She was born in what was considered a small family, five siblings, and a mother; her father had died when they were still very young. She loved the rural life, where families gathered outside around a fire and every home would light a fire at their compound to illuminate light. Elders gave stories and lessons would be learnt through them. They were always instructed to treasure their tradition so there would be a continuity of many more generations which would uphold what the forefathers had taught them. These were the things that gave life a meaning in the village until the Pukwet (cattle rustlers) striked, killing villagers and raiding every home. They had cows and goats, which were the measure of wealth and the only dependence she had, as her ticket to secondary education. Her only means to help her mother and siblings, all striped from them. No she would not sit around the village and mourn like the rest; Wandia knew that she had to do something. She had heard of the Kwata (coffee lorry) that carried villagers to the town, to go work in the city factories.
‘Mama I will go to the city! Mama I have to go to the city! We need money and food and everyone else is mourning over the cattle, no one is doing anything about it!’ Wandia said in a loud voice as she entered the house, placing the pot of water she had fetched from the stream on the floor.
‘And why would you want to go to the city Wandia!! You are still a child! What do you know about the city?’ her mother asked with a tense and concerned voice.
‘Mama, Kwata is about to pass through the village, and I want to get on board with it, I know I don’t know how to work in the factory but that’s how people learn!’
‘No Wandia!! I have heard bad stories about the city! I don’t want you to be a victim! You will stay here in the village as we all figure out what to do!’
‘No Wandia, I am your Mother, go and gather fire wood, we need to start preparing supper!’ Her mother said as she cut off Wandia from talking.
Wandia walked away with her head hung low, she felt terrible but convinced herself that going to the city was the only way out from this misery. That night she could not sleep, all she could think of was dreamy fantasies of the city. A voice inside her encouraged her to wait for ‘Kwata’ the following day, and board it, she did not want to hurt her mother, but the voice was comforting, making her believe that she was doing the right thing. She packed a few of her clothes and left a note for her mother.
‘Mama, I just had to go, I will be a good girl, when I get to the city I will call Mr.Bahaya (the headmaster to her primary school) to let him know that I am safe. I promise to come back, don’t cry Mama, I will take care of myself, and one day we will be happy again. I will miss you Mama!’
The following day, Wandia walked to the nearby village because she did not want to board Kwataat her village since her mother would easily find her. When she finally got in, she could not hold her excitement. She could sense some fear of naivety and at the same time some conviction of truth that assured her a better future. On reaching the city, everyone was shown a place where they would sleep because it was at night: A dark alley with rough sidewalks, there were cracked leaks of the sewage. The air was not as fresh as that of the village, but all this did not bother her.
A crowded cacophony and droning noise woke her up. There was a blood flow of traffic each pumping from all corners of the city. Everyone else had left,she was lone. She felt confused because she was in a foreign land. Her small bag with her clothes was also gone. She strolled through the streets for hours, hating herself for leaving the village! There were all sorts of sky scrapping buildings. There were well suited people, all busy heading somewhere, each with their own itinerary. She could see beggars with whom she could identify their misery with, walking with their hands open hoping somebody could drop a coin so that they could quench their hunger.
‘You look lost,’ a strange voice said behind her, with a hand touching her shoulders. She turned and she saw a lady who had a worried face staring at her waiting for her to respond.
‘Yes I am lost, and I have lost my belonging in that alley…’she said as she pointed back to where she was sleeping, but realized that the alley was no more there, she must have walked for hours and the city was full of many alleys and buildings all confusing her, not knowing where she was anymore.
She could not hold back her tears as she felt so stupid for making false promises to her mother.
‘Where are you from? And where were you planning to go?’ the stranger asked
‘I was coming to the city to work in the factory but everyone else has left me, and I have no idea where I am or what to do. I have left my mother in the village back in ‘Kwitu’ and now am all alone.
‘Not to worry, let’s go so that you have something to eat as we talk more.’
Wandia felt a sense of relief; she knew that her ancestors had sent an angel to guide her. She had heard that people in the city did not care for each other, but she realized that people in the village had it all wrong. They walked along the busy streets of the city and entered a sky up through high rise building, and Wandia could feel a change in the environment. They walked into a baronial room with well carved Maasai antiques and a fully furred carpet.
‘Is this heaven?’ She felt as though she was in a dream
‘Karibu(welcome), this is my office I will have the secretary bring us the meals’
‘Wow this place is like nothing I have ever seen!’ Wandia said as she stepped into the office.
‘Well thank you, I just try to maintain it, my name is Pastor ‘Achene’ and I can help you. Tell me about yourself,’ the lady said
Wandia told her about herself not leaving out any detail about her search to build her future in the city by helping her mother. The food was served with drinks. The plates were spectacular and Wandia felt special because the only time she saw such plates was when food was served to the headmaster, back in the village.
‘I think I know how I can help you. In the city one can do house work, and get good money, and normally there is not a lot of work… do you think you can handle house work as we think of something better for you to do?’ pastor Achene asked.
Doing house work was not a big deal since back in the village that is all she did.
‘Yes I can do housework…am hardworking and I know as the days go by I will have saved up to go back to school.’
‘Good! Then let me drive you to my friends place, leave you there as I go to buy for you a few clothes. What do you think Wandia?’
Ohh she is an angel… Thank you God…
‘Yes that is okay with me pastor!’ Wandia said with a lot of excitement.
They drove past the buildings exiting the city, the smell emanating from shops as they entered the residential homes tingled her nose. The mixture of onion, garlic, dried fish, pepper and spices made a potent combination. She held her breath for a moment as she let herself internalize her good fortune.
‘Here we are Wandia. What do you think? Do you love the place?’
Yes I do Pastor, yes I do! Wandia replied as she stepped out of the car
They were approached by an old man who seemed to be in his sixties.
‘Karibu ’ he said as he ushered them into the gigantic, well decorated house.
‘So this is her?’ He asked as his eyes wildly roamed through Wandia’s body.
‘Yes this is her!’ the pastor replied with a grin on her face.
‘You know I knew you would bring a beautiful lady, but this one is way too beautiful. She will serve her purpose. I will teach her the skills’ the man said as she he let his hands wander over Wandia’s body.
‘Pastor what all this I is thought…’
‘Shut up Wandia, silly girls like you are our source of income! And I am not a pastor; now take your naivety back in the rooms. You will be shown what to do!’
‘No, I want to go home’ Wandia screamed as she ran for the door
No sooner had she reached the door than she felt a hard slap hit her across the face!!
‘Get back here you stupid girl!!’
Fear crept into her heart, a strange voice tortured her…
‘What have I gotten myself into??…’