November 02, 2018

Got the temporary pass, Uwiii!!! Mweeh!! Yes! I cannot believe it. I couldn’t believe when auntie Navina said I could travel! I mean I have always dreamt I could travel, and I even entertained the thought once that perhaps one day my auntie might sponsor my travel, but they were just wishes. When she mentioned this casually 3 weeks ago, I assumed it was the usual thing that people always do to me. I did not even allow myself to think about it. I hoped that she meant it (after all she’s good people and very different from all the people I have met in my short life), but I dared not believe it for the sake of my broken heart.

When they said I couldn’t get the passport, all my hopes died. Then auntie said, why not get a temporary pass since I was only going next door. I didn’t know such things existed. Like a wilted flower that was tittering between life and death and got water at the right time, I came alive! I don’t even care that the pass is just for 3 months. Even if I die after that, I will die content. Me, a village orphaned girl getting to travel to another country! Who would have thought? I wonder what my uncle (the real one I mean) will say…

-Hopeful Eager beaver J Atu

November 03, 2018

Things are going so fast! Today auntie Navina took me to get my yellow fever shot and some shopping. She bought me a nice travel bag, some toiletries, and canvas shoes for traveling. I could hardly believe she would spend so much money on me who is not even related to her. She’s an angel. I don’t know if I can ever repay her. Paying for a neglected, unwanted kid to travel to another country! My uncle (real uncle) was speechless when I went to inform him that I was traveling. His woman kept giving me daggers and sneering at me. I hate that witch. Grr! He asked me if auntie Navina (He also calls her auntie) was paying for everything and when I said yes, I could have sworn that his mouth curved into a smile. Yep, as long as no one was bothering him for money he was ok. Anyways at least he paid for my basic education, I am truly grateful for that.

My bags are already packed. Auntie says she will buy the bus ticket tomorrow. I could be traveling the day after tomorrow. I am so excited I have diarrhea. At this rate, I will be underweight very soon.

- Excited Atu

November 6, 2018

Nairobi is so huge! So many lights. All the streets are lit. My jaw was on the floor literally all the time. I have never seen so many huge buildings. I thought Dar es Salaam had buildings, but men!

The journey was so exhausting yesterday but I didn’t mind. I could hardly sleep the night before and ended up sleeping thru the alarm! Auntie woke me up and she made some breakfast. I was too thrilled to eat and had to force myself, though it was my favorite breakfast (bless her soul). She even packed some goodies for me for the road. They dropped me at 530am and gave me some pocket money. I was holding my breath the whole time, waiting to wake up from the dream. This couldn’t be real I kept telling myself. We left on time and I could hardly contain myself! We stopped for lunch and the food was yuck! I was so glad I had eaten this morning and that auntie had packed a lot of food. I was wondering why she had bothered to make so much for me, and then I got it. I don’t know how I am so blessed to have met such a loving stranger.

At the border, I was holding my breath again thinking I would be caught and sent back. (Why would they do that? I mean...hmph!) Well…. good things hardly ever happen to me. They asked for yellow fever cards, and when they saw mine they hardly gave me a second glance. Just like that, we were on our merry way. We arrived at 10pm and nothing could dampen my excitement. Everyone else looked like they had been thru the mill, while I looked like the sun had just risen up.

Auntie’s friends were waiting for me at that late hour! They picked me up…they picked me up…Me…WOW. I am not even able to articulate my feelings properly. Perhaps if I was a talented writer I could capture my feelings on paper….

-Dazed & inarticulate Atu

November 08, 2018

I was too overwhelmed to continue writing. I cried and cried from all the kindness I had received so far. I thought of my real aunties and uncles and how they had mistreated me after my mom died. I thought of the father who had disowned me, who I did not even know. I thought of how fortunate I was to have met a stranger who I now considered to be a real auntie or even mom to me. She had no obligations what-so-ever and yet she was the kindest person I had ever met.

I always wondered if Auntie Navina had never rented my real auntie’s apartment if we would have ever met. She used to see and hear how auntie Mbena mistreated me and her heart just went out to me. Once when I was chased outside for the night, she was bold enough to take me in. She was very discreet about it too. Auntie Mbena never found out. Shortly afterward Auntie Navina decided to move out so that she could freely take care of me. She practically had apoplexy when she later learned that Auntie Navina was helping me. That’s when she chased me out and auntie Navina just took me in. It has been 2 years and am still not used to kindness.

Auntie Navina’s friends were as kind and generous. Yesterday they took me out for dinner - a place called Java. It was so grand in my opinion. I ordered the biggest, yummiest burger I had ever seen. They have this drink they call ‘dawa’ (a mixture of ginger, lemon, and honey in hot water. I ordered that and some Java cookies (soo biiig). They kept asking me if I wanted anything more. I almost asked for ice cream but I was too embarrassed. I did not want them to think Tanzanians were starved barbarians.

Today we went to a place called Garden City. Biggest mall I had ever seen hands down. We went round and I took gazillion pictures. Cannot wait to post them on my Facebook and have my former classmates gagging from jealousy. They took me to a gift shop and asked me if I wanted anything, anything at all!!! Are these guys for real? My real aunties and uncles have never bought me anything new. I always got hand me downs. I took a mini umbrella that looked so dainty just so I could feel good. They asked me if that was all I wanted and I decided to take some lipstick. I think the wife must have seen me looking longingly at some of the fragrances’ on sale because later on, she gave me a bottle that she had picked at the shop. I have 3 new gifts, all mine!! I slept holding them out of sheer joy, wonderment, and disbelief. This was a moment in time that I would never ever forget. Even if I lost the pictures, I would NEVER LOSE the memory of today.

-Overwhelmed Atu

November 23, 2018

It has just been happiness, joy joy all around. Where do I start? We have been to so many places! Two Rivers Mall, Village Market, Branckenhurst hotel in Limuru, Thika Falls…oh boy I forget the other places. What was that place called….wait… yes, the Junction! We saw a movie there.

It’s funny I usually have a lot more to write, but I cannot believe it is more than 2 weeks since I wrote! Is that because when one is sad, they have a lot more to mope about and it is cathartic to write? It must be! I have been too happy and too exhausted to write. I still cannot believe total strangers can bother to rearrange their schedule for an orphaned girl whom they just met.

Oh! How could I forget that we went to Bomas of Kenya and Giraffe center where I fed Giraffes? Oh yes we even went to Nairobi National Park. I think that when I get back, I will save some money and print the pictures I took and make like a journal of sorts so that I can capture all the joy and happiness I have had on my maiden trip out of my country. This way, if am ever sad or mistreated in future by anyone, especially my relatives; I can just take that journal and look at it. It will then serve as a reminder that happiness is possible even for me. That dreams can come true. That I should keep dreaming and never ever give up.

-Ecstatic Atu

November 30, 2018

The strangest thing happened today. I have goosebumps even now as I write this. I think I might have died on Christmas day and gone to heaven. I know that I said I should keep on dreaming, but men this is surreal. These folks whom I now consider auntie Rose and uncle Jack, gave me an envelope right after dinner. They said it was my parting gift since I was leaving day after tomorrow. My heart started thumping so hard, wondering what it could be. I thought money? But it was too heavy to be money. I was literally afraid of opening the envelope. I could see they were eager to have me open the envelope, and I forced myself to open it. As my sweaty palm reached out with the envelopes contents, and I had a peek, I fainted. Right there and then.

I came to and found them fussing around me. I asked how long I was out and they said just 5 minutes. Thankfully I had been standing near the futon, so I wasn’t injured. They kindly asked if I was okay, and the concern they had for me, just did it. I couldn’t hold back the tears. I had thought that auntie Navina was kind and generous, strange perhaps even eccentric, you know…the exception to the rule….but these guys….they were the epitome of kindness. They were my undoing. Auntie Rose just held me as I wept and hiccupped at the same time. No questions asked. No one had ever shown me that kind of love before. I was so used to being mistreated that when auntie Navina showed kindness, I kinda always waited for the other shoe to drop. Despite the fact that she had only ever shown me kindness. I still thought I did not deserve it. These guys had shown me that I should have more faith in humanity that there were some good folks out there and that I was too young to be so cynical. This is without them uttering a word, just by their kindness, generosity, and hospitality. I said so many thank you’s that even I got tired of it.

They keep asking me why I want to leave so soon. Why not stay for the whole 3 months that my pass allowed. They say even though I got a visa for only a month, we could have it extended at immigration. They say I just finished my ‘O’ Levels and should enjoy this time before I continue with my ‘A’ Levels in February. They say auntie Navina is okay either way. Auntie Rose even said I could accompany her to her business and learn a few things. She’s a tailor/designer by profession and runs a ‘duka’ (mini-stall) with 5 employees. I think I will stay….

-Blackout, pensive Atu

December 20, 2018

Auntie Rose and Uncle Jack are traveling to ‘ushago’ that’s what they call the countryside here. Most people in Nairobi go upcountry during the Xmas holidays. They go to unwind and meet all their relatives. The duka was officially closed today and the employees paid. I have been learning how to make dress patterns and even how to sew. I think I have an affinity for these things. I enjoy it. I am also learning how to run a business. I like the way auntie Rose treats her workers. Having been mistreated most of my life; I learned that one could still be respected despite or perhaps because of being kind. I had grown up thinking that being mean and rude is what bought respect, but apparently not.

So anyway, tomorrow we are ushago bound, a place called Marang’u. I can’t wait to experience ushago life.

-Impatient Atu

December 28, 2018

Ushago life is quite interesting. It reminded me vaguely of my village life when I was a kid before my mom died. I have some vague recollections. When I arrived and smelled cows, it instantly transported me to Mbeya Tanzania. Uncle Jack’s parents still use firewood to cook and it took some adjusting from instant reheating to using a kerosene stove. They still have those too. I quickly discovered that you best eat well during meal times, because there is nothing to snack afterward. Unless you are crazy about bananas i.e.

Since village life is slow, I have been focusing on documenting my journal. I am so glad I carried it. Here everyone speaks Kikuyu and hardly any Swahili or English so communication is very hard. No Tv, just radio. Internet is also quite slow. They sleep at 9pm! In a way, it’s the best thing that happened because it forced me to concentrate on my pictorial journal. At this rate, I will complete it right here in Marang’u!

-Village Focused Atu

January 11, 2019

I surprised myself yesterday when I found myself speaking like the Kenyans. Their Swahili is very strange. I just realized that I never mentioned that in my diary before! I think I was too busy enjoying myself to comment on such a detail at the time. It took me a while to realize that I was treated differently (good) everywhere I went. That was because of my perfect Swahili as they say.

I would be crucified for what I said today at the shop if I tried that stunt in Tz (Tanzania). Demanding for services? I best not get infected by that disease and stick to politeness here on. Even though they might laugh at my ‘Naomba’ (may I have…) here, let them. Let the Kenyans remain with their ‘Nataka’ (I want)

-Tanzanian Atu

January 22 2019

I went to the city center on my own today for the first time! I was scared and intimidated, but I thought it would be a good experience for me. I wanted to see how I fared. People here walk so fast! The City has so many people! Even our Kariakoo in Dar is not this packed. Good thing I was only going to one place and so I was confident I would make it back safely and I did! Way to go Atu!!

I bought some nice earrings for auntie Navina. I got a thank you card for auntie Rose & uncle Jack as well. I couldn’t think of what else to get them, and with my limited resources…I wanted it to be a surprise, that’s why I convinced them I could go on my own without getting lost. It is also why I swallowed my fear. I had been mapping this trip every time we went to town. Besides what was Google Maps for in case I got lost?

I am glad I did that, because the look on their faces was priceless. Even though it wasn’t much, they were quite touched by my gesture. They said they had done many good things to people over the years, grown-ups too, but I had surpassed them all. No one had ever written them a thank you card. They were a tad emotional and I teared up a little.

-Making-a-difference Atu

January 24, 2019

I am finally leaving tomorrow. What a blast I have had! Even if I get to travel around the world in the future, this trip will always be special. Auntie Rose & uncle Jack have made me promise that every December I will be visiting them. They have promised to be sending me a bus ticket so that I never have an excuse. This means that in about 11 months I will be coming back to Nairobi the city of lights, as I will always think of it. I have learned so much from these two. I hope when I grow up I will be like them. I want to treat people right even if they are less fortunate. If I get wealth, I want to share it with others like these folks. Yes, I do not want to be like my unfortunate relatives who have so much wealth but have an uncharitable heart. Even though I leave Nairobi with a lot of material goods (from the presents I got), I think the biggest wealth I depart with is in my heart. I will never mistreat people. Perhaps in my kindness, I can touch someone’s heart like they touched mine….

These 2 have managed to help me do what I never thought I was capable of doing…..they have managed to help me to let it go…think Elsa…. I forgive all my relatives and vow to be happy. I will never let anyone poop on my cake again.

-Happy, Reborn, Determined, Atu

April 08, 2020 12:22

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