She slumped against a lamp post. It was a Friday night, and the cold was biting to the last nerve. A billow of smoke whizzed through the air from a ciggie in her left hand. It is the only thing that fought against the cold she was feeling. She puffed it with such a want, like her whole nightlife depended on it. Her left hand clutched her jeans coat hem, trying to squeeze herself together to gather some warmth at the same time maintain an alluring stance.
The streets are clear, with a few cars passing by at top speed. It is past 10 and the night has emptied people to their homes. The town looks desolate and the only signs of life are the lamps illuminating the streets and fellow yellow yellow lining all the way down the street anticipating a successful night.
In these streets, every woman lining there was being bothered by one thing or another. Their heads hummed in silence, and in that silence, they meditated silently about their problems. Problems that they hoped to find solutions to and abate the misery they were feeding on. It is the reason that many of them tried to forget these miseries using ciggies. During that moment, they would forget their problems momentarily and fill themselves with hope that the oncoming night was endearing with good tidings to change their
life stories, well, maybe completely.
She has been out here for only one month. In that one month, she had seen many nasty things happen in that same street every night. Some things were completely blood drenching. She still kept coming back. Once, a man had tried to rape her in the open street.He would have were it not that some of the girls had pounded on the man and gave him a thorough beating.
But there is a lump in her chest that hasn’t healed. Not from anyone around there at that moment , a lump that keeps her coming back to this same spot every night hunting for a brighter tomorrow. Deep inside her, this lump had left her heart tattered. No mending has been able to restore it.
A sleek, black Mercedes Benz pulls up some metres away. She watches from the corner of her eyes as one of the girls enters, and the vehicle leaves as quickly as it came. What a good and early start for her night, she thinks to herself about the girl who just left. Her right thumb taps softly on the filter of her cigar to discard the ash sitting its ass on the end of the ciggie.
Thoughts contend in her mind. She lets them do so freely while she savours the warm taste of the ciggie. Being on a Friday night, she expected business to boom. It is members’ day- when after passing by Sabina Joy for a drink, men get horny afterwards. Some will get served in there, others will get on their heels when they feel they have started laughing too loud, but on the way, under the yellow light of the street lights, they get seduced by the scantily dressed ladies parading to offer services that they only offer best at night. Horniness peaks up and in one way or another, they are standing by to pick one girl. Those who value sex will find a room and enjoy the cookie. A peculiar number are compelled to have one for the road at the back seat of their cars. They end their nights in “style.”
Fiolina is still immersed in thoughts. She left her three year old alone in the house, sleeping by himself. Her hope, every night, is that Ian doesn’t wake up before she comes back. In most cases, God is fair enough to grant her the wishes. Her biggest objective is to get back to the house before 2 am every day.
Time moved quite fast. Somehow, the day looked like it was cursed and her blessings were being cock blocked by something she didn’t know. By midnight, some of her friends had served three clients while she had not landed even one. That worried her because she needed the bread. Ian needed food, shelter and clothing.
Every night she went home with hungry pockets she knew that the devil was glaring at her, and was awaiting her in that single mabati room to pronounce its very presence. Such days made her think of the impossible. They unearth her deepest emotions, leaving her vulnerable. She curses, cries, and despairs.
She asks herself many questions. Even though she never believed that questioning life would make equations change, now she does take that time to probe the intrinsic value of life- why should I live? Am I worthy living? Why should life be this hard? Why is it that I am the only one experiencing this misery? Why are others successful and I am not? Was I born to suffer? Why, God why?
Four years ago, she was a form three student in a school back in shagz. It is then that he met a man who would later change the trajectory of her life. A man so full of promise and so endearing that he captured her heart. She surrendered to his love, and later on forfeiting school to go and stay with this man who had shown a new and bright world to her face.
Joshua was young man in his mid-twenties. Growing up in Nairobi city had exposed him to a different lifestyle that was quite admired by those who grew up in the village. He was not well blessed with looks but his words were sharp and accurate…the kind that leave footprints wherever they landed. His words softened even solid hearts that never cracked easily. He could charm any girl.
Once he realized he had this rare gift, he turned into a self-made Casanova. Growing up, he wasn’t liked by many since he was not as attractive like other kids. He therefore struggled to obtain face and
recognition before people. Somehow, he discovered his sweet words that could magnetize everyone around him. It was a turning point of his life. Leveraging his strength of the mouth, he began
compensating his loss of beauty replacing it with charming words.
That is how he managed to have Fiolina by her sleeve. He promised to take her from the countryside, and offer her a better life in the city far away that she’d only heard of in great stories from those who had set their eyes on it. He saw a life with Fiolina, but deep inside something kept telling him ‘not quite.’
The story of Fiolina escaping the village with a man from the city spread like bush fire. Her poor parents who had so much hope in her were betrayed. Their hearts sank. Her father, after days of grief and anguish sighed, Phew! May her find what her heart desires for. He silently told himself. There was no way to look for her since they knew no one in the city who could help them.
The story goes that she did have a life for a year before Joshua mysteriously disappeared leaving her expectant. She hoped that he could come back. Day in day out he tried his cell, which was not going through, hoping that one day she’ll hear a soft knock and rush to welcome him back home. Days crawled, weeks sauntered by, and later months were smiling at her with no sign of Joshua.
With no vocation to engage in to earn a living to keep herself, life started taking a nosedive. She got kicked out of the apartment after failing to remit rent for three months.
She tells herself, that is where her life began. God sent an angel to come to her rescue. An old woman who owned mabati houses took her in out of pity and offered her one of the cribs for her to live in.
Having no alternative, she gladly took the option. This old woman helped her throughout the pregnancy period. Ian was turning one when the old lady passed on and her sons took over the property. With no prior knowledge of their mother’s magnanimity, they started asking Fiolina to also pay rent just like other tenants residing in that plot. What could she do? No job, no money, no future.
Again, somehow, God sent another angel to her.She landed a nanny job in a residence nearby. She could work during the day only. She would leave her house at 6 in the morning with Ian tied to her back and return just as the stars started coming out of their shelters.
She could now afford to pay the rent of 6oo bob, and cater for her other needs. Life became fairer. She thanked God for the job.
This too, was short lived. Her job came to an end one day. She was on her heels again trying to get hooked up with gigs to help her out financially. She became mama wa kufua, doing laundry and other
house chores for random houses. Although it was not a steady job, she could go home smiling with 400 bob resting in her bra.
Life changed when she met Najuma. Najuma led an opulent life that desperate people like Fiolina admired. She had money to indulge in luxury and live comfortably. Little did Fiolina know that Najuma was a floozy who depended on bedding several men every night in order to hack life.
Just like that, Fiolina ended up in the streets. Now as she waits in this biting cold for a client, she is on the watch out for a man who once raped her and refused to pay her. That man had picked her up from the very spot she was standing on. He left her bleeding and agonizing. It was her first day in this job. It is the lump that disturbs her. To have payback. She knows that one day, even if it takes years, that man will come back.
This is a mission, a journey she has to take alone. She believes that some things are for the self. For her to take the battle right handed to that man.
One day, maybe the lump shall heal. Even if Fiolina comes back every night, there are days she is motivated by her thirst for revenge. She can never forgive him. In her purse, one that is always hidden beneath her coat, is a flashy dagger that awaits that ‘useless’ man.It is the hope she has within herself, that one day, she shall find her own justice. But for now, she is just a hardworking woman like any other Kenyan, standing there because of circumstances she might or might not have chosen.
It is what it is.
Where shall we go, we who wander in this wasteland in search of better selves?