Wambura Nduati, 23, was shot in the head and lived to tell the story. She tells Joan Thatiah how it all unfolded, and how she has been coping since.
“They say that when you have a gun pointed at your head, your whole life plays out before you. Others say they were terrified for their lives or that they were overcome by an eerie calmness.
When I had the muzzle of a loaded gun just inches from my head four years ago, I felt nothing. It was as if I was watching this happen to someone else. It all happened pretty fast, too.
March 25, 2013 began as a normal Monday for me. I was a first year economics student at Kenyatta University so I spent the day attending lectures.
I lived in Kahawa Sukari, just a few minutes’ drive from the university.
I had heard of instances of robbery and muggings but I never imagined, even in my wildest thoughts, that I would ever be on the receiving end of it. I always consoled myself that I was just a student with nothing a robber would want.
I remember even joking about it earlier that day as I walked home with my friends.
‘Let me hurry home before noinyeshwe revolver.’ (Let me hurry home before night falls and someone shoves a revolver in my face.)
Less than an hour later, I was staring into the bloodshot eyes of a man as he held a gun to my head.
HAPPENED SO FAST
“I lived alone on the ground floor of a block of apartments.
As soon as I got home and put my bag down, I went out to unhang some clothes I’d washed that morning. As I came back into the house, two men forced their way in.
Their faces were unmasked and I remember trying not to look at them lest they felt ‘threatened’.
One held a gun to my head while the other took my laptop from my bag. I had my phone in my hands so they didn’t see it. I never resisted.
“Everything happened in under two minutes and as they were leaving, I heard a gunshot. A few seconds later, I felt something drip down my face. That was when I started screaming.
“Two of my neighbours came running and found me on the floor, still screaming.
They immediately began looking for a car to rush me to hospital. The robbers slipped away. I was in shock; there was so much blood. In the midst of the chaos, I managed to call my mother and tell her that I had been shot.
I couldn’t say anything else. I was conscious on the way to the hospital and I prayed that I wouldn’t lose consciousness before my parents had found me.
“At the hospital, it was found that the bullet went in through my upper lip and came out just above my ear. When you have a head injury, many things go through your mind.
What worried me most was the possibility of losing my memory or becoming disabled. Tests however showed that I hadn’t gotten any internal head injuries; the bullet had pierced through flesh.
I was in the hospital for a week and at home in Nyeri with my parents for three months, recovering.
“The physical healing was the easiest part of it. I had nightmares for months. I was afraid of darkness, of nightfall.
I still am. I was also filled with a lot of hate. I kept wishing death on those two men who almost cut my life short.
I kept thinking that if only they would die, then I would feel better. It took months of counselling to get to a point of forgiveness, to a point where I could see the bigger picture.
FAR FROM HEALED
“The first thing I did when I came back to Nairobi after recovery was change campuses. I then packed my things and moved in with my cousin. I couldn’t live alone.
“The scars on my face are barely visible but underneath, I am far from healed. While I now live alone, I still find myself running to lock the doors when the sun goes down. I still prefer to keep the lights on long past bedtime. Nightfall brings with it some discomfort.
“Still, I am determined not to let this experience define me or take away my independence. So I will continue bolting my doors at nightfall and hoping that it will get better.”