nairobi cityI woke up in a good mood today. I have been feeling so charged up since yesterday. Really charged. A project I had put my all into, came through a winner. So here I was yesterday, beaming with pleasure, hopes for a new love this Christmas forgotten, woes about the problems I have had with the kids this year not remembered again, and all my office annoyances seeming petty and inconsequential. I selected something to wear today, last night. Laid it out, and would have ironed it, if I had not been sooo… tired.

Early today, I left with Miss Daddy. She that doesn’t like to leave early, my daughter, was forced to be early to avoid the jam expected all over Nairobi. This, because of the various graduation ceremonies and their associated celebratory crowds- family, graduates, et al… So, unusual for us, we left together at 5:45 a.m. The ride was uneventful, and we spoke little. Not like when I am with Sonny. My elder son. We think alike. We notice all the suffering and poverty along the way. We show each other new developments no matter how little, and rejoice in them. One of us will tell the other any little tit bit about a place or person we bypass. I tell you, we are very good friends. There, I said it at last. Sony is like a girlfriend. A bosom buddy.

Now, Miss Daddy got a jacket from me yesterday, to combat the rain and especially the cold. She took one look at it when I got home and asked”mum, why do you buy me those things?” That was an indication that I had bought an unfashionable item- again. I had guessed she might prefer my more formal jacket. She is schooling in a much colder environment and needs items that are warmer than they are fashionable. “No worry”, I said. “I will keep both, and tomorrow you can show me what you like”. Truce. She then described what she needs- short jacket, fitting, with pockets. What I had bought was long-ish bright and well, comfortable. My bad. She wanted stylish and capturing.

Now, to the cause of my distress. Remember I said I was in bright spirits? Well, when we got to our station, I asked Miss Daddy to come along with me, and I would show her where I get the jackets, so she would get what she needs. I then gave her enough to get one on her way home from school and we proceeded on our way. She then told me she might come home late because her friend’s brother had been shot and she hadn’t gone to see her.” See her or him?” I asked. “Not him” she answered. ” My friend. They have matanga, (funeral meetings) he was shot to death at point blank, right outside their house while seated with friends.”

Sonny is sixteen and Miss Daddy is only eighteen. This boy, who was shot, was only eighteen. It broke my heart. It brought to mind, that in the past month or so, my girlfriend had come to share a dilemma she had. Her lady neighbor had a wayward son and another straight, silent younger son. None yet twenty years. The night before, the older son whose thieving ways were known by all, had been shot to death during a robbery in their township, on the outskirts of Nairobi. While mourners met to comfort her the next morning, an uncle of the boys came in with more sad news. The younger son had apparently also been involved in robberies far from home, and had also been found at the mortuary that morning on tips from friends. Shot dead by police .My girlfriend did not know how to face her friend, who had collapsed on hearing of the death of the first son. Very, very sad.

I remembered that when she told me this, I had just met her after a traumatic month myself. Sonny had been beaten to near death by a group of fellows in a revenge attack for reporting a boy who had a weapon to the authorities. Mind you, this same boy together with others had robbed him and friends of mobile phones and personals, in broad daylight, days before. At gunpoint. They knew him. He was like them, on holiday.

I know all these victims and would be victims are near age mates. They are no different from my Sonny. When he was recuperating, he asked me to forgive and understand his attackers. You see, he has friends among them and like. He thinks he knows what pushes them. They want better for themselves, their parents, their siblings. But what can they do to help? Nothing almost. School has been a hustle for them. Often having little or no provisions, constant absenteeism for lack of fees, fare or sometimes, just lacking the will to go on. I forgave them. How could I not? How much luckier could I have hoped to get? So many boys die each day in this city each day. So far this year, Miss D and Sonny have been to bury or at the matanga of at least three boys they grew up with from childhood. Sonny’s beating was nothing to cry about. God had spared us all the pain of bereavement and we praise him and acknowledge that, every time we have to prepare for them to go for another funeral.

This is one of the things that drive me to work so hard and so well and to bear all and more than I should normally handle at work. Just a little less money in my pocket and I will not be able to afford the peace of mind I have, that enables me to advice and guide my children. Especially the older two. To fight them and their vices and friends and all the various influences trying to misguide them, is hard. Sometimes it cost money. I will go on a shouting spree for weeks on end if they are out of line. Teenagers really do get mad at that stage. One thing I promised myself is that my children would only get out of step while out of my house. But as long as they were still at home, I will fight tooth and nail with them or for them to put them right. It’s either that or I lose them. Life doesn’t have too many choices currently. For me, perfect parenting isn’t an option. It’s the only way I will go.

Today will be a good day. I am sure it will. My heart goes out to the parents and family of the young man, being laid to rest before he even begun to know the joy of life. Miss D told me the older sister, her friend, had constantly asked the brother to desist from mixing with that particular group of friends who were targeted thugs, to avoid such an event occurring. Their pleas fell on deaf ears. I maintain that his parent/s would have tried harder, but it is not for me to judge.

Sonny asked me to allow him take my baby, their ten year old brother, to visit their grandfather. I am lucky to live not very far from my family. Grandpa as they fondly call him, loves being with them. I know and look forward to all the new tales they will tell me about their friends. My baby especially, performed well at school this term and will be looking forward to tell his grandpa, uncles and aunt plus friends all the good news.

My prayers are for the deceased. May he rest in peace. My special heartfelt condolences and sympathy go to his family, who I know are in so much pain, anger, bitterness and regret. God, in His unfathomable grace, gives peace and will wipe your tears.

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Emerald Sua is a Christian single mother who prides herself as a voluntary organizational guru for lives, systems, situations and homes.