No Way Home

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I come from the darkest corners of a small slum in Nairobi. The way to where we lived was a maze, dotted with countless trenches, corners, and small boys armed with blunt kitchen knives, with arms trained to strangle men twice their size from behind. But some of the small boys were kind and sweet, flirting with women with big bums, big boobs— especially big bums, and rough faces.

The kids from there matured with every blink, too fast. And they learned to smoke from rolled old newspapers before they graduated to cigar butts, or the remnants of their fathers’ yesternight sportsman, or safari. And they used their noses as chimneys to let out the smoke. Some choked, some sobbed, but most found themselves in a toxic relationship between Rizlas and cheap liquor.

The dirty trenches were… dirty. They smelled of beer pee, rotting greens, used condoms, and sin. An ordinary morning found at least two or three drunks waking up from the trenches, soaked in their own piss and the dirty water that staggered to flow, a taste of their own poison—or piss. And their wallets were as empty as their growling stomachs when they arrived home. And they vowed never to drink again.

But a few meters from where our home used to be, there was a den—in one of the dingy corners that landmarked your way to our house—that sold cheap liquor. The cops frequented the den and came out sober but satisfied. It was the safest place for a drunk to be. And crowd that place they did. And their wives complained to the chief. And the chief was a businessman. And the chief did nothing. And the women dragged their husbands home, washing and rinsing dirty linens in public so that we knew who didn’t perform well and who had no rod to spare.

The den was later on shutdown because men woke up blind from the trenches, screaming the name of a deity they barely spoke of or heard of in their curtain-partitioned bedroom. Their women went to churches that preyed on them to pray for their husbands’ eyesight. But nothing happened. And the men of the cloth spent more time with them. And…

The place we leased, which we called home, was a semi-permanent single room. Like most people from there, the house was partitioned with curtains to separate the bedroom and the sitting room. The house was at the farthest corner, with other tenants occupying the other houses. The way home was muddy on rainy days and sewers – – there were no sewers-, but we made it home most times. It wasn’t rosy, but it felt like home before I lost bearing in the wants of the world.


As Written by Brainy O’Bee

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