And now he will never know

He told me he loved me. On a lazy Thursday afternoon (yes, some of us have lazy Thursday afternoons) as we lay goofing around in bed. Phone in my hand, playing candy crush or something of the sort. head on his chest, his hand lazily tracing a zigzag on my thigh.

Hold, up. That took me a second to process. what was that he just said? Phone dropped, candy crush forgotten. Head up, looking at him cheeky smile on my face. Are those tears in his eyes? I am not imagining this. No. I’m not. Ok… A split second. “Awwww”. I stupidly mumble and lean in for a kiss. “Are you ok?” I ask  palm on his forehead as I pretend to check his temperature taking the seriousness out of the moment. He laughs. Draws me closer. “Yea, never been better.” I get a kiss back. On my forehead. “Come on, lets see if you can finish this level, he says handing me back my phone.  A fleeting moment.  it has passed. Gone. How I wish…

He leaves a couple of hours later. Things have been done, romantic things, naughty things, sweet things. Naps  have been taken, showers had, cuddles given, food consumed, beds made, dishes washed. Life. Routine texts.  Thanks for a lovely time, hope you got home ok.  Yea, got home ok, have a lovely shift tonight. Good nights exchanged, life goes on.

Text comes in at 2 in the morning. Busy at work. Shouldn’t even have my phone at work. Busy busy busy. Phone ignored, text forgotten. Running around. Bells won’t stop ringing.  10 minute coffee break at 0400. Oh wait, wasn’t there a text I received a couple of hours ago? Might be Vodafone reminding me to top up my bundles. It’s not.

Whatsapp.

Him: I am feeling extremely depressed at the moment, It has just hit me like a train.

Me: (Alert, coffee mug pushed aside without even a sip). Hey, are you awake?

Him: Yep.

Me: How you feeling? Sorry was a little bit held up at work.

Him: That’s ok. I feel like shit.

Me: Ooook, not good. Anything in particular happen to cause this?

Him: No, I don’t know. I just feel so unwell. Unsettled,  Like total crap. Hopeless.

Me: Oh baby, i’m sorry to hear that. have you taken your medication? Did something trigger today’s feelings? (We have been through this before, the medic in me is on high alert). Anything I can do to help? (I now have this sinking feeling down in my gut. A bad taste in my mouth. I get up, coffee mug in hand, coffee down the drain).

Him: Medication taken, nothing in particular, it just comes this feeling. Thanks but nothing you can do to help. No one can help. I will sail through it. 🙂

My break is up. I manage to sneak in a few more texts. He manages to assure me he is ok. Work is busy. Seems busier than usual tonight. I’m feeling some type of way. It gets worse. Somebody has had a fall, incident reports to fill, pads to change, medications to sign off and help administer, early morning showers, hand over and stuff, it just never ends. My back hurts, my legs hurt, what!? even my brain hurts. My eyes are heavy. I need a coffee somebody please!

Finally, 0700, time to knock off. I’m in the car. Key in the ignition. sleep on my mind. Eyes refusing to cooperate. Phone in hand.

Me: Hey babe, you up?

Him: Yes never even slept.

Me: Oh! No sleep at all! how are you feeling? Better? Doctors or Work?

Him: No. No work. Not ever.

Me: Oh that bad huh? Want me to come over? You can come over if you like? Maybe we should call the doctor?

Him: Nah, i’ll be fine. You know me. You go home and sleep. (Always thinking about others this one). Catch you later. Get home safe.

How I make the 20 minute drive home is short of a miracle. It’s a blur how I shower and get dressed for bed. What is this unsettling feeling  in my gut? I unconsciously swap my pillow for his. Why does he always smell so good though? I smile sleepily. Better text him see if he is ok.

Me: Babe?

I wake up with  groggily. My clock says is 1400. How did I manage to sleep that long? A reminder of our last conversation jolts me to alertness. I must have fallen asleep waiting for his reply. I reach for my phone. No reply yet.  Mhhh… this is so unlike him. Maybe he decided to go to work after all I reason hopefully. I will call him anyway. No dial tone. Call cancels immediately? Strange. Very strange.

Why am I wiping tears off my face? I don’t remember the drive to his place. It does not even occur to me that I am driving around in my pyjamas at two o’clock in the afternoon. I do not even care. Cars  on his drive way. Why are there cars on his driveway? I park across the street. Door bell ringing. An oddly familiar older lady opens the door. Looks like she has been crying. I take a closer look. His mother? Why is his mother opening His door? Why? We look at each other in silence. I give her the ‘where is he?’ look. She makes the first move. Hugs me. Gut wrenching sobs.

Me: He came to say goodbye. Said he loved me. I said nothing, and now, now he will never know.

NOTE: Depression is real. Suicide is not the answer. Please seek help. For you and for your loved ones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The War Within

 

Choices; They have consequences. You know this, I know this. Everybody knows this. Yet we still make some messed up ones.

Pick up the phone, put it down. Pick it up again, dial, chicken out, and hang up after the first ring. Kick yourself in the butt. Put phone down. Pick up your tablet, go to YouTube. Listen to sad love songs. Have a hard time falling asleep. Maybe cry a little. Pick up the phone again. That phone next to you is like a pimple, as much as you want to avoid it, you can’t. You know it’s there, it won’t leave you alone, and the itch just won’t go away. You scratch the itch. First mistake.

Rule number one: Never scratch the itch.

You go to Whatsapp, damn you Whatsapp! Kidum-Mpenzi is playing on the background. You go through your past chats. The ones that made you smile like a fool alone on the bus, the ones that made you cry alone late at night in your bed. The ones that left you feeling vulnerable, exposed and alone. Stop it Kidum, what do you know about “Kutekwa ndani ya mtando wa mapenzi” anyway? Who needs lessons on “mapenzi ya fujo”? That itch, you keep scratching it. You know you shouldn’t, but you do it anyway.

Rule number two: Don’t keep scratching the damn itch!!!

But rules were not made for the likes of you. No, away with the rules. You scratch some more it feels good at first. You scroll down to the last message, yours. He hasn’t said a thing, but why should he? You asked him not to.

YouTube should just leave you alone. Now you are listening to songs you didn’t even know existed. Juliana & Bushoke “Usiende mbali” is now playing. Messing with your head. Taking you to a good place but not quite. You know the consequences of scratching an itch at this point, you are beyond caring. Why oh why do you still have those past chats five months down the line? Is it a sign of denial? It’s 1:58am. You have no business being awake but an itch is an itch.

You scroll back to the day it was all taken away from you. When your heart was ripped out of your chest and crushed to pieces which you are still trying to piece together to date. You curse under your breath. That scratching doesn’t feel good any more but the damage is done. That pimple is a mess. It hurts like a mother.  So much so, it doesn’t feel like it’s even been five months. The memories have made themselves at home in your brain. They have bought a comfortable couch and have even subscribed to Netflix. When they are not chilling, they are busy haunting you like little stubborn ghosts.  The pimple is bleeding. What the hell, you might as well. So you open your gallery and look at the photos.(You still have those photos?Seriously?) By now you are oblivious to whatever YouTube is trying to forcefully shove into your ears.

You look at that face. That face your arms know well, so well you can trace it with your eyes closed. Lips that kissed the pain away, lips that hold secrets only two lovers can know.Lips that whispered sweet nothings to you during moments of unbridled passion.Yet the same lips that spewed hateful hurtful words without a second thought. A smile so mischievous that years down the line still sends shivers down your spine. Eyes that looked deep into your soul and from which conspiratorial winks were once delivered leaving you red to your toes. A neck that bruised so easily and as a result constantly but proudly bore tattoo evidence of your love. Shoulders so strong and inviting they had you lean on them even when you were not crying. Hands, hands that know everything there is to know about you. Hands that explored and took you places. Hands that know you so intimately, you look away slightly embarrassed.

Love is stupid, and so are pimples by the way. You wish picking up the phone and calling was as easy as it used to be. You almost, just almost beat yourself up for not taking a chance to get back together last month when it presented itself. You feel your resolve weakening.  Your girlfriends will have your hide for this. (I don’t mean you Renee). You know why you did not take that chance. Stupid it may be, but love should not hurt, love should make you cry only happy tears, love stands by you when things get tough. It is about trust, and compromise for all involved. Love is patient, love is kind so on and so forth. You get the point.

You put the phone down. Turn off your electronics, turn off the lights and oh crap, it is 2:28am. Better go to sleep. You may have scratched that pimple today to the point of bleeding, but you left it at that, before it got worse.  Today you have won the war. A little bit at least.

Rule number three: Never ever forget that even scratched bleeding pimples (though they may leave a scar) heal.

A-Z 2015 Friend List

The other night, when insomnia decided to take a hold of me, I lay in bed and thought about my life. These kind of thoughts usually take place at the most random of times don’t you think? At 3-4am. They say this is also the time the body is at its weakest and people tend to pass on at this hour? Creepy huh? So anyway, I lay there not feeling weak (thank God) and seriously thought about my life this past year.

As I was thinking, something I had done during the day crossed my mind. It hit me that I am in a profession where we applaud people for taking a shit and I love it(my profession that is!).That thought made me laugh, yeah! I was laughing alone in bed at 3am. For a moment there I doubted my own sanity. Then I realized that I maybe had taken 2015 too seriously. Life is never that serious now is it? Laugh a little. Even at 3am.

It’s a little overdue but 2016 is still young. I contemplated not doing this. Writing no longer appeals to me as it once did, but what the Heck? So let’s do a 2015 friends list. As usual it is in alphabetical order. These are the people that made my 2015 what it was in one way or another, those that drove me inase and those that helped me remain sane.

Apple: Always at the top of my list, and not just alphabetically. You are God sent. Thanks for letting me vent, for offering your shoulder regardless of the distance, for the prayers, the commitment, the laughs, the love and the crazy advice. I’ll keep it short. You know your worth.

BonkeD: You know someone is your friend when you move houses and have nothing, then during a random conversation you mention a craving for eggs and they drive over from their house just to bring you eggs, a frying pan and scorch bright to clean the pan after making the eggs. If that is not friendship, I don’t know what is. You go girl. Dec is just around the corner.#thisyearmanenoz.

Cotton: Still trying to figure out what I will feed you when I take you to Kenya. Will probably just abandon you in Mombasa and hope you find a way to survive. Thanks for being the most awesome chauffeur, tour guide, driving instructor, and generally just an amazing friend. Freedom was long overdue.

Dear Bro: I am forever indebted to you. May God bless you and yours. I only have one of you, but that doesn’t matter, you are irreplaceable. Sometimes I feel kind of sad that you do not have a brother and therefore do not know just how awesome it is to have one.

Doc: Let’s get whatever it is we need to get out of the way already and go on with our lives for goodness sake!!! Jeez!!!You are a soldier and you are amazing.Cheers to happiness,peace of mind, blah blah blah? No? Ok. Kunguru it is then.

Fray: Who would have thought? Why did it take us this long to be friends when we were in the same school for three years and have so much in common? Doesn’t even matter. I am blessed to have you as part of this list. Project 2016, let’s see who gets to it first. Me or you.

JayJay: You should have appeared in these posts years ago. Better late than never though. You are missed, loved and ever so appreciated. Your soul is kind and your conversations are always so captivating.

LK: Ati I should do what now? What mind set? Change it? Change churches too? I’d like to hear what Tenya thinks about that(lol). I know I am not allowed to say Thank you, but how can I not? Ok, I wont. Thanks. x.

Mish: Not even the distance. A forever constant whether I say it or not. Was just thinking about this the other day, that time we were in Nai together, why did we not even take a photo? Guess the best memories don’t need to be put on film, they are forever engraved in our minds and hearts.

Mrs. Marangeti: Congratulations. May your 2016 be filled with blessings (wink?). You have gotten busy, but I will make you  make it up to me don’t even doubt it. I keep checking my mailbox for this video I was promised.

PeachyPeach: Thank you. Thank you for showing me my worth. For making me understand that I deserve the best and then some. Thank you for strengthening my resolve. For making me realize that I can get through whatever even during the times when all I want to do is lay down and die. I wish you nothing but happiness in 2016. May all your dreams come true.

Renee: Do you remember threatening to come over here and slap sense into my thick head? Girl stay put. No need for that as my head is no longer thick and though it may have taken a while, sense sank. You are a beautiful and strong.I can’t wait to see what you will be up to this year. Fancy seeing you on TV like that. Now I know how you look!

The fact that this list gets shorter every year has not gone unnoticed. For the forever constants, I got mad love. For the newcomers welcome. To my family, what would I be without you all? To all my other friends, you are appreciated.

All You Have

Note: This post may be disturbing or upsetting.

The night shift, also known as the graveyard shift (don’t ask me why) is opposite to what many would expect and is one of the busiest shift. This is a time when the patients should be asleep but on the contrary.  This when the call bells go like crazy. This is when patients want to pee, this is when pain strikes with a vengeance, loneliness too, and the patients call, you are at their mercy, their needs need to be met. It’s your job, so you rub the shoulder of a person writhing in pain as you wait for the medication you just administered to kick in, you make a cup of tea for this old lady who insists  she has not had her dinner despite the fact that you are the one that gave it to her. You empty catheters, you change the pad of a cranky old man who does not appreciate the fact that he is no longer capable of performing his activities of daily living for himself. You straighten sheets and fluff pillows all the while trying to keep a smile on your face.

This is often also the time that the monster who is death creeps in. Quietly like a thief in the darkest time of the night, to take, to claim, to snatch relentlessly and mercilessly.

On this particular night, it is silent, eerily silent. Hardly any bells. Everybody seems to be asleep. My colleague and I look at each other, luck may be on our side. This might just be an easy shift. As is routine though, we do the rounds after every handover from the previous shift. Those that need turning get turned. So far so good.

One hour into the shift I walk in with my partner to turn her (It is company policy that this is done by two people), this lady that I am so fond of. Friendly lady, always nice to the staff. She always asks how your day is and compliments you on something even if it is the color of your shirt which is by the way your uniform. She has a naughty mind too this one, she will tell you how tired you look and ask if you have plans for night. “Are you and your husband doing anything special tonight? You should.”  She will say even before you have had time to respond and maybe tell her that husband still doesn’t yet exist.

I hadn’t been to work for a couple of days, but during handover, I learn she has not been doing well. She is deteriorating. That does not come as a shock to me given that the last time I took care of her, I had noticed her increased drowsiness and decreased food and fluid intake. At one point as I was trying to feed her, she seemed to wake up from her drowsiness and her face brightened with such a smile. On asking her to share what was making her so happy, she told me she had seen her husband, and that he had told her he loved her. I knew that she was hallucinating, her husband was past. All signs of imminent death in a person in the palliative phase.

Her family is outside, five children in total. Some of whom have flown from different sates just to be with her. They know she is nearing her end. She is sedated. I move towards her and as I bend to turn her, I hear it, for the first time ever in my life. The death rattle. My lecturers had gone on and on about it, I had even written a 2,500 word assignment on the topic, being a nurse, encountering death that intimately  is inevitable, but nothing ever prepares you. No amount of research, lectures or whatever prepares you for the first time you hear it. The death rattle is a chilling sound often made by a person very near death. It is caused by a loss of the cough reflex and loss of the ability to swallow. This causes an excess accumulation of saliva in the throat and lungs. Once you hear it you never forget it. From my previous research, I know she has less than 48 hours to live.

We turn her and leave. What do you do when you know you have done all you can but that the inevitable is going to happen anyway? What do you do when you feel so hopeless, so helpless? What do you tell a family who thanks you for doing your job? I smile and say a prayer for them in my heart.

One hour later, the daughter calls us into her mother’s room. She has passed on peacefully. They mourn their mother, but they say they are at peace, she lived her life well, she was happy, and she was a good person. Always there for others. Her work on earth was done, she is gone, but she has left her mark. I know they tell the truth, because she was one of the loveliest, kindest people I knew. Even when the pain took over her, she still found it in herself to smile. To offer a kind word even as her body turned against her. Who am I then, to be angry? Who am I to question God, when even her family is at peace with it all?

I have this minute, this very minute. It is all I have. It is my reality. Nothing is to be taken for granted, life is happening whether I choose to acknowledge the fact or not. This minute that I have, better use it wisely because after all, it is all I have got. So in this minute, I will be my best, I will be nice to somebody, I will be kind, make somebody smile, because this minute, is all I have. It is all you have.

Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

1corinthians 15:55-58.

A-Z 2014 Friend List

The last time I did this was in 2012. A-Z 2012 friend list among the first things I ever posted. I was inspired back then,I thought I could word out my thoughts and share them with the world just like that,but boy was naïve; I like to believe I’m a little more grown since. I should have done it again in 2013 but well, 2013 was something else. Plus somewhere along the way, I think I lost my writing mojo.(writing mojo? definitely writing mojo.) I’m still trying to figure out where it was I placed it and I tell you, so far it has been elusive. Maybe I’ve been busy, distracted, lacked a story that was worth writing, but mostly, I just haven’t felt like it. I take full responsibility.

So as the year comes to an end, I hope I will find my misplaced mojo(writing mojo), y’all can help me look for it. That way, maybe 2015 can be more inspiring. Either way, as the year comes to an end, let me give it a shot and take a moment to celebrate the people that have made it worthwhile for me. I look at my 2012 list and oh, how it has changed. There are some constants no doubt but don’t we all need to make peace with the fact that some friendships were not meant to last a life time? You lose some along the way and you make some. Such is life.

So here goes; it’s all in alphabetical order. Don’t read too much into that.

Apple: of mine. Thanks a million for remaining a constant. For taking my crap and calling out my bullshit. For offering to hold my hand at a doctor’s appointment that has never been. (Yeah, I know I know, it’s long overdue, but oh well…) For offering me your professional advice even when I didn’t want it, (Runs and hides.) and most of all, thanks for being my best friend, my confidant, my sister. Love you to the moon and back.

Dear Bro:I have known you all my life. And all this time I have known you, I thank God for it the privilege. The highlight of my year was that trip in July, and meeting my awesome niece. If at one point in your life you ever doubt yourself, if you ever feel like you aren’t good enough (as we humans often feel.) if you ever wonder if your purpose on earth was met, you look at that kind and loving girl, and know that you at least did that one thing right. And thanks again, for being My biggest Fan yet.

Doc: This is long overdue, but I’ll say it anyway. Thanks for giving me a chance even when I did not believe in myself. For always being just a phone call away and for talking me through stuff when I was in panic mode, the free consultations, and suturing a banana? We’ve gots to do that again. I owe you big time. Get your lime cordial and ice (you know where the whiskey’s at) and let’s toast to you. Thank you for the opportunity.

HDI: Hanne, Faiyu, Nengneng mchakamchaka, Jeffa, you guys have been awesome. You made waking up every morning to go to work worth while. It was fun laughing with you all…the arguments that never led anywhere. You guys are crazy. lets do this again next year. Or maybe not.(wink wink) Team awesome, always a pleasure working with you..

Kalebski: Heeey cuz? This year has been tough huh? Sorry for the tough love I showered on you and for the occasional “I told you so’s.” It was all coming from a good place. We all make mistakes in life, but what counts is how we move forward from those mistakes, and look at you now, I could never be more proud of you. Thank you for the financial advice and although it took me forever, don’t they say better late than never? No? Hug that little munchkin for me now, will you? Thanks.

Kemanyi: Congratulations on everything. Didn’t I always tell you that you could do whatever you set your heart out to do? Didn’t I? Thanks for being my Insomnia buddy, and thanks for the love even when I cut my hair. (Insert smiley face here, I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt.) Never again!!! don’t stress.  All the best in everything.

Lilz: what to say really? This is me hanging in there, waiting, watching, and praying that 2015 will be awesome. I’m trying… but come on, give a sister something to hold onto. Seeing is believing, huh?

Lungz: I can’t wait for your private practice, so that I can come for free dental checkups and exploit our friendship to the maximum. No, I’m not kidding by the way. LOOL! I am proud of you and what you have become. Thanks for being awesome to my dad. I wish you all the best in everything you do as I always have. May you grow up to be the awesome person you always aim to be.

Mrs Marangeti: I am laughing out loud. No kidding. That’s an awesome name, and I hope I got it right. Thanks for coming through when shit hit the fan (excuse my language but there is just no other way of putting it.) Thanks for always coming down those two hundred stairs just to open the gate for me. I promise that my number one new year’s resolution (other than the usual one about the gym) is to learn to open the damn gate.

PeachyPeach: your patience is extra ordinary, your devotion out of this world. Your hug the warmest, your smile the brightest and for you, I will forever be grateful. It’s been a tough year, but joy comes in the morning doesn’t it? Thanks for taking my crap and for making me smile through the tears.

Renee: how is it possible, to feel so connected to someone you have never met? I identify with your stories so much that sometimes I feel like we sat down for tea, had a conversation and you went and wrote about it the next morning. This year hasn’t been the easiest for you I know, but hold your head up high clasp those little girls’ hands, tightly, and together walk towards a brighter new year, for you my friend are stronger than even you think you are. Thanks for sharing your life.

There is so much more I could write, but there is only so much space. To all my other friends, please don’t feel left out, you are appreciated. To my family you are the AWESOMEST.

The Eighth

He asked me to promise him I wouldn’t cry, I don’t make promises I can’t keep so I told him I would try and changed the subject. We said our goodnights and I hang up the phone, and then I curled myself into a ball and cried my heart out like it was the last day on earth.

No, he hadn’t broken my heart; he hadn’t even been the bearer of bad news, and yes according to him I was still the apple of his eye. Cheesy no? Anyway, my crying had nothing to do with him. Well, not in that sense anyway. It kind of had something to do with him, and the fact that he knew I was probably going to cry proved just how much he knew me and that fact did not help matters. So I opened the flood gates and cried until my poor little heart had had its fill.

I was sick; don’t judge, I’m not a wuss. I don’t normally cry when I’m sick. Here I was, sick and lonely, far from home, friends and family, Surrounded by people who did not acknowledge my existence leave alone my sickness. My teachers in college could not stress this point enough. Pain is subjective. Just because he/she looks and acts ok, doesn’t main that his/her pain is nonexistent. So by now, you should understand why a phone call from that particular person would have me in tears. Wuss? I wouldn’t care less. I think at some point, a girl is allowed her tears. That being said, I think the person that came up with long distance relationships should be put in a box, have it dropped into the deepest sea and then have the keys melted into something more useful to the world. Too harsh? Why do I feel unapologetic?

Malaria is a bitch people, it’s worse than karma. It makes your head pound, leaves you feeling like a rock band is constantly drumming in your head all with malicious intent. It leaves your mouth tasting like you chewed onto some unnamed metal. It gives you chills and a fever that gives the so much talked about menopausal hot flushes a ran for its money. It takes your appetite and throws it out to the dogs. Did I mention the joint and muscle pain? That’s also part of the so well crafted package. It is relentless, it leaves you no peace. And as if that was not enough, it is also the number five killer disease in Kenya according to center for disease control. Maybe that is why next time you land on a “tuangamize malaria” campaign ad on YouTube, you shouldn’t be so fast to click on skip ad.

So now you all know that I cry. That this strong face is just that, a strong face. Well that’s beside the point, this post is not about how strong (or not strong) I am. Sorry if I had you confused, it is not about malaria either although malaria is a real killer. Maybe you should actually take a minute and think about what you and the next person are doing to “Angamiza” it. Maybe you should plant a neem tree, get rid of stagnant water around you, buy your family nets and mosquito repellent. Here I go again get distracted, forgive me,I get passionate about stuff, and then I get carried away.(I hope you can forgive me given that I haven’t written for so long, I must have forgotten how it’s done.)

Let’s get back to the main point of this post. This post is for Him: He who made that call that left me in tears. He who holds my hand in the dark and makes it ok for me to face my uncertain future. He who says it’s ok for me to cry, that I don’t need to be strong all the time. He who loves me good and bad, he who pisses me off it makes me want to scream, yet he who makes me so happy I could burst. I could go on and on but all I wanted to do was to tell him thank you. Thank you for being there, thank you for being patient. Thank you for being you. Happy 8th. It’s not always been roses and sunshine, it’s been thorns and rain too. It’s been a journey, that’s been a blessing.

When a man cries

“Yeah… (Pause…) No, no, my daughter just passed.” (Pause…), “Thank you, the one that was in Butere Girls” (Pause…) “Yes that one. We had gotten her results, she had a B+…..”  See I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but he was walking right in front of me, and even if I had tried, not that I did, there was no way I could shut my ears and for some reason, I felt myself get involved in a conversation that was not meant for me. He was on the phone. The conversation went on. “We had just rushed her to Nairobi Women’s.” (Pause…) “She was complaining of headache and back ache, she passed before they could find out what was wrong with her.” (Pause…sob…sob…).

He stopped, and I walked past him. I walked slowly, and curiosity got the best of me so I turned back, here was a man that was openly crying on the streets. He seemed to be in his mid fifties, he was dressed ok, black trouser and a grey coat, I didn’t notice the colour of his shirt and neither did I look at his shoes. What I noticed though was the pained expression on his face. He looked like he carried the weight of the world on his shoulders, like he had totally given up on life, like it didn’t matter to him if the sun ever rose again or if the sky suddenly turned green. He didn’t even care that he was crying in the streets.

He started walking again and I reduced my pace. Yeah, I know, I know, my mother did teach me and I knew better than to eavesdrop on a private conversation. I was trying to mind my own business, but here was a man crying, talking on the phone and crying. He wasn’t screaming, howling or causing a scene, if anything, he seemed totally oblivious of his surroundings. He walked on and the conversation went on.  “No, I am alone right now. There is a shortage of matatus and the ones to Ngong are charging seventy shillings.”  (This was happening somewhere along Ngong road near Uchumi hyper.) It was true, there had been a shortage of matatus that day and I was actually just stalling to see if I would be lucky to get one heading to town and if not, then I would be forced to walk to town. The man too seemed to have decided to walk to town.  He passed me again and I increased my pace, don’t ask me why but I just did.

From his conversation, I learnt that his daughter had just come from Butere the previous Friday. She had fallen ill and had sadly passed on. I did not get to know who was on the other end of the phone, but from what I got to hear, I assumed it was relative.  I also learnt that the man did not have enough fare to take him to Ngong, so he was walking to town to see if he could meet another relative who could hook him up with enough fare to get him to Ngong. I wondered if I should intervene, but this being Nairobi, I hesitated. Why I hesitated? Well, Nairobi is known to be full of con men and women that would go to extreme lengths to exploit the unsuspecting victim. So yeah, I hesitated for just a second. Second.

“Mpsesa? (Pause…) yeah, I think I can find one.” (Pause…) Go to prestige and wait for you there? Ok …thank you.” He hung up and turned back. I got a chance to look at his face again, closely this time because he was just about to walk past me. I smacked myself for the one second I had suspected him to be a con, because his face registered pure misery and the tears hadn’t stopped.

I don’t know what got into me but I stopped him, and when he stopped I didn’t know what to do. What do you tell a stranger who you know nothing about other than what you had accidentally overheard in a conversation that was totally not meant for you? What do you tell a man that is clearly mourning a daughter he just lost? Really, I don’t know why I stopped him. To him, I was a stranger who knew nothing of his pain. None the less, he stopped and he looked at me with a face so pained, I wanted to just hug him and tell him that everything thing would be ok, but I did not know that it would be. So instead, I gave him my condolences, reached into my handbag and gave him one hundred shillings that I hoped would get him to Ngong. He looked at me in amazement, thanked me and asked God to bless me. He then got his phone and as he walked past, I heard him say,” meet me in Ngong, I am going home to tell her mother. She needs to hear it from me first.”

So yeah, maybe I was scummed (forgive me for having beef with Nairobi), but when a man talks like that, when he cries like that, you gotta be touched. Your heart goes out to him. because when a man cries, then you know he is truly hurting so you feel a little of his pain, and for his sake, you pray he is not just a good actor. I hate to see a man cry.