November last year came with a lot of change for me. It had been two weeks since my move to Embu when I realized I needed a table to add to my furniture.When your job involves moving now and then, you learn to travel light and leave behind things like furniture only to have to purchase them again. I went around the town center evaluating the various carpentry shops on price and quality. I finally settled on one. It was a temporary wooden structure that must have been put together quickly but it served its purpose. It is positioned at the side of the road. A customer can hardly miss it. The carpenter here has personality, he makes the customer feel important. Judging from the few items stationed outside, he is not lacking in the skill department. He will deliver. I give him my list of specifications, which is too long for a table,*smiles. We then agree I will be back after three days.
The third day finds me outside the shed. A little excited to be taking my newest acquisition home. Yes, it is the little things that matter. Owe unto me, as disappointment registers on my face, I am told to come three days later. November-December is their busy period; they have a lot of customers, so he just didn’t get to get my work done. Its common knowledge that tailors and carpenters will just never have your work done when they say they will have it done. Their word is worth nothing so I decided to give him a second chance.
It is on this day that I run into this young boy at the carpentry. I can tell he is the curious type from the way he looks at me. To how he is focused on counting the number of cars passing on the road. Cars he may never drive if his life continues on its current course. I say hello. His father works as a help to the main carpenter in this shop. Doing the menial jobs that don’t require much skill. When he sees me striking a conversation with his boy. He proudly tells me, that that is his son. As he speaks, his mouth is puffed. He is chewing Muguka and there is this green stuff at the corner of his mouth. The sight is a total turn off but my few days here have taught me it’s the norm here. Muguka has won the hearts of both the ladies and men.
Despite the disappointment, I am in my element. I ask him why he lets his son hang around that area.First, he could easily get run over by a vehicle. Secondly right next to the carpentry is a shed, about five laggards are seated furiously chewing at Muguka.Muguka is a drug that is a close cousin of Miraa.Muguka like Miraa has serious side effects to its long-time users. There is a vendor, he seems happy. That can be explained by the number of customers he has. The young boy keeps running back and forth from the carpentry to the shed.
One can tell he is familiar with the shed crowd because they call him by name. Teasing him to try some Muguka. He turns, looks at his father and says no to their request. This makes me cringe. I mean, why would you let your kid hang around such a crowd. Grown-ups that voluntarily use drugs. His answer to my question is that he lives in the town center and he has nobody to watch over his boy during the day. He tells me that environment is good for his son because it will teach him early on that life is hard. At the back of my mind, I can hear myself saying aloud, NO! Your son will grow up looking up to drug addicts as role models. He will grow up knowing it’s okay to while his day away over Muguka and cheap liquor.
Fast forward to a week later when I come to pick my table. After being turned away two more times. This lovely young boy is still in the shed. At this point am angry at life, Life is an unlevelled playing ground. While some kids are touting their parents on which mall they will hang out at over pizza this weekend. All this boy gets, is mornings and afternoons with this men, chewing their life away at this shed. These men, who could be in their early twenties usually have a plastic bottle filled with cheap liquor to go with the Muguka. Catcalling is their hobby and you will notice how ladies avoid passing by their side of the road like a plague.
The probability that this kid will be using both Muguka and alcohol by the time he is in upper primary is very high. It is what he has seen his father do. It is what he has seen his father’s peers doing. And when he thinks he is grown up enough. It is what he will do. This shed is where his journey as an alcoholic will begin. School will only be a detour for him. This boy’s life graph has already been drawn for him by circumstance. Growing up in this space destines him for failure. His future is blurred. Who will save him?