KILIMANJARO

The saccharine recollections of Zahra Suguley Yusuf’s upbringing under her sisters’ care have been marred by stinging consecutive catastrophes ranging from financial penury, ailment caused by a charlatan posing as a doctor, the mental illness of a son and the misfortune of marrying a flimsy man. 

Only three years ago, this elderly Somali woman residing in Kenya’s Isiolo County still had the ability to do her own bidding and fend for herself and her dependents. But on a fateful night, with her hope for a better life still shining bright, an unanticipated fever descended upon Yusuf. This was the beginning of a series of events that would lead to her losing the ability to walk and the power of sight. As the fever got worse on the second night, Yusuf decided to pay a visit to a local clinic.

Eager to cure her of an illness unspecified, the quack of a doctor she saw injected her with ten numbing shots, four on one side of her thigh and six on the other. “Because of those injections I cannot get up. I am like this. Those injections! My bones ache. My legs are in pain,” she said. When she went back to the same clinic to complain, the so-called doctor had vanished.

While she battles her own malady, her 30-year-old son Mohamed Sulub, the only one of her seven children who remained with her, lost his mental faculties. At 13, he fell for a cruel trick conjured up by a perfidious immigrant who promised to take him abroad. Sulub was an English tutor to this foreigner’s children and when they did well, she promised to take them abroad alongside Sulub. She even had him follow her to the airport still blinding his teenage mind with a promise of meteoric rise overseas. At the airport, her and her children disappeared leaving Sulub to watch the aircraft take off without him. To this date, whenever he hears the roaring aerodynamic noises, his neck tilts to the heaven that bends above us, still traumatized by that incident. 

Yusuf has pursued respite for her son through nostrums prescribed by domestic sheikhs and imams who know no better. All her money and resources have evaporated on this endeavor. 

With nothing more to do, Yusuf has overcome the fear of mortality by embracing the inevitability of death and placing hope in a resurrection of a better eternal life.