Inspired by the personal experience of my friend and brother, Mwangi
It hit me while I was sitting there, on a concrete floor, with mosquitoes biting at every piece of my uncovered flesh, and the smell of urine lingering in the humid, stifled air; that my life was about to change in a whole new way, for the next couple of days, or even weeks, that would test me, try me and push me to my limits.
I was overwhelmed by the exhaustion of my mind, scratching and fighting to grasp some sense of reality that could sum up the trail of events that led me here because the events escalated so fast that I didn’t notice a thing.
“Babe kimbiiaaaa…” was the last screech I could manage before I was tackled to the ground by a blood thirsty, steaming hot officer. My struggles to free myself and get some air were neutralized by a hefty blow on my back and I can swear, it felt like I was hit by a bowling ball. I was quickly handcuffed and bundled carelessly onto a waiting police land rover. But even then, through the entire ordeal, I managed to sneak a peek at my now flying girlfriend and I was sure she had managed to escape the two officers hot on her heels. Awesome. I was now a guest of state with at least five offences including the now recent one, trekking past curfew hours without a mask. Moreover, I couldnt tell whether I was still drunk or high from adrenaline after being chased for almost a kilometer by relentless afisas.
The Sh500 I offered for ‘talking’ fell on deaf years. “Hio ongeza mia ununulie bibi yako kiatu. Mbio amekimbia itabidi tumempea kazi ya kukimbiza nyangau kama wewe“
When a Kenyan cop refuses ‘kitu kidogo’ you will sing hot funk, and I was about to become a backup crooner with my now developing soprano. Minutes later we were trooped to the station where our names were entered and valuables registered in the OB.
I couldn’t help but wonder that it was probably harder for my family and friends back home (minus my Kipchoge girlfriend of course). They were out there with no idea what was going on, or where I was. There were no means of communication, not even a smuggled mobile phone! My pockets had been emptied, my shoes taken off and I looked like a total wreck.
Throughout my stay in custody, the harrowing screams coming from the other detainees in their cells echoed down the corridor. And on my block, the noises were definitely a deafening racket. If you’re a light sleeper, you might want to think again about getting your head down for a couple of hours because those shrieks dominate the building.
‘Afande! Malisaa yeye!’ are just some of the things you might hear with a few expletives thrown in for good measure. Looking at the same four walls over and over again is not exactly the best way to pass time and unsurprisingly it’s not long until boredom creeps in. Boredom in a poorly ventilated cell with only sky high windows where measured light and oxygen sneaks in.
But custody is not designed to be an enjoyable experience and personally I came to understand, the hard way, the harsh truths that follow after you commit a crime. With no clocks, I had no idea how slowly time was passing. It provides the perfect chance for people to gather their thoughts and think about what they’ve done – and in my case have a long nap, contrary to my expectation.
And forget about taking your time for granted because in that cell you really are in your own little reflective bubble with nothing but your own thoughts to contend with.
Inside there, you stand strong, find humor and enjoy your time like a crack head because once you remove your belt and one shoe, freedom flies out through the window.