The revving of a boda boda makes Ruth Mukabana jumpy.
Each rasp reminds her of the early morning in November last year where she almost lost her head, legs, and her life.
Ms Mukabana, 42, had travelled to Butere from Nairobi to pick up her son from school when she was involved in an accident.
“I alighted the bus at around 5am and just as it sped off for the final stop Sabatia, I realised I had left my luggage behind. I called them but they didn’t hear.
A boda boda approached and the rider said we could give chase.
“The last thing I remember is the sound of the bike roaring loudly and then it got black. I woke up a week later,” she told the Saturday Nation.
WEARING A HELMET
She was later to learn that the boda boda rider had lost control and she was seen flying by a police officer on patrol.
She landed on the ground with her head. The officer, fearing that she had died, rushed her to hospital “just in case”.
“My head was on fire. Like a blaze had been lit on it. When I felt it, I realised I was bald. Skinny bald, yet when I left Nairobi, I had a weave stitched on.
“It was the reason I didn’t wear a helmet, but now I know better,” she said.
While the mother of two does not recall the events surrounding the accident, the constant pain in her back is a painful reminder of that ill-fated morning.
“Now, I can’t use a hoe to till land, I can’t carry anything on my head, I can’t carry water as I used to or bend. But I am glad I am alive today, I would have left my children and husband behind.”
Her story is not very different from that of Josephine Jelagat Sikamoi, 33, who lives in Kitale and whose life changed for the worse on May 7, 2013.
The mother of three boys was on her way to Kitale town aboard a motorcycle.
Shortly after, a car hit them from behind and fled.
From that day on, she spent three years nursing her severely fractured legs, undergoing 14 surgeries that cost her more than Sh1 million.
Even after these, her right leg developed an infection and she had to undergo another 17 surgeries.
She stayed another year in hospital because her family could not offset her medical bill, which had risen to Sh3.2 million. Eventually, it was paid off by friends and well-wishers.
“I had just become dormant following the accident. I thank God I came back alive from that harrowing ordeal which almost shattered my life,” she said.
She has a word of caution to road users.
“Those driving cars should not despise boda boda riders,” she told the Saturday Nation.