Mommy Musings Monday- The stranger in your home.
There are mind-numbing heart-wrenching stories and then there’s what I read on one of my WhatsApp group chats on Wednesday evening. It cast a dark cloud over my soul, leaving a haunting poignancy that I am yet to recover from, four days later. Before I go into details about this, let me give you an overview (once an analyst, always an analyst *sigh*) of my WhatsApp groups.
I live for witty conversations. And beautiful views. And runs in the forest. And music created with the saxophone. Side note- I think if I was a musical instrument I would be a saxophone (story for another day!) Naturally, I am guaranteed none of the above on a daily basis except for conversations (not necessarily witty). This is based on the fact that I do not live in a cave. Seriously though, my 8-5 is spent in an office with 30 other employees and there’s also the fact that smartphones have made it virtually impossible to shut out the world. Anyone with unswerving determination can reach you even when the odds are against them. Not enough airtime to call, simply text. Absolutely no airtime, Okoa Jahazi. Exhausted the Okoa Jahazi credit facility, just walk to the nearest Java.
You don’t even need to get in and order their overpriced meals. Just hang around the peripheral like you would while waiting for your date outside Kenya Cinema. Quickly pick their WIFI username and key in javalove as the password. I swear the password is the same in all Javas, all year-long, or at least in the three that I frequent! And just like that, you can then make a WhatsApp call! There, I just explained how I would go about stalking my crush if I was 18 and broke.
Anyway, back to witty conversations and I promise not to digress again. So since I cannot control the conversations I have in person, except by walking away when they become mundane, I can most definitely control who I interact with on WhatsApp. Which essentially means that any WhatsApp group I am in has to have intelligent conversations and a lot of humor. A 30:70 weighting I should add. Because what is the point of having scintillating wit if you cannot find humor in mundane stuff?
One of my groups consists of fund managers and stock brokers. Traders. Analysts. Portfolio Managers. Investment Officers. Basically guys in my industry. You would expect such people to be banal and overbearing and imperious. Pretty much like investment bankers. I think they lack warmth in their souls. I think all the years of bullshitting and trying to look smart whittles at one’s soul and eventually the light flickers. That’s what I think of IB guys.
Not here though. Half of the group members are passive, typical of any WhatsApp group. But the other half is vibrant. And boy do they have the gift of the gab. They are also extremely chatty and ridiculously funny. Sometimes unnecessarily so, but then again what do you expect when the industry is on its knees? It creates idle people, and idle people result to humor to keep them from remembering how there will be no bonuses in December. Actually, I don’t know half of them but I have these pictures I have painted in my head of all the characters that leave me gasping for breath.
The message that checked in from one of them on Wednesday evening was nothing remotely close to the usual banter. A 23-year-old 3rd year student at Strathmore University who lived with her auntie and three-year-old cousin committed the most outrageously horrid murder. The two features where I base my story from (Capital FM and Kenyan Post) indicate that the boy walked into her auntie’s room in the dead of the night and attacked her.
Here’s what I think. He probably skulked around the corridor until he was sure that the aunt, who slept with her door half closed, was dead asleep. Then with footfalls as faint as a leopard’s, he sidled up to the unsuspecting aunt and without uttering a word, pounced on her. After incapacitating the aunt, he locked her up and went for the three-year-old girl, who he had on several occasions referred to as “my best friend” on his Instagram posts.
One sensational website, Kenya.crazymedias.com , explains the act in more detail. Though knowing how features on such sites are full of melodramatic flourish, this bit may or may not be true. So apparently the boy pulled the child from his mum’s arms, stabbed the aunt and told her that all he wanted was the blood of the child. He then locked the aunt in the room, picked her phone, went into his room and crushed the child’s skull, sipping blood from it while calling the mum to watch and say goodbye to her daughter. Was she supposed to watch through the wall given that he had locked her up in the other room?
While half the detail here must be fabricated, here are some truths. A gracious lady allowed her nephew to live with her and her child as he pursued his studies. The nephew, who evidently loved his baby cousin so much, at some point, embraced warped and twisted thoughts and ideologies, perhaps as a result of joining a cult or reading/watching excessively morbid books/shows. It scares me to think how many families have that one person they think they know so well but he/she is just a walking representative of Lucifer’s army!
You have this bright relative in shagz who enrolls in a university in Nairobi. Since you are already well entrenched in the city and you were brought up well, you decide to graciously allow them to live under your roof and use the spare room. You feed them and sometimes even give them upkeep money. They are extremely bright and quick-witted. They don’t even think outside the box because boxes are nonexistent to them. You are confident that they will do big things after uni so you are patient with them for four years. Only for them to one day disregard all the kindness you have accorded them, stab you, crush your child’s head and drink her blood.
We open our homes to house helps that we barely know but entrust them with our kids as we slave away trying to make a decent living. Only by faith and prayer are we able to find peace and trust them to not inflict any harm on our most precious litu people.
I think we should take time to engage everyone who spends a fair share of their time with our children. Which means everybody living under our roofs (house helps, gardeners, siblings, partners, relatives), our kid’s teachers, their school van driver. Take a few minutes every so often to pick their brains on various issues as well as finding out how they are doing. Ask them their views on Christianity, do they believe in God? What do they believe in? Are they spiritual? Politics- who are they likely to be voting for and why? Find out where they want to be in the next 5-10 years. Do they see their lives revolving around the same routine? While some people may be quite reticent, I believe by engaging people one is able to spot a troubled mind.
Perhaps if the aunt talked to this boy often, she would have been able to notice some strange habits in him before it deteriorated to this. Or maybe she did but he was incredibly skilled at putting up a facade. I cannot even attempt to imagine how deeply troubled this lady must be, having helplessly listened to her daughter’s screams as she got murdered in the most gruesome manner. All the hopes and dreams she harbored for her 3-year-old princess are now gone. I feel sorry for the innocent child who had to experience such excruciating pain in the hands of his beloved uncle. It pains me when kids suffer. Like any parent, I worry about mine all the time.
And I also worry that I may not truly know the stranger in my home.