She is not even sure who she is anymore, more so in regard to religion, and in other aspects of her life. Her life is so messed up and twisted that she’s not even sure how to go about untwisting it. Still goes to the mosque, occasionally, and only on Fridays, but not with the same enthusiasm she used to have. Sometimes she just feels weird walking around covered in chador in a neighborhood where almost everyone is a Christian and three quarters of her friends walk around in skimpy clothes that expose their cleavages and inner thighs.
Everyone calls her Star but her really name is Sitaré, which means star in Arabic (not really sure). Star was born and raised a Muslim. His dad comes from this staunch Muslim family down in Voi, Coastal Kenya, and her mom, Mwanaisha, is a look-warm Muslim from the neighboring country, Tanzania.
Star’s parents divorced — actually separated (in our side of the world, divorce is still a new phenomenon that very few people are keen to follow through) — when she was still going to that small private primary school in Pipeline with only a two storeyed windowless building and a handful of students. Star’s mother soon after the separation started her own life with her daughter and even looked for a salon job to sustain them. The peanuts she was paid at the end of the day wasn’t enough to pay the bills, feed and clothe them and Star was only a few years to finishing primary school and getting to highschool, and that in itself would bring another headache. She had to do something, and quickly.
Star’s mother having been schooled in Tanzania, and with only basic education, was aware landing a job in Nairobi was going to be an uphill task. Kenya’s job market is somehow competitive as compared to her East African neighbours. She could’ve started her own salon but unfortunately didn’t have any money to start with and so the only other better alternative was to get remarried.
Mwanaisha soon started dating this man, Jason Jisuga, a truck driver that plied the Nairobi-Mombasa route, ferrying goods to and from the two Kenyan cities. He was a Christian from Western Kenya with a little grasp of the Coastal Swahili and just enough charm and cash to make Mwanaisha fall in love with him. They soon moved in together even though Jason was a married man with another family and even Mwanaisha was aware. But Polygamy has never been an issue to a Muslim woman, neither to a Luhya man with enough resources to spare.
Now Star had a family and she was grateful. Jason loved her and took care of her like she was his own blood and she loved him back. He was grateful to him for taking care of her mama and bringing a smile back to her face. Her mama was smiling more than she ever did with that scoundrel she called dad that kept battering her mama for every slight mistake. Her mama was now free, she could smile with anyone, she could talk to anyone without worrying of her husband’s hot temper. And Star was happy that she too was now free to do things she could never do back in her dad’s house. For instance, now she could go around without bothering to cover her head with a veil and Jason would never tease her, and this made her feel so happy. She had beautiful, long dark hair that she wanted the whole world to see. She wanted to show off her hair to her school mates. She could now watch movies and listen to those love songs she loved without anyone telling her it’s haram. How she hated:
“A girl shouldn’t do that!”, “A Muslim girl shouldn’t do that!”
Life was good for Star and was even better when she got a sibling. Mwanaisha soon conceived and bore Star a beautiful baby sister and they named her Alisha. Alisha was delivered after only seven months but she was alright and Star was so excited, she now had company. Alisha was raised like a Christian, and so was Star. When Jason was around he attended St. Bakhita Catholic Church on Sundays taking Alisha with him and Star was more than happy to follow along.
Star soon cleared her Primary education, and she did very well and soon proceeded to highschool. Jason was now in control of her education, paying up her school fees and taking care of all her other school needs. To him, she was his kid, just like Alisha. Mwanaisha too had a salon, the one Jason had opened for her to help boost their family income and it was prospering.
Mwanaisha was now glittering, beautiful as ever and with no worries and lots of freedom. She started making friends at her salon and that included men.
She started sleeping around, especially when Jason was away on his work trips and sometimes even brought men home. She soon started drinking too, and even sometimes got involved in bar brawls. Word soon reached Jason who wasn’t amused. He tried pleading with her to stop but it all fell on deaf ears. He soon ran out of patience and left. He had another family to take care of, he won’t waste his time on a stupid woman that doesn’t care about her family’s welfare.
Jason still supported Star and sometimes dropped in at her school to visit her. She still went home to check on Alisha too, and most times ended up regretting it. Almost each time he dropped by the house he would find another man in his house and it was killing him. He soon stopped going there and entirely gave up on that family for some period. He thought if he stopped caring, just for a while, maybe it would awaken Mwanaisha up a little and drive some sense into her thick skull. It might make her start thinking about her family.
He was right about one thing though, the hardship. Soon life started getting tough for Mwanaisha. Her Salon was no longer doing that good since most of her customers had run away to her competitors after she had started closing every now and then because sometimes she was too drunk to do anything, or just too tired with many issues to let her satisfy customers. And you know how female customers are, especially when it comes to their hair!
It was taking a toll on Star too. Life was getting tough on her and it was affecting her school life as well. Of course by now she was only a year away from finishing highschool and transitioning to the university, God willing.
During school holidays Star was forced to go and work as a house help for this Somali family in Estleigh, Nairobi to raise some pocket money and do her own school shopping. Sometimes later after she had stayed home for almost a whole term for lack of school fees, she decided to call her step-dad and beg on behalf of her mama for help. It was after she had tried reaching out to her own biological dad with no success. Jason came through. He felt sad for her and decided to clear up her arrears.
Star did finish highschool, but that was it. No College. And how she always wanted to be a lawyer.
She applied to Study law at the University but couldn’t afford it so she instead settled on some short business course hoping to finish it, get a job and save enough money to help her do the cause she always wanted. But she only lasted one Semester in that course, and now she’s just hawking kitchenware for this Egyptian guys operating on tourist visa and the government led by the Interior CS is increasing its crackdown on foreigners with no proper documents and especially those operating with no work permit. It’s only a matter of time before her employers are deported back to Cairo.
Star is suffocating. She’s drowning and all alone, and what’s worse, her mama doesn’t even care. Her mama is always disappearing for days and it’s her who takes care of Alisha, prepare her for school and still get herself ready for work. She hates more the men her mama is always bringing home, smelling alcohol and sometimes throwing up in the house and it’s her who ends up cleaning it. She has on a number of times contemplated running away only to stop because of Alisha. What will be Alisha’s fate if she runs away?