Over the years I have managed to acquire a number of countless phobias. I know there was a time when I was either too dumb or too young to be scared of anything. Like this one time:
In 1986, when Moi’s military men turned up out our house. I had just turned 8 years old. I remember being woken up by mum at about 4 am (I think) and she lead me to the living room. When I got there the room was full of fully armed soldiers. Not just armed with little pistols. They were armed with hand held WMDs and as we sat on the sofa, they pointed their guns at us. I am not sure how many were in the house. There must have been four in the living room and another two or three searching the house. Mum told me afterwards that there were a few more patrolling the grounds.
The first thing that went through my mind then, and I still remember this, was “what funny visitors”. I wasn’t a stupid child but as far as I was concerned nobody could enter my parents house and feel so at home without prior permisson. They must have been invited.
Half way through one of them asked for water. My mum went to the kitchen and returned with water in a plastic cup. I think this is when I realised that they weren’t normal visitors – plastic cups were for the children – the proper glasses were for normal visitors.
The soldier drank the water in one gulp and placed it on the sofa’s armrest. He then continued to pace the room. After a short while he stopped , turned to face us and waved his gun in our direction pointing from plastic to cup to us. He yelled at us asking one of us to move the “glass” before it broke.
What is so strange about all this is that the first thought that came to my mind was not, “Oh my he might shoot”. Instead I remember thinking, “What a stupid man, it is plastic it won’t break”. What is even stranger was that the only thing that stopped me from saying this to him was not the fear that he may shoot me.
The only thing that stopped me was the fact that I was scared my mum would beat me if I called the man stupid.
Not once did I consider that our lives could end. Sometimes I am grateful for that blind, almost dumb fearlessness. I wish I still had it because right now I am the sort of person who will jump out of bed in mad panic if the phone rings at 2 am!