( This article was my first article to publish with the chronicles media three years ago. A perfect reminder of our journeys, No edits, no nothing,)
My seventeenth birthday found me unprepared for the life that awaited me. After my form four I left home to search for job, armed with my feeble body and class eight certificates- I had a gigantic heart, full of hope.
After a month of literal hustle, hunger, colds, and desperation, I slunk to Shengli Engineering Company as a laborer. I rented an iron house at Kiandutu ghetto, the rent was kshs 250 per month. I owned a water container, a blanket, a bed sheet, and a Motorola C113. My leverage age was gone by the wind and my transition from life as I knew it and real life was fast and un anticipated. I did not lose faith. I was born for this- I told myself every day I slept hungry.
Then I Met perky
Perky was how I called her, she was too beautiful to be a Wangeci or a Jacklin. By then I was a laborer with Mchina; the Thika Road thing! I, like all other Laborers, earned a mere salary of Kshs 10k a month and lived in a ghetto.
It was after I moved to a better ‘house’ that I met perky. The residential houses I shared with Perky’s family were at the edge of Witeithie Estate- I told you about that place. We used to pay 2k per month for our miseries in the units. We never had enough water and the KPLC were rationing electricity, the city council never cleaned the town and we all never paid for any license for anything.
Her mother was an egalitarian with the biggest human heart possible. Occasionally she would invite me for a meal, the same way she would invite the skinny boy who rented the small room at the furthest corner of the plot, on which our 10 by 10 feet rooms were built. She was by the least of definition, a good woman and a profound mother who loved perky and her brother without doubt. I admired her strength. Bringing up two kids in the ghetto is not everyone’s cup of coffee.
Back to perky. Being good neighbors, we interacted several times a day. The interaction was simple and unplanned, involving waiting to take a shower in turns, ordering water together from Njoroge Mkokoteni etc. Gradually, I grew to love Perky. She was amazing and jovial; I figured how it would all be when we were married.
Every time we met, we knew there was something. Anyone past the age of eighteen can confirm this; at this age, love is sweet, automatic, and less demanding.
After a month of sidewalk smiles, fetching water together, assisting her with her homework and having pleasurable moments together- we were in love.
With Perky, I cooked dainty pancakes for breakfast and she would immensely appreciate and tell me how wonderful I was. Those were enough for us, for her. I would tune my Sonitec Fm radio to Radio Jambo and we would immensely enjoy the popular Sudi Boy songs among other Rashid’s favorite. Binti kiziwi was her favorite song, how can I forget that?
Everything I knew about Perky was wrong. She was fun to be around, outspoken and with a beautiful set of morals- a set rare with ghetto kids, thanks to her mother. Perky and I grew in love day in day out and her mother witnessed the lovebirds with no peril warnings to her daughter. Gradually I started treating her like my mother and helped her whenever I could; I found so much elation in doing it- It was for perky, my love.
It was on a Monday morning when my Motorola C113 rung. Who could that be? I wondered having stayed over a month without a call. It was my father and he sounded overwhelmed by the news- I had scored a B+ in my KCSE. I was disappointed, B+? I could not believe it. I could do better.
James was rich, too rich to live in the ghetto. The fact that he was there raised brows, he should have rented a two-bedroom somewhere else- Say makongeni estate or preferably Juja. However, the fact remained that he was our new neighbor. I felt intimidated every time he moved in with a new piece of electronic to match my junk sonitec Radio. Overtimes the he cooked intriguing meals. He was everything I had failed to be.
He was kind to Perky and her mother. Occasionally I would find him chatting with perkys. The seemed to fit together. It was my time to draw back. I knew what was coming.
Something was troubling perky but she was not enthusiastic to talk about it. That a good deal I knew. I tried my best to squeeze something out of her crowded mind but she held fast to her secrecy until I gave up- I did not want to bother her.
It was a month of too much James that Mr Zong, our materials engineer invited me to his office and broke the best news ever. Having noted my unending hard work he was ready to promote me to a senior Lab attendant position- I would earn 22 k a month plus other monetary privileges. As if that was not enough, he was willing to pay for my school fees if I enrolled for evening classes. My future was eventually taking shape.
I knew this would brighten perky. As I run from work, I imagined how she would hug me and congratulate me. I figured a new start; our love was to take a new turn.
I only opened my door to find the note.
“I am sorry Ambrose but we had to move. My mother is sick. My brother and I will stop schooling if the worst happens; I hope we will have enough time before that. However, James has promised to pay for my brother’s school fees if I agreed to date him. I cannot see him with you around and mum has agreed we move. I do not expect him to love me the way you did, but this is a sacrifice worth taking. Yours Love, Percy.
Be happy for we will meet again.”
I met Percy three years down the line. She has a beautiful son and owns a grocery store at Dandora. She does not talk about James, her brother or her mum.