So I was travelling from Mwingi to Nairobi. On normal days if I am alone and in a public transport I alight at a station near home,the nearest station to home and the nearest place for somebody or a taxi to pick me. But today I travelled a bit late, really late than ever.
I was a bit insecure to stand at the place I do alight alone just in case I arrived earlier. My phone was off and i could hardly communicate or call an uber. I decided to go alight in town instead and pick a taxi. Mum is totally against the idea of me being in town, (okay there was a time we went to Railways with her, then when we were going back to the car some group of men came and surrounded me and told her ‘mum we ingia kwa gari polepole na utuachie huyu mtoto wako, huyu kutoka leo ni wetu, ni mrembo sana, pia sisi tunataka tukae na kamzungu umekaa nako muda wa kutosha😀’ I have never seen her panic like that day. But then I ran and followed her but then another group, different from the first, held my hand and said they were going with me. Of course we made it to the vehicle then she told me she doesn’t think it’s safe for me to ever go to town alone. From then She never went back to town again herself😀 It didn’t help when she told Munyao, munyao said ‘Uh ni vile wewe tu unakaanga kwa nyumba hujawai tembea na mtoto wako town, mimi nikienda naye mahali popote huwa namshikanga mkono nimprotect asiibwe kwa hivyo nimezoea. Watu huko nje wanampenda sana na wengi hata hujaribu kumchukua hata nikiwa naye yeye. I just have to be strict with them’ (Now I don’t understand why this normaly happens, I don’t know I look tiny and delicate to the point somebody just a wants to hold and protect me or what.
Anyway so the vehicle I was in went to country bus. I had a heavy luggage (okay my grandparents are the type who when you go visit even for a day you will be forced to carry everything, maembe, ndengu, kuku, honey etc) I could not lift the bag myself that’s why I opted to go where I can access a taxi easily.
Now I had to wait for the conductor to help me get it it out of the vehicle and in the process everyone alighted before me . I have never gotten that scared in life. When the conductor came in and saw me he called the driver and said ‘hebu simamisha gari hapo, leo naoa we hujaona tumebaki na mzungu kwa gari😀’ (kambas need to know lightskins are not wazungu😊’ luckily the driver kept moving. I told the conductor I wanted to alight but he told me ‘hutoki hapa kabla sijakujua. Wewe ni size yangu hata kama hujafikisha miaka 15😀’ Of course I got annoyed but I realized the only way to get out of that situation was to be nice even if I didn’t feel like.
In the process a young boy around 15 years got in. He was sniffing glue, dressed in a tattered coat and a short. My first instict was to run and leave my luggage before anything happens to me in that vehicle. The place the driver was driving to was really dark and I thought maybe those people wanted to kidnap me. But the boy smiled at me and I felt l could trust him more than I could trust the conductor. I asked whether he could go get me a motorbike. (At this point my safety mattered more than getting a taxi) He said yes. I expected a no. Then he said ‘lakini sister utaninunulia soda’ I asked whether it is a must, he told me ‘hapana sister lakini watu nikusaidiana’ The boy got out. The conductor was left with again, and for the first time I regretted using a public vehicle at night. I love buses more than personal vehicles if it’s long distances, but today I felt I should have just hired a taxi from Mwingi. He kept on insisting how I am his size. Then he told me ‘lakini wewe hukai kujua hizo vitu unakaa msichana mdogo wa Yesu hata naona venye umeshtuka, sikufanyii lololote leo lakini utanipea number yako nitakufunza hiyo mambo baadaye😂? Kwanza niambie wewe ni mkenya kweli? Hebu nipee number yako? I stopped getting annoyed and got amused at the way he was saying so many things at a go. I gave him my number. Nothing is more honest than a scared girl. I hope he never calls. 😊Then I asked him to go get me a taxi.
Just as he rushed out the boy came in and told ‘sister hapa gari imesima hakuna motorbike au gari tutahave kutembea toka twende’ I felt this boy was my saviour though I was still afraid he might mislead me. But I wanted to get out it was better to be out than have that conductor find me there. He picked my bag it was too heavy for him he almost fell but he managed.
We alighted when the vehicle was still moving. I don’t even know what side of country bus we were at but I have never been in anywhere that scary at night. He told me to follow him and I had no option but to. I was helpless. We walked through the dusty streets. He told me to help him put the luggage on his head. I told him it’s okay we can leave it all I needed was to get out of that place. He told me ‘Nitrust sister, nataka tu kukusaidia usiniogope’ Then we kept walking. It didn’t help when we reached where lights were people started saying ‘ona aka kamzungu kanatembea na chokora usiku’ The boys in the streets of course were elated to see me with him. Of course they were amazed and apart from the annoying ones who tried to touch my hair but the attention wasn’t all bad. We saw a motorbike then he told me there ‘ndiyo hii nilikwambia unitrust’ I realised I didn’t need a motorbike(That’s the problem with excuses, they fade when somebody gives what you asked ) I actually enjoyed his company and I wanted to find a way to find about him more without scaring him away .
Now I am total slay queen when it comes to locations, I know nowhere in town, if you drop me here you have to pick me there if not I depend on motorbikes and taxis. I couldn’t even remember the name of the stage I could use home. I felt I didn’t need taxi anymore i wanted to be with this boy and it was really late. So I asked him ‘Unajua gari za kwenda —– zinakuchukuliwa wapi?’ He told me yes ‘hapa karibu tu OTC unataka nikupeleke?’ (well, the only stage I know for home is next to Archives but I couldn’t dare question him whether that Otc is near archives’ I told him ‘hapana utachoka, tupande pikipiki na wewe twende’ he told me ‘hapana sister ni hapa tu karibu tunacross barabara.’
Then we walked. He gave me stories and he almost forgot we were on the road. We were almost hit by a vehicle then I told him ‘tutembelee huku mbali, sitaki tugongwe kabla hujakua mtu’ (Now mtu to me is a grown up and he looks more of a kid) Then he told me ‘Sahii bado mi ni mtu, niambie kabla sijakuwa na cheo) That hit me so hard. I told him I meant Kabla hatujakuwa wakubwa’ Then he laughed. He asked me where I stay. I told him the name of our estate . Then he told me ‘ooh, wazazi wako ni wasapere ama ni venye tu mnaishi karibu na wasapere’ (I assumed msapere is Kikuyu😊). I never know what to answer the question of my parents and tribe because my story is a bit complicated. But i had to be honest with him. I felt he deserved my honesty ‘ mimi nimezaliwa ukambani lakini familia yangu ya huku nairobi ni wasapere. Sahii nimetoka kusalimia nyanya na babu wa ukambani.’ I expected him to ask more questions like how is that possible. But he didn’t. He instead said the most unexpected thing ‘umebarikiwa sana, hivyo ndivyo makabila tofauti tunapaswa tuishi pamoja kwa amani, sisi wote tumeumbwa na Mungu mmoja’. His answer moved me.
I asked him whether he has a phone. I knew the answer was no but I hoped somehow, somehow he did. He was somebody I would want to have a conversation with over a cup of hot chocolate. The boy is cheerful and brilliant. He would make a really great friend. So my heart sank at the idea that he didn’t have one.
I told him I wanted to be his friend. I explained to him Everybody needs a friend and I felt he deserved me. He smiled then said ‘hiyo ni ukweli kabisa, mtu hapaswi kukaa pekee yake, kila mtu anafaa rafiki mwenye ni kama familia, labda leo Mungu amenikumbuka akanitumia wewe’
At that time we were now in OTC. Of course it’s not the stage I know, I couldn’t even see archives anywhere, this one had only matatus and the one I know has only has minibuses. I asked the conductor and they were going the same direction.
I was relieved but sad that I was leaving him behind. I asked him ‘Unaitwa nani?’ (well, if you meet somebody who you can have a conversation with to the point of forgetting to ask their name first, that person is great’ ) He was. He literally carried me away with the conversation we had. He told me ‘Stanley’ I wanted to ask him his second name. But I didn’t. Stanley was enough.
I told him ‘ngoja niende kwa hii duka iko karibu ninunue mahali pa kukuandikia contacts zangu. Na tafadhali ukipata simu kuwa unanipigia au hata unaniflash.’ . He told me ‘no Ngoja kiasi, usiende, nikona kalamu, lakini kwanza niambie jina yako’, ‘ I was flabbergasted (I never use this word but…). He got into his coat and got me a pen. Now I have a phone, but I didn’t have a pen, but Stanley did. That speaks a lot about him. I wanted to ask him why he carries a pen with him, I always forget to carry one myself so I am sure it has to do with him wishing to go back to school and write’ but I didn’t. So I took a piece of white box from the floor, and wrote him my details. All my numbers. He becomes the first and the only person to get all my numbers. And the first to for a long time make me speak kiswahili without mixing with words. Of course the people stared at me like I was out of my mind. Stanley was so happy. He held the paper, smiled and told me, ‘nitakupigia simu mtu wangu’ Then he started walking away. I called him Stanley, ‘ngoja nikulipe, umenibebea vitu zangu na ukanionyesha njia, hiyo ni kazi umefanya na baada ya kazi ni malipo’ . He told me ‘hapana usinilipe chochote ,kutembea, kuongea na kucheka na wewe ni malipo ya kutosha, nimejifunza mengi na nimefurahi sana, nimejifunza furaha ni malipo makubwa zaidi mtu yeyote anweza kukulipa duniani, ahsante Mungu akubariki’ ‘
I tried convincing him to accept my payment. He said no. I told him ‘kama mimi ni rafiki yako basi ngoja nikupee zawadi kidogo, ukikataa nitajua mimi si rafiki yako’ of course he accepted half heartedly.
And as he waved and walked away, I realised that it might have been a rough experience at start, but God uses the most unexpected situations to give a lonely boy a friend. If I had hired a taxi, I would have never met Stanley. And tonight, I pray that he doesn’t forget me or lose my number, I hope someday he will wake up and remember me…Then call me… But even if he doesn’t I hope the conversation we had will give him the slightest hope that someday, things will change for him, that someday he will be happy and be a president in whatever capacity God will choose him to be. I hope during his darkest moments he will remember me, not like the girl he carried a luggage for, but as the Friend that he can trust. The Friend God gave to him.
(It’s been one year Since I met Stanley. I got a lot of messages in Facebook asking about him after this story, but Sadly Stanley never called me. Maybe he never got someone to trust him with a phone, you know, or maybe he lost my contact. We all have regrets, and one regret I do Is not having gone home with Stanley that day. I should have convinced him to come with me, and then he would have been the small sibling I have never had and I would have provided him with all my life. But I failed. I failed to see the bigger picture God was giviing me. I went back to country bus for days and tried, but no one seemed to know a boy with that name, and I looked confused to look for a boy I didn’t know. I wish I took a photo, but my phone was off. But I still hope and pray to meet Stanley one day, I still hope to give Stanley a home. And if you ever interact with the children in Nairobi streets and you encounter Stanley, tell him Brightstar is looking for him on this other end. And every day I achieve a milestone, I remember and wish he was here with me we shine together. But he is with me in my heart. )