Damaris Muthoni endured a scarring childhood thanks to her criminal dad who not only walked out on them but also subjected them to abuse, physically and emotionally.
At one point, Ms Muthoni wished that police would have gunned down her father instead of arresting him.
Damaris shares her story below;
“I grew up in a family of four. I am the second born. Growing up, I never had a good relationship with my dad, Charles Kimani. I remember that while in Primary School, my dad remarried and things changed drastically. My relationship with my dad was ruined and I hated the fact that he used to mistreat my mother.
It really angered me and since I couldn’t do anything, I had so much resentment towards him. I remember that my mum had a small business of selling ‘mahindi chemsha’ and githeri.
One day, my dad went to her place of work and destroyed everything. He smashed all the utensils and burnt down some of her stuff.
Desperate, my mother started washing peoples’ clothes. My dad at the time was a driver in Umoja.
While working there, he joined a gang that used to terrorise people and on different occasions, he was in and out of jail.
This was quite a hard pill to swallow. After a few months, he moved in with his new wife and we were left all alone.
Sometimes he would come to visit, but leave us in so much pain due to his insults and beatings. My mother was forced to sell most of our household stuff so that she could pay my school fees. My dad had totally turned a blind eye on us. We eventually moved from Umoja to a cheaper house in Kayole.
Moving brought us a bit of peace since our former house would be regularly raided by the police, who came looking for my dad.
He was among the most wanted criminals in Umoja. I was forced to look for a house helps’ job to sustain our family. My mother was struggling to pay bills and I was forced to step in.
By that time, my mother’s health had deteriorated due to stress. Her blood pressure was high and there was nothing I could do to help her since I did not have the money to take her to hospital. She was bedridden and I became the sole breadwinner of the family. Our close relatives would not help because they feared my father.
I remember one day she was so sick and I was forced to walk around Kayole just to raise Sh900 for her medication. Luckily, I managed to raise the amount. When I gave it to her, she immediately started vomiting blood and then fell into a deep sleep that I thought she was dead. The next morning she woke up and she was back to her usual self. She resumed work.
One day my dad came to visit and I was relieved thinking he was coming to help us.
However, that was not the case. He started attacking me claiming that my mother and I were engaging in prostitution.
He removed a stash of money and started counting and rudely told me to my face that he couldn’t give me even a coin, since I wasn’t his child.
That was really painful. His words really hurt me. He claimed he would rather drink all that money than send me to school.
I ended up doing drugs as a way to escape from reality and I was expelled from school.
Months later, we got word that my dad had been arrested in Eldoret.
He was charged with robbery with violence and sentenced to life in prison.
I was so bitter with my father and I wished that the police would have killed him instead of arresting him.
I had so much anger and I realised that it was eating me up.
Luckily, I managed to finish school through the help of well-wishers.
Slowly, after changing my ways, I learnt to forgive my dad and I even went to see him in prison. I forgave him and it was such a relief.
We have a better relationship than before. I believe that everything happened for a reason and I am learning to be a better person.”