Behind Ngerio Nangkoroko’s dazzling smile and calm elderly eyes is a haunting story of a crestfallen woman who bears life’s burden with miniscule hope and plenty of hurt. When she first got married, her husband treated her like a donkey, a mere object of labor. She fed and watered the animals. She solely provided for their nascent family as he sat home doing the bare minimum. This became the standard of their marriage; Nangkoroko working her fingers to the bone whilst her husband enjoyed being the jobless head of the household. 

Just recently, he was invited as an elder to a family wedding in his hometown Baragoi where he was bestowed with gifts of camels and cattle. On his way back to Isiolo, he sold all the animals and fleeced himself back to nil. He fell ill and died shortly afterwards.

Nangkoroko is presently crippled with drooped legs and stick-like arms. Her emaciated body is transported from one place to another by a wheelchair operated by her last born who is also her caretaker. In the morning, he wheels his mother to an appointed part of the neighborhood. He then spends his day loitering in the passageways of Isiolo before coming back in the evening.

Just mid this year, Nangkoroko’s situation was different. She could walk downtown to shop on her own. In July, during a light conversation with her neighbor, Nangkoroko requested for Ksh.20 to keep her afloat. When her widowed daughter heard of this, her blood boiled with rage resulting from her bruised ego. Propelled by wrath, she stormed into her mother’s compound and accused her of playing supplicant to neighbors. This verbal barrage spiced with an overwhelming judgmental stench turned physical when she pushed her frail mother with might. No sooner had Nangkoroko come to contact with the rocky ground than she broke her leg. 

Since then, she has been forced to move about on her backside or locomote on a wheelchair. Moreover, some sort of dementia has struck Nangkoroko. The only memory that flashes through her mind is that of her deceased children. With a quivering voice and a nearly frozen tongue she says, “Everything has escaped my mind. All I do is cry.”