I am in an island. It’s beautiful. Samatian island. It sits on lake Baringo. I can hear the owl. I have been listening to him all night hoping his owling would soothe me to sleep. The breeze is sensational, the birds have this symphony in their tweeting. I should be feeling happy. I should be feeling okay, but I’m not. I feel empty.
This place is so beautiful. On a normal curve, I would have really explored the island. This trip is supposed to help me ride out this depressive state I have been in for the past one week. And yes, I should plan a trip back when I get better but for now, I don’t think this is working for me as expected but it’s a good distraction. It was supposed to help and maybe it did because I’m realizing that the dark place is in my mind. The sunken place is in my head and what I need to work on is getting back my sanity. That it is the real challenge.
21/08/21. I was having a normal day. I had two lessons that day. I left my daughter with a colleague near my place of work so she can play with her friends while I’m working. My friend was to come over that evening for the weekend and I was looking forward to that. I had called a cleaning lady to do my laundry and I would come release her after my first lesson then head back to school. I was teaching “commonly misspelt words” in form one and they got me excited to attend my next lesson. I needed to dash back to the house so that I could be back in time for the next lesson. I got a lift from a colleague and I got home in time to pay the lady. At 11:45 am I was waiting for a matatu to head back to work. I had 25 minutes before my next lesson and that is when all hell broke loose.
A small matatu stopped and I casually got in without thinking twice about who was in the car. The driver said hi to me and I jumped right back to chatting with my friend. That’s when it happened! The man seated next to the driver and the one seated next to me jumped me. Suddenly these two men where trying to hold me down. I was screaming, tossing, and biting. They didn’t like that. They wanted me to shut up and remain calm. They covered my head with a Maasai shuka and demanded that I stay quiet or they’ll hurt me. How could I be calm in this situation? These men are Kikuyu. I can tell from the language they are using. One of the guys was busy taking everything on me. My phone, my ring, my watch, money that was on me, and my spectacles. The car kept moving. My small bubble had been shattered and my world was falling apart. I was so scared, I’m still scared.
I thought of my daughter. I thought of my friend. My mom. My family. And even my students. I can’t breathe. The guy is holding my face so aggressively. He notices I am choking so he moves his hand a little. I manage to sneak a look outside, I see my school’s gate as the driver drives past it. The driver asks one of the guy to put a blindfold on me. He is already going through my phone. He is demanding for my pin numbers. I’m crying. I’m shaking. One of the guys doesn’t like this and he slaps me so hard to affirm that if I don’t remain calm, they’re not afraid to stay calm.
Dear Lord make me a bird so I can fly far far away from here. Dear Lord make me a bird so I can fly far far away from here. Dear Lord make me a bird so I can fly far far away from. I say this prayer over and over in my head. I still have my keys in my hand. I grasp them hard like my life depends on it. The driver stops. It’s a busy place. I can hear bodabodas, cars, and people talking outside. I am told not to scream. The blindfold stings my eyes when I try to open them and see if I can see anything behind it. At this point, the driver says that all they want is money. He has checked my account. He clears my accounts and still demand that I think of someone I can call to help me by sending me 10k on my M-PESA line and they would let me go. I suggest that they call my mom and the guys are opposed to it being a family member. Who to call? So I told them which number to call and they had her on loudspeaker. It was my friend who was coming over the same day. Figured if these guys do let me go it will be easier to explain everything to her later.
I’m not to sound nervous or in distress. They don’t call until I’m breathing right. I want to ask her to call the police but every movie I’ve watched has taught me that the best thing to do is cooperate. I ask her to send me 10k I will refund in the evening. But I know her and I know she will ask what the money and there is a huge chance that we might not send. So I keep asking her to just send me the money it’s an emergency and these guys hang up. The driver stops the car just to slap me. He keeps slapping me and expects me to remain calm.
Lord make me a bird I need to fly far far away from here. I’m not comprehending what is happening. I’ve been kidnapped. This is not a dream. This is not a bad scene in a movie. This is really happening. The guy holding me from behind keeps touching me and lifting my sweater. He keeps taking my hand in his hand to calm me and I wonder what fucked up people I’m I dealing. So the driver hauls insults at me and tell me to try the call again and this time to realize that my life depends on it. They call her again and I tell her my daughter has fallen and I need to rush her to hospital. And she agrees. I keep waiting to hear the message beep. I keep hoping and praying that they let me go. I’m worried about my daughter. Had I known that making that call would also have me lose my friend, I’d never done it. But what choice did I have?
The message comes but they still don’t let me go. They keep driving and driving. Off road then on road. Off road then on road. The blindfold stings and I’m starting to cry none stop. They don’t want to hear sounds from me, I’m not allowed to even cough. He keeps touching me. He keeps commenting on my skin tone and calling me beautiful. He keeps asking me to have sex with them and they’ll let me go. I can see it, how I did. They’ll take rounds on me, kill me, and dump my body somewhere and I’ll be missing for days before my dead body is discovered. In what world would they let me go? The news have been reporting of these scenarios and no one comes off alive. They keep telling me that they’ll let me go. And that all they need is money and once they are done transfering the money they will be drop me off.
I was having a perfect day in the morning and now everything is just dark. I’m still on the car floor and one guys has his shoe edging into my thighs. It’s painful. My face stings from all the slapping. My eyes are itching now. I can f the l my eyes swelling. I’m scared. So scared. The driver keeps asking the guy holding me back to stop touching me. He stops for a while and goes to it again. I can’t believe this is happening. They’re done transfering the money and they ask me to seat ready for drop off. They tell me to keep my blindfold on and to not move unless they say so. But they keep driving still and eventually I hear a guy open the boot. And I’m sure, this is how I die. This is it. I’m saying my prayers. Then the car stops and the guy at the front opens the door from outside. By the time I remove the blindfold the boot of the car is up. So I don’t see the number plate. I don’t know where I am and my runner instincts tell me yo just run. I run till I see a boda boda guy. I ask him to take me to a police station. I ask to use his phone and the first person I call is my friend. I tell her what has happened to me and she doesn’t believe me. She doesn’t believe me. The police believe me but she doesn’t. I want to be done with police and go see my daughter.
I replace my line and get the number they sent money to from my statement. Later in the evening I give the details to the police. I ask the boda guy to take me to my colleague’s place. And even though I’m still breaking down and scared, I’m happy to see faces I’m familiar with. Three of my colleagues are with me. Consoling me. Telling me how sorry they are but all I want is for someone to just hold and tell me that I am safe now. And even though keep telling me that I should be grateful that I’m still alive and they didn’t rape me, I’m not feeling safe. I’m scared. My world has been shattered and I don’t know what to do next. I can’t wait to see my friend. My colleagues get my bags from the office for me. My day doesn’t understand why I’m crying. It bothers her. And I wish I could explain to her that I’m feeling broken and I don’t know where to begin. Nothing feels okay. My face is red from the slaps. My eyes are swollen from crying my eyeballs out. My head hurts. My body hurts. My friend picks me up and she doesn’t seem happy to see me. She doesn’t believe me. We get home and she asks me if I’m in trouble and I needed money. I realize she thinks I conned her. There it goes again – my world falling apart.
I just want her to hold me and tell me it’s gonna be okay. She doesn’t and I feel so alone. She walks out and leaves me Sunday morning. So coldly and so brutally. I can’t comprehend what’s happening. I don’t get it. What sort of karma mud house did I walk into this month. I don’t get it. It’s beyond me. I hate my life in the moment. 28 has been sucking and honestly I just want this birthday month to end. I had just come off processing the death of a student the week before and now I was here processing this and everything just feels unfair. I’m empty. I’m traumatized. I don’t want to be sober. The whole week I’m not sober. I’m crying most times. I’m not eating. I’m not sleeping. I’m sulking. Never opening the curtains. Just drowning.
I thank God for my friends. Especially Munyaka Njiru. For helping me get to the DCI, for pushing me to get out. For this trip. For having people take me to work because I was so scared to take a matatu. To Veronica for being so understanding and taking places because I’m too scared to leave the house. Mbuthia, Kerubo, Jonathan, Booker, Cynthia, Nams, Lady Vibrant, and every single person who has held my hand through this. You guys are the realest. To Kevin, Glory, Chris, and Mo for a good trip. For engaging me and making me feel okay. A trip to lake Baringo should help. And it does. It’s supposed to help. It marks a week since it happened and I’m on this island. Samatian island. Such a beautiful island looking into the lake. There is only abyss. There is only peace. And I love the company. The conversations make me feel normal for the first time in a week. But still! I can’t be sober! I can’t!. I love the owl. It’s has such beautiful eyes. I love how it turns its head. I love the conversations. Everyone is happy. Everyone is such a vibe. And for those two days I haven’t been sulking. Some life has been coming to me. I thinks of my daughter and of my students, they need me to be okay. I’m working on it but I know deep down I won’t be okay for sometime.
Yes! I’m growing. I’m still learning. And 28 welcomed me with the toughest lesson of all, that the world is a cold place. There are horrible people on it and even though we don’t meet them everyday, they’re there. There are people looking to survive whichever the means necessary and people are getting hurt for it. People are dying to it. It’s insane!
This trip may not have fixed me but it made realize that it’s okay to not be okay. But it’s not okay to stay stuck there. Yes! This is where I’m at. And yes I don’t like it here but I’m purposed to get my life on track again. And even though I may not know where to begin, I know that I hope will get me there. And that’s what Samatian gave me, some hope. I may be afraid to navigate my surroundings and even running won’t do it but I still hold dear that nature always does me some good. Being out here with these lovely people was something I didn’t think I needed. And that’s something. So sometimes, take trips. Take trips when you’re okay and when you’re not because as long as you’re out there in nature, some peace subdues and everything doesn’t seem so cruel. I’ll be back when I’m okay and remind myself that when I wasn’t okay this island gave me some sun. Some hope. Some healing. And some peace. All things I will be needing for the rest of the year. It won’t always be dark. I know it. I believe. And I’m aware it takes time! Time!
And as I leave this place I realise that I’m still learning. I’m learning that’s some days are gone and some bad days occur to. I’m learning that sometimes we don’t get what we expect from life and that sucks. But I’m also learning that no one can get you out of a sunken place unless you make the decision to. I’m learning that people will disappoint you sometimes and leave you broken because what you’re going through is too much for them. And that’s okay because somehow the universe opens your eyes to save you far greater pain. I’m learning that life is about navigating not just the good parts but the hard parts as well. Life is a balance of the good and the bad and sometimes you experience the bad and even though it almost kills you, you survive it and live to tales of survival and perseverance and healing. For me, right now, that’s what I hope to achieve. Healing! However long it takes, I am ready and I’m willing. And I know some days might be hard, but I’ll always find a way out.