On Good Friday I woke up at 4.30am with a start, glancing at the digital clock on my phone display and realising I was within my normal schedule of taking a quick shower, breakfast and jumping into a matatu before 5.30am to beat the morning traffic.
On the way to work, I couldn’t help but blink back tears of gratitude to God for the amazing journey that I began several Good Fridays back.
Nine years ago, on this day, I woke up with an aching body, which felt like it had been pounded by several professional boxers, and groggily tried to recall the events of the previous night to no avail.
All I could see before me was the darkness of the gloom that lay before me. A recently dreadlocked ruffian, addicted to miraa, muguka, cigarettes, and all types of alcohol. I lay on the mattress I had placed on the floor to relieve my back, which had lately grown allergic to the sensation of a bed underneath me.
Jobless, broke, heartbroken, the black sheep and laughing stock of my family, suicide had popped up in my depressed mind as an option several times before, and still attempted a comeback this morning. I quickly shrugged it off with a resigned sigh. Not today.
Head buzzing from the thousand bees of a massive hangover in addition to the body ache, I crawled out of bed and curled up in a foetal position, letting the feeling of depression, sadness, bitter regret and hopelessness wash over me.
I had prayed many times before, even gone to church intermittently, falling asleep during sermons which I considered pretentious. But today it was just me and God.
On that cold floor, I cried for my life, bad choices, my dangerous fascination with getting high, the many fights, binge drinking and drugged out nights, some of which were spent in police cells.
As dawn broke over the city, I freely wept for my failed relationship that resulted in a son who was far away from me because his mother had told me she was afraid I would one day cross the line of sanity and kill them both.
“Dear God, I’m tired. Please if you can hear me, help me get out of all this. If you do, I will tell others about what you did for me, even though I am no preacher,” I sobbed.
It was a very short prayer and a long dirge all rolled into one. But I thank God for listening.
Immediately after the prayer, I knew what must change. Everything. I had decided to change earlier when Barack Obama won his first term in November 2008, the "Yes We Can" slogan becoming a mantra that I wanted to live by. I had even shaved my dreadlocks but kept postponing the divorce from drugs and self-destructive behaviour – until now. Not anymore.
To cut a long story short, that afternoon I moved out of my parents’ comfortable Nairobi West home, relocated to a slum next to Wilson Airport, quit getting high, avoided all my old joints and drinking friends, went through a four-month rehabilitation at the hands of grinding poverty, later went back to my rural home and then got a degree in journalism.
In that collection of mabati and plastic bag shelters peppered by flying toilets, and illegally connected power wires deceptively threading the houses like washing lines, I discovered what it means to coexist with neighbours, to understand that people are more than just faces in a crowd to be used and dumped at will, to recognise there is more to life than just breathing and taking advantage of opportunities to fulfil my darkest fantasies.
I am still growing, and I have learnt it is important to forgive others and myself for the many mistakes.
Good Friday is a day when believers mark the death of Jesus Christ. For me, it is also the day my old life died and the new Aggrey nervously began to break out of his shell and experience the beauty of exploring and fulfilling previously unknown potential.
Wherever you are, in whatever situation you may find yourself in, may you be reborn. You have nothing to lose but the chains and sorrows of the past.