Boredom sits at the core of humanity. No other emotion, feeling, or urge, defines mankind like boredom. It’s an emptiness that can’t be filled. Everyone you know is bored in some way. Bored with people. Bored with life. Bored with relationships. Bored of everything. It eats away at your soul, this boredom. But when you look around, boredom has built civilization. Boredom makes people do things, be in the midst of the action.

Bored men, set out to keep themselves busy and convince themselves that they were fruitful members of society. A millennium later, we have internet, and electric cars and life-sized sex toys. These are the workings of bored people; the real busy folk did nothing worthy of memory.

Over two months ago, the sickness that is boredom caught up with me. To kill it, I decided to visit rehab. I didn’t do it because I’m a humanitarian. Or that I’m fascinated by junkies, and the tales they have, stumbling behind them like jaded ghosts. It was curiosity, fuelled by boredom.

I had listened to my fair share of rehab stories. Some close to me, others distant. But I always felt there were things left unsaid. Words are forgotten, glances not captured and fears not said. I thought to myself, “I really need to visit rehab. It won’t be fair if I die without ever setting foot in rehab.”

On a sunny Monday morning in the racket that is July, I found myself in U-turn for Christ centre in Kenyenya. In the coming days, my host would be headed to Nairobi to witness the birth of his first kid. He reeked of fatherhood, humbled by the impending responsibility. Anxiety simmered on his head like steam from a geyser.

Everything you have heard about rehabs is probably true. This one was no different. Life unfolded at a different pace. Folks were hanging on to the last shreds of their lives and dignity. Fighting dogged to make sense of lost time and disrupted lives. They had a timetable of everything, including meals. This got me thinking, are we slaves if we have no plans for what we do? Perpetually responding to our moods and passions?  Like Eliud said?

The rehab was a delta of souls. From here and there, to there and here. Moses Nyabaga offered the land which it sits on. He was a glowing man approaching sixty. But possessing the vitality of an eighteen-year-old. Joyful, full of dreams and hope. He would run into Randy, (the missionary who would later build the place) in his village pathways while drunk. One evening, Randy offers to help change his life.

Days later, he found himself in a U-turn for Christ centre near Matasia, Ngong. When he returned home, a changed man, the ghosts of booze buried, he wanted to give back to the lord. Create something which will outlive him and help others. And thus, he offered the land on which Christ for U-turn Kisii stands. Almost an acre of green space, housing a chicken project, living quarters, a farm where they get their food.

I envied Moses; he was a man satisfied with his life. He did not want much. He was sated. He spent his days farming and looking out for people who were seeking healing. He had pride in his children.

“My daughter finished her diploma and is soon going in for a degree. My son is a driver, the younger one is soon finishing high school. They don’t drink. They have offered their lives to the lord.”

Harrison Tumbes was a man poised on the gangplank. He’d just arrived at the rehab and was visibly struggling. He sat with the group for lunch but you could sniff out his loneliness. He was an outsider, yet to bond with the fellas.

His face was a map of bloodshot eyes and angry, distant stares. He did not want to be there. Yet he was battling to steady himself. The wind of self urges coming down hard on him. He chatted cautiously. In a slow voice, almost refrigerated. As if he was dishing out secrets, and he was.

He’d been successful in the tourism business, and then everything went out of the window overnight. The main culprit, booze. He tells me that he could never get enough of alcohol. Only when he blacked out, senseless and rolling in ditches, was it enough.

The lone word he used to describe what sucked him into the lost world of alcohol. Tumbes isn’t a man with a plan. He has no idea how his wife and children are faring at home, near Masai Mara, Narok. I left him clutching to fading hope. Maybe he will make it, maybe he won’t. 

Rehabs don’t seem like places you will meet pregnant women. But there she sat, washing utensils we used for lunch. A lively smile cut across her face. Her husband is irresponsible, but from talking to her, she seemed to claim that juju might be to blame. A typical narrative on these sides of Kenya. She is a lab technician at a nearby hospital. She spent her spare time helping at the centre.

I left in the evening.


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