I am just a girl who loves reading and talking about books
I can hear the sound of my feet as my maasai sandals hit the ground with every step that I take. It’s getting darker and so I try to pick up my pace. I look around at the open fields and the small clutter of big houses built around in a group on the hill across the stream. I do not see anybody else around even though it’s only around 6:30pm. As I near the little dry stream which I have to cross to get home, I suddenly see a man approaching me. My eyes dart around nervously and I realize that I am actually at the mercy of that man since there is nobody else around. My heart starts beating faster and I break into a little run while at the same time trying to look as natural as possible. Suddenly, the man branches off and heads straight for me. There are many footpaths that he could have taken but he chose mine. I say a quick prayer and decide to keep my eyes on the small hill ahead of me just beyond the stream. I can’t see my home yet since there are houses around it blocking my view but I can at least see the first house after the stream.
I keep my eyes glued to the hill, half running and trying to look very casual all at the same time. Suddenly, the man is just a few steps ahead of me and I turn slightly to give him my most fearless stare. He looks mean, walking fast and I just mentally start rehearsing my scream as I quickly look away. If I scream, the whole village will know that I am in trouble. They will come help me.
As he nears me, I hear him mumble something under his breath and I start to run off the footpath. I have my heavy handbags full of books. I always carry my books around. In my hand I have a big shopping bag with my mum’s shopping. My heart beats faster and I can hear it clearly. The stranger starts running after me and that is when I knew that my life was truly in danger. He tries to say something but my heart is beating too loud so I cannot hear him. I reach the stream and decide to avoid the small bridge since I figure that it would take time to get on it and cross it. I try to keep my mind from thinking of all the things that the man planned to do to me. Would he grab my mom’s shopping and make a run for it. Was he after my handbag, oh dear, spare my books. Not my books, at least let me read them first. I think about throwing the shopping bag away but for some reason, I can’t imagine showing up at my moms place empty handed with only my handbag full of books. It’s quite an uncultured for any working class person to show up home empty handed.
I run and then suddenly, I find myself flying through the air. I have no control of anything as I trip on a stone and land face forward on the ground. My shopping scatters although I still hold firmly to my handbags, my books remain intact. By now, the stranger has reached me. I don’t know why but I couldn’t scream. I just lay on the ground with my knee pounding and I consider hiding my face away from him. I wanted to disappear so I figured that if I just lay flat on the ground with my head down, I could just disappear. Maybe he will just pick my mom’s shopping and be on his way. So I lay and I wait for the blows, kicks or the grabbing of my handbag full of books. Please not my books!
After a few seconds, I decide to get my face off the ground and look up to the stranger who poses danger to me. However, just I look up; I feel his hand on my arm pulling me up. Once again he tries to say something but I am not listening. I definitely know it’s a threat. Maybe it was something equally despicable like him cursing at me for making him run across the stream. Oh dear, not my bag of books. I hope that is not what he wants. Maybe he likes to read like I do. However, to chase a woman just so as to steal her mom’s shopping and her books? What has this world come to? Like my mental screaming, I start fighting him again mentally. I start by thinking of kicking, or maybe scratching. Maybe I could make a run for it. I have all these ideas on my mind that are now just as loud as my heart beats. The stranger starts talking again and I start imagining what he was saying. He is cursing me I think and I am not going to listen to that. I am not! Suddenly, I feel a brush on my knee. Oh no, what is he planning to do. I would rather he took my handbag of books now. Its okay, I will buy other books really. I close my eyes but then noticed something odd about the brushing. Then I realize that the stranger is cleaning my scrapped knees where my long skirt is covered with dust and blood. He is cleaning me up? Oh no, this must be someone ritualistic. People who practice different rituals normally like to offer the best sacrifices to their demigods. A dirty bloodied woman simply would not do. This can’t be my fate. I am standing now with his hand still on my arm and my mom’s shopping on his other hand. We start walking with my mind playing out different scenarios. The stranger starts mumbling again. I once again simply shut him out. I think he is chanting! Oh no, this cannot be how I die. I notice that he is watching me and my heart starts beating even faster. We are almost reaching the first house after the stream which means that I am about five minutes away from my home. I start thinking about what to do. Should I scream? Would he hurt me if I do? Was he holding my arm as a silent threat? Did I see a knife? As we walk past the house, I look at it hoping that someone would be outside, I could blink or something to let them know I had been kidnapped.
We walk a little and I see my mom’s house. This gives me a sudden burst of energy and I decide to make a run for it. The stranger looks alarmed and then I hear him shout something at me. For the first time I hear his voice and can make out what he says. “Shiro wacha kukimbia si utaanguka tena!” .He knows my name! What does that mean? Does it mean that he had been stalking me? What does it mean? Is this a sign that maybe he knows my family and he has been expecting me? How did he know I would be coming? This was to be a surprise visit. My knee is throbbing and I can feel the tears streaming down my face. I am terrified but determined to live. I still have my handbag full of books on my arm and I am determined to read those books. I must know how they end. I can now see my mom’s gate and I manage to get through safely and close it behind me shut! I get to the house now screaming and calling out to my mom.
She rushes from the kitchen looking very alarmed especially when she seems me crying and with my skirt dirty and bloodied around the knees. She tries to talk to me but I cannot get a word out with the crying. She asks me if I had met Kevin who had been sent to help me carry my shopping since mom knows I always have shopping bags when I visit. I look at her puzzled so she explains that Kevin is our new help who will be taking care of the cows and also manning the gate. We sit down on the couch and my heart is still beating so fast that I am yet to tell her how I had just survived some kind of ritualistic kidnapping.
Suddenly, the door flies open and the stranger walks in! I look at him and all words fail me. Completely terrified and now worried for my mom. “Kwani ulichukua shopping ya shiro then akakuacha nyuma Kevin”. Mum started addressing the stranger and I get engulfed by confusion. The stranger explains that we met and he tried to say hi and assist me with my shopping but I ran. He then explains how I fell and he tried to help me with the shopping again and hold my hand to help me walk since I had been injured and then he told y mom how he had been trying to explain to me that he had been sent to help me but then I started running again. Kevin looked very confused and suddenly, I looked down feeling so embarrassed. He probably thinks I am a crazy person, I can see it in how he looks at me puzzled. The next day, I heard him on his mobile phone outside the house explaining to someone that I must be on drugs like most Nairobi girls. He was laughing and telling the caller of how I kept running and falling, looking terrified even as he tried to assist me. I listened to my assumed ritualistic kidnapper laugh at me.
Sigh……once again, my imagination had gotten the best of me!