Written by Arnold Juma
Excuse me Aunt Lucy? Are the cameras on? I want to share my story to the world…
Allow me to introduce myself. I am Job… Chris Job. In the streets people called me Gavana. You people like some history? Right? Yes, sometimes history is good, right?
My mother was the only kid of the old Anglican priest in the rich rural part of Central Kenya. Her parents were staunch Christians. Having dedicated their work so much, mum was destined to inherit the leadership of the old church. Grandpa sent her to the prestigious school in the big city. She was the icon of the village that all the young ladies were jealous of.
During her second year in college, I was born. AN OUTCAST. Mum could not explain how she was raped. I wish I could now. She broke the law of celibacy. She was destined to be a nun from childhood. That was the price the old priest owed to the Missionary from Scotland. She was disowned by village elders and returned to the big city. But she was determined to fight for herself. To fight for her kid.
We lived in the back street. She taught me everything. To fight, to love, to smile and to survive. The beautiful lady I called mother each morning and told her how much I loved her, kissed her on her forehead and rubbed her hands on my cheeks died when I was five. The medic in the District Mortuary said she had died of cold. Yeah, cold… just like that.
Two weeks after she died came a ‘Good Samaritan’. A vocal vibrant preacher in the streets. At first I was scared and tried to play brave. We all had heard of human traffic. But at the end of it all, I was taken to a children home in the suburbs areas of the town. The children’s home became my home. Life was harder there than in the streets.
We were forced to smile to the visitors. Sincerely, there was struggle for food and beddings. The place carried a capacity double the number it was meant for. Then each day in my weird mind I asked, “Why don’t they release the whole lot of excesses to the streets?”
We only had special lunch occasionally on holidays. There was a lot of fight. I really hated the place. In one hot afternoon an opportunity presented itself. The old truck that carried litter. Escaping from the place was rare due to the punishment it attracted when the plans failed. I played my cards well. Back to the streets. Back home. The home I knew.
I met Kane and Kyle the friends who knew my mother. We ate from the garbage each new day. Sometimes we went hungry but we were a family. We learnt how to beg from the rich and warm-hearted men in the city. We took a shower once in a while from the stream that carries sewage and other effluent from the affluent homesteads. There was order even in the streets. The elder eats after the younger ones. No fuse with police. We stand for each other.
My skin knows the bite of mosquitoes. We slept under big Lorries, trucks and cold verandahs. Then something we thought was funny at least… the dark greasy skin. We never had smart shave like some of you. Dirty brown natural treads was the fashion of the street. It was a pride of how long you had survived in the streets. Black market was our malls. When we received gifts, sometimes taken by use of a little force, we exchanged them for food or clothes in our Malls. And when we took more than enough there was the banker… whom we entrusted with the remaining little fortune. We had a dream one day to live in a well-furnished house.
On the eve of last, Christmas Kane and Kyle were killed when the police and gang robbers were exchanging fire in a bank robbery. That was a blow to my Christmas party. I knew how far I had come to give up then. Even after ten years in the streets, I had something thrilling in my heart of a better tomorrow. I called that… the power of positivity.
The power of positivity. The same power that gives you the courage to smile when you say hi to the young girl across the street and she curls to her mother’s long skirt. Yes, that energy that makes you live like the birds, you really don’t know where your next meal is going to be. Stop crying Aunt Lucy… my life just started one month ago when you saved me.
And this is for you all. You see that dirty kid in the street. That is my brother. That is your brother. They are not that dangerous as they seem. They are trying to survive. As my friend Brian says “I am not by any chance supporting their theft or threats they carry out, I’m just trying to tell the world that there is more to it than the ordinary eyes meet. What you see could be all that you see but it’s not all that is there for you to see.”