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February 19, 2019

When I lived alone as a senior bachelor

WATCH OUT! However peaceful, someone is watching.
WATCH OUT! However peaceful, someone is watching.

When I lived alone as a senior bachelor in Kiserian, I chose my rented room carefully, but with a different reason from what I would do today, that I have a small family. Back then, my priority was to get a house where accessibility was easy.

So I got a flat on the first floor and not the fourth, and one that had a door directly in front of the stair bed. I could get into the house with my eyes closed, or at any time of the night.

The block of flats was built in a “U” shape, with the mid-section used as a parking lot. The tenants' foot entry was placed below the tail end of the staircase.

Just under the last roof of the staircase was a chair for the watchman. The set up was done perfectly so that when anyone entered the premises by foot, the watchman would be the first to see the intruder.

The parking lot held about 20 vehicles. It was also accessed via only one gate and attended by another watchman. The door was forever with a padlock, and the key was handled by the second guard.

No one would be able to get inside the building by opening the door for himself. By the look of the arrangement, the place was airtight as far as small time thieves were concerned.

To get anything from this place, one had to belong there, or blast your way in using whatever force could be required to subdue two well fed guards and steel doors or gate.

I stayed there for close to three years. I would come in the dead of the night, sometimes having imbibed a little, but I would just hoot at the gates and I would be let in.

The walk from my parking slot to the first floor and into my house was so routine. I could never tell how many times I just banged the door to the flat and went straight to bed without a back glance to see whether I had locked.

One day, I came back from town to find the place raining like mad. I hooted as usual and the gate was opened by the guard who left me in a hurry to go under the stairs to get away from the rains.

I did not have an umbrella, so I had to run hard to my door. But by the time I reached, I was already drenched in rain water. I opened the door, got inside and went straight to the showers to get rid of my wet clothes, and hit a warm shower to avoid getting a cold. It didn't take long before I was deep in sleep.

I do not know how long I had been sleeping when my coin box fell from the dressing table with a loud bang and coins started rolling everywhere in the bedroom.

I woke up suddenly and through the mosquito net, and a small light coming from a gap in the bedroom curtains, I saw a figure of a man standing next to the dressing table and facing my bed. He had a machete on one hand and my laptop on the other.

He had been to the living room where I kept the laptop. I was so shocked to have an intruder, armed at that, and right in my bedroom. I was naked. The only weapon I owned, was in the kitchen. A kitchen knife.

I was saying my last prayers when I saw the man slowly walk out of the bedroom and out of the house. Much latter, I woke up to check what was missing.

But first, how did he get through to my bedroom? Did I lock the door when I came in? If not, did the watchmen also forget to lock the foot entry door? Had we become vulnerable because of laxity?

Condolences to the people of Mpeketoni, are in order. I had written on this column about the sleepy town of Mpeketoni, near Lamu. Almost unknown and forgotten by time, Mpeketoni is the epitome of peace and friendliness.

The town burst into life early in the morning, with children carrying children going to school and small traders on the move to start the day. By nightfall, like magic, the town retreats into the family cocoons and Mpeketoni sleeps soundly till next day.

So peaceful is the town, that you hardly find anyone at the police station reporting anything. I have relatives living there and anytime I visit them, it feels like Mpeketoni is not Kenya.

For terrorists to have hit such a place is real cowardice. Let’s all be vigilant and take steps to guard ourselves from such cowards. Ole lenku will only copy paste the same script from earlier incidents and read to us when reacting to disasters, “Our forces are on top of things. The country is safe. The perpetrators will be brought to book.” Someone give Lenku a new line. Those are old school lines, tired and worn out!


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