“Mama songesha mwili ama tutakusongeshea!” screamt an infuriated tout from a fast oncoming ‘Forward Travellers’ bus in Kayole estate. Normally the 40 year old would have a spitting mouthful to shout back at the reckless young man hanging from the bus with only his hands carrying his whole body weight. She would flail her fatty arms up at the sky and shoot her middle finger directly at the driver looking back on his dirty side mirror all the while cursing his very existence with words only fit to be used by a snake. She sighed. Not today Satan! The events leading up to her walk on this dusty poorly managed winding road weren’t exactly anything to smile about.
Wanjiku, popularly known as fatty, could not believe this was her walking this road, sober ; under the bright February sun. January had dealt her a good one as she hadn’t had to spend a dime on her own tab. If she was being honest, it had been a good run for her and her bottle. Waking up at the crack of dawn on that Monday morning had felt like something straight from the movies. You see, fatty was no early riser, she never had a reason or cause to be. She was a twilight girl and came alive in the night time. Her soul thrived in the dingy corners next to Nyama Villa with her little clothes that showed off her thighs and thongs. The most she ever spent under the scorching sun was when a deal had gone sour and she had to publicly humiliate a client as he tried to run away with her money after a shot in a shanty torn down motel room. She never enjoyed the sun really, what with her skin bleaching creams always reacting to its rays and turning her face red and black. Not exactly the Vera Sidika tone she hoped for but her clientele which mainly consists of touts, drivers and ‘watu wa kuuza smokie’ behind the curb didn’t seem to mind. She consoled herself that they preferred the bigger voluptuous curvy lady. The men would probably argue a cheap tit to hold on to and a hole to cum into was all they needed.
Nevertheless, Wanjiku loved her job. She loved the somewhat freedom it entailed and her lifestyle. She enjoyed the attention, the thrill of seducing a client into paying her to work her magic. Circumstances had brought her here and she had no regrets. She had managed to stay healthy and evade HIV by God’s graces. She however did not picture herself walking down to Soweto social hall that morning to get free Cancer screening done.
When Achieng started complaining of bloating and pain in the abdomen, no one took her seriously. Wanjiku and her fellow workmates laughed it off calling her a wild girl in the sheets. They assumed a client had asked to do more than just penetrate Achieng from the front and now she was crying foul for her decision. It was not until two months later that Achieng had gotten her diagnosis, cancer of the liver is what she reported. They could not believe it. Fatty was dumb struck. A double tragedy in the least. Achieng suffered for a few months before the killer disease took her.
Her death was a hard blow for Achieng who still could not shake the chilling reality of it all. That God who had created them had only done so to throw them in shit all their lives. Being street kids at tender ages and being introduced to the life of prostitution way before either of them had their first period and eventually the death of Achieng in such a cruel way. She was distraught at loosing her childhood friend and all the family she had. They had done everything together, cook together, live together, steal together and shared their dreams, hopes and losses with each other. She could not shake the face of her sister and friend on her last days on earth, waist and body as thin as a wasp’s, eyes so big she thought they would pop out of their sockets. They had been soo yellow they almost swallowed the black of her pupil all together. Achieng was in so much pain and her immune system had completely shut down.
As she walked down that road leading to Soweto and to her eventual fate, she couldn’t help but wonder how many other people’s fate were intertwined with theirs. How many more Kenyans had to walk to health centers with no adequate facilities to cater to cancer patients and how many more had to die in the hands of this mediocre system that only catered to the rich and their wealthy pockets. How many more had to work odd jobs and do unthinkable acts like eat men’s toes just to provide and take care of their sick family from home. Where was the government recently sworn in and where is their promise of better health care? ‘Probably up thier asses’ , she thought as she proceeded.
She was almost at the entrance of the Social hall when the fear really kicked in. Had it been worth it living a carefree reckless life? What she wouldn’t do to take back all the alcohol she ever had indulged in. She vowed on that gate that no matter the results, she would live a better healthier life henceforth. She regretted not coming sooner but better late than never.
‘Wanjiku, you may see the doctor now.’ As she walked in from the crowd of people waiting their turn, she couldn’t help but thank the Ghetto Radio crew for advertising and conducting free cancer screening in the estate otherwise people like her wouldn’t have the opportunity.