I have just closed shop. Its 11pm and I am tired. Beginning most days at 5:10 am and getting to rest at 11pm is not an easy task. We get into the car with the 2 other employees who work at our family shop and off we go, headed for home. The only thing I can think of is the soft couch waiting for me at home. My eyes are tired and I can barely keep them open as I am driving along Kahawa Sukari Avenue. As I approach Taveta Road, which is the left turn that leads to my home, I see amidst the dim headlights of the car I am driving, a man walking in the same direction I am driving. I squint my eyes so as to get a better look at the form of the man walking. It looks like a child. Could it be a child? What the hell is a child doing walking at his hour? I mention my observation to Eric and Dennis, the guys who work at the shop. They agree with me that the form is definitely child-like. They are equally surprised. I drive past the kid and as I do so, I take another look, but this time, from the rear view mirror. It was definitely a kid. I had to stop. So I did, a few meters ahead.
I get out of the car and shout at the kid, “Unaenda wapi?” The kid doesn’t answer. As I get closer I realise that its a girl. What!! What is a young girl like her doing at this hour? Where is she going? She walks much slower. She must be scared, wondering, “Who is this talking to me?”. I approach her and start asking her the same questions that are ringing in my head.
Me : Where are you going?
Girl : I am looking for my parents
Me : Where do they live?
Girl : I don’t know where, but I am looking for them
Me : And what’s your name?
Girl : Susan
Eric and Dennis ask what the girl said, and I explain the details in as few words. At this point, I am wondering, “What will I do? Why did I stop? I should have just driven off. I shouldn’t have cared”. From the looks of it, the best thing we can do is to get a place for her to sleep. The only house with an extra bed I can think of is my home so I call my Mom. From our conversation she seems worried that the circumstance we are in might be a setup for robbery. Her argument is that the girl might have been sent by thugs to get into our house and see how the “land lay” and she will afterwards direct the thieves on how they will ransack the house. My dad calls me soon after my phone call with my mom and he expresses the same concern. My parents both suggest that I leave the girl alone and just come home. I try to talk to Susan once again, but she sticks to the same story that she is looking for her parents.
I am sure the verse that comes to mind to anyone reading this is Ephesians 6:1-3 NKJV
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
But I couldn’t obey them this time round, at least not completely. In my phone call with my parents, I explain that I don’t think my conscience would allow me to leave her along side the road like they suggested. Something bad might happen to her. She could get raped, she could get sick and probably die from hypothermia. I decide to look for another house where she could sleep for the night and in the morning I would check up on her. My parents’ reaction to the situation makes me think and worry about the reaction I might get from other people from whom I might ask assistance from. I decide to take Susan to the police station. Maybe, they could help her. We all get into the car and off we went to the Kahawa Sukari Police Post.
Knock! Knock! Knock! I tap on the reception table with my fist. A few seconds later a half-a-sleep police officer emerges from the back room. Clearly, we have interrupted a juicy dream and he isn’t too pleased about it. I start explaining my predicament but before I can get very far, he stops me and says, “Wewe unaona atalala wapi hapa? Mpeleke nyumbani ama mlipie hoteli”. I didn’t have a response for him. I was mad. That was not the response I expected from him. I expected better from the police force. So, I simply walk away. Plan A, failed! The only other thing I can think of is calling some of my friends. I call up Jane. After explaining the situation and my most recent encounter with the police officer, she decides to ask her parents if they can help. But my suspicions are true, Jane’s parents are also sceptical about allowing the girl into their home. Jane suggests whether I could ask Ephraim, a caretaker of one of the churches at Kahawa Sukari, for help. Soon after my phone call with Jane, I call up Ephraim, but he doesn’t pick up his phone. I try a few times, but still nothing, he doesn’t pick up. I don’t blame him, he must be dead deep.
The only other person we can think of is the caretaker of the building where our shop is located. Eric calls him up and luckily he is awake. We head over to his house. Well, it was more of a one room house. The “bedroom” of this house is accessed through bedsheets that hung from a rope that ran across the room. The other half of the house, separated by the bed sheet, was the “living room”. We arrive at his house only to find him and his visitors eating supper, ugali and chicken, in the living room. Susan consents to stay with the caretaker for the night, but I felt uneasy about letting her do so. I mean, she would have to stay in a room with 3 men. If anything were to happen, what would we say. I quickly converse with Eric and Dennis and we agree to look for another way. The caretaker also understands that it is not wise for us to leave him with the girl and we part ways. Saddened, we pondered, “What next? Where else can Susan sleep for the night?”.
Eric suggests we try asking a lady he knows who schools at Kenyatta University and stays at a nearby flat. I am glad that at least Susan might actually get a nice place to spend the night. We go straight to the flat that happens to be the same building where our shop is located. We hadn’t even considered calling her initially because we wanted to rest. We go straight to her door. Eric knocks on the door and by God’s grace she wasn’t asleep. Jessica opens the door and Eric explains the night’s events to her. Jessica doesn’t hesitate to take Susan in. Eric, Dennis and I are relieved and off we go back home. My plan is to checkup on Susan in the morning and probably get her back home. I really hope that everything goes smoothly.