In December 2016, Nairobi experienced one of the longest and heaviest rains in a long time. The season calendar did not pay attention to its schedule and December which is supposed to be the hot season was extremely gloomy and wet. You may say rain is a blessing, and you’re probably right. But for Crispin the lame beggar, the rains were confirmation that rock bottom has a basement.
Every morning for the last five years, his friend would wheel him to a corridor next to Hilton Hotel in the Central Business District and come back for him later in the evening to take him to a shelter downtown. The agreement was that he would give him a percentage of his earnings for each day, and to be precise it would be 50% of his earnings.
Crispin was a bubbly spirit with the purest of hearts. Although life hadn’t dealt him the right cards, he never lost hope and was sure to thank everyone who stopped by even just to ask for directions. He was a guitarist and he had perfected the skill. He thought that if he entertained the passers-by they might feel compelled to drop a few coins in his metallic cup. But this wasn’t the case, seeing as most people walked past him as though he was a statue.
Christmas was here and that meant a lot of last-minute shopping. The CBD was full, and most passers-by had huge bags of shopping as they rushed to complete their last-minute errands. The rains didn’t help with the commotion. Motorists sped into water puddles with least concern for the pedestrians or beggars like Crispin. Water soon began to accumulate under the sisal bag that Crispin was sitting on.
Whenever it rained, Crispin’s friend would come for him and take him back to the shelter downtown. But on this particular day, he waited and waited to no avail. He wondered what had gone wrong but since he couldn’t communicate with his friend he was left with no choice but to wait.
A policewoman who had stopped the traffic walked towards Crispin’s direction angrily.
“Unafanya nini hapa saa hii? Kuna mkutano muhimu sana inaendelea hapa ndani. Hebu toka hapa!” (What are you doing here at this time? Don’t you know that there’s an international summit taking place inside this building? Get out quickly!) She said pointing towards Hilton Hotel.
Crispin explained to her that he was waiting for his friend to come and wheel him back home, to which she rolled her eyes and frowned. She walked away muttering something under her breath.
Once she left, Crispin closed his eyes and began to meditate. He recalled his past life. When he was thirty years old he had been involved in an accident that forced him to have both his legs amputated. He remembered his wife and two children. Their life was full of love and he thanked the heavens every day for all that he had. Unfortunately, his entire family had perished in the accident leaving him by himself.
Now living with a disability, there wasn’t much he could do for a living and so he watched as his bank account turned as empty as his soul. To make things worse, a few months after the accident he got a notice from the Ministry of Lands that his property was on government land and he needed to evacuate. Some part of him wished that he had perished along with the rest of his family. At least he wouldn’t be as lonely.
With no option left he eventually went to the streets to seek help from the passers-by. The unfortunate sequence of events made him believe that he had been cursed. He tried to pin down what he was being punished for but he couldn’t.
Darkness began to fall. The rains, on the other hand, were clearly on a mission. Each time Crispin thought it was starting to settle, he heard a huge thunderstorm that was followed by more rain.
“Are you okay?” A passer-by asked.
Crispin thought that the answer to this question was rather obvious but nonetheless he decided to answer.
“I would be better if I had a way to cover my head. I have been rained on for the past three hours.” He responded.
The lady looked at him pitifully and asked if he had had anything to eat. She went away for a few minutes and came back with a loaf of bread and hot tea. She gave him her umbrella and bid him goodbye.
“I hope your friend comes back soon.” She said walking away.
“It is well, be blest.”
As soon as her silhouette started to disappear, Crispin heard heavy footsteps running in his direction. When he turned he saw a bunch of street children. They grabbed the loaf of bread he had just been given and ran off without saying a word. He couldn’t help but shed a tear. He cried to the universe. Why was this happening to him? His life seemed to be filled with bad luck.
Two days later his friend still hadn’t shown up. By this time Crispin was extremely hungry. He hadn’t had anything to eat in days. His willpower to carry on begging the passers-by was dead. So he covered himself with his damp jacket and lay on the ground. He was shivering excessively and thought to himself that this was how he would die. Crispin had watched as janitors threw out garbage bags of left-overs from the Hilton Hotel. He tried to ask them to give him some to eat but his effort bore no fruits. They looked at him as though he was a mad man and then carried on with their jobs.
The next morning, Crispin was awakened by the sounding of a car alarm. Before he knew it there was a trail of huge cars driving out the building of the Hilton Hotel. Crispin was covering himself completely, save for the small hole where he peeped through with his eye to watch. He wondered what the point of the alarm was. It was Christmas day and there was hardly anyone on the street.
The cars suddenly slowed down, a man opened the car and started walking towards Crispin. There was a rush of commotion as bodyguards surrounded the man, pleading with him to get back into the car. Crispin thought to himself that the man must be important.
“Hallo. Do you need some help?”
Crispin didn’t have the energy to speak. His words were punctuated by heavy breathing.
The man looked down at Crispin pitifully. He then summoned one of his bodyguards.
“Take this man to the hotel right away. Let him be given food to eat. I can’t believe that we still have people living on the streets.”
Crispin was carried into one of the vehicles and driven towards the hotel, a distance of less than fifty metres. The inside decor of the hotel was out of the world to him, with expensive chandeliers every corner he turned, and smiling waiters and waitresses left, right and centre. He wondered what was making them so happy.
There was a huge Christmas tree at the corner of the hotel, and carols were playing through the hotel speakers. It was at this point that Crispin actually discovered that indeed it was Christmas day. His tribulations had led him to forget that this was a special day of celebration.
Crispin was led to a hotel room where he showered and he was given a change of clothes. Then the bodyguard lead him down to the hotel restaurant buffet area. He had not seen so much food in years. He began to cry at the thought that all these years he had been just a few metres away from all this but nobody cared to help him. All those passers-by, all those ‘important people’ had passed him without giving him a second thought.
He thought to himself that the man in the expensive suit must have been Santa Claus. He couldn’t help but think, however, that the man was doing all this to get some more fans on his side. But when the opportunity comes, you pick it as fast as you can before the chance slips out of your hand.
A few hours later, the bodyguard informed Crispin that his boss wanted to have a word with him. He told him that his boss, supposedly a Chief Executive Officer at a reputable company might be offering him a job. On their way out of the hotel compound, Crispin saw his friend searching frantically for him. He rolled down his window and tried to call his friend, but the bodyguard drove off hurriedly as per his boss’ request.
My name is Laura Ayienga, a 25-year-old writer & marketer, experiencing the highs (not claiming the lows) of life. I discovered my passion for writing on this very blog back in 2019 and since then, I’ve been using it to express myself as candidly and authentically as possible.