It’s 12.06PM on Thursday in campus. That’s the time life begins to flow into the gates of campus. Comrades from almost all walks of life match in and out with agendas only their transcripts can testify about best. It’s a true story by the way. I bet you’ve come across a meme of quite an elderly man chasing a younger man so as to beat him up. The meme, like all other memes is taken out of context to say that the elderly man is a father who is mad at the son because of the latter’s poor transcript that is barring him from graduating. That is after the father has spent a lot of money to educate a cow that only went to graze in the lush life of the university. Funny huh? But these things are real mjango.
Sometimes I just like sitting around campus so I’d see people. People as young as I. People who are different from me hence the curiosity to just do nothing but watch them. Through that I’d learn that the beauty of the world is in our differences. And you don’t need to be told that learning precedes knowledge. So as a result, I’d know that the differences challenge our ability to appreciate others. There is great harmony that is birthed from the acceptance of our differences. As I sat at the chill spot most universities have called ‘Students Centre’ she walked past where I was seated. She has earphones pinned into her ears that were dotted by tiny but shiny earrings. I guess that was her way of keeping dudes sitting on the fence, must be a barbed wired one – on whether to start a vibe with her or not. Common sense has it that she might ignore them since she can’t hear a word they say. But since common sense is not common to all, the overly courageous ones would make the move but experience would teach them that when a girl is on earphones in a public place, they’re for to keep the ‘dogs’ away. Ladies, isn’t that what you call all men?
She wore a grey summer hat beret that went well with her black bobs hairstyle. She had a birthmark on her left jaw. I guess they were the kids who were told by their mothers that they would never get lost because God gave them a mark that identifies them. She finished the good look with a black hoodie, a blue pair of jeans, ripped at the bottom and multi-coloured old schools on her feet. Oh and how could I forget, she was wearing something else that can only be found in God’s wardrobe; a smile. A slight one though. It didn’t seem to leave her face. I guess even if you’re a dude and you try to vibe her, she would say no to you while still smiling. Then you’d get mixed reactions on whether she is into you but saying no is the only defence mechanism she is left with.
Seems she did not see me. Okay it’s not as if seeing me would change anything. I would just wave at her and perhaps she’d know I am the one she has an appointment with. I have to make sure I wave confidently since it may seem like the person she was to meet has sold out the secret recognition signal we had agreed on – to another mjango who is looking for a hook up. She first diverts to a shop around there and on her way back, our eyes lock and my hands reflexively fly up and begin to flail. I don’t want the trouble and embarrassment of calling out someone who is on earphones if she happens to pass again without seeing my signal.
She walks over to where I am seated. I stand. She stops. I say hi. She takes her earphones off. She says nothing. I say hi again, a prolonged one this time. She giggles and says she heard the first hi I said. So she said hi too. I raise my hand. She raises hers too. Our hands shake for a second then let go. I say, “You must be Sharon.”
“And you must be the popular Mjango,” She says.
I chuckle and say, “I’m not popular. Have a seat will you?”
“Thank you for honouring my request through our mutual friend, Michelle to have me interview you.” I say.
“It’s a pleasure too, considering I have seen some of your work, I’m quite confident you’re legit. Plus our friend, Michelle, who happens to be a very good friend of mine told me quite a lot about you.” She says and continues to smile.
I tried my best not to ask her what her friend has been saying about me. You bet I lost that battle three seconds later. And of course, she refused to say what they had been talking about me. I threatened to call it gossip if she wouldn’t tell me and well, that didn’t move her either. By the way Michelle has a boyfriend who is my namesake. That’s beside the point, I know. Our chatty and witty characters made us friends. Having the same name as her boyfriend speeded up the acquaintance process. She then fell in love with my blogs and she emailed me saying, “I might have a story for you.” Nothing makes my day like hearing I have a potential story on the way.
“Let’s start with your smile Sharon. You can’t deny that you are ever smiling. How will we know when you’re not happy so that we don’t bother you?”
“What I have been through since 2008 has taught me, though painfully, that happiness is a choice. It’s not a feeling. And the ingredients of happiness are found all around us. In fact, look no further. People make us happy. So I found myself people who make me happy and stick with them.”
“Like Michelle?” I ask.
“Like Michelle.”
“Aha. Beautiful. I like your sense of fashion by the way.” I say.
“Since you’re a writer, how would you describe it in three words?” She asks.
Without hesitation, “Simple and sleek.”
She laughs and says she didn’t think I’d answer that fast. I tell her that my articles on interviews don’t start when the person starts talking. Maybe even the story may not come from what they’re really saying. Creative genes will just pull out something small and run with it as the story.
“So you will write about my smile?” She asks. I saw the sternness in her eyes.
Shrieking, “Who knows? You mentioned something to do with what you’ve been through since 2008. What is that if you don’t mind?”
She clears her throat. That’s how I know I have hit the bull’s eye, when someone clears their throat. I also brace myself for a long story.
It was the second day of January, 2008. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. It was the period of the post-election violence. Sharon together with both her parents and her younger siblings (both boys) had managed to run and hide from the blood hounds by then; the Mungiki. Sharon’s father is a Kikuyu and her mother was a Kalenjin or a Kipsigis to be specific. Sharon’s mother is now deceased. The demise of her mother and another act of animosity is what forms ground for Sharon’s story. The ground that she now testifies to have received rays of God’s love and showers of His grace over the years to become a garden. A garden full of orchids of hope, lilies of joy, daisies of trust in people again and roses of unconditional love. She didn’t think she could ever see herself as normal again after the ruthlessness of selfish and heartless men.
They lived in Nyahururu at the time. Her father is originally from Nyeri though. They stayed in Nyahururu because her dad was a deputy principle in a boy’s high school in Nyahururu. Her mum was a business woman dealing in tiles. She couldn’t do business at the time because of the bad political weather. Besides, she had to be at home taking care of her family. The only reason they feared for their lives was because of their mum. She was not Kikuyu. She could speak Kikuyu but not natively. They couldn’t count on that to save them when the machete bearing men hungry for any blood that wasn’t Kikuyu came hunting within their doors. For an entire month, they managed to go around Nyahururu and other neighbouring towns without coming across those monsters in form of men. Her father knew very many people who helped them to always be a step ahead of the Mungiki sect.
They crossed over to the New Year and for a moment, they hoped the dawn of the New Year would be the time God would calm the political storm. Yes it did calm, but not before it took away Sharon’s mother for good. Sharon says that though her father doesn’t admit it openly, one of his friends whom he had sought help from must have sold them out. This is because in the area they were in, the Mungiki came directly to the house they were staying in and left without passing through the houses around as well. There were houses around that had more non-kikuyus than theirs.
So the night of 2nd January, 1.47AM as she recalls, she heard a loud bang while she was asleep. She was in the same room with her brother. Her dad was always in the sitting room to ensure he was alert throughout. “Mum was in the next room with my youngest brother. He was just nine months old. My dad had heard some suspicious noise. He was on his way to get us to hide when the door was broken. He then quickly went back to try fight them. He had this huge knife he got from an Indian friend of his. It was not long before they overpowered him. They were four of them. I heard them say in Kikuyu, “déréda mûtumia wakû” meaning ‘we just want your wife’. You tell me whether those were not people who had been informed in advance.”
As two men pinned her father to the ground, the other two went around the rooms. One happened to get to the room she and her brother were in. It happened so fast, she said she I even doesn’t know how she couldn’t hide in time. She had already hid her brother under the bed. Seeing she was a teenager, the devil in the body of a man saw his chance to rape her. The other man, who seemed to be the leader went to the other room and found her mum. She had hid her nine month son already. And just like the evil they are made of, he slit her mum’s throat. Before they left, they beat her dad while mocking him saying he can try marrying another Kalenjin and they would be back for her as well.
“When you see me today, you can never tell I went through something as tragic as that. Yes it broke me. It broke my dad. He didn’t go to work for a year until he had to because his children needed to eat and go to school. So he assumed both the role of a mother and a father. There was a time he used to get overwhelmed and he found himself apologising for not being able to protect my mum and I as he should. But I kept reminding him that he is my greatest hero and he did all he could and God knows it all. As a family, we’ve helped each other through healing. But dad led us and still does lead us through that journey. That incident made me a very dull and bitter girl for five years. I don’t know whether I would have come to love life and people again if it was not for him. He always reminded me to smile whenever I looked dull. He used to say, “Smile my girl. Remember your mother is watching you. She wants to see you happy.”
So some people may not look different until you hear their story.


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Written by The Mjango

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4 years ago

I’d say I’m speechless but this is not a site we leave speeches. You’re a smart one though. I’m sure you get the point. SMILE!!!