It’s always a wonder how 6 hours of sleep seem like 6 seconds. It’s 6am and here I am at Jessica’s one bedroom house waiting for Susan ,the girl supposedly looking for her parents, to finish taking a bath so that I can take her back to the children’s home she claims to have run away from. Jessica had really taken care of Susan. She fed her, took care of her. She even gave Susan her own coat! The only clothes Susan had on when I found her were a t-shirt and a pair of corduroy trousers. Anyway, as Susan is taking a bath, I get a chance to talk to Jessica and ask her if she has managed to connect with Susan. Jessica tells me that Susan says that she is looking for her parents, that she ran away from a children’s home located in Githurai 44. I am listening to Jessica but the details don’t add up. How did Susan know where to look so as to find her parents? How bad was her experience where she lived such that she ran away and decided to look for her parents? What must she be thinking to have the guts to walk in the middle of the night?
Susan completes her bath and joins us at the “breakfast table” which is basically the only table in the room. I can’t imagine what she must be thinking. Who the hell are these strangers? Why are they taking care of me? I try to make conversation with her, but she responds with one liners.
Me : Where is your children’s home located?
Susan : Githurai 44
Me : What is the name of the children’s home?
Susan : I can’t remember the name. I don’t know the name. I have never spent even one night at that home.
Me : What do you mean?
Susan : I was dropped there at night but I left and started looking for my parents.
Most of our conversation goes round in circles. Most of what she is saying isn’t holding any water. She says one thing then counter’s it with something else. I am really worried that she is lying to me. But what do I do? Leave her on the street? I decide to give her the benefit of doubt. A part of me says, “Let her go. She is definitely lying.” another part says, “Yes she is lying but part of what she is saying is true and what she needs is someone to help her. At least for today.”
Me : I want to take you back to the children’d home. Is that okay?
Susan : Ok
It’s time for us to go. Jessica also needed to go to town since she had some errands to run. Susan and I walk to the car but she is reluctant to enter the car.
Me : What’s wrong?
Susan : (silent)
Me : I have to take you back to the children’s home!
Susan : (Stubbornly) I want to look for my parents! (Close to tears)
Me : (Gently) Do you know where they live?
Susan : I think they stay here in this estate.
Me : Do you know where exactly?
Susan : (silent)
It’s so frustrating talking to Susan. I am trying to help and the only information I have, the information she has given me is practically useless.
Jane meets us outside Jessica’s flat. She is headed for school but she has a few minutes to spare so I get a chance to explain the current affair of things. Our conversation ends with this conclusion, “Just take her back to the children’s home that she claims to have came from”. What else could I do? Susan reluctantly get’s into the car and we start our journey to the children’s home. Just when I am about to join Thika Road, guess who I meet along the way? George! What were the odds? I quickly pull over and again I explain the story to him. Most of it, at least. George decides to join me in my mission, “Return random kid back to children’s home”.
This is insane. In think to myself. Why is this happening to me? It feels like somebody else should be doing what I am doing, going through what I am going through. It feels like no one should have gone through what Susan has had to go through. I feel like I have nothing more to ask Susan and when I have nothing to ask, I have nothing to ask. So I keep quiet. I also know George is very good at making conversation 🙂 . He inquires from Susan for more details but she is a hard nut to crack. Bits and pieces is all we can get from her. Many times we ask her not to lie to us. We assure her that we want to help her. But it proves difficult to earn her trust. Probably that is why she is telling us bits and pieces. If I were in her shoes, would I open up to strangers about my true circumstances especially when it seems that the people around me just want to get rid of me as fast as they can? Do people see me as a bother? Like I am unnecessary baggage?