Life is a gift, and with it comes puzzles and mysteries that we will never decipher; questions why and why not. For instance, why does life hand to some people silver and gold and others lemons, thorns, and pain? The sad thing, however, is that we deprived the privilege of knowing what lies ahead: what awaits us with every break of dawn or by the passing second. Here is a heart-wrenching story, of life’s twists, pain, mistakes, betrayal, and despair. What would you do if you found yourself in the middle of a whirlwind of desolation and hopelessness?
What would you do if the world walked out on you and left you with nothing to hold on but a fleeting hope that someday, and I mean someday the pain would go? What would you do?
My name is Catherine Mukiri and this is my story. I lost my mother at a very tender age and from then; me and my siblings went to live with my paternal aunt. I had a turbulent childhood, and trouble seemed to follow me.
At age of fifteen, after sitting for KCPE, I got pregnant. The father of my child, a young handsome man who had promised me heaven disappeared, with the claims he was too young to start a family. His disappearance left me confused and disillusioned. My aunt was very disappointed in me but she kept me. One year after giving birth, I decided to go to Nairobi, to seek employment. I left my young daughter in the care of my aunt.
While working as a house help I met this young handsome man who I fell in love and things looked bright. There was finally hope for a happy future. However, this didn’t last long. While five months pregnant, I started experiencing strong back pains and within no time I could not walk or stand on my own.
I was taken to Kenyatta National Hospital and this became the turning point of my life. The doctors diagnosed me with a tumor on my back and since I was pregnant, there was nothing much that could be done. The doctors prescribed bed rest for the rest of the pregnancy. By God’s grace, I got my baby through cesarean. However, I was not discharged immediately from the hospital, and that saw me stay at the hospital for three months. After three months in hospital, my son was put under the care of my in-laws. The doctors tried all they could but after six months they let me go to convalesce at home. I was disappointed with the news that I could no longer walk, that I was forever confined to a wheelchair.
Three months later, after leaving the hospital, my husband seemed to have a change of heart. His love for me seemed to wane with every passing day. He was under a lot of pressure from his family to let me go since I had officially turned into a liability.
One evening, he came home drunk and beat me senselessly. The following morning, he brought a taxi and instructed the driver to take me to where I would show them. He further told me that the baby was his since I was incapable of taking care of his child.
Life has never been the same again since I left my husband’s home. My aunt who had been taking care of us when we were young got married. I resulted to living in the small house where she used to live. I have never received any other medical attention. The tumor that had caused my incapacitation is still growing and the pain is excruciating. I rarely get a decent meal. It is as if the world has abandoned me.
Sometimes I ask myself what is the essence of life anyway. But all I have held onto is hope. That one day I will wake up and my life will be better. That someday I will get enough money to undergo surgery. I hold to the hope that someday I might be able to walk on my two feet again. Every morning when I push my wheelchair out of the house to bask in the beautiful sun, I hope and pray that one day I will forget my pains, get proper medication, and pick up my broken pieces.
My daughter comes to see me once in a while. Her eyes are filled with so much hope and expectation. I watch her painfully knowing that I have nothing to offer her but my love.
I am grateful that I was privileged to experience a life with and without a disability. For that I have a basket full of lessons. I share this story with my society from these shoes I wear today. I ask myself would life have been much easier if the society treated persons with disabilities much differently. , I have heard all sorts of explanations on how I acquired my disability. I hear people allude that I was bewitched or I must have committed some sort of crime while I was working in Nairobi, I remain judged for things am not aware of. Disability isn’t the worst thing that happened to me rather the rejection; I have received form the very society that is supposed to hold me in my worst. I’m not suffering today because I can’t walk; rather it is because I have not received the necessary support that would make my life better, tolerable and much meaningful again.
There is always a thin line between disability and poverty, for instance when I had a job, I could get all I needed without depending on anyone. The contrast is so clear now: I have no decent living, deservesI have to beg for everything. I have no privacy as a woman because if I ask for money I will have to explain why I need the money. Sometimes all I need is unconditional love and not sorry looks. Just a smile in the morning, a call of concern, I am still human I may not get visits from my relatives and friends as before but that courtesy call reminds me that someone somewhere cares.
Today I live on hand outs, what if I was empowered with skills or a business that I can have a regular source of income, I could easily forget my disability and earn a living like any other person.
On motherhood: I have two children, I can’t provide the basic needs for them and therefore they would rather be with someone else who can, but speaking for women with disabilities I would say as much as possible women with disabdeservethe joy of motherhood.
As I conclude, I am not blaming my disability on anyone, am voicing out the plights of persons with disabilities especially in the rural areas. Sometimes I hear on the Radio about what persons with disabilities are getting we don’t know how to go about it ,who to contact, sometimes even that registration processes so that you get national council for persons with disabilities membership is tedious .
I thank God for social media that has opened me up to the society. Through Facebook I learnt about (WARD) Women and Realities of Disability Society who have showed me sisterhood. I have also read the Ability Africa magazine, where I have found stories and experiences of other persons with disabilities and the feeling that I’m not alone makes it bearable. I’m more networked and empowered and there is a hope of better tomorrow for me and other forgotten persons with disabilities.