Those People

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I get in bed early – 8:30pm. With a book. Kindle, rather. Nothing like a good book in bed; It never has a headache. It’s been hot lately so only psychopaths and people who hate puppies sleep in clothes. These are the same people who ask, “What if a fire breaks out in the middle of the night?” A fire. In the middle of the night. Of course. Of course. That’s definitely a major cause for alarm when you live in a grass thatched house. I’m re-reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It’s a somber book, a continuum of impending doom. A man and his son are the only ones left in a post apocalyptic world and they are moving to the coast. I loved it years ago and I love it now even though I know how it all ends. Here is a quote from the book.

“By day the burnished sun circles the earth like a grieving mother with a lamp.”

Sometimes when I read a lovely sentence like that, I don’t want to read anymore. I want to put away my kindle and curl up with that sentence in the darkness, hold it against my chest like a lover and breathe it deep into me, so that it stays there, mine, with the air in my lungs. And if I never rise again, at dawn, I want to go with that lovely sentence in my body.

Last week, in bed, I heard a car reverse into a parking lot. It reversed forever. A door then closed with a solid thud. It was a heavy door. A lady on the phone, her voice sharp against the quiet of the night. The sound of her heels floated above her voice, which eventually faded off as she moved further away. A dog barked in the distance. Not at her. It just barked. I went back to Cormac. After an hour or so of reading, I got tired and sleep seemed like a train that wasn’t coming soon. I had an urge to leave the house. Get some air. Roam the night. Meet strangers and talk to them without asking their names. Sit somewhere that isn’t a bar and watch the night and its pawn that are humans. Maybe try on someone’s hat. There is something about trying on someone’s hat – you get into their head space. I wanted to be adopted by the children of the night. So I hailed an Uber: three minutes away. I wore a tracksuit. Carried my Press Card and ID. No cash.

The Uber guy was young and trendy looking. He had on skinny distressed jeans and denim jacket, faded around the pockets. He didn’t look a day older than 21. “Kenyatta Hospital?” he said, starting the trip on his App. “Yeah,” I said, adjusting my seat. We eased off, down a long empty street, past houses with warm glowing lights burning in bedrooms. A shirtless Chinese smoked from a balcony.

“How’s it working at night?” I asked him.

“It’s better for me. I go to school during the day.”

“Where?”

“USIU.”

“Ahh, what are you studying?”

“International relations.”

I looked at him. “Is there anything else people study in USIU apart from international relations?”
That made him really laugh out loud. I didn’t even expect it. You know those people who just burst out laughing so loudly without a warning? Reminded me a little of the Joker movie.

There were not many cars at that time of night. The traffic lights blinked constantly. Matatus rushed home. At Yaya Center he said, “Can we use Ngong Road, it’s much faster.”

“I’m in no hurry. You can use the bypass if you want.”

He turned to look at me. “Bypass?”

“It was a joke,” I said.

He grinned. He had dimples. Or dimple, I couldn’t see his right cheek.

“How does this work?” I asked him, because I’m that annoying guy who can’t shut up in an Uber. “Is this your car? Are you employed?”

“My dad gave me this car to use so that I can pay half of my fees and upkeep,” he said. “He believes you have to work for everything you get.”

“I agree.”

“So, will you have to return this car one day?”

He chuckled and said preposterously. “No! He gifted it to me.”

“Ahh.” I nodded. “How old is your dad?”

“He’s old.” We turned into Ngong Road from Ring Road. “He’s 52.”

“That’s not old,” I said in defense of all men who are 52.

“It is. Kwani how old are you?”

“42.”

“No way.”

“Yes way.”

“You don’t look it.” He turned to look at me. “As in you have children and things?”

“Yeah, I have children and things.” I said, wondering if by “things” he meant things like my desk plant. And grass. I also have grass. Or patches of it. “Here, this is my son.” I showed him a picture of Kim from my phone. He took his eyes off the road momentarily to look.

“Looks just like you.” He smiled.

“He does, doesn’t he?” I said proudly. “And this is a picture of my daughter and me.” It’s a picture that Kim had taken of us standing against a hedge. Tamms is shy, she’s not holding my waist properly, sort of just placing her hand there, self-consciously. On the bottom right of the picture is Kim’s thumb or finger, blocking a bit of the photo. You’d imagine that a six year old born in the era of social media would take a decent picture without putting his thumb in the photo. “She’s 12 now.”

“She’s beautiful,” he said.

“Yeah, of course. She takes after me.”

He laughed again, his surprising laugh, but this time I was ready for his laugh because I laughed too.

He drove with one hand, like a villain in a crime movie. You could tell he thought he was very grown up, very cool even, driving an Uber at night, doing international relations, making his money, paying his own way, being responsible and shit. I thought he was cool. With his window cracked halfway, he squinted against the breeze as he drove. He had a long thin face, an open face of a 20 year old, trusting of the world, courageous even, a heart of the Internet, constantly searching for an open Wi-Fi. His very youthful presence filled the car with hope. I wondered what dreams he nursed, this guy chasing international relations. I wondered about his other relations.

We stopped briefly at the city mortuary roundabout. He looked right, at the oncoming vehicles from Mbagathi Road, then went round the roundabout, getting out on the second exit. We drove down Ngong Road, the valley of two contrasts. To our left was Nairobi Hospital. Somewhere in there, a CEO was watching TV in the presidential suite, recovering from fatigue. He probably had freshly squeezed juice and just finished eating a dinner of risotto, maybe even fresh lobsters airlifted from Lamu just that evening. In there, they only spoke one language; money. To the right was Kenyatta National Hospital, weary looking even from the outside, with its infamous reputation and it’s grit and the men and women who toil there in dismal conditions and the corruption, hope, passion that abound. The road literally separates the haves and have-nots, life and death, hope and despair. Here, Ngong Road is the Rubicon.

“So what do you want to do with your degree?” I asked him as we drove past Nairobi Area Traffic Police Headquarters.

“Maybe work in a foreign office.”

“Like an ambassador?”

“Yeah.”

“So you are good with people.”

“Yeah. I have been told.”

We got to Kenyatta and he eased the car to a stop in the now deserted parking lot.

“Are you unwell, or are you going to visit a patient?” He asked as I unclipped my seat belt.

“No,” I said. “I couldn’t sleep, so I’m just going to hang out here for a bit.”

He gave me that puzzled look. I could tell he wanted to ask more questions, but I didn’t give him a chance. I already had one foot out the door. “Be safe and good luck with school,” I said. “And stay away from weed and girls who don’t wear bras.” I closed the door, imprisoning his laughter in the car.

At one of the tuck shops adjacent to the parking lot, I bought a bottle of mineral water and zipped up my jumper against the cold. A few men and women sat on stools outside the kiosks wearing heavy jackets. They looked like they came from shags to see loved ones and they intended to spend the night there. From their sweaters, I could guess they came from Kisii. If you have been to Kisii you know the kind of sweaters they wear down there, it’s different from the sweaters in say Nyeri or Kiambu. Luos generally don’t wear sweaters, just jackets. Unless they are from Koru. The long pathway to Casualty was deserted, barely lit. I texted a doctor friend of mine: “Are you working today?” She said she wasn’t working. “Are you at KNH?” I said, yeah, “I’m going to Casualty to see what’s happening there.” She wasn’t far, she said she’d pass by.

Casualty wasn’t busy. At least not as busy as I imagined it would be. I didn’t know what I was expecting to see. Opposite the entrance, under some palm trees, a few ambulances waited. I leaned against a pillar and watched as a man in his 50s was helped out of a saloon car. A heavy man. Two men struggled with him. His shirt was unbuttoned. He was barely conscious. Someone’s father. Or grandfather. They lifted him and tried to heave him onto the stretcher but the stretcher started rolling away, he started slipping so I ran and held it firmly. They finally heaved him on top. His pants – like his shirt – were unbuttoned. He had adult diapers on. A plastic bag full of body waste dangled against the stretcher. Sickness comes with great indignity.

I resumed my position by the pillar. Ambulances came one by one, sirens off, strobe lights blinking red. They came from Kitui and Naivasha and Narok and Nakuru, bringing suffering and sickness, men and women with broken bodies, maybe even broken souls. And when the doors opened, I could see them lying there. I had a front row seat at this theater of life and death. All those people who are brought there to live or to die. Ambulance attendants wearing gloves and passive faces stretched them out. As they pushed them past me, I tried to look at their faces. One person, a man, stared back at me and we locked eyes as he wheeled by. I couldn’t read the expression on his face, but it wasn’t fear. He looked at me like one would look at a boiling kettle; with great disinterest.

The ambulances kept pulling over. I could never guess what I would see once the doors opened. From one, a mother came out holding a small toddler in her arms, swathed in white. An attendant walked next to her carrying a small oxygen tank that ran to this baby’s face. She had been crying, the mother. She was in a leso and sandals. She had left in a hurry. She was accompanied by what looked like another female relative, carrying purses and a small bag.

Ironically, there was no sense of urgency at the Accidents and Emergency center. This was not the TV show, ER, where bearded model-looking doctors run out with stethoscopes hanging from their necks asking, “What we got here?” There was no high drama. Nobody came with a knife lodged in their buttocks. I would have loved to see that.

Everything seemed so chill. So unhurried. So slow. Almost boring. Through an open window, I could see the room that received these patients. A young doctor wearing a face mask sat at a desk taking notes. At a high observation table, a nurse was attending to a woman with eyes closed. The small room was busy. That doctor is the one who decides how critical you are and what needs to be done and how urgently. When he came out to hand some papers to a guy in a car, I was surprised at how young he looked – late 20s or early 30s. He had on skinny blue jeans and black suede boots underneath the white coat. He was very un-doctor like. I liked how he seemed so unperturbed, so calm, like he was watering vegetables. I bet his heartbeat was at 65 beats per minute. The image I have of ER doctors is bearded chaps, stooped with knowledge, wearing wire-rimmed spectacles and mumbling under their breath. This guy? Oh, he looked like he could remove his white coat and ten minutes later he could be at Onyx Lounge ordering shots. For now, the graveyard shift was his, the decider – by a great degree – of who lives longer or who dies on a stretcher.

I strolled inside and roamed around. A few patients were lying on stretchers waiting to be attended to by the doctor in black suede boots. I walked past scores of people sitting waiting. Behind glass windows, hospital staff wrote from desks, or looked at files. I went down a corridor; more people lying on stretchers; one with a bandaged stump where his hand used to be. A Maasai-looking in traditional garb guy lay sleeping with a bloodied face. A woman with one shoe coughed constantly from another stretcher. I saw what looked like a street boy lying still on another stretcher, his black pants soiled, his face bloodied.

There is a feedback register book by the customer care desk. Hard cover. Bound. I stood there and read it. Complaints and compliments. Page after page. People thanking nurses. People complaining about service. People saying they are surprised at how efficient the hospital is. People saying what horrible experience they had. Some write in big handwriting you can read from the moon, others barely legible. They use their two names. Almost all left their phone numbers. I was fascinated; they took time to say something. And very surprisingly, on every page a doctor signed against the comment and wrote, “noted,” complete with the date. There were signatures from Dr Amina and more recent ones from a doctor “Y. Oduor,” who I later realized is my cousin. I didn’t recognize her name because I didn’t expect it there, I don’t see her as a doctor. And secondly, we just call her “Night” for Yuanita. I called her and said, “I saw your name in a book at KNH, you guys actually read that shit?” She said, “Yeah, we also have to call if you leave a number and write a report.”

“No, shit,” I said.

“Oh you thought it was for show?”

“Of course. Yeah,” I said.

My doctor friend found me with my nose in that book, leafing through it, reading comments. We walked up that forlorn winding staircase to the wards. I saw men with broken bones, their limbs weighted with weights. “They can lie like that for months,” she said. A naked man sponge bathed himself from his bed. He turned to look at us with a grin. A radio played vernacular songs. A man with his casted leg placed on a table, watched TV in a common room. His friend, with a cast on his arm, sat next to him. They looked like extras in a movie catching a break.

I saw children. On oxygen. Weakened by disease. Curled in their beds, poor little things, their bare bellies moving up and down as they breathed. “Most have TB,” my friend said. Some looked so small, the size of a big pumpkin. Their mothers shared the bed with them, looking dazed, exhausted, but still watching over them with as much love as only a mother can confer. Some children played outside a ward, because that was now home. I saw people recovering from burns and people healing from accidents, their heads bandaged, their torsos swathed with bandages. “That one,” I pointed at a man sitting forlornly on his bed, “looks like a mummy.” The night wore on and we roamed the corridors of this museum of human suffering. The hospital was surprisingly clean. There was no stench – apart from the orthopedic wards that smelled of rotting flesh and broken bones. There were no screams. I had half a mind to ask her to take me to the cancer ward for children, but my will was already too small, shrunk by the little I had seen. We passed outside ICU, which opened right into a corridor. It’s a no go zone but when a doctor opened the door to come out I caught a glimpse of a woman lying comatose. Machines beeped. At the desk, night nurses sat leafing through papers.

In the Uber home, the roads now pretty much ghost avenues, I thought about all those sick people, that man lying on his back, his legs hanging on weights like meat. He will be there for months until he heals, not moving, taking a shit in a bucket. And those children who are losing a great part of their childhood in their fight to live. Children playing in hospital corridors in the middle of the night. I thought of the woman in ICU and the boatful and boatful of prayers that her people must have been sending her way.

Then I was in bed, wide awake like I was plugged into an electric socket, not wanting to read a book, just lying there and thinking about those people I’d seen in those hospital beds and those people like us in our own beds and wondering what the hell we have done not to be in a hospital bed, wearing adult diapers. Why our children sleep in their beds with their teddy bears while others are on oxygen. I thought about those people in beds who also had calendars like us, calendars with activities, meetings, trips, reminders, PNL reviews, pitches, Q2 strategy…did they not “block a day and time,” like us? Their calendars are now as useful as a broken hoe. They are now on drips, their veins collapsing from injection, staring at a white ceiling everyday.

These people aren’t able to bask in the sun, open a tap, wait for a lift, unroll a yoga mat, cut an apple, look for the TV remote, validate a parking ticket, wait for a matatu, lace a running shoe, Shazam a song, get a neck massage after a shave, order a drink without ice or say, ‘are you going to eat that?” But we can. For now.

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165 Comments
    1. Philip, that ”Wait for it” did you in, mate; reminded me of that bathroom scene in the The good, the bad and the ugly. Next story, just say ”first” or better still ”1st” without the preamble so Fiona, 4y and Monyenche don’t spoil your day.

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  1. Damn, you made me count my blessings and name them one by one. To be in good health is a blessing. May God heal the suffering sick

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  2. I have been in a surgical ward for almost a month nursing a friend who succumbed to cancer just the other day. Am left with a lot of questions but most importantly the lessons. I am taking nothing for granted any more.

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  3. If you had gone to the kids’ cancer ward you would not have had the strength to write this. Something about being there breaks you and amazes you at the same time. Children playing while their counterparts die one after another. Innocent kids talking about death like they would a short walk to the washroom. Children with little memory of what their own beds felt like. Children being there so long their little bodies permanent imprint on the hospital mattresses. Little kids knowing what it means to live one day at a time better than most adults.

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    1. I visited the children’s cancer ward once. My heart bled. I met a little girl the age of my son who had not seen her parents for six months,the parents were poor and could not afford frequent trips from Nyeri to visit their daughter and had no one in Nairobi to host them, My heart felt lots of pain. When i got home and looked at my children,i realized how greatly favored i was and never took notice of it.

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  4. Ah Biko ! Your article today has resonated with me on a very personal level. I lost my nephew to blood cancer ( CLL) last year. He was only 21, he passed a day after his birthday, well, he didn’t care or notice, because he was so sick ! KNH brings me sicks memories, what I saw in those wards was so traumatising! sometimes I wonder if those young boys he was sharing a ward with ever made it. Ah! the experience in that place always gets me in my feelings. I saw it all, and I lived it everyday until his death. Coming out of that was hard, it messed me up mentally. His death changed my perspective towards life in a great way. Cheers to life !!

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  5. I live through this kind of human suffering everyday. As a nurse you see so much that breaks your heart, especially children. When you go to bed you are more thank ful for just breath but again am so grateful for saving the lives we save. No matter how small they still regain our strength as medic.

    This made me tear.

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  6. I had tears in my eyes after reading this… Because I’ve been there, I’ve seen pain in those people’s eyes and it just breaks my heart every time I remember it…

    Just be grateful for those simple things in life, like waking up in your bed.

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  7. And stay away from weed and girls who don’t wear bras.” I closed the door, imprisoning his laughter in the car.
    The story of Knh is so touching,,,people suffering

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  8. Yes, you wonder what you’ve done! many a times we take our health for granted, to be walking around, having the ability to choose what we want to do and eat. But truth be told, it’s all by His grace and will. May they receive God’s healing.

    And to the young chap from USIU, Success in life…and yes, stay away from drugs! About ladies who do not wear bras, maybe Biko can tell us why you should avoid such…either way, stay away from them!

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  9. Ah Biko ! Your article today has resonated with me on a very personal level. I lost my nephew to blood cancer ( CLL) last year. He was only 21, he passed a day after his birthday, well, he didn’t care or notice, because he was so sick ! KNH brings me sicks memories, what I saw in those wards was so traumatising! sometimes I wonder if those young boys he was sharing the cancer ward with ever made it. Ah! the experience in that place always gets me in my feelings. I saw it all, and I lived it everyday until his death. Coming out of that was hard, it messed me up mentally. His death changed my perspective towards life in a great way. Cheers to life !!

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  10. This piece is both depressing and interesting.

    For some reason, I don’t fancy the idea of wandering out at night. Whether in the safe streets of uptown Nairobi or the streets of downtown that overhang with a devilish aura. I also don’t like hospitals because they smell like hospitals. A distinct smell that I fail to associate with anything good in life. But, I find it interesting that this is what you chose to feed your soul on a random night. I bet the Uber driver thought about it for his entire night shift. Thought about this guy who went to hang out at a hospital at night for arguably no good reason. I find it interesting that your doctor friend also never questioned why you were hanging out at KNH at night! It takes a really good friend to understand our wierd habits and go along with them. Anyway, the Swahili people say, “mkuki mtamu kwa nguruwe ni mtamu kwa binadamu” or something like that. I interpret it to mean “to each his own”.

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    1. Its mkuki wa nguruwe kwa binadamu mchungu.
      It means that we hurt others and find it okay but when the same is done to us we feel the hurt.

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  11. Life. It just happens as per the holder of everyone’s fate.

    Is this what they call vivid description? >>>>The Uber guy was young and trendy looking. He had on skinny distressed jeans and denim jacket, faded around the pockets. He didn’t look a day older than 21. “Kenyatta Hospital?” he said, starting the trip on his App. “Yeah,” I said, adjusting my seat. We eased off, down a long empty street, past houses with warm glowing lights burning in bedrooms. A shirtless Chinese smoked from a balcony.

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  12. Back in Campus, a friend was robbed off his laptop along Waiyaki way and badly beaten. He then was thrown on the highway hit and the car ran. The girlfriend called us at around 7 pm to take him to the hospital. We arrived at KNH around 8 pm and had to go for rounds and rounds to see a doctor. You are on line and when it is our turn, the doctor says his shift is over and we wait for the next doctor. The guy survived the pain and chaos that was KNH and was admitted the next day at 8 am.. He spent over 2 moths at the hospital. I am happy that the hospital has improved remarkably. My nephew collapsed at TUK Uni. he received a better reception and treatment. I changed hospitals before he was fully treated and they called me later to inquire why we left….

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    1. And before you come at me,I get the hospital part.And I am extremely grateful for health for me and my loved ones and I pray for the sick everyday…the tone was just a bit different in this one.

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  13. Amidst all the chaos in people’s life, you are smiling and healthy.

    Why?

    I thank God for having the strength to take care of someone else other than myself.

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  14. I’ve tried to do my errands and read this at the same time. At some point I had to just park somewhere and finish it. Fascinating, heart breaking and thought provoking at the same time. My dad was one of those brought in in an ambulance on oxygen all the way from Kitale. He lasted 500kms only to die hours after admission. Still haunts me to date that Kenyatta hsp.

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  15. Reminded me of a time I spent at the KNH emergency after my brother’s accident along Thika road in 2015. It made me tear.

    The suffering of accident victims is unbearable.

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  16. I had a 5th surgery a week ago now recuperating…….waking up from surgery is a huuuuuuge deal- that matters way too much! health is wealth I tell you! We take too much for granted while we are healthy! Those people I feel them-that was me a week ago! We pray for their healing!

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  17. I loved this. Being a medical student, . Seeing Kenyatta From the perspective of an outsider ( not a sick person or their relatives ) was refreshing

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  18. “A Museum of Human Suffering.”
    What a description. I spent a few days roaming KNH and yes, the amount of suffering there is insurmountable. Every day of our lives, we just have to thank Jehovah for His amazing Grace and the providence. The good health and being alive and free.
    My prayers and supplications to all those who are sick- even the spiritual illness; the the Almighty may grant unto them the Love and the will to savour beyond the chains of suffering.
    AMEN

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  19. The hymn Stand up, stand up for Jesus has a line that says, “the arm of flesh will fail you.”
    I’ve seen some of the strongest folks wither and fade away in the face of cancer. I have little confidence in the flesh because ultimately we crumble like cookies and are blown away in the wind. One has to be very grateful to have air in their lungs, and an umph in their step because all this is temporary. We are just passing by. Thankfully, this is just one life, there is more permanence in eternity.

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  20. The difference between me and you Biko, other than the obvious is, when i can’t sleep i watch trash tv. I don’t get an uber and go to Kenyatta Hospital…

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  21. This piece is very sobering.
    Indeed being alive and well is by the grace of God.
    God’s mercy has been sufficient, His love never ending to be here and well.
    Am humbled.

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  22. Thanks Biko, it’s through this that many of us realise the blessings we have, and the need to stop complaining of very minute things

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  23. Of the things I want to do in life… Reminds me of when I used to take walks in korogosho, 20 Bob in hand. Either I bought roasted maize or chips muitu, as I walked down the road till I hit a dead end. At times I would talk to half naked kids, or rough looking women… Other times I would walk silently praying for lives at korogosho, that God would change their situation❤️❤️

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  24. My neighbour’s kid is battling cancer at KNH. I haven’t gone to see him yet but after reading this I feel compelled to do so.

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  25. Anything to do with children suffering makes me really emotional. It gives me unimaginable heartaches. It is easy to become depressed when I see a child suffering.

    Thanks for the story. It is until you visit such an environment that you realise how fragile human life is. When you realise that death can knock anytime without warning, you appreciate every single day you are alive. I once watched a speech by Steve Job to graduating university students; he said, after tests indicated he had a rare type of cancer, that “live everyday of your life as though it is your last.”

    Besides the theme of the story, Biko, how do you manage to hold random conversations with strangers? Is it an art you have perfected over time or you are naturally a conversationalist? These are things I would love to do, but, see, the stories fade as quickly as I begun .lol

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  26. Last year I was unwell and stayed in hospital for a while. I appreciated the little things I took for granted in life like feeding myself, getting out of bed and taking a shower while standing. Even sleeping was a huge privilege coz the pain was intense. Now I’m living my life very differently because I learned that I don’t have forever on this earth , I only have now and I make it count.

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  27. Reading this piece makes me thinking of my friend Regina Karobia. On her birthday in January this year(2020), She decided to breaking the tradition of celebrating her birthday. She did it different this time. Not the kawaid partying and popping bottles like i see people do on Instagram. She decided to give back to the society in a special way. A children’s home needed some building materials, food stuff and sanitation. She used social media network to bring friends together. Contributions were done, required items were bought and the kids were happy.That’s how she saved the day and celebrated her birthday. Despite human suffering, we can make the world a better place by simply caring for other. Giving thanks to God for the life we have.

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  28. KNH brings memories to me.I lost my dad there when I was 8years old. Every time I go there my heart is broken a little. Beginning of this year, I went back there to seek dermatological services. I decided to change my view after then. I view that place were a strong man passed on and left his legacy to me. Death is so painful and one can never replace their loved ones. But be rest assured they are in a good place now.

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  29. Every moment we have breath in this life is a blessing,its actually magical.I always think of God and everything he has done for me,I end up feeling that I awe him.Someone should listen to Sinach’s song “I stand in awe of you” .The way He loves love unconditionally,men its a huge thing.I stand in awe of him.Seeing another day,get to walk,talk etc …Everything that we have belongs to him.Weneed him in everything that we do.God heal the sick.Nice piece BIKO.Be blessed.

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  30. Late last year I was in a weird place thinking about the job I was in that I decided to stop applying myself,hivo tu. I had this thoughts that in Kenya,with the health care system we have, most people from those inthe “upper middle class” like Biko to the subaru guys we see in our streets are all one fatal disease away to poverty. Instead, I quit my job and this year while still looking for formal employment, am doing research to find that gap in the economy to launch myself as the next bezos.
    Pst. The job was unfulfilling and paid pittances.

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  31. ‘Those people’ and you allow me to be humble again! A good reminder to enjoy that neck massage at the barber’s.

    Wondered how current urban Fathers keep their college sons responsible in the city — I like the Uber hustle. Good job to that man!

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  32. Chocolate man, you just reminded me once more, to value life as I know it. Last weeks story on the boxer, then now this story. I am grateful for this life, and I will live it to the fullest.

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  33. There is no hurry at causality. You will die or watch someone die without even first aid. 8hrs there taught me so much. We should never take this life for granted

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  34. This article right here gives us more reasons to be thankful for anything we are able to enjoy in life. Being able to wake up and open my two eyes, walk to the bathroom to shower and wash my face with my two hands. The mere opportunity to be able to walk out into fresh air and let the warmth of the sun sink in my dark skin and be able to do uncountable other little things for the rest of my day every day… I am grateful to God for everything. I will not take anything for granted.

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  35. Thanks for ruining lobsters for me. Now I will always think about that doc at Nairobi Hospital enjoying his freshly squeezed citrus drink to down the risotto while on the other side of the grass, things are thick. The juxtaposition was not very necessary.
    But also thanks for the reminder that good health is wealth. I can see how sleeping in your own bed every evening can be Kind of a big deal. However I don’t think I can take the melancholic vibes in this article today so I didn’t finish because I couldn’t. I’m that proverbial Ostrich with my head deep in the sand. I only want happy stories and happy endings, at least today.

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  36. There is always something to be grateful for. Your words evoke raw emotions. .It is humbling to know that life can change in an instant. We should always be grateful for the little things. We may take them for granted, but they mean everything to someone else;who has been dealt with different cards.

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  37. When I first worked in Aghakhan Hospital Nairobi, I saw this kid in a drum (burnt case)and she couldn’t move or turn it was very traumatic for me. We take alot for granted.

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  38. This article should be a wake up call for us all to always appreciate God’s grace in our lives and never take it for granted!! Awesome piece and I like how it is delivered, some sarcasm and all but still driving the point home. You got me on the part of kisiis and the sweatersI am a kisii and I can attest to that. All in all always a pleasure reading these pieces…

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  39. “a museum of human suffering” tells there’s more than you cared to write, therefore your very easy tone. Its OK. However, ” I closed the door, imprisoning his laughter in the car.” Biko you are mean!! very mean.

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  40. I frequent KNH almost on a daily basis, not to visit anyone in particular, but this are my exact daily thoughts. “We can, for now”
    That place makes you question a lot about life in particular, the love of God for human beings and His unbowed criteria on our sufferings.

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  41. I dedicate this piece is dedicated to the late Abdalla Atieno who succumbed to CA colon. All the pain, the suffering…, may you dance with the angels brother.

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  42. We get soo busy with our lives we forget to thank GOD for health alone,but when we get sick thats when we remember how valuable being helathy is

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  43. Thanks Biko for that sobering reminder. Good health is a gift that we sometimes take for granted. Reminded me of a time I went to the children’s cancer ward following training on Palliative care…I didn’t get past 4 children before I ran out, literally, sobbing. It is one thing to see sick adults, and another to see sick children ravished by this monster called cancer. I pray for the sick in Knh and everywhere else…and for the ability by the Govt to offer free medical service to all.

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  44. I like Tuesdays thanks to you. Most times I read your post for the week in class when my mind slips from contemporary issues in world affairs. Sometimes I hold my head between my hands and feel that one sole tear welling and a sad smile and I have to look away before the lec gets weird ideas and sometimes its an unwarranted cry (I am severely frustrated because my R on the keyboard is faulty and it’s friggin annoying…) where was I? Oh yeah, a cry of frustration. I like looking forward to something every week. I am yet to join the bank you keep mentioning though, *sighs. Never mind me though, I can be verbose. Hospital halls can seem empty, especially for those passing through but the ghosts are loud and clear to those who have left a tear in them. As always, looking forward to the next post.

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  45. Are we special than those other people, no.. Let’s appreciate the gift of life… And make good moments with them before maybe the worse part get unto us, we are not remnants still. I LOVE THE TODAY’S ARTICLE

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  46. This experience has brought a flurry of emotions for some reason. Some whys can never be answered. What’s important, take a day at a time and give thanks for everything.

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  47. Hey Biko which of your article did you use this line…

    “Kill them with kindness. But always have a sense of self preservation. Know your worth. When the deal is not good, walk away.”…

    Kindly reply if you find time to read through the comments.

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  48. Thank you for the beautifully written piece. It certainly brings out vivid imagery. I have a lot to thank God for everyday that I breathe.

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  49. I have occasionally taken random and spontaneous visits to K.N.H,mostly when I feel like life isn’t fair to me.Each time I walk outside those doors,an overwhelming amount of gratitude for my life kicks in.
    To me it’s therapeutic,it makes me realise how lucky I am in life.
    I have been to the children cancer ward,those kids will make you humble in life,and regret for the many times you complain about your small problems thinking that you were handled the wrong cards…
    Planning to visit Mathare hospital soon..
    Clubbing all night,and knocking yourself off with shots ,drinks and even weed,is never that therapeutic. This here will change your perspective of how you view life..

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  50. Most of the staff at Knh do a great Job and have passion and believe they are the best, they actually are . Corruption though, You will be told they have ran out of materials or some machine is broken down ,only to be referred to the private clinics across the road, to be attended to by the same practitioners . I wonder, how often,if ever, does the MRI machine at private clinics breakdown ? …….corruption……. impunity. God help us
    The billions we waste if only we could re create another KNH , equip the current & create systems that work.

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  51. Dad spent 31 days at the cancer unit. He had 14 of 28 sessions of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I spent two weeks with him there visiting during lunch and evening hours. Having transferred from Coptic, the nursing care was really a down grade and he had difficulty adjusting to being left alone. The first three days he did not take his breakfast because no one handed it to him…..it was placed on those metallic cabinets. There was not personal touch to care. Nurses assumed that since he can.tslk and walk he can feed himself, what they did not understand then is that the brain tumor had fucked up his logic and coordination. He did not perceive things as we did.
    By the second week he had acclimatised and met friends in the ward. We became friends with the other patients and their families in ward 9B. Because you have to fight together, to lean on each other, to support each other. The other patients call you when your patient is not doing well….yes because hospital protocol will get to you 6hrs late.

    It’s emotionally draining. Family puts strong faces inside the ward for their loved ones…..then get to the corridor to burst out and break down in tears. To hug each other and nurse their pain.

    Dad suddenly and rapidly deteriorated in a day. He rested during the evening visiting hours surrounded by family and friends…..his neighbour patients were distraught, as a family we were broken. We lay him to rest soon, I purpose to visit patients ion room 9B as often as I can. Some have been there for weeks, months without visit…….they just want a chat to lift the darkness of death that we all await some day, only they know how theirs will come. We don’t know ours! Share the love when you can!!!

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  52. A moving piece there!.We,me included take personal wellbeing for granted..after reading this,I appreciate every bit of my kicking life..Thanks Biko

  53. Wired to know we are reading a book by the same author. Though I am sure you probably finished yours in a day.

    Great author, I got my hard copycat from IG @halfpriced_books check them out and thank me later folks.

  54. Nice read, I thought I was the only one who took time to take in words and phrases, I’m happy I’m normal. We thank the Lord for His graces daily, at some point in life we also, will be those people.

  55. Thanks Biko for such an awakening call. I am one of those people who just hates hospitals in as much as I would love to reach out to people there. I guess I will start with the children’s wards and then move on to the elderly.
    Out of curiosity, would it be a good idea for me to visit the children’s section with my 12 and 10 year olds. Part of me wants to teach them about some of these realities that sometimes life never prepares us for.

  56. Biko you had to add ‘for now’ at the end!
    I got chills. That end gave me this oppression and suspense that the character Joker gives me when I’m watching one of those Batman movies

  57. Appreciate life and the little things that come with it. Be happy. Smile. Offer a helping hand and give thanks to lord or whoever you believe in. Also remember to call your parents wakiwa ushago and say I love you( in your tribal language) . That’s all they need.

  58. You empathetic man! The stellar writing aside, you really do look like a man who reflects on important things in life. Your writing is not only great, it is important. And useful. Almost spiritual.

  59. Biko, I’m writing this here for 2 reasons:
    1. To check whether it’s ‘for show’ or you actually read
    2. To get into your head space by asking to plant a tree in your farm in homabay

  60. Biko, you just reminded me how blessed I am to be in good health. We take it for granted so many times….quick recovery to all those suffering

  61. Reading this story was tough as it kept bringing back sad memories of when my late mother was in hospital fighting for her life. It is an experience that changes you and the pain for me is still so fresh. Ambulances and being in hospitals is now a trigger of those memories. One day I will also tell my story.

  62. just catching up on your write-ups.
    This one brought to mind a recent book i’ve just read “Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese … all this talk of hospitals (on either side of the ‘road’), illness and it’s carriers, and those that take care of the ill ones.
    As you said… But we can. For now- in my case just read about other’s suffering as though it’s fiction, meanwhile someone out there is living it.
    Great one, Biko!