MY STORY: I was taking a nap as my daughter plunged to her death
I’m a mother of 13, the first five being girls. We were a very tight-knit group, especially when they were just five children and the other eight hadn’t arrived yet. We would do everything together, wash clothes, clean, and cook. It was our way of life.
At the time, only three out of the five of them were attending school. My first born Suzanne*, 2nd born Mary* and 3rd born Lucy. They would walk to and from school every day which was about 5km away while my two younger daughters Agnes and Jane* would stay home and help me with whatever I needed.
This was back in the days when children received a packet of milk during lunch breaks at school. It was part of the school’S program to ensure children were alert during the afternoon classes.
Most of the kids would drink the milk on the spot; Suzanne would sometimes bring it home to share with her two younger sisters. They loved it; it was the one thing that they anticipated the most in the evening. If she didn’t bring them milk, she would promise to do it the following day.
My children, like the other children who lived nearby, loved to play in our flat by sliding down the staircase rails. Our flat was a three-storey building surrounded by many other tall buildings.
The kids would climb to the top of the building, slide down the hand rails all the way down and run back up again. It was a dangerous game mostly because the spaces between the stairs were very wide, someone could easily fall through and really get hurt. Back then I didn’t know that, it never crossed my mind.
This was their game. Go right up, then come down sliding then go back up.
One day after they left for school, I cleaned the house and did my other chores. At about lunch hour, after feeding the younger children, I took a nap, thinking that it would be just another normal day.
My youngest came running into the room and woke me up. “Mum, Abambo damu.” I told her to go and continue playing because I couldn’t understand what she was saying and I was tired. She didn’t stop. She continued to tell me the same thing. As I was in a light dress, I wrapped a lesso around me and proceeded outside to where she led me.
When we reached the front of the steps, there was a pool of blood. I had never seen so much blood before. There were a lot of people surrounding the building, whispering to each other things I couldn’t understand.
Agnes had fallen down the stairs while sliding down the rails. From the third floor straight down to the ground through the space between the stairs that we overlooked. Head first…. She cracked her skull open.
I didn’t spend one second thinking. I just took my baby into a neighbor’s car, he offered to take us to the hospital. I didn’t even care how I was dressed.
When we arrived the doctors took over, and did everything they could, which took hours. My husband came to the hospital and told me to go home to take care of the others.
A few hours later, he came back home and gave us the worst possible news. Agnes was gone; she died while the doctors tried to save her life. I felt like my heart had broken into a million pieces, I had lost my baby, the first death in my family.
While we were still trying to comprehend what was going on I saw my eldest daughter remove something from her bag. It was a packet of milk; she placed it on the table and walked slowly to her bedroom feeling very low, then I remembered the promise she had given her sister the day before about the milk.
Caroline Kagose writes for Content Production Media, a Nairobi based Media Company that creates content for print, online platforms, film and television.