Guilty at Birth

The sad cub painting at the entrance of the door grabs your attention the moment you walk through the main door. It is an amazing painting but it grabs all your happy emotions and crushes them into a hundred pieces and there is nothing you can do about it. It is a sad painting. The cub in the painting looks unhappy and tormented, the eyes glare at your soul and your guilty conscious making you feel as if you are on trial for crimes against humanity.



Last weekend I met Caleb, Caleb is a happy chap, he laughs out loudly sometimes when he finds it appropriate. Caleb has no parents, scratch that, Caleb has parents who just do not give a damn about him, perhaps that is the reason they left him outside a church door about four months ago. Caleb is barely six months old now. His arms are tiny but masculine enough for a six months old. He is going to grow up to be a strong bright guy with one girlfriend and no alcohol in his fridge.



Caleb is just one of twenty-two. There is Katelyn, happy girl with a niche for dangerous swings and slides. There is Jackie, Jackie loathes humans but loves dolls. She sticks to the corners under the shadows camouflaging with the darkness and emptiness she found in the world. Jackie is one and a half years old.



Some of them laugh whole heartedly, maybe because this is the best life they know, some of them do not laugh. Jackie doesn’t laugh. Others look up to us, adults, with little inquisitive eyes as if accusing humanity of animosity and condemning the world for judging them for their first act in this world which was simply being born.  Some love to eat, heavens! Some can really eat while others just hate food, hate toys, hate playing and everything around them. Some like plastic toys while others just do not get the idea behind plastic toys so they just sit and contemplate. Such are going to be writers and poets. This group stole my heart.



While some have found a home with the nurses and the environment of New Life Home Trust Nyeri, others cry in the morning, afternoon and evening perhaps expressing the gaps left by their irresponsible fathers and mothers who once had a good time but neglected their responsibilities. These kids have got no family names, their names are the once the nurses deem necessary to refer to them. So, they might carry their mothers’ pretty eyes or lips, their father’s foreheads, their mama’s Arabic hair or their grandma’s small feet but they do not have those family names. So, I will never know if Caleb is Luo or Kikuyu or if he was born in November or February. That will remain a mystery to even Caleb himself.



These kids represent a perfect history painting that disagrees with the present and even through the toys and open laughs and consistent cries, you can see these young lives struggle to create an equilibrium of the two timelines. So as the sun sunk back into its chambers and the evening breeze dragged the night along covering our entire existence with a cold dark blanket, Caleb and I sat on the floor marinating on few things. Caleb loves milk more that he loves food. So as he had his dinner I tried to interview him and find out what exactly he thought. There is only so much information you can get from a six-month-old because immediately I was done feeding him he let out a big yawn as a kind way of chasing me away so that he could call it a day and fall asleep.



I had questions for Caleb. How was his mother like when she held him in her arms immediately he came into this world? Did she smile, was she tired from labour? What did Caleb do wrong so as to be left at the gates of a church at dawn? Where does he think his mom is now? Does she wake up in the morning like everyone else and do a few yoga stunts to help her calm her mind? Does she check her Instagram regularly double tapping on Kanye’s photos holding his kid? What exactly goes through her mind when she walks along the streets and there are cute boy clothes all over. Does she exclaim ‘aaaaaaaaaw’ like everyone else? What about his dad? What exactly goes through his mind while watching soccer with his mates sipping cold beers? Does he have to be drunk to sleep because of the guilt his conscious tags along each time? Does he put a tissue beneath his pillow and cry himself to sleep? Does he even care?



I was born with both parents, I was born just about the same time Kate Njenga had begun being top of her class in pre-unit. I would like to assume my mother threw a party when he heard I was a boy and through the discipline beatings she gave me she knew that I was her responsibility. Therefore, I will not stand here and claim I know anything about Caleb, I can only imagine just like most stuff I write here. But one thing is clearer than day, leaving a small kid on the streets is not alright!



The assistant administrator New Life Home Trust smiled a practised smile when I asked her whether she felt sad when the kids she grew fond of were finally adopted to new homes and new parents. ‘It is sad’ she said, ‘but these kids deserve parents’. So, if you think your son is a headache try twenty-two children all looking up to you. I would like to assume she knows how each child cries and what exactly makes each one of them happy or sad. Does she have kids of her own? I was scared to ask her that so I held on to my peace and unanswered questions.



New Life Home Trust was established to take care of HIV-positive children who were abandoned at birth. Here there is no judgement at birth, every child has been accepted and given a home. This home is a family, the 9 months olds take care of the 4 months, they share dolls and toys. The share moms and rooms and no one is mean with their stuff. Often one of them leaves to be with a new family but that is no course for sorrow but celebration. Others join in all the time and they are accepted and taught the way of life with sharing being the main virtue.



Katelyn needs parents, so do Caleb and Jackie. Jackie will be a poet one day. She will be a beautiful career lady who writes poems. She will remember that her parents abandoned her but she will not give a damn just like they did not when they left her. She will speak and others will listen. Soon she will find new parents who will teach her entrepreneurship but mostly, how to write poems. I will not be the one to teach her now, but i will teach another in future. Many parents cannot get babies but do not know where to adopt one. New Life teaches them to chew with their mouths closed and to respect each other but not poetry because you cannot teach poetry to a group consisting of engineers and doctors.



We are a new generation where we get kids and get rid of them any how we feel like. We have smart phones and Facebook but it is paramount that we be ready to deal with the consequences of our actions. The only crime for these young lives is being born. The very first act of these young lives became their source of judgement their entire lives. Twenty-two kids at New Life Home needs food, fruits, medical and hygiene sundries, office and school supplies and human volunteers to go show these young kids that humanity is not as cold as the morning Caleb was left outside a church gate.


Feature Image by Mukiri Gitiri


The writer:



Dennis Peters


One thought on “Guilty at Birth

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s