Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fears that Bind

When I was a child, I was scared of things that moved in the dark, but not the dark itself. I was scared of the coat hanging on my wardrobe that would somehow morph into a bloodthirsty child-eating monster when the moon was high in the sky and the lights were off. Curtains would transmutate into deadly shadows of gloom that sucked your soul out as you slept in fear on your bed, and worst of all, not you, or your mother, or your screams, could stop it.

To me, these seemed reasonable fears. But they changed with time. As I grew older, my fears became whether or not my best friend was friends with me because of who I was or because, being in a foreign country, the number of kids to play with was very limited. (Later, she told me it was the latter. But we actually became good friends. Ouch, nonetheless.) I was competing for her affection anyway, but thankfully, for the formative years of our friendship, I was either oblivious or wilfully ignorant of her true feelings towards me.

Then I really grew up, and everything changed. The world of boys was a bunch of whole new fears (that I didn't really pay attention to until much, much later. Honestly, I was the boy-crazy precocious child who was always giving the Valentines instead of receiving them). And the further I got away from my childhood, the easier it was for me to ignore my fears. The Sleeper Effect, some call it in Journalism, where the further away you get from an event, the easier it is for you to forget it. Could that be the reason bad things keep happening, don't have a quota? Because human beings forget the lessons they learn from tragedies and need to be taught again and again about the sanctity of life?

The thing I'm still scared of is locusts. Can't stand the things. I suspect that I get hypertension when rainy seasons begin, because I'm incredibly anxious about whether or not it's going to be locust season. I've been in Kenya for 10 years, and only 2 of those have been Locust Years, and both times, I have spoken to God considerably more than any other time of the year. I feel like throwing a party when it stops raining. One man's meat, etc. I literally do not walk on streets or get near building that are known to have locust infestations. I did not enter Nakumatt Lifestyle for like - how long was it? 2 months? - this year. Because the locusts there were a nation. And it took a while for them to completely die out. The easiest way to make me hate you for life/make you a voodoo doll is to run after me trying to scare me with a locust. It's cruel. I will come back and haunt you when I die. I kid you not. *breathe*

But I'm scared of life. There are too many variables. Everytime I watch the news or read a blog (like's most recent post) or hear a story like the one I'm about to tell, it makes me never want to leave the house -or just die already. No one ever thinks it'll happen to them, then it does. It scares me.

My friend Michael was driving his 5-series in a well-known Nairobi suburb at about 10:30 p.m. He had his friend Jack and Jack's wife and two kids in the car with him. Out of nowhere, a car rammed into his bumper. When he stopped, the car pulled up in front of him, blocking the road. A man got out and begun to fire at them. He fired 6 shots, straight at Michael. Jack jumped out of the car and put his hands up. Michael turned his head to reverse the car. He then crashed into a transformer. The lights went off. Jack ran into the bushes. Michael sped away to the nearest police station.

Michael begun to notice that he couldn't see clearly. Then he noticed that he was bleeding heavily. By the time they got to the police station, his shirt and trousers were soaked in his blood. A bullet had lodged in his head. He told the police that an attempted -whatever that was- had just taken place. The police said they didn't have a car.

Let's have a moment of silence in disbelief at the idiocy that is supposed to serve and protect Kenyans.

He told them to use his (now banged-up) car. They said they had to report the case...or the car use...they had to report something or the other...basically, they stalled. So he got in his car and drove himself to the hospital, because he was now bleeding copious amounts. He got to hospital, starting to stagger and suffer from hypothermic shock (that's the one that you start to freeze after an accident, right?). They refused to treat him until he paid 130,000 up front.

Another moment of silence, but this time in sadness for the elitist service that is healthcare in Kenya.

I'm scared for the people who can't afford insurance, but even more so for the people who can't even afford heathcare. What is their future, what is their fate? Who is their champion...and what has our system become if doctors must be paid before they fulfill the Hippocratic Oath? Or rather, what has the system become if it forces them to be like this? Most do we change it? If indeed it can be changed...

I'm not sure if I have hope in Kenya anymore, but could it be that this is state of humanity everywhere? Have we become a race so cruel, so selfish, that we cannot separate our carnal, primal needs from what is life...I mean, sure, you start with terrorizing girls with locusts, but what do you become once it becomes a habit?

I just watched For Colored Girls. My verdict on that movie is still out. I like the twists in the tale (gory and disturbing though they are). I'm not sure if it's actually a good movie, or if it just preys heavily on the emotions of its watchers...either way, there are a lot of important isssues in there. Like how men treat women, and why women allow them to. Sometimes I think women give men too much power over themselves, all in the name of looking for love or being scared of being lonely. Yeah, well, it's never that serious. Sorry, being lonely is better than being dead. Anyway, the movie made me scared of men again. (men, sex, children...)Women really should not have to go through some of the things that they go through which we all know, so I may not list down, unless I get carried away oh look like now.

The thing that scares me most is dishonesty. Dude can be 'in love' with you, texting you, calls you every day meets your family, marries you, and dude is raping your little sister. I am scared, scared. It's a scary world out there. I'm not too sure how to conquer your fear for something that won't go away, that you can't prevent. I mean bla bla bla men will always be men...but can women never tell? Aren't we blessed with some female intuition that tells us something's up, or do we also wilfully ignore the blatant signs? ARE there signs?

Can women tell, and do women ever tell each other - are we our own worst enemies?
I know I am. My boy has been cheating on his girl since they got together, and it's been like a year, and I haven't told his woman. I probably won't, either. Sure I can say it's not my place, it's none of my business, I tell him to just break up with her...but still remains, do I owe it to her to tell her? And knowing women, she might stay anyway. Are we that starved of lives? Is it worth it?

Lots of questions, lots of length, I know. Congratulations if you got to here. :o) Watch For Colored Girls, if only for some perspective.

I love me some Janet Jackson,though.



  1. BRILLIANT!!!!!! This one is thee best ever!! and For Colored Girls is awesome. Such profound truths! It may not be a Hollywood blockbuster but it speaks to the heart!

  2. Hey babe, I read your post while sitting in a doctor's office and was completely consumed by sadness. There is an oath, and I would hate to think that the medical profession in Kenya has lost that ethos, even momentarily. I am really sorry about your friend. I will pray for the nurses and doctors, and mostly for Michael, because no one should ever endure such sadness. Love xx

    ps. I hate locusts too.

  3. First the accident story: I think that there comes a point where Hospitals have to step up and honor the Hippocratic oath or suffer serious consequences. This is why we need serious investigative journalist to stop covering the attention seeking shenanigans of crooked politicians and start covering cases like this! Expose the hospital and its administration, interview them! Expose the head of that police station, film him/her and let the people know who the person is! Make them a house hold name! If government wont hold them accountable, maybe social pressure will.

    On the Men issue, I agree, men can be bastards, but if there is one thing I learnt from my trip back home this holiday, its that women can be just as bad. They may have been pushed in that direction by the antics of their men but let us not let them off too lightly :)

  4. This is one of the brilliant pieces I have read in the last few days... I do not even have anything further to say!!

  5. Michael is recovering swiftly by the way. He's out of hospital. Jack and his family are fine. About men and women,they are each other's downfall. Some men are the way they are because one woman ruined them,and vice versa. Vicious cycle,etc.

  6. Hey love. I almost cried when I read this post. I hope it's okay if I share it on my online networks. I'd want everyone to see this. Good work.

  7. "and what has our system become if doctors must be paid before they fulfill the Hippocratic Oath?"

    That right there is the problem, spoken from a point of little perspective. You're not paying the doctor, you're paying the hospital which effectively is a bunch of suits or maybe just one suit in an office trying to get rich. That's who pays the doctors.

    Even if the doctor would want to help, usually the patient never reaches him or he doesn't have the resources to help the patient as an individual.

    Most doctors start out with compassion to help guys, but until we can get to the point where we control the healthcare, which is not in the foreseeable future, we're stuck.

  8. @the writers...even in Nairobi Hospital (which I've worked at by the way), patients are triaged by nurses, who have full view and access to the waiting room and front doors. If someone comes in bleeding from multiple gun shot wounds including one to the head, anyone that has approximated a hospital will consider that to be a problem. He should be seen ASAP.

  9. @BwtB: I get that. But you see unless there is proof the doctor is aware of there being a seriously ill patient and refusing to attend to him or her because he or she had not paid is unlikely. Any triage nurse should alert the doctor to a situation like you described cuz they're the first to see, but we're talking about the doctor here.

    I've worked in several casualties and it is against the oath and common practice to turn away a patient because of not paying. The administration may refuse admission to a patient who will not pay (and their word is final) but the doctor must ensure the patient is stable enough to be transferred and ideally the transfer should be in an ambulance. I don't know the circumstances in play during the incident in question but I don't think it was the doctor demanding the money.

    Maybe I'm feeling personally vindicated cuz I'm a doctor and I've been in situations where patients cannot afford to be admitted but I've never refused to attend to a seriously ill patient cuz of money. You know why? I'll tell you why. We both have the same "enemy", the guy that owns the hospital that gets to laugh all the way to the bank.

  10. Ok. So I retract my previous uninformed doctor statement. Sorry thewriters. Clearly what I should've said was,stupid hospital administrators who make healthcare a business.

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  12. The passion of theshyNarcissist, wow great read, its true that there some really not good elements in our society yet again thats not all our society is made of, fear is the wrong type of motivation, look beyond it

  13. My heart breaks as i read this post when it dawns on you that our men and women in blue have the will to only protect their kind. They will only swing into action when one of their own is in danger like getting their as whooped when asking for a bribe yet their take an oath to protect the citizen.

    Doctors are another group of individuals who pride themselves in knowing how to treat people but will leave you to bleed to your last drop of blood, sometimes i try to convince myself that capitalism is bad but generally some human beings are just ruthless, i would like to blame society but i know that deep in mind not all humans are good.

    I really liked the post very informative.
    Ps: we should hook up and create voodoo dolls for the wo/men in blue and some of our mp's

  14. @tSN

    Thank you. I feel less vindicated now. :)

  15. awesome post!! let me just say while you have lost hope in kenya,i have lost hope in human beings in general.