I’m sitting and looking at my 8 months old kid sleep on the floor. The innocent little human has cried herself to sleep. Her mother is taking a shower in the bathroom. She has already made up her mind to leave.
“I’m going back to my parents. I will not stay here and watch my daughter starve to death.” She had said earlier. I could not stop her. She has been such a wonderful wife. She does not deserve me. She deserves better.
After they leave, I will go out in the balcony, say my last words, and jump down from our 5th floor to my death. The years I have been around are enough. I cannot continue this life anymore. It is enough!
Look, when COVID-19 checked, it found me trying to recover after my wife, whom we have been married for 2 years, had been hospitalized due to child birthing complications. I was earning a salary of 28,000 Kshs at a big restaurant in town.
I had used all my savings to relocate into a one-bedroom apartment and the hospital bills were knocking furiously at my door. By the time she was recovering, the hospital bills were counting at 90,000 Kshs plus. Fortunately, my bank agreed to loan me 100,000 Kshs which I would refund in 10 months, paying 10k per month, deductible from my salary.
My wife came back home from the hospital in February. It was quite a relief seeing her around healthy and happy with our daughter. When I received my salary in the first week of March, I did intense food shopping, bought a monthly supply of pampers, and paid rent. I was left with 8k for miscellaneous and transport.
Well, I could see stories about the Coronavirus on social media but I never paid attention. I thought it was some bad curse on China and a bad omen for the other countries. Never did it cross my mind that the Coronavirus would reach Africa, leave alone Kenya. Then on 13th March, a fine Friday in the afternoon, as I served a customer, I saw Mutahi Kagwe addressing the press on TV. The first COVID-19 case in Kenya was confirmed. There was noise in the restaurant as customers discussed the announcement. Most of them were cursing on the government’s reluctant measures as they recounted how a plane had landed in JKIA from China. I continued with my Job without a care in the world.
The following week on Wednesday, our manager told us not to report to work until further notice. Panic was building up across the country as the government contemplated a total lockdown. We were planning to travel home in a week and boom! Nairobi was locked! With a 4 months old toddler, without a source of income and nowhere to go, we stayed indoors and waited for a miracle. By mid-April, I had used all the money I had. Luckily enough, our landlord didn’t pressure us into paying rent.
By the time April was ending, food was already finished and the gas was no longer lighting. I borrowed bread and milk for my wife in the shop just outside until the shopkeeper got tired of me. When I tried asking for help from my friends, they all blocked me. No one was willing to help.
My last option was to sell my smartphone. I sold it at a throw-away price of 3,000 Kshs to a phone repair shop nearby. That is a phone I had bought @11,500 Kshs 7 months ago! I used the money to refill our gas, bought a few foodstuffs and pampers.
Things became serious when our daughter started thinning. The little human was feeding on breast milk from a mother who was having one meal in a day. I decided to get out and do something to feed my wife. I washed clothes for people around our area and earned 150-200 a day.
One day in June, I came home from washing clothes and found the landlord with my wife having s*x. My daughter was crying on the floor. This pig would not respect my daughter, leave alone me. And as if nothing had happened, the landlord rolled over on my wife, pulled up his trousers, and handed her 2,000 Kshs.
“There is no option young man.” He said and walked out.
Have you ever been into a situation that needs an urgent reaction, but you can do nothing about it? That was me. The trend continued until I got sick of it.
When the President lifted lockdown in July, I walked to the landlord’s house and told him to stay away from my wife.
“Then pay rent. You owe me 3-month rent arrears.” He said.
“I will pay,” I responded. With Nairobi opened and restaurants allowed to operate, I was optimistic to get my job back. We tried to retract back our positions at the restaurant but guess what they told us. The restaurant was permanently closed!
August is ending, with nothing to eat in the house and 23,000 Kshs in rent arrears. I stopped going out to hustle, became hopeless, and sunk into depression. In the morning, my wife tried breastfeeding our baby but no milk was coming. We have not eaten anything for the last 24 hours.
“I’m going back to my parents. I will not stay here and watch my daughter starve to death.” She tells me as she feeds our baby with water. The little angel refuses water and cries herself to sleep. My wife places her on the floor and goes to take a shower. She will leave me alone, a good opportunity to say goodbye to the world.
The story above is a shadow of what a lot of people have gone through during this COVID-19 period. Just to remind you that Suicide doesn’t end the chances of life getting worse, it eliminates the possibility of it ever getting any better. No matter what you are going through, don’t lose hope. I don’t know you, but I know something about you. I know you’re tired. I know you live with demons, ones that are close and loud. I know how relentless they are in their pursuit of you. I know that you spend your days trying to silence them and your nights trying to hide from them.
Most of all, I know how hard you work to hide it all, to pretend you’re fine, to paint a convincing smile upon your face, and to act as if all is well with your battered soul. I know that all of this has left you exhausted, that you’ve numbed yourself and hurt yourself and starved yourself in the hope that their voices will become silent and their fists will be lifted and you can finally breathe again.
I know that right now it doesn’t seem like that moment will ever come. And even though I’m not standing in your shoes right now, and even though I don’t know you, and even though I have no right at all, I’m asking you to stick around. I’m asking you to stay.
Tomorrow is the place where hope lives, and I want you to give yourself a chance to share space with that hope — to dance with it, to rest in it, to dream within it because you deserve it. And yes, there’ll be moments of despair and painful seasons and dark nights of the soul you’ll need to endure. You’ll screw things up and be let down. You’ll hurt, and you’ll wonder how you’ll ever make it through.
But then you’ll remember the hell you walked through to get here, and you might remember this blog and you’ll realize you are going to be okay. Because tomorrow is still waiting for you, to dance and rest and dream within.
So I guess this is just a reminder, from someone who sees what you may not see from here, the future, one that’ll be a lot better with you in it.
This is a plea and a promise, a dare and an invitation.
You are loved.
Things will get better.
Cry and get angry and ask for help and punch a wall and scream into your pillow and take a deep breath and call someone who loves you. When you let people in, the demons shrink back, so allow others to carry this sadness with you until you are stronger.
Please, stick around.