Brez

People get saved because the preacher read them the riot act. Other’s come to the Lord because they are making a negotiation – give me this, I will give you my life – which is truly foolish because even that life isn’t yours. I got saved at the height of my best life. I was balling and living life on the fast lane even before many people knew life had lanes. At 21, I was done with college, working, driving, travelling the world, and buying dresses worth thirty gees. Ngiri thaate! Mbeca fari fari. Then One day I thought, ‘if my life is this good without Jesus in it, life with Jesus will be Pro Max!” So I got saved.

My bro invited me to his church. He insisted that there was a young pastor who was fiery and fun. I went for this pastor’s evening services for one year, and never saw him. He was always out on a mission. Then one day I met him. He was bubbly and fun. I learned that he was born with sickle cell anemia, he wasn’t supposed to live beyond 20 years, but here he was, a walking miracle. We stood on the road for five hours, talking. He was the purest soul I had ever talked to. He didn’t seem to have an agenda, it was just pure friendship.

Our friendship grew like a fungus in humidity. We were having the best of times in ministry. We shared almost everything, but we hadn’t made it clear if we were dating. One day, I gave him an ultimatum – make up his mind and say the word, or we couldn’t be friends anymore. It didn’t take him much time, there was no way he was letting all this beauty and brains go. Dating a pastor should be listed among the 1000 ways to die. Church girls called me all manner of names – I was called the queen of the sea, I was luring the man of God away. Of all the men I could marry, did I have to choose the ONE they were eyeing?

It was announced on a crusade before my wedding day that I was going to split the earth and swallow everyone who came. So, people came in their hundreds to witness the devil’s messenger do her thing. Well, I’m sorry I disappointed them.

My marriage was blissful. I never once shouted at my husband or slept angry. I love peace, I’d rather wake him up in the night than sleep grumpy. He supported me and protected me fiercely. I was untouchable and could stand all the negativity because he was my safe place. We got three beautiful babies – two boys and a little princess. We also lost two babies. We weathered these storms together.

He was still very missional and always went preaching. He took a mission to the USA in 2013, preaching from state to state and having a wonderful time in the Lord. We saw many miracles in our marriage, and especially in him as a sickler.

Perhaps due to weather conditions, he got a sickle cell crisis. He had an attack while preaching and was rushed to the hospital. I was informed of this development and kept it to myself for two days as he received treatment. I wanted so badly to be by his side, I applied for a Visa and was granted it. I drove to the Embassy to collect my passport. On my way there, the hospital in the USA called. I knew I needed to pull over for this call. I pulled over and walked out of the car.

I know we’re taught from childhood to say sorry as an etiquette, but you don’t want to hear “sorry” from the doctor who’s treating your person.

Doctor: I’m so sorry, Judy. He’s gone to be with the Lord.

Me: What time?doctor: 3 AM this morning.

My friend who was accompanying me to the embassy started screaming in the car. As if on cue, sister Ada Adoyo called. “How’s he, Judy?”

“He’s gone, Ada.”

Ada Adoyo started screaming.

I had just one thought in my mind — I need to get home to my babies. I didn’t cry. I can’t cry – I actually have a condition that keeps tears from forming. My life was unraveling and I couldn’t cry. It was the worst day of my life. Yet. I didn’t know it then, but this was the beginning of a thousand unimaginable nightmares. My Brez was thousands of miles away, now he was not even on this earth. He was gone. I was a widow. I have been for 8 years.

There’s a reason why the Bible says that a man shall not teach his wife how to drive. Or does it?

By wife, I mean all categories of wives. Goat wives, mother-of-my-children-who-trapped-me-with-pregnancy wives, I’ll-pay-dowry-some-day wives, how-did-we-end-up-here wives and the faithful side chick wife-ish wives.

“Turn the steering. Not that way, the other way. Kata yote.”

Wife does as told.

“Songa mbele kidogo.” Wife does as told.

“Rudi nyuma halafu ukate kwako halafu ukate kwangu, halafu uweke baking powder na masala na whipping cream, halafu ukoroge, halafu, ufunikie bonnet, halafu uifanyie brain surgery na utoe kichwa yote …”

“What are you doing!?

“Si umesema nitoe kichwa yote?”

“Kichwa ya gari, sio kichwa yako!”

Lawwwwd! You’ve scratched the bumper!

“Lakini si gari imetoka. Get in, show me how to turn the one of going back where I came from.”(Facepalm)

The most underrated and unrecorded world war is between a married couple driving in the same car, with one of them as the driver.

He’s always seeing the pearly gates and Peter beckoning him to come hither and join the heavenly choir. He knows he can’t sing and he’ll end up in the kitchen with Shadrach and Abednego peeling potatoes for the great banquet.

Do you know what the passenger door handle that’s stuck on the rooftop is for? It’s for husbands to hold onto dear life when teaching their wives how to drive.

Teaching a spouse driving is pure trials and temptations. Just being in the same car with them is enough to make you lose your salvation.She’s always wondering why you’re driving too slow, too fast, too serious, too fogothary. He’s always missing directions and you will have an open heart surgery without anesthesia before you can ask for directions.

She doesn’t understand why he’s having palpitations when a Toyota overtakes their beloved Subaru. Why he feels the need to step on the gas until his foot is touching the headlights just to prove a point.

It should be a prerequisite for marriage. If you can drive together for two weeks without anyone killing anyone, congratulations, you have passed the test. You can get married.

But it’s no guarantee.

Deadbeat Turtles

I have been living in Mombasa for close to 9 years now. (It sounds like a century when I say it aloud.) The night before we left Nairobi, I had vivid dreams of the house I’d be living in. It was expansive, with windows the size of Brexit and light rainbow curtains that blew in the wind to the roof. It had large glass sliding doors and windows, an open plan kitchen, and a fridge wider than river Ewaso Nyiro. Oh, it was also all white.

Fun costs money. Although many Kenyans love to have fun, the plans die like a mushroom at midday when we realise how much it will cost. However, the problem isn’t money; we don’t know where to have fun for little money. And I’m bringing you the cheat sheet.

Instead, I landed in a tiny apartment with a toilet so tiny I couldn’t shower and think at the same time. It had only one window, and it was neither glass nor sliding – it was by a wire mesh to keep away mosquitoes. That wire must have been manufactured at the same time as the Nyayo car. The house was white all right, but with Indomie advert all over on the outside walls.

I don’t need to tell you I wasn’t balling in that house. It was so hot that we had to leave and stay outside when we cooked. We didn’t live there for long, but it took a few years (and a few houses) to get a house that I remotely loved living in.

The best part of that life was, we went to the beach DAILY. It was new and fun and cheap – we just needed fare. After a while, the beach gets old. You need something new, and new things mean having money. You most definitely have established by now that we didn’t have much of that by then. What I didn’t know is you can have lots of fun for little money in Mombasa.

On Sunday, we decided we were going for a picnic. We wanted a picnic at the beach, but with some shade and green. We didn’t know where we’d get that, but one of us suggested we go to Jumba ruins in Mtwapa.

I’m not a fan of history. I dropped it in form two after learning about Agrarian Revolution and donkeys in Mesopotamia. I wasn’t sure this was a good idea for me. But I was excited to go out. So we agreed to make it a potluck and have a good time out.

I made popcorn and packed water. After the church service, we bought bananas from a hawker and waited for chips to be ready. We waited for so long; it left like we were helping Mandela finish his prison sentence. That is one thing that I’m yet to get used to as an ex-Nairobian. My people in Mombasa don’t count their chicks before they hatch. Even in the hotels, they start cooking when they see the mouths that will be eating. I grew white hair and developed arthritis while waiting for those potatoes.

And then we took the drive to Jumba la Mtwana. It’s a bit past Mtwapa town if you’re coming from Mombasa town. After the bridge, take a right turn and keep driving down until you see the signage. You’ll know you have arrived when you see Akothee’s white house. That house was the house in my dreams! I didn’t think it existed until I saw it! Heee, madam boss, I have seen my dreams with my own two eyes. If you’re reading this and need someone to manage it for you, say the word. My people will be in contact with your people.

We had hoped to bypass the ruins because we didn’t think we’d afford to pay the fees needed. We just wanted to access the beach. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that it only costs Ksh. 100 for adults and Ksh 50 for kids. We were two families with two children each. That was just Ksh. 600.

We parked and started our walk around. I may have hated history, but Jumba ruins aren’t history – it’s nostalgia. It’s stepping back into time and seeing a life far different from what you’re living that happened at the very place you’re stepping. I wasn’t prepared to be so moved by coral and cement from the 14th century.

The ruins are strategically set up on a raised part of the beach as a security strategy. The inhabitants needed to see the enemy ships approaching. Who else feels like we need something like this today? An app that identifies the pretenders and narcissists in your life and sounds a siren when you meet them?  

I was ready to die of boredom, but I was so pleasantly surprised. The grounds are green and perfect for a picnic. We spread our Maasai shawls on the ground and unpacked our lunch. One of the men on the trip had made samosas that were so good; I wanted to ask if manna was part of the ingredients. The view of the beach was perfect for melting problems, real and imagined.

The kids had a fantastic time in the waters. The best part of the trip was when we witnessed baby turtles being released into the water. Mommy turtles come to shore to lay their eggs, and when the eggs hatch, the tiny turtles scuttle away to the waters at night.

But the crabs know this, so they lay in wait. As the little turtles run to begin their lives, each crab grabs one. The turtles are now endangered. Because of this, the Kenya Wildlife Service and other conservation enthusiasts carefully remove the turtles, put them in a bucket, and release them into the water. The turtles need to walk to the water by themselves because the females have to find their way back to the beach they were hatched to lay their eggs when they are of age —talk of finding their true North. The males never come back on land. (deadbeat turtles!)

I couldn’t imagine we had had fun in Mombasa for so little. Clearly, all you need to have a great time in Mombasa is a means of transport and heavenly samosas. Watching the little turtles struggle to take their first walk home is a different type of Nirvana.