What you need to know:
- A couple wore torn garments, others wore old nightdresses, shorts and assorted underwear that had seen better days.
- This colleague, with a chuckle, and willing to laugh at herself too, informed me that she didn’t look any better.
A colleague of mine, who lives in Nyayo Estate in Embakasi, was at home asleep when that gas explosion happened last Thursday, burning down Mradi, an informal settlement in the area, injuring over 300 and leaving several dead.
She says that when the first blast went off, she thought it was a gunshot, but wondered why her bedroom window was vibrating. When the second blast went off, she was sure that it was an earthquake, only for the third blast, louder and scarier, to rend the air, during which a red light filled her bedroom.
It is then that she jumped out of bed, colliding with her son, also coming from his bedroom, who urged her to quickly get out of the house.
She tells me that she was so scared, it did not occur to her to grab anything or even cover up the nightwear she was in. She just had time to grab the phone on her bedside table.
When she got to the ground floor, she lives on the second floor, she found most of her neighbours already gathered in the courtyard, in assorted nightwear and various stages of undress. They too had simply jumped out of bed and raced out of the house.
My colleague is still traumatised by the events of that day and is still finding it difficult to sleep through the night. She tells me that the woman she buys vegetables from, and who lived in Mradi, suffered hand and back burns, and her business was burned to the ground.
She and others, she tells me, are planning a fundraiser to help her get back on her feet.
When she completed her story, as if to shrug off the memories of that day, she gave a short laugh and said, “Caro, you should write about why it is important for people to give lots of thought to what they wear when they go to bed at night…”
You know how I like stories, so, anticipating what was coming, I pulled a chair closer to her desk and prompted her to continue.
In a nutshell, she will never look at some of her neighbours in the same way she did, simply because days later, she is still unable to ‘unsee’ what she saw once that night’s panic wore off and people became aware of their surroundings.
A couple wore torn garments, others wore old nightdresses, shorts and assorted underwear that had seen better days and was begging to be thrown into the dustbin, not to name unsightly hair coverings.
And the “Sengenge ni Ngombe” t-shirts, she told me, were not a myth because several people wore those freebie over-size t-shirts that some companies still give out for promotional purposes.
This colleague, with a chuckle, and willing to laugh at herself too, informed me that she didn’t look any better.
“No offense to my mechanic, but from what I was wearing, I looked like a mechanic…” she quipped.
We then burst out laughing, some of the melancholy she was feeling lifting away in that lighthearted moment.
This year, she vowed, she was investing in some nice, decent nightwear.
Her narration made me wonder what else we do in a certain way in private but would do differently if we thought, even for a minute, that one day, others would find out about it.