For the past six years, I have lived looking over my shoulder. I hear a loud bang, I jump. I hear a helicopter, my heart beats match its rotations. I hate going into malls. I look at everyone suspiciously. I cannot be in a closed off area for too long. I fear every single day for my children. I hear of skirmishes and I get agitated. The slightest sight of blood reminds me of lying in pools of it for hours. I cannot watch films that show any kind of violence or shooting. The September heat in Nairobi makes me angry. I think of the boy who died next to me. His white Samsung phone kept on ringing. I never got to find out whose son he was. I hate the sight of Coke Zero plastic bottles because while lying in the pool of blood, I could see a half-consumed bottle.
It’s hard to live a ‘normal’ life once you have been through some kind of trauma. The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder will rear its ugly head when you least expect it. You’ll be fine one minute, and the next you’re a blubbering wreck, wanting to be enclosed in a duvet cave and only come out when the feeling tides over.
I try hard to stay happy, to be positive, to seek help for all that I have gone through, to not be in denial about what had happened despite the PTSD.
I end up going on Google every once in a while and stupidly look at the images of that fateful day, six years ago. I keep scrolling until I see the one of my daughter being carried out, blood all over body, her legs bleeding profusely. I don’t know why I do it, but I can’t stop myself.
Everyone gives advice, everyone tells me how to deal with it. I’m told that I should be grateful that we came out alive, that it could have been worse. Isn’t that a bit patronising?
I’m told not to think about it, but how do I not? Is it easy to forget lying amongst the dead, wondering if you’ll ever get out? Is it easy to not worry about the kids that something may happen to them again? So many what ifs. That’s what causes the stress. Not what we went through, because we know we did get out of it. It’s always the what ifs.
Many well-meaning people reach out to me. I get people who still check up on me every once in a while. Funnily, it’s always the strangers who tend to have more compassion.
This year in February, I went back to Westgate. It was a big deal for me because my kids had already gone back and were getting on with their lives. I procrastinated for a long time then finally bit the bullet, no pun intended!
Tomorrow, it’s going to be six years since the Westgate Mall attack. While I’m constantly grateful that we are in a far better place than many, I cannot belittle my trauma.
“Wake me up when September ends…”
I’m better now, thank you. I’ll stay up in September and try and face it head on as much as I can. We heal a little more with every year.
I appreciate your support in this.