I’ve contemplated not writing about it at all, but I feel a sense of duty to do it, one that goes far beyond stirring up attention on social media and starting a pity party. So humour me here a little and read on.
It is said that we learn from other’s experiences. I hope my experience helps you reconsider some things you may be overlooking and encourages you in some way, if you’re going through a rough patch.
On May 8, I was going about my business on a Sunday afternoon and I had an engagement at 2pm. At about 1:20pm, I decided to go to Sarit Centre to buy some time. I parked my car at the and walked in. I went to the ATM machine to get some cash, and met a couple of people I know. We exchanged pleasantries and, before I knew it, 2pm was approaching and I had to be on my way.
The walk to my car was unusually longer than I recalled. On realising I had gone way further than I had parked, I decided to turn back. I recalled parking next to a pearl Mark 2 Blitz. I admired it momentarily as I entered my parking space. Sure enough, I found the Mark 2. Right next to it was a pearl Rav4 with diplomatic plates.
Sherlock Holmes famously said that “when you remove the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, is the truth.”
The truth in this case was that I did not own a Rav4. Someone had decided to relieve me of my car.
It took about three seconds for my mind to stop fighting the improbable. I stood there with my car keys in my hand and a feeling of dread came over my body. I could almost taste the adrenaline in my mouth. I looked around and everyone was going about their business, unaware of my predicament. This was one of those moments you hoped your friends would jump out of some bushes with cameras and you would have a hearty laugh about it. No one around me was familiar, and this was very real.
I quickly looked around for the nearest guard. He was at the entrance of the mall, and from there, he couldn’t see a thing. I already pictured what that conversation was going to be like, but all the same, I rushed to him and told him “Boss! Gari yangu imeenda! (my car has been stolen)” By his answer, his name must have been Thomas. “ Ati nini? Una hakika? (Are you sure)” He took out his phone and dialled a number. I asked him who he was calling. “ Mkubwa wangu! (My boss)” he said.
I joined the dialling frenzy, calling family, friends and a CID acquaintance who I thought would be of assistance. He advised me to call 999 immediately and it went through to a call centre. The gentleman on the line took down my details and said he would call back in five minutes. Sure enough, in less than five minutes, he called and informed me he could see my car on Limuru Road with one person inside. This was courtesy of the CCTV cameras installed by the Nairobi county government.
At that moment, a glimpse of hope sparked. I desperately proceeded to ask him what we could do to stop the vehicle. His answer was chilling. “Nothing” he said. He told me to rush to the nearest police station to make an official report and have it circulated on the police radio for it to be intercepted.
I was in utter disbelief, but arguing with him would be a waste of time. The real enemy was getting away. My Kalenjin instincts took over and I rushed to find a bodaboda, a handcart, a donkey or matatu that was heading towards Parklands. A matatu was in sight. I jumped in but the driver was in no hurry. He had been in a hurry the whole week but today was Sunday; he was on a break and it was his day to drive properly.
After what felt like 50 years, I got to the station and rushed to the front desk. I began to talk without offering any greetings, desperately explaining my situation. There was only one officer available, and he was currently ushering in some in-house guests (inmates), so he asked me to wait. My stomach sunk. After a few minutes, he then booked in my case. He proceeded to tell me that he did not have a radio and even if he did, he had no authority to radio such sensitive information. I was to wait for the officer on duty, who was on the way.
My glimpse of hope faded. I could imagine my carjacker driving further and further away with a smile of satisfaction on his face. (Could have been a her… I don’t know).
Some 30 minutes later, a police vehicle with several officers arrived. I rushed to the counter to inquire if the officer who would assist me was among them. He was, and he did radio the information. But it was a little too late, the car had gone beyond camera scope. It was probably in someone’s living room, getting a new paint job.
The officers encouraged me a little and told me to let them do what they can. I asked them what would happen if the thugs removed the number plates, and the look on their faces said it all.
What is significant is that this was happening to me following some other very unfortunate events in my life. As I sat at the station, waiting for the paperwork to be done, I began to seek answers.
Why me? Why now? Why here?
A place I had been to numerous times since childhood. I was on the edge and all the events of the preceeding months came crashing down on me. Just when I thought things could not possibly get worse, I received this ‘cherry on top’. I’m not superstitious, but I wondered to myself if I had been cursed.
I came face to face with the reality that there is a very thin line between us and the people we joke about in Mathare. It was all too much, and I silently told God;
“I don’t understand why all this is happening, but I trust you. Lead the way.” At that moment as I waited, I was overwhelmed by a feeling of peace. Two people very close to me arrived and waited with me.
As we left the station, I could afford to laugh. I was now in Oprah’s league. I had given away a car. This is only done by a chosen few. It must have been preparing for my billionaire status.
The following days were filled with even more peace and revelation. I thanked God that my car was taken from me without any violent confrontation. I thanked Him that I had perfect use of my legs and I could still go anywhere I pleased. I even realised how fortunate I was to own a car at all, something that my generation takes for granted once you have one.
Of course, there are moments when I dearly miss the convenience of a car, especially when it rains. But still, this could be part of a bigger plan that makes no sense to me at this time.
You are here for just but a moment; happiness should be in your DNA.
TIPS TO MINIMISE AUTO THEFT:
1. CHECK SURROUNDINGS
I parked my car just outside Sarit Centre at the DSTV/Multichoice gate. For those familiar with the area, this parking lot belongs to the Nairobi county government. It is not covered by CCTV cameras and the security guards there are seasonal and cannot be relied upon. There was no guard when this happened. (He was having his tea break or he was part of the plan. I don’t know). If you can, always park your car inside the official mall parking or on a street that has sufficient cctv camera coverage. As you lock your car look around making eye contact with anyone idling around. This informs them you are aware of their presence and you know what they look like.
2. TRACKING DEVICE
I always imagined that no one would steal my car. It’s not particularly flashy and it’s not a new model version. But I overlooked that it was a classic. It was a Premio (old shape). It’s the heaviest version made, it sits on the road beautifully and has a great drive. It obviously had some value to someone whether for spare parts or for sale but what I’d like to encourage you to do if you own a car is to install a tracking device no matter your perception of its value to other people. The older models have a market outside Nairobi and if you are like me and imagine you’re safe, you’re wrong. It’s a worthwhile investment. I overlooked this and I only had a standard alarm fitted. Please go the extra mile and even have an immobiliser fitted preferably one that allows the vehicle to go some distance before switching off the car (for your safety in case you are car jacked).
3. EMERGENCY HELP
The emergency numbers 999, 911 & 112 actually work and could be of great help to you when there is trouble. There are indeed great gaps and inefficiencies in the system but it’s a start. Your case may be of a different nature and you may get the help you need if you make use of these numbers.
Before I sign off. I need to do something that most dudes will understand. I need to say goodbye to my car. (Yes I’m one of those).
Goodbye, Emily (don’t you dare laugh… it’s a sweet name). It’s unlikely that you will be found and even if you are found, you may find me with another and I may not be able to keep you both. Thank you for a mind blowing 3 and a half years, we’ve been places together and I wish we could have gone to plenty more but alas! there is a greater plan that awaits us both. (She is registered KAV 704C. If you ever come across her anywhere, please call the emergency numbers I mentioned).
Source – The Star