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It was a lovely Sunday afternoon when my friends walked into our compound. My aunt was a few steps away from the main gate filling our 20-liter containers with water. In this part of town, there was no guarantee of running water and the wise ones always had some stored away in containers. These stockpiled containers of water would come in handy when a sudden drought befell the land. Sometimes it was not a drought- a manager somewhere in NCWSC (Nairobi City Water and Sewage Company) did not do what he was supposed to do for water to expel from our indoor taps.

As my aunt was busy filling these containers, she paid no attention to the intense debate between my friends and I- at least that is what I thought. Little to my very own knowledge, this unexpected visit was a lure. My friends wanted me to join them as they perambulated the streets of Eastleigh collecting donations for our upcoming Pathfinder (boys and girls club) trip. I knew it was a bad idea to leave with them, but I was also drawn to bad ideas. Therefore, after a persuasive back and forth, I mustered up the courage and sashayed over to my auntie and told her (the kind where you authoritatively ask for permission) I was going with my friends, and I would be back before dark.

My aunt J is great at mind games. She was also the only aunt at the time that was close to me in age and, therefore, my perspective of her was that of an older sister rather than an aunt. Our household at the time consisted of five aunts, my brother and I. Disregarding my statement, she proceeded to carry her containers full of water back into the house leaving me behind. My 'humble' request hung in the air unanswered and instead of persisting after an answer, I deduced that her silence was a 'yes'. In my defense, she did not disapprove of my going (verbally), which meant I could go. Silence means yes, anyone?

I proceeded to follow my friends out into the ghetto streets of Eastleigh. Now if you grew up like me, you know that this single decision had grave consequences but I was the type of kid that believed in chopping life and suffering later. Enjoyment must come first. Low key, I think I live by this mantra to this day.

Eastleigh has a market center called 'Garissa Lodge.' The reason it has such a unique name is because it is home to predominantly Somali traders. In this market, there are a myriad of vendors that sell anything from home goods, fabric, food items, the newest knock off name it, they got it. It is a very competitive environment and therefore it feels like everyone is selling the same thing, but they have crafted a way to stand out.

Garissa lodge is not a place for child's play but this group of 10-year-old children are grown so we went into the market. The reasons behind us heading to Garissa were as follows: one, there would be heavy foot traffic and we were bound to raise some funds if we went stall by stall to plead our case; two, it was close in proximity and three, I knew my way around because two of my aunties were vendors there. As we navigated our makeshift mission field, we paid no attention to the time and before we realized it, darkness had set in. Because it is a marketplace, the level of security was close to none. As the sun sets, thugs rise, and we knew we needed to head home before something terrible happened to us.

Unfortunately for me, the market was closer to my friend's residence and was a longer walking distance from mine. We bid each other goodbye, and I started heading to my home. In my days, children did not own phones. We had a single mobile phone that stayed home on most days so there was no "wya" text. Therefore, I could not update my aunties on my whereabouts. Clearly, when I decided to gallivant I did not expect to be outside past 8PM on a school night but who keeps track of time when its vibes?

Many minutes later, I made it to my side of town and as I walked through our gate, I saw my eldest auntie, ( Ms. W) standing on the balcony looking out into the streets. I could not make out her facial expression but the fact that she was out here and not watching the Sunday night telenovela told me that once I set my foot into the house, it was going to go down. I took my time making it up the steps to our floor. I made sure I had my story straight and if she asked me further questions, I had my arguments lined up. I made my way into the house and was greeted with a calm "where have you been?"

Because it was Sunday night, the house was full. All five of my aunties were home and I knew that if it came down to getting a beating, one would surely intercede on my behalf. I proceeded to give a detailed answer while simultaneously showing her my hands. They held the evidence of my whereabouts- coins and notes that the stall owners had donated to my cause. She then proceeded to ask me, "Who gave you permission to go?" I turned to Aunt J who at this time was reading her book paying no attention to the interrogation that was taking place.

She continued with her reading as though she did not 'suggest' I should go on this mission trip to Garissa Lodge. I responded by saying "Auntie J did not say no when I told her I was going." Not a smart response. She then proceeded to ask the rhetorical question I was all too familiar with, "Are you grown enough to make decisions in this house?" Immediately I knew my fate had been decided so I responded with 'I am sorry, it won't happen again.' As calmly as a tortoise, she headed to the kitchen and I thought I had been pardoned for my sins but moments later, she emerged with the infamous cooking stick. It had dual purpose, whisking corn flour into the staple meal we call 'Ugali' and the other, straightening out any ill habits lodged on the inside of me. Anyone who grew up in Africa knows that elders (read women) were adept at using the cooking stick to 'exorcise' any wayward behaviors from children.

It was at that moment that I realized this was not going to end well for me so I requested to head to the bathroom first before she could get to it. While in there, I knelt down and prayed to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ "Lord, I went out there and made money for YOUR organization. I did not ask to be in the Pathfinder group, now look, I am about to suffer the consequences of being faithful so please save me this one time." I took my time to come out and no sooner had I set foot outside of the washroom, than I felt the aggressive hand of Ms. W grab me by the collar.

Dear reader, I need not describe the beating that took place that day. Clearly it was impactful enough, which is why you are reading about it today. The cooking stick that was held by my assailant (also Ms. W) could not handle the labor it was subjected to, so it ended up splitting in two. Its counterpart stepped in to accomplish the task at hand of disciplining this wayward child.

I know that in this day and age physical discipline is shunned upon but let me tell you, if I had not received a proper beating or two there is no telling who I would be. The night ended in woeful tears and I vowed never to let my friends deceive me into violating the order of my home. Obviously, that was a lie because months later I found myself in a similar predicament only that this time, I followed protocol.

What lesson do we learn here today? That is for you to deduce on your own. Honey, I have already suffered the consequences and learned the lessons.



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