Money Lover

I was walking home one easy evening in Nairobi, lost in #Foodie thoughts, you know, what I would have for dinner in my #FlatTummyQuest. I had decided on butternut squash and a nice wet fry 🙂 I was already cutting up the cucumbers, the red and yellow capsicum when a man stopped abruptly. He bent to pick up something from the ground. He then turned my way and said, “Huyu ameangusha pesa na anendelea tu kutembea?” (Someone just dropped some money). I encouraged him to go after the man and give it back.

“Aii zi!si hiyo ni carelessness. Tugawane!”(No, he was careless, let’s share it) By now, I had noticed he reeked of alcohol. I decided to play along.

“Sawa, but let’s find him and give him the money and then demand ‘our share’… imagine if it was you?”. Accompanying the bundle was a receipt of one from the trusted banks in Kenya. Fifty Thousand Kenya Shillings Only, it said…being payment of ‘driver’s fee’. I really wanted for the guy who had dropped the bundle to get it back, so for a moment, my dinner plans were put on hold even as the ‘finder’ agreed to my suggestions. We crossed the road and started looking for a short guy with a red cap on and a sweater draped around his shoulders.

We went back to the spot and as if by a miracle, the guy appeared, exhibiting all manner of stress and panic.  We greeted him and asked him if he had lost something, and in the shakiest voice you could ever imagine from a man, he said, “Aki nimepoteza fifty thao!”(I have lost fifty thousand) We interrogated him a bit more then Mr.Finder asked that he gives us five thousand each. I looked at him, registering all sorts of disbelief and anger! When did we stop being genuine good samaritans we once were, eh Kenyans? So ‘we’ negotiated to two thousand each. He agreed. As soon as Mr. Finder handed him the money, I excused myself, telling him I didn’t need his money. Mr. Finder protested and said we had a deal. he was almost getting angry. I knew this could get out of hand so I said, “You can have my share too” and whisked myself across the road. I looked back from the other side and the tension seemed to have eased a bit.

Fast forward a week later. We were passing through the exact spot where Mr. Finder had found the 50k bundle. I start recounting to my colleague my experience and how we are just becoming a hopeless cruel society where no one helps without expecting a reward (I might have also shown some bravado, being a Christian who wants to follow Christ’s footsteps and get to heaven, lol) She stops me midway looking quite concerned, but on second thought lets me continue. Once I was done, she tells me, “Those were conmen!” Apparently, these group of people work in twos or threes. One drops the bundle, the other one picks and offers the third unsuspecting party a share of the money. If one agrees, they are escorted to a dark corner(because the owner might come looking) and then robbed and whatever other evil they feel like metting out on the victims.

“You know what saved you? You are not greedy. For money. For things that aren’t yours. Imagine if you had accepted the share.” My colleague quipped. I was quite shocked. How naive of me, to just help without asking the right questions. Here are some of the things that should have raised my antennas;

  • Why would someone, tell another of a jackpot, yet only he had seen it? Very strange that they would insist on sharing.
  • This drunk man, remembered the details of the man who had dropped the bundle, in suspect clarity! A red hat, and a sweater draped around the shoulders? First of all men don’t do such details! haha!, I should have known!
  • When I refused to take the deal, he got agitated, even when I told him to have my share, he seemed to insist that we are in this together. Why would someone get so angry?
  • Come to think of it, the supposed receipt from a leading bank in Kenya was not the ones I had seen before…but I didn’t think it a big deal, since there are bank transactions that I have never done.

In hindsight, I only had Ksh. 100 left that day. I don’t know why I didn’t think that Ksh 2000 would help my life, because it would have.

I Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

I am so glad God delivered me from that snare. The whole experience challenged me in ways of honesty and trusting God to provide for when it is uncertain where our sustenance will come from. My greed would have led to me “piercing myself with quite a pang”, it makes me shiver. Be wary of conmen! There are people who are out to use your kind-hearted spirit for their own selfish gains, of course hurting you in the process.

One more thing, challenge yourself to be a genuine helper. One who expects no rewards. When the rewards do come, they will be even sweeter. I know mine was.

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Why do snakes exist?

I was recently up at the Samburu National Reserve on a work trip. Our research camp is set on the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro which separates The Samburu National Reserve and The Buffalo Springs National Reserve. As you can imagine, this is quite a bush set up, we don’t want to totally change the landscape as we are on wild animal territory. It is their home after all and have full rights to be here. The Samburu team are housed in tents and other temporary structures which a visitor would find very unsettling seeing that the wildlife here roam through the camp quite often. More often than not, elephants, some of whom we know by name like Yaeger and Sarara, graze and browse unmoved as people go about their work. I  have never gotten used to the dazing effect, watching such a huge animal mind his/her business. Sometimes, if you are lucky, you get to look at them in the eye, and the feeling is indescribable. You have to experience it yourself.

On one of my first visits up North, I was held captive, pleasantly so, by 3 young male elephants who were casually grazing right next to my room. I panicked and called the camp manager who told me to relax, that they would be on their way as soon as they were done. “Elephants don’t attack unless provoked,” He said. So I sat there, listening to them tug at the grass with their feet and the silent seconds when they would use their trunks to put it into their mouths. I was tempted to open the door and watch them eat, but  decided against it. Instead, I took a chair and climbed to reach up one of the windows. I looked outside and at that particular moment, one of the bulls lifted his head and our eyes met! I almost toppled over, but I held on long enough to take in this moving moment…and as fast as it had happened, it was all over. I don’t think I will ever forget this, ever! It gave a deeper meaning to my work. Sounds silly, I know.

So, as I was saying, I was up there recently and one particular incident has tugged on my heart since. A young girl, about 5 years old was bitten by a snake on her wrist. She was brought to our camp in the dead of the night so we could drive her to the nearest hospital at Archers post. She didn’t last long, hours later, she was dead. I shed a tear, I haven’t felt that sad in a long time. I don’t know what angered me most; the fact that the parents had waited for hours before taking her to hospital, choosing to use some traditional curative method in preventing the poison from spreading, or that snakes…snakes bite people for no particular reason. I mean, lions would kill you then eat you, because they were hungry. Hippos kill you when you get in between them and the water and so on. But snakes bite or spit on you, then slither away. I don’t understand and if I read my Bible in Genesis, they are the devil himself.  It makes quite a lot of sense then, that I can’t stand them, I hate them and they are my biggest fear when I’m in the bush.

A day later we hear of another kid, this time older, who also dies from a snake bite. That night a small cobra was ‘sitting’ resting near the dinner table. I am told as I wasn’t present, that people just looked at it and continued eating unperturbed. It seemed full, they said. Some suggested that they murder it but the others, mostly the White counterparts (not to sound racist or anything close) said it should be left alone. I inquired, and was told it is one of the deadliest snakes and kills with within minutes if no antidote is available. Later on, one of my colleagues meets a huge snake as he was walking to his tent. It was long gone when he came back seconds later with a group of men to finish it off. A search in the nearest bushes yielded nothing.

When one of our American friends heard what had happened, she was pretty upset. She said we had no right to kill the snakes because we were the trespassers here. That we should let them be. I know she makes sense about the territories and all, but what to do when you find yourself living in the same space with them? Should we wait till a snake bites someone then kill it? Even then, have we any right? I don’t know, maybe its my fears talking…but I don’t see how a snake can be conserved for future use 😦 Future use to kill? Ah. I know there are snake lovers out there as well as there are elephant lovers and one would argue that no love is greater than the other…actually I would in favour of elephants 😀 them being keystone species and all; but why do snakes exist? Why the can’t they sense good intention just like elephants and just leave humans alone? I wish God would just call off this snake curse 😦

I am not blind to the deaths elephants have caused, or the yields they have mercilessly trampled on as they ate to their fill…sigh! I guess I am just confused as to why the world ain’t perfect.

What do you think?

 

What do you do with twenty seven years worth of a depth and wealth of experience?

“I wish my cold could get worse so I can have a baby too.”

That was my reaction when my mama walked in with our last born Tony that April afternoon, 1994. I never saw my mum’s baby bump…did I even know what being pregnant is? no! At least not that I can remember.  Mum had had this persistent cold for about a week, so when I came in from school one evening and was told mum had to be rushed to the hospital, I just assumed it was to treat the cold. We didn’t go see her while she was there and three days later, she walks in with a baby. I mean, what is a 7year old 90s kid supposed to think? There was no google, at least in my world, to help me out with “How mummy got a baby”.

So in my mother’s arms was the yellowest or pinkiest? baby, with tiny tiny fingers and toes and silky black hair. It was wrapped in a blue shawl(a kind I don’t see anymore) and looked like the babies we saw on The Bold and Beautiful on occasions we stole glances behind the couch out mum and dad’s sight…As soon as “AGE RESTRICTION: 18” appeared on the screen, daddy would give us ‘the look’ and we, my brothers, sisters and I would file our mumbling selves out of the room, then proceed to hide behind the couch. Oh yeah, we were caught several times too!

Back to baby…when he was finally placed into my eager arms, I remember feeling some sort of heart swell. Something special. Then, holding the baby’s tiny fingers in my ‘large’ ones, I sniffed(Mum’s cold had done some spreading…) and said to no one really, “…mi natamani tu hii homa yangu iongezeke ndio niende hosi nipate mtoto”(See opening statement for translation) I then handed the baby to the next person in the baby carrying queue and ran off to the backyard where the long smooth grass grew to knit something for my brother. My mum never passes a chance to narrate this story to everyone who cares to listen especially if there is baby talk going on. Well, I don’t believe I said that, haha! and am sticking to my story.

Of course I now know how babies are made, and everything about the whole cycle. I grew up, and with time, learnt new fascinating things about my family and the world. Some, like death, I would want to forget, and pretend that I never knew anything about them in the first place; and others I want to remember with every rising of the sun. But even the ones that I wish amnesia on, have taught me a thing or two about life. Of the need to really appreciate that I have it real good even when it seems I don’t. There are others that have caused me so much heartache, self-doubt and tears but never regret. God always has your back, if you let Him.

I look back and I just want to laugh at myself. I didn’t know what pizza was until I went to University. I am not sure I knew what a burger was either. The closest I came to that family of foods was fries…which us shagsmodos* called chips! I guess its a good thing though, otherwise we would all be busy dealing with high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes in a family that already has great body endowment genes 😀 That first real kiss later on, wacha the one I got on the cheek from Sadique behind the kitchen while still in high school, was something.  I discovered books could take you far and wide like Alladin’s magic mat and would experience heights I otherwise could not have imagined. I read them all! From the mills and boons to those novels whose male cover models had serious muscles ripping across their bodies to setbooks in high school to autobiographies and more serious books for grown ups; Reading is a joy! Sigh! Then at a certain age, you are told you can’t play kati and cha baba na mama with boys anymore. Even banyo? No? ok! If you are floating right now, you are either not Kenyan or a Kenyan born in the 2000s. Those were games we played before playstations were invented and Facebook was an actual face and a book.

Where was I…oh. Here. With all these new discoveries though, some things remained constant. I still love my sleep! Indeed I earned the nickname queen because of my sleeping habits! Wee! That doesn’t mean I was(am) lazy. Apparently all this sleeping gave birth to my 6 foot height! hehe! Hear ye all four footers! Sleep your way to the elite 6foot tall club!! I still laugh like crazy with everyone who cares to and my birth, no, beauty spot, right next to my left eye still exists.

Today is my 27th birthday. Damn, that’s something. I am scared to think of all I have not accomplished at this age; those who know me will tell you that I set myself standards so high even a pole vault athlete would be afraid to take on the challenge. But more so, I am grateful for the successes achieved over the years. The failures that have taught me that I am only human and that by failing we must learn that we can’t all be number one but we can push ourselves to be the best.

Its amazing how many friends I have kept over the years and the many I have similarly dropped along the way, willingly or unwillingly. I naturally tend to hold on to things and sometimes people longer, believing I can salvage every relationship I have ever started. Again with time, I have learnt that there are things and people that God allows for just for a season while others stick like glue for reasons the others wouldn’t. Through it all, God you have been the one. Family. Friends. Thank you.

Rambo, Commando (who knew how to pronounce Schwarzenegger then? Liar!), Chuck Norris and the rest are ageing or have already. We don’t see them anymore and when we do, they are running for political offices. Now there is the new crop of super heroes who are not as bad a** as the originals! Unlike or like the veterans, depending on what angle you’re at, time has brought out the best in me; the curves have brought with them responsibility and self respect…and a husband and kids hopefully on the way 😀 The brains have opened doors and opportunities and life, life has generally hugged me.

All said and done, I believe I deserve this today…Image

I guess what I am trying to say here is, “There is a depth and wealth in experience that cannot be equated to the reward at the end.” Enjoy the journey!