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How I got conned in Nairobi on my way to school

How I got conned in Nairobi on my way to school

I had been hearing many stories about people going to Nairobi city and getting conned. I have been to Nairobi many times but in the company of somebody else. Nothing had happened during those times so I assumed that all the talk on TV and radio was one big lie. Little did I know that experience was the best teacher.

My parents usually gave us children a lot of advice about not accepting things from strangers especially foodstuff, and also not shaking the hands of strangers, and asking for directions from strangers also. I had broken these rules many times. Whenever I got lost I’d just ask anybody who would listen and go on with whatever I was doing.

The day I would learn about the truth in the words of my parents  I cannot forget. I was on my way to my secondary school which was relatively far, approximately eight hours from Nairobi. That day I woke up early as I always do when school begins prepared and was soon on my way. One thing my parents, especially my mother, advised was to be wary of conmen and ill-intended individuals.

As usual, I would appear to be listening but I would just be replying “yes” and “I understand” while thinking about other things. The journey to Nairobi was actually fair. I boarded a matatu that had a nice sound system and the music playing was nice. Everybody seemed to be asleep or on their phones so the strangers issue was out of the way.

Rain started falling at Ngara area and I did not pay attention to this since I would usually walk on the roofed pavements to the place I boarded the bus to Kisumu. When I got off my matatu I walked fast to the bus station since I wanted to catch the earliest bus so I wouldn’t arrive at school late. On reaching the bus station, the attendants there told me that that day’s buses had already been pre- booked and were full.

“No worries there, I have options”, I told myself. The story was basically the same on all the places I went to. I was now starting to get worried. I then remembered that on some sidewalks there were some private cars that went to Kisumu at very good prices. So was soon on my way to find one.

A black Toyota Noah was parked on one of the lanes. I asked the price gave the man my money and took a seat. I paid with a one thousand shilling note and waited for change since the man had said he’d bring it before the car left.

Completely believing the man I sat calmly and was about to fall asleep when I felt somebody shaking me awake. I was startled by this commotion and asked what was wrong. One of the people shaking me told me that since they were not there when I had boarded, I was to give the fare because they wanted to fuel the car before it the journey started.

I told them that I had already paid and I was infact waiting for my change. On hearing this, one of them started roughing me up saying that he was used to people like me who wanted to have free rides. Shaking uncontrollably, I started crying. However, one of the passengers close to me intervened and told the two men that indeed I had paid but to a different person.

Feeling very relieved I started wiping my tears but my joy was soon cut short. The owners of the car apologized and told me that indeed the city was a place to exercise caution in dealing with strangers. I didn’t have any other money except lunch money so I could not be allowed in. I watched the car leave in tears again this time knowing that all hopes were now lost.

I was in deep trouble. I would reach school late and also my parents would not be very happy because I had lost my fare to a conman. One of my father’s brothers had a hotel in town so I went there hoping to find him and borrow some money for the fare. He was there, yes, and even gave me a hot cup of coffee, but refused to give me any money on hearing my story.

He called my father and told him what had happened. My father was really angry asking why I had not bothered to remind him to pre-book my bus. Since it was already late, I stayed with my uncle that night and that was when I went to board the bus, accompanied by my uncle.

When I reached school, my misfortunes continued. For that whole week, I was given manual labours to carry out, as punishment. I had however learnt my lesson and my mistrust in strangers has grown ever since.

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