Every week, we watch some heartbreaking story on Prison Diaries. Stories of people who were never given a chance to tell their side of the story, and because of that, shit got so real for them. Stories of people whose lives will never be the same again. Stories that make you realise two things. One, that you can’t trust anybody. Not your family. Not your friends. And definitely not the system. Secondly, that no matter how law-abiding you are, if prison wants your ass then prison gets your ass. It’s more like A 1000 Ways To Die, where the grim reaper uses the flimsiest of excuses to get you.
Prison is scary. Very scary. It’s not even about the wasted years or months. Neither is it about the thoughts of picking up the soap. The scary thing about prison is the loss of freedom. Man, just like other animals, is a free spirit and doesn’t like being caged. It makes them wild. And ungovernable. Everybody wants to be free. Free to walk around your bedsitter only in a pair of boxers while sipping tea because it’s freaking cold. Free to sing your heart out in the shower. You don’t want somebody telling you when and how you should fart, what to eat and when you should eat it.
I once had a chat with a nduthi guy who got locked up for six months. I can’t remember what got him in. The dude came out so humble he would lose a fight against a cockroach if that guarantees his freedom.
“Wiki moja huko ndani inakaa mwaka.”
Those were his exact words.
He wasn’t made to pick up the soap. He wasn’t under hard labour. He didn’t undergo any of those crazy stuff you see in almost all prison movies. But El Duderino has sworn he will do whatever is in power to never go back in jail. Before prison, he was your typical nduthi guy who would rather die than lose an argument. If his logic wasn’t making sense, he would outshout and abuse you. Nowadays, if you tell him 1+1=20, he will agree and even commend you for being a genius that thinks outside the box.
If his life story doesn’t inspire me to stay away from prison, then prison diaries only strengthens that resolve. I only talk to females in the presence of eye witnesses. I don’t randomly say hi to strangers’ kids no matter how cute they look. I don’t use public washrooms (don’t tell me you haven’t read the story of that Java maintenance guy). I also stopped trying to make well-informed but tribal people see how broken the system is. When they say how the SGR is the best invention since cunnilingus, I agree with them and tell them how much I enjoy an hour of traffic jam to the Nairobi terminus, then an uncomfortable 5-hour train ride before another two hours of traffic jam through dump sites from the Mombasa terminus to town. I don’t even have the energy for people who support Rasanga.
I have been arrested once though. I was a kid. I can’t remember what age I was exactly, but I know I still enjoyed making clay cars and believed I would grow up to be Barthez, but with hair.
It was a good day, we were just playing on a neighbour’s verandah. He (the neighbour) himself didn’t have any kids, which is why we were the prime suspects when he lost money that was in his bedroom. It was either us or his mama fua. He always locked his bedroom door and carried the key with him. His window grills were big enough for a kid to squeeze through.
Mama fua 1- 0 Us. Halftime.
We were cuffed, and sat at the on the floor of the police pickup van. There was this nyaunyo on the floor. It was bigger than the one my dad used to own. It got me scared shitless. There was also a konya go meru more rough-looking than the ones that were used on slain lawyer Willie Kimani. One cop took the whip, and the other took the rungu, and threatened to whip us senseless unless we said where the money was. If I had been Muthoni, it would have been at that point that I would say stuff like “Tell Nyambura I see Jesus.”
Long story short. The neighbour had forgotten his bedroom key in the pockets of the trousers he had won the previous day, and mama fua had accessed his bedroom and stolen the money. We got uncuffed and mama fua took our place.
Mama fua 1- 2 Us. Fulltime.
We were then given 50bob to go and buy sweets. Looking back, I don’t think that was enough compensation. I might need a lawyer.
Up to this day, I say a silent prayer whenever I see someone getting in the back of a police van. It scares me. It is also one of the reasons why I have trust issues with househelps. The other reason is because our househelp used to feed me chicken poop whenever I cried if my mom wasn’t around. But that’s a story for another day.
In other news, Akothee is amazing. As a performer. As a humanitarian. As a businessperson. As a musician? I wish somebody could lock her out of the studio and limit her singing to the shower. But that doesn’t count for anything. She is a legend. End of debate.