Mama Njeri knew cancer was a death sentence. It had claimed the life of Mama Odhis, her best friend, in less than a year. Her children fell through the cracks shortly after that and became members of the famous ‘Kangeta’ gang. Mama Njeri said a silent prayer for them as she lay on her mattress that night. She decided she would fight this disease with all she had. At the crack of dawn, she made porridge and sold it at the Kiberitini bus stop as she was used to. Then, she called Njoro, her eldest son and asked him to meet her at home as soon as possible. Njoro could tell that something was wrong with his mother from the tone of her voice. He ran all the way home and only stopped to catch his breath once he got to the doorstep. His mother arrived shortly afterwards. The two of them sat opposite each other in silence until Njoro broke the silence.
“How are you mum?” he asked.
Tears streamed down Mama Njeri’s face as she told her son that she was ailing. They cried for hours together then prayed. They cried as they told Njeri, Wangari and Kanji later on that evening. They cried for the prospects that lay ahead and the painful journey they were about to embark on.
The next day, Mama Njeri went back to hospital accompanied by Njoro. After going through the motions, they finally got a chance to see the doctor. They held each other firmly as they walked into the doctor’s office. The doctor took his eyes off the file he was reading and watched them walk in.
“You are back?” said the doctor.
“Yes, I am,” replied Mama Njeri.
“What can I do for you?” asked the doctor, feigning ignorance.
“Can you treat me?” replied Mama Njeri.
“I can offer you treatment once an opening is available. We have one sometime next year, towards the end of the year,” stated the doctor in a matter of fact tone.
Njoro’s heart sunk upon hearing those words. Anger and despair sieged his heart like dark, nimbus clouds taking over the sky before a thunderstorm.
“What do you mean by that?” Njoro asked, his voice trembling in anger.
“I mean your mother needs radiotherapy. The next spot will be available in December next year. In the meantime, you can explore other options at other hospitals,” replied the doctor, his voice trailing off towards the end of the sentence.
Mama Njeri could feel the ground rotating as the doctor spoke. Her head suddenly became as light as a feather. She closed her eyes for a second. The next time she opened them, she was surrounded by nurses and she was lying in a hospital bed. Njoro was sitting next to her, holding her hand. She kicked the beddings and insisted that she wanted to go home. Attempts by Njoro and the nurses to calm her down failed miserably. She walked down the hall and made her way to the stairs. By the time Njoro caught up with her, she was at the bus stop. They rode to Kiberitini in silence.
Mama Njeri took a week to regroup. She worked whenever she could and overdosed on painkillers on the days the pain was too intense. It was during that week that she recalled that Mama Namarome, her neighbour often used to talk of the healing powers of Prophet Wasilwa. She knocked on her door one evening to seek more information. After the greetings and a polite decline of an invitation for coffee, Mama Njeri embarked on her fact finding mission.
“Tell me something, who is this Prophet Wasilwa you keep talking about?” asked Mama Njeri.
“He is a divine healer. He cures all kinds of diseases through special prayers,” replied Mama Namarome.
“How do you know that?” asked Mama Njeri.
“I was cured of malaria last week. My children had typhoid but now they are all well thanks to the Prophet,” stated Mama Namarome as her eyes widened in delight.
“Where is his church?” asked Mama Njeri.
“It is near Kiberitini Secondary School. I can take you,” said Mama Namarome.
The two women agreed that they would convene the next morning and visit the prophet. They left right after their children had gone to school. It did not take them long to get to the Prophet’s church. They were ushered in by a woman in a long, yellow dress and a red turban. The Prophet’s office was covered in photos of saints, long gone and dead. The scent of incense gave the office a holy aura. Mama Njeri and Mama Namarome walked in right after they were ordered to remove their shoes because they were stepping on holy ground. The Prophet greeted them happily then chanted a prayer in a strange language before sprinkling some water on them. The prophet ordered them to sit on the floor and covered them with a blue piece of cloth.
The Prophet listened attentively as Mama Njeri narrated her woes. Then, he let out a hearty laughter and told her that cancer was a small matter. She would be cured in a matter of days because she was in the right place. These words were music to Mama Njeri’s ears. The Prophet began to pray in earnest while sprinkling water in their faces. He asked them to come after a week with a pack of yellow candles, a white piece of cloth and Kshs. 1000. Mama Njeri and Mama Namarome thanked him before they left. That night, Mama Njeri slept like a baby.
The next day, Mama Njeri and Mama Namarome got to the Prophet’s Church at 6 am. They were the first people to be attended to. As soon as they had handed over the money, the Prophet declared that the cancer was gone from Mama Njeri’s body. All she needed was to declare it for the next twenty one days while washing her body with blessed water that would be given to them by the usher. Mama Njeri leaped for joy. At least she would not have to wait for a year to go through a painful process that was not guaranteed to cure her of cancer. They left after an hour of prayers. They knelt at the centre of the room while the Prophet lit candles all around them. He chanted in an unintelligible language as he placed a white piece of cloth over their heads. He told them to come back after seven days with Kshs. 3000. Mama Njeri considered this a small sacrifice to pay for her well-being. She got some amount from Njoro and augmented it with some amount from her business.
Mama Njeri went on with her regimen as prescribed by the Prophet. She did not even notice that she had been going there for three months and the lump was still there. The Prophet knew what he was doing and there was no need to worry. However, Njoro remained skeptical. He noticed that his mother had lost a significant amount of weight. She was always complaining about her pains but she rarely took time off work. Njoro decided that his mother needed to see a doctor. That suggestion was met with a sharp rebuke. Mama Njeri told Njoro that he needed to grow in the matters of faith. He was speaking like an unbeliever and dimming her healing process with his negative words. They had an argument which ended with Njoro swearing he would never chip in again if she needed to go to the Prophet.
Mama Njeri soldiered on. After all, she had weathered seasons that were worse than this. She kept on going to the Prophet on a weekly basis. The amount of money required as an offering kept going up. Mama Njeri did not tire or give up. She never questioned the Prophet when he told to leave her church and join his. She attended church for a whole day in the months that would follow. She testified of how the Prophet had healed her in spite of growing pains in her breast. She applied oil from the church, bathed in water blessed by the Prophet and took herbs from the Prophet. Eight months later, she died peacefully in her sleep, clutching blessed water from the Prophet.