I am an adventurous soul. I love food……good food. I love dancing and also I love to travel amongst many other things.
My love for travel has allowed me to travel on a budget as well as opulence. Travel has made make friends as well as non-friends. Travel has expanded my palate and allowed me to use my kitchen as a Petri dish of sorts for the lab rats in my house. Out of respect, let me call them out; my husband and children. See, I went to Kampala and was taught how to make matoke and serve it with groundnut sauce. They call it G-nut sauce. I travelled to Eritrea and learned how to brew coffee in a pot and even had a coffee ceremony in my honor. Though honestly speaking, we were 2 colleagues on that trip so it was in our honor. I travelled to Dubai and Mauritius but my growing belly could not stand the smell of oil and the one who was growing inside me at the time made me puke my guts out the whole night. Of course the following days, you pretend that you are well so that the days move faster and put the doctor on call the moment you start the journey back coz I just could not fathom landing in a hospital in a foreign land. My go to medicine in such times was sugar in the form of chocolates, sweets and very sugary tea. Interestingly, it still does work to date. So, the next time you hear that I am unwell, just send over chocolates and the likes.
12 or 13 or maybe even 14 years back I had a very interesting encounter. By then I had not yet become a globe trotter. Rather, I used to trot in the villages in Baringo and Iten as I worked with a local NGO that was contracted to conduct a survey on the progress of CDF and related projects. We were tasked with administering questionnaires to the locals. It was a lot of fun, the travelling, the encounter with locals, the adventure of having to reach a point where our four wheeler could not pass and our Samburu driver would point at our meeting point. To be honest, I never used to see where he was pointing at, but his razor sharp eyesight and memory would enable him describe our meeting point and exact time. True to his word, you would find him there waiting for us. More so, he would have taken the liberty to have placed an order of ugali and boiled mbuzi at one of the restaurants. Let me pause here and explain that the restaurant in this setting is not what you are thinking of. A restaurant meant someone whom you have a rapport with that does business by the roadside and coincidentally makes tea, either for bodaboda riders etc or has a vegetable kibanda, and would by extension offer this service to her crème de la crème clients. READ: us. I mean white land cruisers would only mean, tourists or money. We were not the former & only my boss would answer about the latter. So, my time with that NGO ended and being a recent graduate who is being housed by the mother, I picked up a back pack with 6 clothing items and boarded a bus to Nairobi. I told my mother, a day or two later, that I am in Nairobi and I don’t know when I will come back. That is how I roll to date.
The details are kinda hazy from this point onwards but let me give it my best.
So, a family friend at the time called or texted to inform me that she was getting married to her boyfriend and that I was invited to the bridal shower that will be held at another friend’s house. If you are familiar with Eldoret, the function was to be held at one of the apartments near Eagle’s Hardware. Oh! Wait or was it the owner of the house who was throwing a surprise bash? Honestly, I am scratching my head about the details but the story continues. I figured that I was jobless at the time and was almost going broke, the best thing is to go back home. I mean, I would not have to worry about chipping in to the budget of the host where I was staying plus I hadn’t had a road trip in the longest while. So, I just woke up on the day of the bridal party, did my bit of chores in the host’s house, went to town and boarded a shuttle headed to Eldoret. I remember while haggling the price of the Shuttle, I marked a familiar face from Eldoret but I didn’t think much about it. I just thought that it was a coincidence to see this face around here yet I knew it from home. Eldoret.
You see, if you grew up in Eldoret in the 90s, there were a lot of things that were just default. For instance, either the name of your school had a definite article to its name or none at all. You either studied at THE Hill School, THE Testimony School, THE Gulab or you went to Sosiani Primary School, Kimallel Primary School, UG Primary etc. I went to THE Hill School. Another odd thing is that kids used to align themselves accordingly, so even during playtime in the estate, one could easily tell because our songs were different, our speech was different i.e. we spoke in English while others spoke lugha ya mtaa and our fights were different. We fought over academic stuff, over friends including boyfriends and girlfriends, over being a teacher’s pet and over how one landed (of failed to land in) the noisemakers list. The others would fight for survival, fight to avoid punishments in school, fight over who copied whose answers in the exam, fight off a bully etc.
I remembered this face was from the other side that did not have a definite article. Or so I thought. Don’t laugh.
I boarded the shuttle and the journey back to Eldoret from Nairobi began. I had a Sagem phone at the time. The tiny, stout, shiny silver one, having graduated from the slightly longer and wider navy blue one. For my age, early 20s, and context, jobless, that was upper middle class. I simply put on my headphones and listened to Hope FM because I did not like the music that was playing inside the Shuttle. I had very little success at that because the more the car moved the more unstable the signal became before it finally moved to another frequency altogether leaving me with white noise. Boredom struck me real hard. So, I looked around the shuttle and lo and behold, the face without a definite article was also present.
I didn’t think much about it.
The uneventful journey finally reached its destination; Eldoret. Looking at the city clock at Barclays Bank on Oloo Street it was past 5pm. The time for the bridal shower was coming up fast and the venue is slightly over 2 kilometers away. I had 2 options; either a bodaboda (the original bicycle) or walk as fast as my short legs could carry me. You see, I am exactly 5ft and weighed approximately 45kgs at the time. What happened between then and now is a wonder that I behold to date. Being hands free, literally, gave me the advantage of walking fast over and above the flexibility I had at the time due to dancing. I hated handbags then. I decided to walk using the short cuts that I knew. I remember with every turn I took; I would see this familiar face not so far away from me. I mean, even when I cut through the market, I saw her. My instinct told me to walk as fast as my legs could carry me.
So I did. So did she.
After taking the last bend at Eagle’s Hardware and I could see my destination, I thought to myself surely Eldoret is a small town but not that small. Why is she following me? I had thought of going into one of the garages that my (late) dad would take his car but then I asked myself then what? I mean I was now a young woman, the mech might think of taking me out for a drink at his local considering the time. Then I thought of standing still and letting the familiar face make the first move i.e. either stall, turn back or prove me wrong by continuing her forward march, then I also wondered could it be that is what she is waiting for me to do? Liwe liwalo! I thought to myself and sprang forward to my destination.
I turned into the building where the party would be held.
So did she.
Surely woman, what is wrong with you? Can’t you just leave me alone. So I thought.
I reached the door of my destination and knocked. She stood next to me.
I just wanted to pee on myself coz a million scenarios ran through my head.
Had I ‘kidnapped’ myself?
Did I get the address wrong?
Lord, why do I have a stalker?
Why didn’t I text Mum to tell her that I was coming to Eldoret? Why didn’t I tell my big sis, my host in Nairobi, that I had travelled back to Eldoret?
Oh Lord, if my body is found, please let it not be found in River Sosiani.
The door was opened and I saw many familiar faces, much to my relief. Weirdly though, they also knew her. I kept my distance coz I was processing so much and just wanted to ensure that I lived to this day where I would write about this encounter. An hour or so later, the bride to be arrived and we were able to introduce ourselves to each other. I do not remember over 90% of the people who were there but the familiar face I tagged.
I found her so easy to talk to. The hilarious tomboy in me at the time was the life of the party. I remember guys wanting to sleep at around 1am and here I was cranking the volume of the jokes. I don’t think we slept coz I kept people laughing, I played pranks on others and basically just got people talking through the night. By the time the sun was up, by the time everyone left for the various places of choice, I had the telephone number of the strange face plus her name.
Everything went silent for a while.
During that while I met my husband.
During that while I got to understand that Sheila and I shared so many mutual friends across the divide.
After the while I got to attend Sheila’s church and understood she was me and I was her in tastes and likes. The only yet biggest difference is our personalities. She is motherly, I am a bully of sorts to date. Though I may have toned it down, life does a number once in a while and priorities change, hence.
After the while Sheila was part of my bridesmaid lineup despite her brother being arrested the night to my wedding. She actually sneaked out the morning of the wedding to go and check up on him then she caught up with us just in time.
After the while, Sheila became a part of my life and I became part of hers.
Talk of fights, misunderstandings, prayer, laughter, tears, journaling, blog, music, FOOD, family, church…. you name it.
The most interesting thing is that at times we may not speak for even 3 months then when we get back together, we pick up where we left off naturally. No odd silence. The most annoying yet most appreciative aspect about this friendship is that we can finish each other’s sentences to date. It annoys me yes but it is also a wonderful thing.
Do you know that one person who will not be offended if you tell them the unfiltered truth? And if it offends them, you will not hear it in an unrecognizable version from an unrelated person? That is Sheila. Even if Sheila is offended, she will tell you warmly. I am not Sheila in that area. Tushikane mashati priiis till when the truth comes out and the heat of the truth irons the creases out of the shirt.
Do you know that person who can call you and summarize a heart break in 30 minutes and you need no further details because you gerrit? That’s Sheila
Do you know that person whom you can send a prayer request text of less than 50 words and she will travail on her knees for you? That is Sheila
At this point the Kenyan in me is thinking someone might say mtaachana tu. Let me surprise you, tuliachana once kitambo because of my foolishness but that is water under the bridge. That was an episode on maturity that I needed to have it in no other way.
Fun fact: After writing up this story is when I realized that I do not know Sheila’s email address. I have sent a WhatsApp text right now at 1.20am. I hope she responds before this post goes live.
“Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel”
“My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend.”
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”
“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”