Thursday, April 30, 2009

Shattered lives

I found Norma the tea-lady crying alone in the kitchen yesterday morning when I went to fetch myself a spoon for my yoghurt. I don’t usually know what to do when people cry but I put my arms around her shoulders and shut the door. When she stopped sobbing I asked her what the matter was. What she told me will shock you as it did me.

I know that Norma lives alone with her 2 children across the city at a place called Dandora, in the vicinity of a garbage dump. I’ve dropped her off a few times when it’s been raining a storm and I was privately appalled at the condition of the place she calls home. It’s a gloomy but clean top floor 10ft by 10ft claustrophobic room in a 6-storey high lift-less tenement block, the kind where Nairobi’s forgotten millions live.

In between sniffles and using my tie to dab her eyes I managed to extract the story behind the tears. Errant husband David returned from a 4 year-hiatus last month and Norma unwisely welcomed him back. All was going swimmingly well until Monday when Norma arranged to meet prodigal hubby at lunchtime to draw money from her Barclays account Masaba road. This money was not her savings but rather a loan taken from the cooperative to be repaid over 3 years. 150k. It was intended for setting up a small shop for their 20 year old daughter Alice who like a majority of young people can’t seem to find any meaningful work nowadays.

Well here comes the bad news. David has taken off with the cash. All 150,000 shillings of a loan that Norma has to scrimp and scrape to pay back. And the nightmare part where you need to be sitting down is he has run away together with Alice, who I came to learn is his step-daughter. I didn’t take in the full impact of the last statement, until Norma explained bitterly, ‘Amemchukua kama bibi yake.’ (He has taken her as his wife). I had to sit down; I thought I was going to pass out. During Norma’s only answered phone call to her husband he drunkenly told her they were both at an undisclosed location and Alice even came on the phone to say she was ‘taking care of baba because mum you have failed to play your part!

To be continued.


  1. And heterosexuals have the audacity to call us names! The NAME that I would wish to call that despicable twerp of a husband exists in no dictionary. Poor woman!

  2. right, it´s so hard to be fully ¨pleasing¨ to a deadbeat dad, theif, and sex addict...yes, the only thing Norma has failed at is trusting a person who was as before. Norma, please dear Norma, take good care of yourself...betrayal is horrible, but it´s happened to many of us (sometimes repeatedly)...remember, Norma, you are NOT the betrayer...seperate, don´t take responsiblity for the shame and blame that has nothing to do with you or your good intentions/wishful thinking (remember, good intentions DO COUNT)!

    I´m so sorry this has happened to Norma.


  3. Hi Anengiyefa,
    Norma is a strong woman, but even this is too much for anyone. Cases such as this are so common in Kenya that hearts have hardened. People would just shake their heads for 2 secs, then it's forgotten. Next! x x

    Hi Leonardo,
    Deadbeats are all over the place, they go through life destroying others without as much as a glance over the shoulder - until a date with karma. x x

  4. What a sad situation!
    I have been following your blog all through and i tell you, your life must be out of a thriller fiction novel!yours is a GREAT has LIFE!that's the least i can say!beside the fact that it keep me coming back for more! anyway Norma situation is so sad and as you said, such situation are so common in our society.I have witnessed a similar scenario where the guy disappear right after they came out of the bank main door!unfortunately women seems to be fatally attracted towards such miserable, pathetic guys like a moth to a candle!i have never understood why!Never.Anyway, once more, kudos for the blog!

  5. Now this is what I call "Reality".I can only symphathise with her.But on the other hand,there is something about being a " step-somebody...daughter,son,dad,mom etc."I am yet to figure out what it is.

    Oh how I pray that she woun`t fall into the trap again when he comes knocking at her door.Trust me he will..heav`n knows after how many years.These are some of the things one does when in Love or you Trust someone such that you can give/do anything.

    But I can`t help and wonder...where is the world headed to?Goodness...father/daughter.Asi!..Aii!Yawa...

  6. WTF!!!! This are some of the incidences that make me shudder at the thought of getting married. Whats wrong with some people? aaarrgggghhh!! Pole sana Norma. Keep strong you will find a break through.

  7. Hi supai gr,

    Hey thanks for that, mostly I just listen and watch. What I don't understand is why these people don't just mess their own lives without doing the same to others. Thanks again for your kind comments. xx

    Hi M,

    Imagine some 'step'-families do turn out alright. There's no excuse for anyone to breach trust to that extent. When Norma told me, inside my head was like 'asi, waa?' as well. You just don't expect this level of depravity. xx

    Hey MYSTIC,

    Please don't let these kind of incidents put you off marriage. Thankfully there are many more decent people than snakes. Don't forget to send me the invitation! xx x

  8. Nah-Uh!!

    Ain't no good gonna come to them both till they do right by Norma!

    This is the end of days when your own daughter will step up oh-so boldly and slide next to your husband in bed. Sad.

    I can only pray for Norma.

  9. Hi kachwanya,

    Sad indeed. Unfortunately needlessly so. Thanks for stopping by. x

    Hi kelitu,

    It's a sign of our times, incest is more widespread than people realise. A while back Maina Kageni did this phone in on the topic and lines were jammed folks ringing in with their experiences.
    But you don't do stuff like this and get away with it. Karma is the great leveler. x x

  10. I can't believe this! Why would a daughter do this to her Mama? There are so many men out there, for pete's sake what's wrong with people? And what's worse the said man is a thief?

  11. Hi Mama,

    It's the start of the unstoppable Curse, generation upon generation. I'll post on this soon. Thanks for your comments. x

  12. This is a very depressing situation but sadly it happens alot in Kenya. That is why I always advise for married people when and where they can to have separate bank accounts and one main one for household. Of course I doubt the lady in the story had that luxury. I'd like to hear part 2...

  13. Hi Acolyte,

    It's very good advice. I don't see the future of a relationship without trust, in this case not only has that been betrayed but importantly it goes beyond material things. What Norma has lost is irreplaceable, for now it'll just be a question of how she copes day to day. Thanks for your comments. xx x


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