Having just lost a job, dad became a complete shadow of what he had always been to my siblings and I. Thank God he didn’t succumb to the bottle but as it was, life was hard. Really hard.
Bearing in mind that he was the sole bread winner for our family, three meals a day became a luxury that our now shallow, or better still broken pockets couldn’t accommodate.
My mom was a kiosk operator, selling kales, carrots, potatoes and other vegetables in an attempt to keep afloat our fast sinking family.
My education in high school became hard to manage but as it had always been planned (not sure by whom) I managed to do my K.C.S.E in 2011.
We were evacuated from the house we were living within Kakamega town and we had to look for an alternative form of shelter elsewhere.
This forced us to move to the outskirts of the town where my dad (during his employment days) had acquired a piece of land and built a simple house to provide a roof over our heads.
Anytime I looked at my siblings, their expressions reflected hopelessness that broke me to pieces everyday. More often than not, I was tempted to cry but I had to stay strong for the family.
Having been a middle income family, we moved to the very bottom of the social ladder, where acquisition of a piece of clothing became too much of an ask.
As if the devil wasn’t done with us, the car my dad had bought just before retrenchment got stolen a week after, as he was driving home. His piece of tea plantation was grabbed by his unsympathetic brothers and being a simple man who hated confrontations, he just let go.
That drove us all to the edge…
Mum’s income couldn’t support our most basic of needs thus any means of a way out would have been most welcome at the time.
After my form four exams, I managed to score a B missing slightly on the cut point that guaranteed students of minimal financial ability to be supported by JAB.
I had failed my parents, myself and everyone else who had expected better.
However, my dad being a believer in the pros of good education, encouraged me to look for a university and seek enrollment as a self-sponsored student.
Whichever way he planned to pay the fees was too much for my already hopeless and resigned self.
I first sought Moi University but accommodation charges around campus were too high so I had to look for another option.
My home being in Kakamega, I decided on MMUST and enrolled as a BCoM student. My plan was to study from home since then I wouldn’t have to pay for accommodation or food.
That was the onset of tribulations, trials, hardships and problems that have lived to haunt me to date…
“The dream I always had of being in campus was now as real as the feel of the saliva on my mouth… Despite all the challenges, I was now able to refer to myself as a comrade…
Being a parallel student meant that others expected a flashy me. This is primarily because many people to date think of self-sponsored students as shallow brained students who happen to come from backgrounds defined by endless opulence.
However my case was a completely different one. I was a simple girl, with a simple life, a simple personality, and no cash but with a sharp mind. I believed I was bright. I only possessed a single pair of shoes; you can then imagine how simple was simple…
Managing to pay fees wasn’t a problem. The hardest thing was to survive… that is buying lunch, buying lecture notes or ‘handouts’ as many of us called them, having pocket money and managing to cater for my personal needs…
At first I managed to keep my head high but with time the status of I having nothing, or too little for that case began to catch up with me. My fellow students began to make fun of my single pair of shoes… Laughing and mocking me at every chance they got… Whenever I passed a group of students, I could read judgement, disdain and contempt on their faces.
Asking my mother for upkeep money was out of the question. She had to cater for my fees, that of my siblings and our general welfare. I was a big girl… I kept telling myself that. I am a big girl…
Thereafter things became tough…
Then one day, out of the blues, my cousin called.
I had just skipped lunch and my stomach was rumbling. He worked out of town so his call meant that he was around and needed to meet with me. I asked for his location and immediately rushed to a bar within Kakamega town that he was in.
On arrival at the pub, I quickly located him but then realized that the table was inhabited by two other men. Holding no reservations, I walked to his side and greeted him… he introduced the other two; one of which was a manager of a firm in Kakamega and the other an engineer.
We talked for a few minutes and soon as it started getting late, I begged my cousin to leave… The manager gave him his car keys and asked him to drop me home.
Upon walking out of the pub, my cousin gave me 1,000 shillings after which we headed to the car. I entered the passengers’ side and sat down. When he did not enter, I got curious of what was happening and that’s when I saw the manager walking towards the car.
He entered and sat on the driver’s seat. After a few minutes of small idle talk, he fished out 2,000 shillings from his pocket and asked me to go and buy soap.
I was now 3,000 shillings richer… I felt overwhelmed… This was a blessing… How far from a blessing did it ultimately come to materialize!!!
I spent half of the money on myself and used the rest to do shopping for my family. Upon inquiry on the source of the cash, I told my mum I had received the same from Joe (not his real name), my cousin. Having lots of trust on me, she didn’t ask more questions.
My physique as a girl improved, I had a new pair of shoes and some few, ‘new’ second hand clothes.
Before the cash ran out, the manager called. He wanted us to meet. Not in a restaurant or a public place but in his house. Having been chatting with him, I didn’t see anything wrong with the idea.
Giving me directions, I was able to locate his house in one of the serene estates within town. He ushered me in and started showing me around the house. The kitchens, the bathrooms, the balcony, the lounge…
The last room he showed me was his bedroom…
Upon entering, my instincts screamed at me urging me to rush out but I kept on…
He asked me to sit on the bed and I did…
The mattress was hard, and soft… I can’t quite recall…
He then sat next to me and as we talked placed his hand my thigh… it kept moving up…
As this was happening so much crossed my mind…from my problems, to my lack of clothes, my lack of upkeep money, my parent’s struggles, the scorn in the face of my friends and classmates….
I finally gave in. The desire in his eyes was glowing and I allowed it to consume me wholly.
I slept with him.
After we were through, I dressed up feeling so dirty that the thought of even looking at myself from the bathroom mirror was too much for me. As I was proceeding to the door he held my hand and gave me 2, 000 shillings.
Who was I to say no? I lacked almost everything…
That became the routine… every time we slept together he gave me 2K.
I now had the ability to cater for all my needs and some of my siblings’. I could even afford to send my small sister money anytime she asked for some.
After every sex ordeal, I always cried myself to sleep. How had it come to this? The pain was too much to bear… I had betrayed my faith, my family and everything I believed in.
Despite all these hurt feelings, I kept on.
At that time, it wasn’t just the manager. I had 2 other men with whom we had the same kind of arrangement. I traded sex for money.
And I continued… Guest houses, lodgings and hotel rooms became my sites of operation as I searched for that extra buck to keep me and my family going.
My first academic year was now gone and the innocent girl that had entered the lecture hall wasn’t the one leaving the same after a year…
As the days went on, I met Mike (not his real name)… He was different from my normal clientele. He told me how beautiful I was and what a lovely girl I had grown up into. Bearing in mind that no other man had looked at me from that perspective, that compliment really got into me.
Mike wanted me as a girlfriend. We started seeing each other but because of my side hustle, cracks started developing in our relationship. At times I couldn’t pick his call or reply his texts since I was busy servicing the needs of another man. Suspicion became too much and without my knowledge Mike started having me followed.
My tail finally tracked me to a lodging within town, which I was a frequent visitor and planted a listening device inside the room. I brought a client there, we did what we had to do but on this particular day we argued a lot with this client. I felt that I was betraying Mike and also the man’s wife and children. According to my conscience, I didn’t want to be the reason he and his wife were going separate ways.
Everything was recorded on tape. This was the first thing Mike played for me when we met later that day.
I didn’t know what to say to him. He was hurt. I could tell from the lost look in his eyes… I felt like trash. I felt worthless. Mike cried but I had no words to say to him… I finally decided to leave but as I was doing so he held my hand, pulled me back and we had some passionate love making.
A month later, I missed my periods. I was pregnant. Having been using condoms with all other men, I concluded that Mike was the father of the child I was carrying.
I wasn’t ready to be a mother. I didn’t have the means to carry the baby to full term let alone bring up the child to maturity.
I had to get rid of the baby. Upon informing Mike about my condition and my decision, he would hear none of it. He told me that if I attempted to abort, I had two options, either to be ready to either face my parents with the truth or the police!
I was at crossroads! Upon days of self-deliberation I decided to go along with the abortion. I reasoned that if Mike was ready face my parents, he had to be ready to tell them that he was the father of the baby, a thing I knew he wouldn’t even dare.
The problem now was to raise the money required to procure an abortion. I had no one to turn to or ask for help from. Miraculously I managed to get 3,000 bob and contacted a doctor who did away with the pregnancy.
Then the bleeding started. Heavy bleeding… It wasn’t stopping… During all this I had to do house chores before attending lectures. Since I didn’t want my mother to notice, I had to be as normal as possible…
It wasn’t easy. Walking to class took me 35 minutes, a distance I normally walked with less than 15 minutes. Days passed without improvement and that’s when I contacted the doctor who prescribed some pills that would help me with the flow. One pill cost 75 shillings. I dragged myself to a chemist in town and bought 4 of these.
Miraculously, it took only one pill to stop the bleeding completely!
By this time, I had hit rock bottom. Some of my classmates had noticed that something was amiss and rumors started flying all around that I had had an abortion. My self-esteem vanished in totality and all I could do was sit at the back of the class and avoid peoples’ eyes as much as I could…
Over time I recovered from the horrific incident and I became determined to change… A few months later my granny passed on. This shook my family to the core and this is when I realized that my family really needed me. Not just physically but in truthfulness, honesty and also emotionally…
Since then I have been trying to be a better me. I have had setbacks here and there but the determination to beat the odds is what keeps me going…
I have come to learn that nothing in life comes easy. But even with the reality of this truth dawning on us every day, we should never compromise our integrity or the purity of our conscience all for the achievement of a tertiary want.
I have had sex. A lot of it. Maybe hata iliniharibu…”
This is a story told to me by a very close friend of mine. That’s how we lose track of what’s important, chasing a fleety want that sends us to the pitch dark bottom. We lose a lot chasing something that’s worth much less…