That night, I didn’t sleep. Granted, the cell floor was wet with our sweat, which was made more unbearable by the fact that we were sleeping on the floor hugging each other.
There was Kiplagat who, according to Mustapha, had gotten arrested and released more than 5 times in a month. This being so, the cell floor felt like home to him. After every 10 minutes or so, the one lying close to the wall would wake us up so we could change to a set of ribs that wasn’t hurting. this gave us a brief respite before we turned to face the opposite direction.
Sleep was also made impossible by the constant roll calls that the police forced us to take. The cell door kept vomiting more young men and replacing them with new entrants. By the next morning, I had already given up hope of my mom knowing where I was.
This made the days to pass like a breeze. I was able to remain calm and reflect on my life. I started replacing the negative thoughts I had grown up with concerning my life, ability and opportunities.
That is when I discovered I had a lot going for me.
“A rule isn’t unfair if it applies to everyone.”
How discovering I had a lot of potential changed the way I viewed myself
The next day, I volunteered to mop the floor and fill the bucket with the urine and waste we had deposited into the overflowing toilet. But Mustapha intervened.
“You’re our pastor and can’t do such demeaning chores,” Mustapha said. “Besides, you are a fine man who deserves better than this. Use this time to prepare today’s lesson from the Bible,” he added.
“We don’t want you to leave before you share the valuable lessons you have deep inside you,” another guy said.
I left the toilet and went to the vacant cell. The story of Moses came to my mind immediately. I don’t why, but I knew and was convinced I was going to regain my freedom in the next minute, hour and day. As it turns out, I still had 6 more days ahead of me.
Using what you’ve at hand
We were almost having dinner when Kiplagat was frogged marched into the cell. Get in, you child of abortion, an officer kicked him through the door. Kiplagat staggered into the crowded cell.
He arrived just in time for dinner, which was an undignified plate of burnt mushy cabbages, a potato, a piece of blanket-like matumbo and badly cooked ugali. After dinner was over, I had the guys sit in a circle before I begun sharing about Moses and the staff in his hand.
As I kept sharing, I kept sharing to myself and made a mental note to start applying what I was sharing. I told the guys the importance of gratitude and using what you have as opposed to dwelling on what you don’t have.
Afterwards, everyone shared how this example impacted their lives and shaped their current and future life decisions.
Getting through Day 4 through Day 8
Nothing much happened except I asked one of the police officers to buy me an exercise book and a pen. Of course, we negotiated on a commission that he deducted from my remaining balance at the OB Desk.
My trouser was loose and hugged the cheeks of my buttocks. My brown leather belt, my right shoe and pair of shoe laces were kept inside a locker where the OB Desk was.
During these days, I shared the story of David, Samson and Eli before Mustapha and I got transferred to Buruburu Police Station. I had also had my last taste of preachers and preaching on the sixth day.
The preacher shared the story of Naaman and how his servant had instructed him to seek for healing from Israel’s main prophet. When Naaman visited Elisha, he was instructed to dip himself in a river seven times. It reminded me of a small of stream of water where we drew water behind our house.
I vowed that I was going to dip myself into the stream of water in order to get cleansing. It was going to take all the courage I needed to do this. Chances were I was going to forget about this after regaining my freedom. But this did not stop me from considering dipping myself seven times into the river.
This memory makes me smile when I recall it.
A drive into the cold night
AT exactly 2:30 am, two plainclothes police men barged into the cell. They called my name and Mustapha’s. It was the first time I was hearing the sound of my name. It was the sweetest thing I had ever heard!
They ordered the two of us to exit the cells and pick up our stuff from the OB Desk. The money I left had not run over. I placed it inside the small pocket inside my jean’s pocket. This was a wrong move as you will soon out in a moment.
I also discovered that my leather belt was gone. Since I needed a belt, I picked the one that looked in good shape and condition. We walked out the OB Desk and stood outside. The cold breeze swept across Makongeni Estate and rattled my teeth.
I felt abused when one of the police officers handcuffed my hand to Mustapha’s and marched the two of us to a battered Peugeot that came to an abrupt halt in front of the police station.
“Get in, you children of trouble!” one of the officers spat the words in Swahili.
The police officer joined the one who was driving while Mustapha and I sat at the back seat. Not knowing where we were headed, I panicked. I didn’t know where we were being taken.
During the 6 days I was at Makongeni Police Station, I would be taken for ‘weighing’. With time, I discovered that it ‘weighing’ had nothing to do with my weight. Weighing was a term they used for torturing people into saying the truth.
Of course, I was not tortured physically. But trust me, the mental and spiritual torture was worse than not being physically tortured, And especially the ride into the cold night.
Watch out for the last part