Turning point: Alcohol blinded me and killed my friends

Murithi Karanja 50, lost his eyes during a drinking spree with friends who also died and months later, he was knocked down by a car. He spoke to PKEMOI NG'ENOH why he is not angry with God and hold no regrets

Tell us about yourself...

I was born and raised in Jericho estate. My parents retired and settled in the village. After school, I worked at a city supermarket for about eight years, before an accident happened that left me blind.

What do you mean an accident? What happened?

 I remember the day vividly. It was on July 3, 2014. I was heading home from work when my friends asked me to join them for a drink. It is something we used to do often to catch up. I arrived at the local in Makadara at around 6pm and found my five friends had already settled in.

I ordered a drink, though I didn’t stay for long as my wife had called and insisted that I go home early. She also wanted some money to buy food.  The following morning, we were heading for a burial upcountry. I remember complaining to my wife that I was feeling a bit dizzy and had a terrible headache. 

Then what happened? 

By the time we were coming back to Nairobi, I was vomiting blood and feeling really bad. I was rushed to Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital for treatment. By then, my vision was blurring and within hours, I was blind!

I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. After several tests, it was confirmed that the alcohol I had drank had methanol. The doctors tried to save my eyesight, but it was too late. I later learnt that all my friends had died two days after consuming the alcohol. I was lucky to have survived.

Did you seek specialised treatment?

Yes. I was taken to Kenyatta (National Hospital) and also visited Lions Hospital and even Kikuyu Eye Unit, but all in vain.

How did your life change?

I was in denial and it took time before accepting that I was partially blind. I used to work for a printing company along Mombasa Road. I begged my boss not to sack me and he let me fold client T-shirts that had been printed.

However, three months later, I was hit by a car on Lunga Lunga Road as I tried to cross the road. I suffered hand and head injuries. The case was reported at Industrial Area Police Station and I am still waiting for the person who knocked me to be arrested. After that I couldn’t work and was declared redundant.

How did your wife and kids take the news?

They were affected very much, though they are still very supportive and I am still the family’s breadwinner. I opened a small shop where I sell cooking gas. I quit alcohol and gave my life to Christ. I believe my wife rescued my life. Were it not for that call that she made, I would have probably taken more of the toxic alcohol and probably dead by now.

Do you regret or are angry at God?

I have accepted my situation. I can’t argue with God, because we don’t know His plans. In fact, I am glad he gave me a second chance in life.