inside the vehicle.
Suddenly the vehicle stopped. I heard her open the driver’s door and get out. She then came around and opened mine. On stepping outside, she took the blind fold off.
Infront of me stood a one story building; the compund was ubnormally clean, quiet and completely deserted. Surrounding the house was a thicket, so thick that I couldn’t tell where we were or if anyone lived anywhere near the compound.
“If you go inside, everything you see must remain there. You’re not allowed to say anything to anyone about what you encounter or see in the house. Is that clear?” She asked.
I only nodded.
Fear and curiosity were growing inside me. Something kept telling me that what I was about to see would change my life forever.
She took the dishes from the back seat of the vehicle and we proceeded to the house. Reaching into her purse, she took out a bunch of keys and opened the house.
Inside, it was pitch dark, despite the bright sunshine outside.
Without making any talk we went inside. She didn’t seem to struggle with the darkness and after some time my eyes also adjusted.
On my side, I noticed a thick, pipe like object. I continued observing around me and noticed that the house just consisted of large paintings and nothing more.
Miss Gichuhi then stopped. Kneeling, she took out the dishes and opened them. What I saw almost made my heart stop. I had never seen something soo scary in my life. I just stopped on my tracks. I was so scared that I could hear the sound of my own hearbeat.
Two extra large snakes were slithering towards the dishes we had brought. This is the time I noticed that the very big pipe like object I had seen was one of the snakes… They were completely black and compared to those I had seen in a primary school tour of snake park near the Nairobi museum, these were five times bigger. I was lost for words. I was scared. My mouth became completely dry as the notches in my stomach grew tighter every minute we spent there.
Finally it was over and it was time to leave. I tried to turn back and run out but Miss Gichuhi had a firm grip on my hand. Her eyes seemed to glow. I had never seen her in this state for the entire period I had known her.
“You will only walk out after me. Not running, not facing the door, but slowly, facing the snakes.” She said.
I was to walk backwards towards the door. My legs wanted to give way but I had to remain strong in order to walk out of this hell hole. Surprisingly I finally did…
This was my first initiation…