This is a story as told to me by my African mother. There are a few words in Swahili and a local dialect but in each case, I have explained what they mean.
It was at this point that the most unthinkable thing happened. As she concluded her prayer and said Amen, hers was not the only voice; there were several deep voices in addition to her own. Truphena felt like her world had come to a standstill. Somebody was in her little room with her! And not just one person but several people with deep voices!
She was still hoping silently that her imagination had been working overtime when three raggedly-dressed men emerged from under her bed. Truphena had never been so scared in her life. She cursed herself silently for not having the forethought to keep her machete with her at all times. Shadrack had always counseled her to do so but she had dismissed his concerns as paranoia that he got from being a policeman. As she sat there with her mouth agape, one of the men addressed her. At fist, she was too frightened for her life to concentrate on what he was saying. When she was finally able to focus, she could hardly believe what he was saying. He was thanking her for praying for him and his colleagues in the prayer that she had just said. He went on to say that he had thought that nobody cared about them but now he knew different. His two companions stood on either side of him looking at her with steadily frightening gazes. “Tupe pesa zako zote halafu tutaenda zetu,” the ring leader was saying. He was simply asking for all of her money.
Not grasping her good fortune, Truphena went to her safe box in a corner of her room and proceeded to empty the contents. For a minute there she had seen her life flash before her eyes. If she were to be killed in this little room in the middle of Mombasa, who would look after her children? The thieves asking for just money gave he hope that perhaps they meant her no harm. There was one thousand Kenyan shillings in the safe; all the money she had saved that year from selling the surplus produce from her shamba. Not wanting to push her luck, she handed the money to the ring leader who in turn bid her farewell and left with his colleagues. As she locked the door behind them, Truphena thanked God for sparing her life and vowed that she would never spend a night in her city house by herself. She could not bring herself to go back to sleep. Instead, she sat up all night unable to stop shaking. When at last dawn broke, she fell into a deep, exhausted and troubled sleep.
She dreamt that there were three men standing over her bed with machetes in their hands ready to strike her dead.
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