Njoki grew up in Murang’a, as the only child of her mother who had died during birth. Growing up, her grandmother used to tell her how her father who was allegedly in the army died during one of the raids. She rarely knew any of her parents and was brought up by her grandparents and aunty, who were renowned tea farmers, thus providing some financial stability. She had a pretty decent childhood, attended a catholic school for her nurseries and when she got to class four she transferred to a private school in the town where her aunties stayed, so she lived with her.
She was always bright and topped her class all the time, making her grandparents very proud. As years passed by, it was time to sit for her KCPE. In November 2011 she did her national exams and went back to the village to spend time with her grandparents. While in the village, she applied for a job at a local supermarket that was in the village centre as she waited for her results, so as to raise some money so that she would not burden her grandparents while joining high school.
She had made it a habit to prepare breakfast for her grandparents before she left for work. One Saturday evening she came home to an untouched breakfast that she had made earlier that morning. Surprised, she called out her grandma’s name but there was no response, she called her grandfather but there was no response either. She knocked on their bedroom door but it seemed there was no one inside. She peeped and her grandparents were not in. Out of panic, she ran to the neighbour to inquire about the disappearance of her grandparents and was informed that her grandfather had fallen ill that morning and had to be rushed to the hospital that morning.
She ran back home, locked the door, and left for the hospital that was a few kilometres away. She took a motorbike and 30 minutes later she was at the gate of Maragua Hospital. Hurriedly rushed in and at the reception and asked for her grandparents’ names. The receptionist asked her to wait in the waiting area for a nurse to come and show her the room that her grandfather was in. Hospitals are scary, the smell of death is always lingering around. It is even scarier when your loved one is in there you do not know if they will make it or not. That is what she thought as she sat there waiting impatiently.
“Njoki,” a nurse called her from across the hallway.
She immediately ran in her direction. The nurse led the way as she closely followed behind. When they got to a ward inscribed with the number 7 on the door, the nurse held out her hand telling her to go in. When she opened the door, her grandmother had sat on one end, her elbows on her knees and her face buried in the palms of her hand, she was either crying or praying. She stood at the door for a few minutes still contemplating what to do. Slowly walked to her grandmother’s side and gently rubbed her shoulders. Her grandmother weakly lifted her head looking at her. She looked sad and withdrawn, she did not say anything.
As she was still standing there, a nurse walked in and asked them to leave as visiting hours were over. Together they went back home and dutifully visited him every morning with fruits and food. Sadly, his health was not improving and after a while, the illness escalated, and he passed on. It was a soul-crushing moment for both of them. After the burial, her grandmother barely left the bed and barely touched her food. She was always stuck in her room.
One morning, one month after the death of her grandfather, Njoki went to wake up her grandmother only to find out that she had died in her sleep that day. The funeral took place a week later. The brothers of her grandfather came and took over the farm which they claimed now belonged to them because there was no male heir. Since she still worked at the local supermarket, and she somehow managed to put food on the table. The announcement of the national exam results was nearing, and this stirred up her anxiety. She was hoping that she had performed well as the only way she could make it to high school was through a scholarship which required tremendous performance.
Results were announced and she managed to top her county. She was both relieved and elated, her dreams were going to come true. One of the church elders advised her to apply for a scholarship. She was constantly attending church even after her grandmother’s demise. On some dark days that is where she sought comfort. She had grown close to the church elders and would volunteer to clean the church. The church had a support group for those who had lost their loved ones and she had joined them.
She had been accompanied by one of the church elders as she went to apply for the scholarship. After a long process, they were told they would get a response. Subsequently, she got a scholarship and joined one of the National schools in the country. Throughout her four years in high school, she continued to maintain a stupendous performance. In her final year of high school exams, she scored an A. The bank offering the scholarship offered to sponsor her through her campus.
Joining campus she was the most decent, virtuous, innocent girl you would ever come across. But as they say, life comes with uncertainties so does campus come with peer pressure. On campus, you come across people from all different walks of life. Campus robs you of your innocence. The person you were while getting into campus will be a completely different person while leaving. As those are the rules, so did Njoki conform to them. Njoki joined a clique and they would party from Wednesday to Sunday, she started taking drugs, and became an alcoholic. She barely set foot in class, the only time her presence was seen was during the exams.
One Friday evening as they sat in one of the clubs close to the University, a “mubaba” (sponsor) approached her. It was a polite gentle approach in contrast to the usually rude men who would approach and demand to leave with her. He was heavily built, and he looked like those guys who frequented the gym. He felt familiar, Jenny immediately felt safe in his presence. A feeling she had never had before. Maybe this was her soulmate, she thought. They had a conversation about everything, and for once she opened up and let out all that she had been holding on to. Losing both her parents and grandparents had taken a toll on her but she had never had someone close to tell her about her feelings.
After a long emotional conversation, the guy offered to drop her at her hostel. She was surprised because most of the guys he had met in the club always wanted something in return but this was different. They did not exchange contacts even though she wanted to but was scared to make the first move. After that scenario, she showed up at the club every day of the week in hope of meeting the mysterious guy, but unfortunately, her efforts proved futile. She had no way of reaching out to him, so she finally gave up. Maybe the guy was from out of town. Her final and last attempt to see whether she would bump into him bore fruits. She was seated silently and alone on the counter having some shots when she suddenly heard a gentle tap on the shoulder. When she turned and saw him she was excited.
They had a few drinks while they chatted. During this round they exchanged contacts and he drove her back to her hostel. Since communication had been made easier between them, they made it a habit to casually hang out. One thing led to another and before they knew it they were in some sort of a situationship. They had not made things official. Later on, Njoki moved in with Silas.
Things between them had been going on well and she was constantly telling her aunty about him. Her aunt was still out of the country but she had vowed to come back and meet her niece’s man. When the date of her visit was set, preparations were made. Njoki was really excited and so was Silas. They had planned to throw a small party just between the three of them. When her auntie arrived she went to pick her up from the airport. On their way home, they chatted a lot as everyone had a story to tell.
On arrival, they found that everything had been set. All the scrumptious meals had been served. Silas was dressing up in the bedroom. After he was done he came down the stairs and their eyes locked with Njoki’s aunt. The look they both wore is not what Njoki expected. She thought her aunt was disappointed in her because Silas was way older but that was not the case. Both Silas and Njoki’s aunt looked confused. She looked at her then back at Silas and sighed. She asked if the man to be introduced was Silas, and she nodded. Silas was still rooted to the ground and looked confused. He asked Njoki if that was her aunty and she nodded once again. Njoki was confused and did not know what was happening.
“That is your dad,” aunty yelled.
She was baffled for a minute because she thought she heard it wrong. She turned to her aunt for clarification, her aunty was beyond perplexed she held her head in both hands. Njoki told her that she thought her dad was dead. It happened that Njoki’s mum and her aunt knew about the dad but he had left for the army and no one had told him that Njoki’s mother was pregnant.
She was lost, she did not know what to say, feel or do. All along she had hoped to have a father figure or rather to know the dad, but here he is, her sponsor! She took a break from school because it had messed up her mind and any time she thought that she really had a dad who was her sponsor, she felt disgusted!If you were Njoki, what would you do?
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