By Ann Nyathira
Today (January 15) marks exactly one year since the January 2019 Dusit D2 attack.
A simple walk through to the hotel and office complex tells a story of triumph and resilience.
Things have normalised; you will see people coming in and out of the premises and others enjoying meals and drinks at various joints.
But, for those who endured the attack on the 14 Riverside Drive complex, memories continue to linger.
Charles Kiarie survived the attack, when al-Shabaab gunmen, who entered the complex and opened fire indiscriminately, killed 21 people. But his struggle isn’t over yet.
An explosion and suicide bomb marked the start of the attack that changed everything for Kiarie, a taxi driver then stationed in the compound.
“I was seated at my usual spot inside the Riverside Drive Complex with an acquaintance when we heard the deafening sound; we quickly ran towards the main gate. There was nothing unusual, but the hotel side was covered in smoke. Two minutes later, I heard what sounded like a gun shot, and that was when I chose to take cover,” recalls Kiare.
He remembers how chaos and confusion rocked occupants of the complex. He recalls how people scampered for safety as the sounds of gunshots echoed through the otherwise peaceful-but-now-invaded suburban atmosphere.
“I took cover in front of my car, but realised that was wasn’t the safest place. So, I crawled to the back of my car and that was where I had an encounter with a man who was fully out to kill anyone on sight. And, at the moment, his target was me. He tried to cover his face, but I saw his eyes. He, nonetheless, shot at me in in the abdomen,” says Kiarie
According to Kiarie, within a few minutes, everything had changed for him. A few minutes before the attack, he was a happy and healthy man, who had a decent income. He had now been turned into a hopeless man waiting for death to ease his suffering.
“I was bleeding profusely, and the pain was excruciating. I thought I was going to die. Nothing had prepared me for this, the thought of my family who depend on me is what pushed me to move and seek help,” narrates Kiarie.
Kiarie, a taxi driver, says the injuries sustained from the attack rendered him jobless.
“Uncertainty took over. The attack left my family and I severely affected. We had not anticipated the outcome of such a life-changing incident. I was an injured man rendered jobless by the attack since my car was set alight. Feeling hopeless, I went back to upcountry. Luckily, my brothers helped me in the recovery process,” says Kiarie.
Today, Kiarie soldiers on; it has been one month since he resumed his taxi business, and although things are tough for him, he says he has learnt to appreciate life and good health.
“Although the attack inflicted both emotional and physical pain on me, I will live to tell a story of triumph. The man who shot me, did not destroy me,” he said.