This week, 7 years ago, in 2014, I decided to abscond my university studies for good. I made the unprovoked decision to drop out of The University Of Nairobi after intentionally skipping my second year’s main exams. A true-life story thread.
During that semester, I never attended any class apart from chemistry unit laboratory practicals that involved alcohols. This decision proceeded a semester with a series of dark moments, near-death experiences, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide attempts.
I joined The University Of Nairobi as a late-teenage provincial boy. As I was transitioning from boyhood into adulthood, I suddenly developed an intense desire of wanting to know my true identity in society.
As a young adult Luhya male, my mind was conflicted by my lack of identity and place in society. I was a child born unwanted, I thought. My father never turned up, my mother died when I was 5 and the only man, my grandfather, who had a fatherly love for me died when I was in 2007
I was raised by my maternal grandparents. The love and care I received especially from my uncles and aunts as a kid slowly metamorphosed into a series of hatred or distancing themselves from me to the older I grew.
It started in 2010. On the last day of my form four April holiday tuition. On a week like this, I was suspended from high school. Yes, I was suspended for skipping a History Lesson on the last day of tuition.
After sitting at home for the first two weeks of my second term while serving the suspension, my uncle accompanied me back to school as a parent. On this day, I was beaten or assault with 72 strokes Of canes by my teachers and uncle.
On top of being punished for skipping class, severely, my uncle lied to the teachers that he had once been called by police in Kitale to bail me out of the cell after they had arrested me selling bhang in Kitale. At that time, I had never used or seen bhang in my life.
In the eyes of the teachers, I became the student whom they suspected of selling weed to fellow students for the remainder of my high school life. When I denied the accusations, and out of rage called my uncle a liar in front of the teachers, he punched me on my face.
The teachers plus my uncle collaborated to beat me up, 72 canes. This moment left a dark spot in my life, it changed the image and idea I had about who family is. It certainly changed the perception the teachers had about me.
Henceforth, they started viewing me as an unruly student who was unloved by his parents back at home. I remember how I was ridiculed by students when walking on fours back to my class because I couldn’t walk upright. The pangs of the canes had turned my legs into numbness.
Still, I managed to perform well and made it into the university. Away from home, alone in the city, loneliness, prolonged moments of unhappiness and destitution, feelings of being unloved, unwanted, and abandoned by my family became more common in my short university life.
In university, I had this unexplainable or near delusional feeling that my family had used the university to dump me into the world. When you are an orphan, though, without a father and mother, you always have an intense desire for fatherly or motherly attention from other people that are not your father or mother. When you don’t get it, it crushes you. I had this feeling that I was unwanted. I started questioning my identity. Never understood why I desperately needed love. I was rarely checked on, never called, and went for days sometimes without food.
Life became worse when I missed HELB during my second year in school. Days with pangs of hunger ravaging through my stomach forced me to seek alternative ways of surviving.
Right now, I look back and feel that I should have done better, that I should have made better and informed decisions. But I made the decision to choose crime to survive on campus, that I chose alcohol,
cigarette (the picture above was taken while I was smoking a cigarette standing by the window of a room in Hall 3), and other drugs as my companions during my despondent times. My second semester during my second year in school was the worst.
I never set my foot in Chiromo, never sat for any cat. I was ever in my hostel playing video games: Need For Speed the Most Wanted or FIFA 13, or playing pool table outside hall 2, or out of school on some dangerous criminal errands.
One day, I was caught up in a shootout between two gangs fighting over territory while I was out on an errand. This happened just a week before the start of my exams. For those two weeks, I sunk deeper into substance abuse,
I lost purpose and sense in life and contemplated taking away my life. I was falling deeper and deeper into an abyss of drugs, depression, and thoughts of unworthiness. Nairobi had become too harsh for me. I had lost my appetite for education, the main reason why I was in Nairobi.
I was being followed by a criminal for expressing my desire to quit their gang/cartel. I had two options; drop out of school and go into hiding in my rural or die from suicide, or get killed in Nairobi.
Or still, stay in Nairobi and get hooked more and more on drugs. I chose to live by dropping out of school. It is the best decision I have ever made in my life. As a university dropout in the village, life only became more difficult. It has been a journey. Soon, I am going to share my experience as a university dropout in the village.
This article was first published by Sakwah Ongoma, a Kenyan fictionalized storyteller who has Authored two books; The Campus Exile and Premium Tears