That night, one of the neighbours woke up to go to the washrooms. It was one of those plots with washrooms on the other side of the compound, a small gate separating the houses from the washrooms. The moment he opened the gate, he had a commotion coming from one of the unfinished houses and he ran back to his house because we all came to Nairobi to look for money and not to play heroes. But if there is anything greater than fear it is the urge to poo. Village cowards have been known to brave grave nights just so as they can poo. And if your village is anything like mine, then you know latrines are usually on the other side of the world, wedged between thick bushes that also acted as doors.
The neighbour tiptoed, ass clenched, towards the small gate. He stuck his head through the gate and looked on the other side, sniffing for any sign of danger. He spotted something…errr… someone. He carefully approached the unfinished house and no sooner had he come face to face with a body dangling from the roof than he broke into a wail so loud the Kapenguria ancestors patched on top of their graves and mumbled to each other, “What the fuck is happening in Nairobi?”
Lights turned on and doors jerked open as everyone, yanked off sleep, scrambled to get out, either to find out what was happening or to run for their dear life, no questions asked. Soon sleepy eyes were gazing at this dangling body of a woman they all knew too well. A neighbour. A woman they laughed with. A woman married to a man who cast a figure of a polite and harmless man, only the opposite was true. He punched her often. Kicked her countless times. Her screams had become a soundtrack too familiar in that Dogoretti Corner plot. Or ploti, as we call them.
No one knew what woes their marriage was suffering from. No one knew why she never left, the same way we never know why those in abusive relationships rarely leave. Everyone was shocked, yes, because when you see someone you knew too well dangling from a rope lifeless, tongue out and eyes popping, it’s only natural to be shocked, but I doubt few of those who were present can say they were surprised. She left behind two children in the hands of this husband who did not waste any time to marry the prostitute he was cheating on his wife with.
No, I am not calling her a prostitute to be disrespectful, I am calling her that because that’s what she was. We all knew her. We knew what she did for a living because it wasn’t as if she was secretive about it. Back then I knew many ladies of the night who were in normal relationships and every night they kissed their boyfriends before stepping out to make money.
He moved on. Like he wasn’t the reason his wife took her own life. He didn’t even bother to move out, no, he brought the other woman to the very house he shared with his wife and probably to the same bed.
There were murmurs. But life happened as life must happen. The same way there are murmurs right now about the slain Eldoret lady. The murmurs will die down. The same way they died down after Sharon was murdered. Two days from today, the people who have been the loudest on social media streets justifying the murder of Ivy will put on their Sunday best, occupy the front pews and sing the loudest in praise of Jesus Christ, the son of God who died on the cross so that our sins can be forgiven.
Obviously, Jesus died for nothing. The people He died for are not only sinful but also stupid.
Someone asked me, “Have you heard about the Eldoret story? I am not sure what people are smoking nowadays, man. How can you kill someone like that?”
I wanted to ask, “Like how?” because the shock seems to register after story of how he hacked her down is told. It’s not the death itself that’s shocking if you are keen enough, it’s the how. Because killing our women is now a normal thing. For us to raise our eyebrows you need to up your killing game. Then we can crack jokes about it. And create memes. And print T-shirts. And call radio stations and ask, loudly, “IF YOU TAKE A MAN’S MONEY AND THEN IGNORE HIM, WHAT DO YOU EXPECT?”
Women too are asking this question. You raise your voice above the melee and say, “Look, this guy was a stalker!” People hush for a second, look around, and then as if they didn’t hear you, go back to, “But sasa if you infect someone with HIV, what do you expect?”
Look, I don’t know what it means to be a woman in this country. I don’t know what it takes to remain sane if you are a woman. I don’t know who you turn to for protection if you are a woman because we are all glaring at you and wagging our fingers in your face when we are not the ones plotting evil against you. I don’t think the people saying you deserve to die care for your innocence. I don’t know if you will still be alive two days after reading this; the fact that you are breathing free air means someone needs to stand up and put an end to this nonsense because kwani who are you? I really don’t know.
And if I am feeling helpless yet I am a man.
I wonder how you, as a woman of this country, are feeling.