Two Disciples

Two texts yesterday evening mentioned Kenyan life:

In English:How’s Kenyan Life

In KiswahiliHope all’s well and you’re enjoying maisha Kenya

So far, kenyan life is being good to me.

Yesterday evening the most amazing thing happened: I started reading The Kindness Of Strangers, an Xmas present from Denise — with this journey in mind. I read the foreword by the Dalai Lama, and the introduction and had just started the first story of unexpected kindness when, there came a knock at my door.

“Who is it?” I called. No reply. I turned on the outside light to illuminate my visitor and looked out the window. There was an old man outside and I did not think I recognised him but, maybe he was Katika who patrols the compound on Sundays (when I first learned his name I thought I had been told he was the care taker). I took down the big metal bar from behind the door and opened up to the night, and the mosquitos.

The old man spoke English, his accent was clear but he was clearly struggling with vocabulary. He said he was looking for Gerard (one of the Teachers, who tends to the Cybercafe). I told him Gerard was not there.

“Are you here?”, the old man asked.

“I am here.”, I said, indicating the house with a gesture.

“Can you help me?”, asked the man, “… match box.”

“Yes, Karibu (come in)”, I gestured towards my living room, lit by two 60w bulbs and filled with Hip Hop from Nairobi’s Capital FM.

The old man was clear-eyed and midnight skinned, his face had chicken-pox scars in sharp relief from my electric lights, he was wearing an overcoat and carrying what looked like a home-made bow. He declined my invitation. “Match box”, he repeated.

I fetched, from my kitchen, a box containing a few sticks that had been givn to me by Johnson, the Sister’ cook, when I had used up the two matchsticks that had been in the house when I arrived. I shook the box and handed it to the man. He thanked me and we exchangd names: Simon and Mark.

A gas cigarette-lighter costs KES10 in Tala, the same price as the text message I sent to Denise when I had re-locked my door.

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