The Skeleton in the Closet

The Skeleton in the Closet

By Cecy Gaitho

“The Forbes list of top 40 under 40 is out, and for the first time in history, a Kenyan is on the lead!”

I cannot tell if it was the announcer’s voice that got me all attentive, or an intuition deep down my heart that got me restless.

“Ladies and gentlemen, a big applause fooooor Dr. Lucky Barakaaaaa!!!!!!!”

Hearty applauses followed the announcement as the tall man in his mid-thirties made his way into the podium. There was something about this man that got my heart beating so fast. I ruled out the thought of lusting over him as I had retired from the nightlife three years before.

During that period of time, I had steered clear of any trouble with the police and I was fast quitting pot. I was by all means trying to lead a modest life, away from the nightlife, where I had spent all my youthful years.

The profile of the handsome young man showed at one side of the screen, as the voice-over read all the achievements of Mr. Lucky Baraka; “It is notable that Dr. Lucky Baraka was raised in Tegemeo Children’s Home, located just ten kilometers outside the CBD.

I had started drinking so heavily to keep sane from the event.

“As toddler, he was rescued by a watch dog that was out seeking food. The police initially suspected his mother to be among the young prostitutes around that area…” Suddenly, it struck me so hard- Dr. Lucky Baraka was my son whom I had abandoned at birth by the roadside. He had appeared on the news for over a month and I had started drinking so heavily to keep sane from the event.

Every time I think about my past life, I shed tears of pain and regret, for having wasted over seventeen years selling myself for food or cheap liquor. And when it happened, I had few options left.

My name is LaanaMlaaniwa. I ran away from home at the age of sixteen in search of greener pastures, after my parents perished in a grisly road accident. As an only kid, I was spoilt to the bone and our relatives hated the fact that dad was a wealthy man. He had not executed his will at the time of his death, and this was a perfect time for the gluttonous relatives to reap where they never sow. After two months of intense suffering, I had had enough and there was no turning back. Armed with some little coins and clothes, I left Cha Mgema village, ready to join the fast life of Nairobi. I had little knowledge of the city, but I was determined to curve a niche for myself. Nothing was going to deter me. One week later, after I had exhausted all my meagre savings, a lady had taken me in, in her brothel.

I left Cha Mgema village, ready to join the fast life of Nairobi

Life was a bliss in the first months as many clients sought after my services, citing that “new brooms sweep clean.” I was the envy of the elder ladies whose services did not bring much income. Being that I was also young was a big advantage. All was well until I got pregnant. There was no way I was going to keep a pregnancy, when I couldn’t tell who the father was. Obviously, it was one of the clients and I never got to know their names, leave alone to remember his face. I was homeless and entirely depended on the brothel for survival. Madame, as we called the lady who had taken me in was never going to take that bullshit. I was afraid of facing her with the truth, so I stalled around, hoping to spend more time here. The previous year, another girl had been sent away after she discovered that she was pregnant. I was going to be sent back to the streets, with nothing on my sorry self.

Two, three, four, five months passed as I tried so hard to conceal the bump that was growing daily. I did not want the baby and I had no idea what I was going to do with it. At five months, I could no longer hide it, when one day, Madame got wind of it. Rumors were rife in such a place but somehow, the girls had managed to protect me from our ruthless boss. For every 1000 shillings that a “client” paid, we only received 100 shillings and the rest went to her deep pockets, claiming that she was feeding and housing us. Given that I had no family back home, the 100 was a blessing and I spent it adding more flimsy clothes to my wardrobe. A baby was going to be a big inconvenience.

A baby was going to be a big inconvenience.

When Madam sent me away on that cold and wet Friday night, I had nowhere to turn to. I had less than five hundred shillings in my savings, which could not last me even for a week. “When this baby comes, I am going to give it away or leave it in hospital.” I constantly told myself.

It was never going to spoil my youthful years, or my job at Madame’s, which I so much loved. The remaining four months passed in a rush. Labor pains found me hunched on a street corner, with hunger pangs stinging my empty stomach. Being a first pregnancy with nobody to turn to, the excruciating pain felt as if it was going to kill me. In any case, if I were to die in childbirth, I had nothing to lose. The birth of the baby that I was never going to love was a miracle. Street children brought me clothes but nothing was going to change my resolve. He was a charming boy, and I was tempted to bring him up but I had no means to do so.

The dream kept recurring that second night. There was a big ceremony, in which the baby I was going to throw away was the center of attention. His face shone like an angel and there was something different about him. I was too engrossed in my drink to care. That had been over thirty-five years ago. With all the little strength left in me, I had left the bouncing baby boy by the roadside, for anyone who cared to raise him up. I couldn’t face the roadside in the following years, but thankfully to my dear beer bottle, he had become my companion.

The prophesy had finally passed.

I had gone back to Madame’s and she pretended to have been pleased to having me back. It was obvious that the baby that was left at the roadside was mine but nobody bothered to question about it. Life had gone back to normal, until Madame’s was closed, leaving us homeless. I had rented a small polythene-walled shackle, which I called home. Everything about the baby had been forgotten, until the awarding ceremony that was airing on my small television set.  My dream of long ago came flooding into my mind. The prophesy had finally passed.

It is now two months since I saw my long lost son on television. I know how people have been thrashing me out there for the actions of my youth. I had to let the skeleton out of the closet, if only for my closure. I do not want my son because of his wealth as many claimed after my press meeting. After all, I am old and too wasted to amount to anything. Tomorrow, I am going to meet the boy, whose fate was changed by an orphanage. I am ashamed of myself. Maybe after tomorrow, I will go to a faraway land, where nothing shall matter no more.

©Cecy Gaitho

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