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In my own voice

“Hi Ominde,

I really wasn’t going to send you an e-mail until I stumbled upon your address on your website. I kinda think it’s a cool e-mail address; ‘,’ sounds so inviting. I sort of expected the usual ‘info@bla bla bla’ or ‘ominde@bla bla bla.'”

“Someone finally noticed that I have a cool e-mail address,” I say to myself as I go through her mail.

“Can I ask you something Daniel (I hope it’s okay to call you that), are you a sad person or you just like writing about sad stories?” I pause for a moment thinking about her question. ‘I ‘m I a sad person?’

“I have been reading a lot of the articles on the’ people section’ of your blog and I have noticed your stories are really dark. Mostly about betrayal in relationships. Did someone betray you?”

“No, they are just stories I get from all over the place,” I respond in my head. But again, aren’t all relationships dark these days? Look at the news, people killing each other in the name of love.

“Anyways, before you toss my e-mail to the bin, I would like you to give me an opportunity to write my own story on your blog. My name is Kate and I am a nurse working in Nairobi. I have another big decision to make and it still involves a guy who almost ruined my life nine years ago. I feel very conflicted right now. I just want to share my story in my own voice, hoping that your readers might help me find a way out of my dilemma.

*My response *

“Hello Kate,

Thank you for reaching out to me, and for noticing that I have a cool e-mail address. I kinda copied it from a friend called Rayhab (Rayhab Gachango), she runs a popular lifestyle blog called ‘Potentash.’ You should Google it when you have time.

Thank you for your interest in sharing your story on my platform. Go ahead, you have my e-mail address. I might just edit it a bit to suit the tone of my blog – of course after consulting you. “

*Kate’s Story

When I scored B+ in the 2008 KCSE exams, my mother was so excited. I still remember her going down on her knees, hands raised and tears rolling down her cheeks.

“Thank you Father for having mercy on my family, my trust in you has not been in vain. Thank you for not letting me be ridiculed by neighbors and family because of my trust in you,” she prayed.

Mum had always been a prayerful woman. She was Catholic, even though we lived in a mostly Adventist neighborhood. She always had a rosary on her neck, or in her hands. We lived not too far from a Catholic church. Every morning on her way to doing odd jobs for people, she would pass by the church to pray to the “Holy Mother.”

She always said, she was merciful and will talk to God on our behalf. I believed her. I prayed a lot too. At least before joining campus.

University was life-changing for a small village girl like me. I went to a national school in Kisii County and we had a couple of these posh and sophisticated girls from Nairobi, Mombasa and other big towns.

They were the chics everyone wanted to hang out with. They had the coolest phones, could sing along to the big pop songs word for word, when it was entertainment day in school they would get on the dance floor and bring the school down with their electric dance moves. Funny enough most of them were also bright too. You could not help but wish you were them – they had it all.

Then there was me. A girl from Nyabitunwa. I first wore shoes when I went to high school. I kind of think if it was not a mandatory requirement, I would have gone through my four years at Nyabisawa barefoot. If the ‘Nairobi girls’ mocked me for my ushago looks, I don’t know how life would have been like without shoes in that school.

You know there are days I wished I would have gone to high school in my village. You know those schools where the students did chemistry and biology practicals using an ekebeya (tin lamp). Then you expect them to find a white or blue precipitate – with all that soot! Not to sound ungrateful though. I realized early that I had gone to school to get an education and save my family from the generational curse, not to become popular.

Even with a very good understanding of where I came from and what I was doing at that point in my life, my circumstances and the constant comparison with my peers affected my performance in school. I honestly think I could have scored an A plain…I am however grateful for my grade. Even though I missed scoring A- with just one point, I managed to get admission to the University of Nairobi’s School of Health Sciences to study nursing.

If Nyabisawa was intimidating, you can imagine what Nairobi was like for me when I came here. The tallest building I had seen my entire life was Ouru Plaza in Kisii town. Here, all buildings were at least five times as tall as Ouru Plaza.

Then there were the people…polished. Smart. Some spoke like they just got off the plane from America. They wore trendy clothes. The women…oh the women. These ones would be called all manner of names if they were from Nyabitunwa.

I admired their independence. I remember my first encounter with a night club. My friend Doris had convinced me to go out with her and her friends. Doris was from Kisumu and much more accustomed to the city life. She had attended Kisumu Girls High School. Scored an A-. She took it upon herself to help me fit in to the city life.

Other than growing up in a much bigger town than I did, Doris also visited Nairobi often. Some of her relatives lived in Langata, Ogata Rongai and Parklands. She knew where to buy cheap clothes; and most importantly what to buy.

The transformation was real. Within a month, you could not pick on me as a village girl because of how I dressed, kept my hair or wore my make-up. I would say I was a fast-learner. The only thing Doris could not manage to transform was my thick Gusii accent.

We went to Pitstop, she was meeting some friends from Langata. I saw women in small dresses and skirts sipping on beer in green bottles. Others wine…others some brown stuff that made them close their eyes when swallowing. I was told that was whiskey. The price of a bottle was my entire pocket money for the semester.

This is where I met Matt. His full name is Matthew but everyone just called him ‘Matt.’ He was young, well dressed, sophisticated. He drunk the brown stuff. He was into IT. Worked for an international firm and was doing his Masters at Strathmore.

Besides the sophistication, I liked Matt because he was simple. He was not born in Nairobi, school brought him here. He studied at JKUAT. He comes from Kericho. At times we talked about life growing up in the village when we got to see each other more often.

He was so much like me. Knew what it meant to go to school barefoot. He struggled to fit in at Kanga High School, where he did his KCSE, and at JKUAT. This brown-alcohol life with dolled-up girls is something he started after getting his first job with a local telco.

He was sweet. He was sensitive. He had a Kalenjin accent that his polished clothes and mannerisms could not cover. He was funny in a very raw way. He was charming. He was my first love.

What was there not to love about Matt? Really. A young man who was not allowing where he comes from to determine where he was going to. He inspired me. Even though we spent weekends together, going places and drinking wine and beer in green bottles – yes I had graduated to that, he understood that I was a medical student. I needed to maintain my grades, otherwise, my mama and the whole of Nyabitunwa would be very disappointed in me.

At times I studied in his house when I was there during weekends. There were days I could not see him for weeks because I was always in the library studying for my exams. He understood how important that was for me and he supported me.

That was until one day in my first semester of third year when I realized i was pregnant.

“I am not ready to be a father, you are not ready too,” he said. Looking at me emotionlessly. He did not even think about it. You know how when you tell someone something as big and as life-changing as a pregnancy they will take time to ponder over it before deciding?

That was not Matt. There and then he had an answer.

“I know a doctor. I will send you to him on Monday and he will take care of this.”

By “take care” he did not mean start my antenatal treatment. He wanted the pregnancy terminated. That night we did not go out together. I remember it was Friday. He left for the bar alone. Leaving me alone in the house to deal with my predicament.

I, Catherine Nyangera Ondieki, a Catholic. Daughter of Syphrose Nyamitago was going to have an abortion. Commit murder.

My tears flowed freely when I remembered my mother kneeling outside the Church on a Monday afternoon at Riokindo Catholic Church. Praying to the Holy Mother to intercede for me. Such faith, such belief in God. And here what was I about to do?

Having sex was already enough sin. I will not add murder to it. I told myself. When Matt came back I told him I decided I would keep the baby.

“Then you will lose me,” he said. “My career is just starting, if you listen to me and do as I say, I will give both of us a good life. But if you have this baby now, I won’t be able to help you,” he added.

Matt made sense. As a nursing student I also understood the risks, as well that there was a safe way to do this. What I was not sure of what the emotional side of everuthing.

On Monday morning I skipped class and Matt dropped me at a clinic in Lanagata. I was to get a cab home after the procedure.

The doctor who was to attend to me was called Simon. I remember him asking me if I was sure I wanted to do this. I could not hold it, tears started rolling down my cheeks. The tears gave way to sobs.

“It looks like you are not ready for this,” Simon said. “If you ask me, I think you should not do it. You can still pick up the pieces of your life after this,” he continued.

He ordered for a cab like Matt had instructed him to do after the procedure and I went back home. He called to see that I was fine.

When Matt came back home that evening I told him I could not go through with it. He was upset. He threw a glass on the TV.

That night was the last time I saw him, at least until two months ago. Simon kept calling to check up on me and see how I was fairing. Occasionally, he would come see me at school.

We soon became friends…the six moths prior to my delivery we were practically into each other’s life. I started a relationship with Simon. I gave my son his last name.

His people from Gem Sigomere went to visit my people in Nyabitunwa and in 2015 we got married the Catholic way.

I have since raised our son as his son. We have a daughter together too. She is four years old. I have a job in Nairobi and at times I help him at the clinic on my off days.

Matt recently reached out to me through a friend. He had been stalking me through my Facebook page. He had just returned from the UK where he was doing his PhD.

He wants to meet his son – the same son I gave Simon’s name. I told him I cant let that happen, but he is adamant. He says if I refuse he will go to court and ask for a DNA analysis.

I grew up without a father, at times I feel like I should let my son meet him. But my son already has a father who loves him so much. His life is nothing like my own.

How will Simon feel about this if he knew? Should I tell him about Matt coming back? Will he see me the same way if I did? Is there a way I can ignore Matt?

What how do I proceed?

Cover Image by TULIA COLOMBIA TORRES HURTADO from Pixabay 



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