Death via Shit and Urine
Have you ever fallen down one of those manholes in Nairobi’s Central Business District? Neither have I. But I’ve imagined what it would be like. Those few seconds you think you can win the tag of war between you and gravity followed by the fewer seconds it takes to dawn on you that you’re headed towards a river of shit and other forms of refuse from Nairobi’s fast food eating, beer drinking and street food tasting population. A mixture that I still wonder how we manage to keep down without it rushing back up through out throats and out of our mouths.
It is one fate I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Not even the matatu tout who doubles the fare just because the gods have decided to take a light shower during afternoon rush hour traffic.
Back when I was in high school someone fell down the latrine outside our dormitory. It was during our last “bonfire” after finishing the KCSE exams and a host of form four students had gathered near the compost pit to put to flame the past four years and hopefully ignite a brighter future for themselves.
The fire became bigger and thirstier as more books and past papers were used to try and quench it. The rest of us sung and danced to chants we had been introduced to since form one. The whole affair felt like a gypsy wedding or one of those satanic rituals you hear about.
In the midst of all the noise and heat a loud bang was heard and the ground that had once held many before, as they squat to force out excrement, gave way swallowing the one boy who was too slow to jump out of the way.
Lucky for him, the boys around acted fast enough to pull him out before he was lost to the “dark side” but none wanted to stick around once he was settled on the surface. The festivities came to an abrupt end and we watched as he took the real walk of shame towards the dorm bathrooms. The foul smell following him like shadow and people scrambling out of the way to avoid being “infected”.
The only people who had it worse that night were the form one boys whose cubicles were close to the door thus just next to the bathrooms. I can’t even imagine how they got through that night considering the stench even made it to the last cubicles where the form four were enjoying their last day of Kavau brotherhood.
Every time I see one of those manholes left uncovered in the CBD, I am left wondering what became of the boy who had such a close brush with death via shit and urine.