Ain’t No Love in the Heart of Nairobi..

I was waltzing down the streets of the city; on my way to pay bills and become broke again; when I noticed a man jump out his vehicle and begin pushing another car that had stalled. ‘Wow, it’s been a while since I saw such selfless charity.’ I watched him try and fail. He was old and heavy and the car was older and heavier. This did not stop him from pushing the immobile hunk of junk with all his might. Inspired, I strapped my backpack on tight and joined in pushing.

As the car finally began rolling forward by the centimeter, I felt a sense of accomplishment. The driver – an old wrinkly lady – yelled thank yous as the other pusher gave me a severely angry look. Odd. Had I not just helped this man? I had to check my zipper was closed and make sure I hadn’t accidentally peed on him or any of his family members because the amount of disgust his face evoked – yeurgh!

Then he began ranting about what really bothered him. He insulted the driver of the car for being a ‘useless woman’ and the car for blocking his on the road and as soon as we had moved enough inches forward that he could pass, he left me there pushing alone.

Surely, was I to leave that old lady on her lonesome in the middle of Wabera Street? My smoker’s lungs quit complaining and heaved and pushed the car slowly forward. On our way to the pavement, bystanders and onlookers did everything from laugh to complain to just flat out ignore us. Not one person assisted.

I left the lady unceremoniously; I don’t do well with thank yous, plus, I had a wad of cash in my pocket so I had to remain focused. As I was walking, right opposite the Mosque, I spotted a man who was laying on the floor. He wasn’t napping, this man had collapsed. A 5 second inspection revealed that he was lying on a tiny puddle of blood. I was in no position to play good samaritan for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being I had no solutions. Then I saw some security guys walking toward him and felt relieved enough to walk away. They began to pick him up as the lady cleaning the streets swept under him, mopped up the blood and then they plopped him back down and resumed their sun bathing session.

Yeah, seriously.

Looking back in awe at this point, I remembered that not one night earlier, I’d been told of a body laying on Valley Road for hours as cars just drove past with no regard. By the time it was gotten to Kenyatta National Hospital, he had expired. What’s more interesting is that the hospital guys picked him up from the sewer. Meaning, somebody moved him off the road and tossed him into the sewer.

It’s hard to decide which is worse between the cleaners that got guards to lift a clearly hurt person, the person that tossed their fellow brother into the sewer or the man who was ready to push the old lady just far enough for him to leave her stranded.

I think the worst, by far and wide margins are the thousands that walked by and didn’t bother to even notice, those that did and made light of it, and those that could’ve helped but preferred sun basking.

“Welcome to the city where everything is large and everyone is small except me. Everybody that’s not me is meaningless unless otherwise determined by me. You are an obstacle, a threat or a distraction and shall be treated as such until otherwise stated.”

Pretend as we may that we have good hearts and do good deeds, we still scoff at beggars and walk over unconscious bodies.

We’ve been so conditioned to seeing people in need that we almost give them no thought. No positive ones at least. We’re harassed on a bad day, numb at best. And though we can argue that it’s not our fault, it is our state of mind.

And what a heartless state of mind it is…

9 thoughts on “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of Nairobi..

  1. Sad state of affairs. What’s more sad is that it could happen to me or to the people I hold dear. I will never ignore a needy human being, again!

  2. I don’t have any wise words. I’ve seen people too jaded or scared of conmen to give a genuinely lost person directions. I’ve stared at kids lost in supermarkets or town, and watched them with worry as I prayed their parents would quickly notice that they were missing. Luckily for me, after five minutes, they did.

    I’ve jumped over bodies in town more than once, some bleeding. I’ve looked at the still masses and wondered if the person was dead, drunk, or just sleeping. I’ve wondered how long the body would lie there before they either woke up or got taken away. I’ve never gone beyond the sadness and the wondering, and it only nags me for a few minutes before I go on with my day.

    I’m not saying it’s right, I’m saying it’s life. I try not to think about what would happen if the body was someone I know or love, but I hope I’d be brave enough to help out my next-door neighbour if they collapsed.

    I had a couple knock on my door one Wednesday at midnight. They said they’d been carjacked. I gave them tea, offered them food, which they declined, tried to call cops and failed, then lent them an umbrella and a cell phone. Their car was outside but they had no keys. They were in my house for two hours as they tried to get help. Then they found some cop pals on patrol and left.

    For three days, we spoke as I tried to get the phone and umbrella back. Then they went mteja, and that was that. I had to replace both the phone and the umbrella, since they belonged to my house guest. Being a good samaritan is pricey work.

  3. I have absolutely nothing useful to add here. However, I was nodding with such fervor while reading your post that I think I sprained my neck. You’ll be hearing from my attorney.

  4. Pingback: What Would Ruto Do? | Diasporadical

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