Rite of Passage: Day One

The boy’s door flew open with a ferocity that knotted his stomach tight with fear, springing him from his bed. Quickly, his hand scampered to his bedside stand in search of his glasses. His heart now pounding with increasing intensity. He lifts his gaze up, eyes darted to the door to make contact with the dark armed figure who kicked it.

The figure straddled into the yellow light with an air of menace about him. He drew a long audible breath before deflating himself, as he fiddled with the trigger like a man on a mission.

“What is your name boy?” his voice deep from the pits of his stomach that it vibrated more through the boy’s body than it did his ears.

“Hassan Kassim.” Said the boy, with what seemed like but a shadow of his voice.

“Oh? …You’re the one we’re looking for.”


He stomped in with his combat boots, grabbed the boy by the hand and drew him to the living room, revealing three more mountains of men, rifled. Blood ran out of the boy’s face leaving him pale. He went silent, taken by a whirl of emotions as he studied the four strangers, shocked, not knowing what to make of the situation.

“Found him,” said the deep voice.

“Oh…Kassim!” said the frailest of them, with a bit of excitement leaping out his voice, as if pleased with the acquaintance. There was an air of command about him that made the boy jump to that he was the leader.

Meanwhile, another, well built, and stood a head taller than the boy turned his back to the boy’s thirteen-year-old brother, landing a slap on his face that threw him to the wall.

“I thought you said he’s not home! Were you lying to me, boy?” he barked.

“No,” cried the boy’s brother, defensively, “I thought you were asking for my father.”

The boy’s brother had just had his K.C.P.E rehearsal earlier that day. That night, he was doing some final brushings with his tutor, Mr. Oduor, in preparation for his big exam. Unprepared for what was to befall.

The man then turned to Mr. Oduor who was now on his phone trying to get a hold of the boy’s parent.

“Are you the father?” he barked.

“No,” Oduor replied, rather disoriented, still trying to reach the family. Without any luck.

Now that evening, the boy’s three-year-old brother had taken ill and his parents had to rush him to the hospital. It was past the 7p.m news and there was still no sign of them arriving anytime soon.


Kijana, do you go to Moi university?” The commander said inquisitively.

The boy gave a hesitant nod before letting out a ‘Yes’, his voice now a whimper.

The commander then signaled to the dark one, “You know what to do,” as he whipped his phone out, took front and side photos of the boy pinned to the wall and sent them to someone.

The dark man walked into the boy’s room and tore it apart, to come out his phone, 2 laptops; one that had belonged to the boy’s father, his wallet; which housed his identification documents and also found time to step on the boy’s nine-year-old brother who was on a prayer rag on the floor and would have slept through the whole thing.

“Where are your shoes boy?” said the commander. To which the boy pointed to his room and was told to go put them on. Done. Then they asked him to draw both his hands in front and cuffed him, before giving a parting short to Mr. Oduor, “Tell his parents we’ve taken him to the headquarters.”

What headquarters? The boy thought.

“Hassan,” sighed Mr. Oduor, shaking his head. “What have you done?” Answers to which the boy himself had not known. Yet.

He simply pulled his gaze to the ground as they dragged him out of his home. All the voices around him faded, seeming like but distant echoes to the questions in his head. One he made out clearly however. The dark man saying to the commander: “Have you called her yet?”

The significance of which, the boy did not get at that moment.

Family, Fictionalised truths, Radicalization, Thriller

Hassan Kassim

Hassan Kassim is a Mombasa-based Creative non-fiction writer, recently longlisted for the Toyin Falola prize, blogger and translator of Kiswahili work. A beneficiary of the Penpen program by African Writers Development Trust(AWDT) commissioned by Culture at Work Africa and the European Union(E.U), and holds his Bachelor’s degree in Maritime Management. Hassan writes about the ill-documented Communities of Coastal Kenya. His work has appeared in Writers Space Africa; his 2 non-fiction stories published in the anthology 'Twaweza,' a collaborative effort of 12 African writers on the African identity and set to appear in the forthcoming anthology for the Toyin Falola prize.

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Hassan Kassim is a Kenyan-based Creative non-fiction writer, blogger and translator of Kiswahili works with over 2 years of experience. A beneficiary of the Penpen program by African Writers Development Trust(AWDT) commissioned by Culture at Work Africa, and holds his Bachelor’s degree in Maritime Management.


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