Juliet Owitti
Posted April 4, 2016 from Kenya


“Zima hiyo alarm inapiga kelele na mtoto akiamka hutamchunga!” ( Switch off that alarm it’s making noise yet when the baby wakes up you will not take care of him!)

Janet’s* husband quickly switches off the alarm and jumps out of the bed to prepare himself ready to start the day’s hustle.

“Na ukuje na nyama, unga na maziwa ya mtoto.” Janet said as he shut the noisy ‘mabati’ door behind him. (Come with meat, flour and milk for the baby)

Janet’s husband walks about 7 km before he sees a notice on one of the gates in Lavington, Nairobi written in bold ‘MASON NEEDED’. Anxiously he rings the bell and a tall dark malnourished looking ‘askari’ opens the gate.

“Habari natafuta kazi, bado iko?” He asked. (I’m looking for a job, is it still available?)

“Ingia uone mdosi,”replied the ‘askari’.(Come inand talk to the boss)

In twenty minutes he begins working. He works so hard from carrying heavy bags of cement from the truck to mixing them with sand to carrying cinder blocks up four floors. It surely doesn’t sound like an easy task.

It is now 1pm andthe workersare breaking for lunch, Janet’s husband decides to take a nap on the wet green grass as others spare their Kshs50 to buy beans and a ‘chapati’ for lunch. It starts to rain heavily and they run to seek shelter in the unfinished building.

After lunch break work proceeds, this time proving a little bit difficult because of the heavy downpour. He tries to hasten the process of making cement mortarbefore the rain damages it.

By 4:30pm the workers are done with their work and are compensated. Janet’s husband gladly receives his wage and places it in his wet worn out wallet. On his way out, he washes his face and wipes dust off his faded black trouser ready to trek back to his house in one of the slums in Nairobi, Kenya.

It starts to rain again and he runs to shelter himself under a bus stage as he does not have an umbrella, definitely he does not have enough money to buy himself a decent umbrella.

“Hii mvua itaisha saa ngapi nipelekee mtoto maziwa?!” He thought to himself. (What time will this rain stop so that I take this milk to my child?!)

He starts to feel restless as he did not have airtime to call his wife to say he will be running late because of the harsh weather.

Finally, the rain subsides and he proceeds with his journey home.


“Ndio umerudi, umekaa sana, wapi unga?” Janet asks. (You’ve taken too long, anyway where is the flour?)

He hands over the wet black paper bag to her as he removes his old muddy shoes.

“Hizi ni nini umenunua? Wapi nyama? She asks. (What are these you have bought? Where is the beef?)

Before he even finishes explaining to her that the money he got could not be enough for buying all she wanted, she starts to haul insults at him.

“Wewe ni mwanaume wa aina gani, huwezi tunza familia yako vizuri! Tangu utoke hapa asubuhi, hizi ndio vitu unaweza nunua pekee?” She furiously asked. (What kind of a man are you who can not even take good care of his family! Since you left here in the morning, are these the only things you could buy?)

Janet’s words pierced his heart like never before, he could not believe his wife could address him in such a manner after the hustle he went through. He worked hard despite the rain, he chose to go hungry just to save that extra money to cater for his family’s need and that was all he could be told.

He walks to his five year old son who has been innocently watching his mother insult him.

Janet sneers as she heads to the furthest corner of the single room house to prepare ‘ugali’ for dinner, but because of anger this time round she does not serve him instead, she serves herself and her son.

” Pia leo utalala kama hujaniongelesha?” he asked her. (Today too you’re going to go to bed without saying a word to me?)

” Utapata amani kwa hii nyumba ile siku utaamua kuwa mwanaume, baby tulale wachana na huyu baba yako useless!” (The day you will decide to be a man is the day you will find peace in this house, baby let’s sleep and leave this useless father of yours alone!)

Her husband’s anger rises and he turns on his left side and sleeps!

What a somber way to end your day after a long one!

[hustle 1] Would you let your hands get this dirty to get what you want?

This example drives me to my point of respectingeverybody’shustle be it your parents,siblings, spouse, friend, relative or stranger, as you do not know what they had to go through to get you what you needed if not wanted. Given their position most of us wouldn’t yield the same results as theirs.

It is obvious Janet made the situation worse. I believe in this scenario her husband is better off than her because she chose to just sit down every other time and wait for the day to end to lament over not getting what she wanted. It is very simple she too could get up and work so as to meet the family’s needs together or encourage her spouse or live on her own so as to do things how she wanted them done which I bet would be challenging to her.

Before we criticize other people’s effort or abilities, we should first find out what they had to endure to arrive at their destination.


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Comments 2

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Nusrat Ara
Apr 05, 2016
Apr 05, 2016

You are right. We need to step into people's shoes to know what they are going through. keep writing and sharing.

Sally maforchi Mboumien
Apr 05, 2016
Apr 05, 2016

Hmmm Juliet nice lesson. Reading it makes me see the way lack of appreciation can be frustrating to others.

Janet will really appreciate what sacrifice her man is making if she too where working. A simple thank you makes a big difference in somebody.

Appreciation is a source of strength