I soaked in paraffin and set myself ablaze: The inspiring story of Esther Randa

Esther Randa [Photo: Courtesy]

Esther Randa wanted to kill herself in 2002 and decided to set herself ablaze. She bears the scars of the pain of a failed suicide attempt. She spoke to Anthony Ndiema of KTN’s ‘Tukuza’ show.

 Tell us little about your background...

I grew up on the slopes of the Aberdares with a beautiful family. But I was a traumatised child. At the age of 10, my grandmother revealed to me that I was born out of wedlock. When I confronted my dad, the story changed.

My grandmother claimed I had told her he was not my real dad. It was really bad. We were always fighting and slowly, my self-esteem was going down. My dad was really harsh and sometimes I felt like he hated me.

What about school?

I was a very bright student and that is what kept me going. But still I felt the void. Why me? Why wasn’t I okay? Doctors told me I developed a brain disorder very early in life. I could keep it all to myself when I was young because I was not a talkative person.

Slowly, I started hating myself, wondering why I could not get things right. It was very cold and I became a rebellious child. I could not finish a project and would always back out midway.

 Did this affect your marriage?

Yes. My last born is 22 years old. I was hurting inside and I could not forgive people. I always felt that everyone was against me. I could only relate with hate. At first, I played the good wife role, but my husband could not understand. After a few drinks, we would fight and I eventually began hating him. My husband was Luo and I am Kikuyu. He claimed I was arrogant. However, we never parted ways. I love him because he has stayed with me to this day.

 So what happened in 2002?

I hit rock bottom in 2002. I left work on a Saturday and came home. I was very low. My husband wanted us to go out. We had a few drinks but I was not drunk. I was feeling so tired, there was something in me. Our fighting was no longer news. It was normal. Nobody could understand us.

 We looked good and normal on the outside. It was around midnight when I told him I was tired, so, he went to sleep. My sons were in their bedroom sleeping as well. I decided to take a jerry can of paraffin and soaked myself in it.

I lit a match and tried to set myself ablaze in the living room. One of my sons out of instinct woke up and rushed into the living room to save me. When he returned to sleep, I took the box of match sticks and set myself on fire. Luckily, neighbours rescued me and rushed me to hospital.

 What was going through your mind when you set yourself ablaze?

I had made a decision already. That is how hard the devil can hold your heart. I did not even scream. The burns were 54 per cent, more than half my body. It was while at the ICU that I saw what I had done. I felt that emptiness. To this day, I live a day at a time and try to be the best mother, daughter, wife and friend. I was in hospital for 10 months. The doctors claimed I was lucky to be alive. God had given me a second chance.

 What changed you, how did you accept your situation?
In hospital, I gave my life to Christ. Other people with mild burns were dying daily, but I am alive. I began to see that if He really wanted me alive, I would live for him. It is easy said now, but back then, it was terrible.

I could not even stand at a bus stop, because people would look at me like a monster. I’m scarred on the outside, but I have a big heart. Everyone has a history. The reason I am sharing my story is so that no one will ever hit rock bottom.

 What would you tell people out there?

I told God that I don’t want to be a beggar. To people out there, if you feel suicidal, run and get help. Being suicidal is a serious and symptomatic of a bigger problem.