...is the time. It has been on of those days that your body questions your intentions towards its well-being and your brain goes along with you just because it has limited options. And as they both slowly start to shut down, you fight a battle that you eventually win, and somehow, you're still not happy with the outcome. You are driving around at 3am because you absolutely had to have that meeting that you have been putting off and now it doesn't matter what time of day it is, it had to be done.
You have not eaten, every fiber in your body is exhausted and sleep is playing peekaboo with your eyes. You just want to get home. You are Mbagathi Road, looking at the friend who agreed to drive with you this late because you were worried about being a lone woman driving around in the middle of the night, and you are feeling guilty that your meeting ran too late and now he is going to get only 4 hours of sleep because of you. You apologize for taking longer than promised, he mumbles a halfhearted 'ok' and you shrink deeper into your seat and hate yourself more. You understand how tired he is too.
Then you look up at the road ahead, and you see a man staggering in the middle of the road. You think, great, a stupid drunk who's probably get a run over and die tonight. You feel your heart shrink just a little bit, and shiver at the thought as two cars speed past you and swerve as they near him. They drive on, do not even slow down. As your headlights hit his face, you notice that he looks hurt. You gasp, and your humane side kicks in. Without thinking, you tell your friend to slow down. He looks at you, looks at the man and you can see that he thinks this is not a good idea. You know why. And your cautious side steps in. It could be a set up. He could be a decoy. Thugs could be laying in wait for a stupid driver like you to stop and pounce. 'Are you sure?' your friend asks you. You can hear in his voice that he is not asking you, he is asking himself. ' By now we have driven past him. ' Turn around, Bry.' You tell him. You see his jaw clench. You know he wants to help, but he is being reasonable. He is assessing the situation, probably calculating the risks and planning on the escape if its a set up. Mbagathi Rd is a one way road. He swings the car on to the next exit and drives back. He then turns the car back to the left side. " We should drive slowly, not completely stop. I'll talk to him, you look around.' You tell him. Your voice is shaking, you are shaking. You are scared shitless.
Bry slows down and you see him scanning all sides for suspicious activity. The guy is on your side - the passenger side. He starts to walk towards the car. His face comes into focus. Your breath gets caught in your throat. You stifle a cough. He looks like a walking cadaver that's been sitting for days. His face is swollen, so much so, you cannot tell how he looks like normally. Where his left eye once sat is a thin slit. He looks like someone removed his skull and wrapped a basketball around his facial skin. His mouth, which no longer like a human mouth, is bleeding profusely.
You look over at Bry. He is looking at the man too. You can read his mind. We have to help him. 'Where do we take him,' Bry asks. Without thinking, you say 'Masaba'. It's now called Nairobi Women's Hospital at Adams. Now, you have a love-hate friendship history with that hospital. Every now and then, you are in so much pain you need to go to the ER for an IV drip of painkillers as the oral ones wont work and you need very high dosages. One of those times, your boyfriend took you there. You found a doctor who thought that you writhing in pain, keeling over and almost sitting on the floor was not an emergency enough, you had to wait for him to check an athlete foot infection first and wait your turn. After all he was a foot doctor and he's all they had. Long story short, but you ended up driving to Nairobi Hospital 20 minutes later, you in more pain, boyfriend so angry than you have ever seen him, after giving the foot doctor and earful.
You have also brought another stranger here. He was beaten up as you watched. And as everyone ignored his cries and watched as he bled, you put him in your car and drove him to this hospital. They treated him, asked for no money after you explained that you are a stranger who wanted to help. That story is told here
Bry is driving like the wind, you am trying to get information from the man. He can barely talk. Of course. You pick up from his muffled speech that he is a traveling salesman who sells toothpaste. Ironic. I think he has lost all his teeth from the attack. Could have been funny in an alternate universe. He lives in a place called Mukuru kwa Mjenga. You know that slum, you have been there once. You cannot, however, figure out where he was attacked at. You want to know more, but you can tell that its taking all the strength he has left to speak. He says he was attacked between 7-8pm. It's 3 am. Where has he been. You tell Bry that you think he must have been unconscious and he just came to. The man is now thanking us. Telling us how no one would stop to help him, sending blessings our way.
The smell. You cannot quite place it. You think its the smell of death. Angry death. Angry that it has lost its prey. You and Bry speculate. There is definitely alcohol in the stench. Maybe a No.2. Both of you cannot put your finger on it. It's a haunting smell. You roll down the windows. But its too cold, especially for him. You have the sleeves of your sweater around your face and mouth. It kid of helps, but not really. Bry has to drive and focus on the road. He does not show if the stench is affecting him. You know it is. He is not even wrinkling his nose. He is looking ahead, stoically. But he is man, you understand.