Assaulted Innocence


She’s four and a half years old. She’s dressed in a glittery, turquoise skirt, the kind girls start shunning at puberty, calling them Cinderella-ish. Enveloped in one of those thick, knitted sweaters that look (and feel) like flak jackets.

She’s reaches barely above my knees while standing; my pelvis when at tiptoe. A shaved head of hair, cheery face, as inquisitive as any toddler; full of energy and raring to have a go at this life.

I don’t know her name, and even if I did I wouldn’t post it here, both on legal and moral principle.

She travels with her guardian and her guardian’s daughter, maybe thinking of this as just one of those far-between trips to the ‘city’. It’s a small freezing town, mud on the streets, sleet coursing through the air.

But even in this gloom, she smiles. Darting around the halls, one wonders what an irresponsible parent she must have, pulling their child out of school even for a day, bringing them to ‘mahali ya wakubwa’.

Suits in the halls, tattered Mitumba or designer Italian; she doesn’t know or give a care for such trivial matters. For that, I envy her.

I envy her for the seemingly endless flow of energy that she possesses…almost a Budalangi of it. Envy over her protected being, guardian hovering over her every move such that she can rest assured that no harm will come her way. And even if it does, that stereotypical Nyeri female brute force stands at her guard.

I envy her inquisitiveness. She stares out of the window, at the sleet and mist coursing through this highland air. Her breath fogs up the glass…and I almost join her as she draws random faces in the now fading translucency of the window. Little pleasures of life, I tell you.

I envy her for the innocence in her life.

Wait! No, I don’t. That’s a blatant lie. What innocence is there to envy? Even then, what is a child’s very being without their innocence? It is the very nature of their childhood: their energy, obliviousness, safety, inquisitiveness. Their joy.

So what brute animalism does it take for a human to rob a child of such joy in their lives?

You ask me for evidence that the devil exists? There’s no better evidence than the rampant cases of defilement and rape and sodomy that I have encountered in the past three weeks. This world is rotten…and there’s not much that can be done about it. Not when you claim that an unremorseful accused individual can go scott-free due to insufficient evidence.

But the rebound with which so many victims bounce back with is the only saving grace. To show that all these obstacles can be surmounted, overcome, and almost obliterated. Reduce them into scars, a reminder of a damaged past, but of a rectified future.

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