LOVE IN A TIME OF UNCERTAINTIES

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LOVE IN A TIME OF UNCERTAINTIES

LOVE IN A TIME OF UNCERTAINTIES

by Beryl Muga
It had to be a Saturday. No mistakes. This meeting had been calculated well for months. I’m sitting
across from him. Yes, HIM. The man with a light face. We are brunching. I ordered vegetable rice
and chicken stew. He ordered whisky, a 300ml Coca-Cola, a glass of warm water and a plate of sliced
lemons – a decision as unconventional as his own personality. Seats are set at 1.5m intervals. We
are both wearing white masks, except that mine is an improvised handkerchief, knotted with colorful
bands. As expected, my queer creativity is struggling to gain ground, just like a teenage girl who
is so madly in love that she triggers production of endorphins. Leave alone
the roof. My creativity struggles to score over the fence. Who cares anyway, as long as we are safe
from the deadly pandemic. Right? It’s like Safety has lost its luster and meaning in this
modernized era.

This new norm seems strenuous. How can the surface of the Earth turn out to be so hair-raising? How
can navigation through life in one year be so arduous? It’s like Earth became infected with a
deadly disease and all the other planets decided to seclude it like humans would, a man with
leprosy. If there are newspapers in space, then the headlines would definitely read, “The Milky
Way’s Gone Sour”. Even so, for life’s sake, we’ll continue living. For life’s sake, we’ll dare to put
up.

I’m struggling to get all my mind into a Saturday Newspaper. I flip the pages smoothly as my date
and I engage in conversation. There is a page talking about Fèlicien Kabuga- a dangerous man who
financed the Rwanda Genocide and had an awfully great role in Bombing the Kenya US Embassy in 1998.
When was that? 22 years ago if you ask me. I’d know that was about two decades ago, even if I was
woken up from my sleep. Yeah right, I’m a millennial, finding my lost soul amidst these shaken days
of my early twenties.

I’m trying to read, but even twenty minutes into our Brunch, I’m still staring at this life-sucking
84-year-old image of this deadly terrorist, Fèlicien Kabuga. For a split second, I’m reminded of my
high school days. Four years and beyond, I still strongly hold on to the idea that the only good
and most honest man I have ever met was my High school Chaplain, a Man in his Early Fifties, Dark,
but reasonably admirable, one- Reverend Ngabore. A Rwandese immigrant who knew nothing except
being a Fluent French speaker when he first found a residence of Safety in Kenya. He had taken so
many years perfecting his English that you would hardly suspect his nativity. His wife however,
still had communication constraints but even in that state, it was impossible not to love her. She
was everything Motherly. I thought of Reverend Ngabore and all the sequence of events he had to
deal with; all the trauma from the Genocide, all the heartfelt stories he always told during Parade
Devotions without shedding a tear. All this, only to realize that such a horrible scene was set up
by one man. Fèlicien Kabuga and his associates must have had some nerve.

Any other day, such a story would capture my attention. History always does. Like that week when my
face lit from figuring Italian as one of the most beautiful languages in Europe, its origin
ascribed to Dante, a famous Italian poet. Contrarily, today I’m staring halfway into the face of
this man seated at a 1.5, worried that his appearance might have developed more leanness from sickness over the quarantine. I have never been more anxious. I’m a calm one, but today, even a
stranger can tell that I am poised for action. Seated in this eatery waiting for my vegetable rice,
I notice there are fewer customers than usual today. Seemingly, everyone but us decided to stay at
home and be safe. Aren’t we defiant?

My date keeps getting up every ten minutes. He says he feels like throwing up. He takes washroom
visits at estimated intervals. His food is barely done. Oh, I meant his whiskey. He tells me he
hasn’t eaten well for days. He says he took medications that had stronger effects than celestamine. He doesn’t have a stomach related ailment or a gut inflammation. He has something else. If
his wife were around, she would have said in a mocking Elizabethan tone, “The man dieth slowly. Oh
Pray him alive all the days he liveth under hotel reservation!”

I love him, and I have never judged him for making such bitter choices in regards to drinks or even
life at large. But that afternoon? I was plenty preoccupied. He was using whiskey as a “healing
agent”. He uses Science as a weapon of defense, or rather a means to justify most of his actions.
Science says somethings I have struggled believing through the years about liquor being a
medication for blood related diseases- poison against poison. Once, a waiter asked him, “what’s
your poison? Tequila or whisky?” He didn’t respond because I was staring right into his eyes with
a hopeful expression coupled with my own selfish implications hoping he’d say, “Give me a fresh
cocktail. Make the Beetroot supersede all the fruits therein. Liquor indeed in its literal sense,
is poison enough. Nothing has sent me faster to my grave than such toxicity.” But no. He always
goes for a glass of whisky alongside lemon slices and his bottle of Coca-Cola. It has always been
his rescue, even in such a time of uncertainties.

Every ten minutes, after he leaves, I touch his whisky glass unable to hide my worry. Then I stare
up a while, as if to God, but no, not really. Okay, maybe subconsciously. I have been taking my
quarantine studying Kenneth Haggin’s history on Christian belief. Even so, I still have major
doubts so I stare up a while and spit something out to the universe.
Something like,” Is he going to die? Then why are you making him suffer this long? Tell me? Is he
going to die? Is he? Cause I want him to live more years. I want My little sister and brother to
always have brunch with him. Tell me, is he? I know you are Life and peace. And by your stripes we
are healed. Were you hung on a tree for him to suffer such pain? Just tell me. I’m not going to ask
you why. Maybe he doesn’t believe in you enough. But I do. I believe you. I have lived believing
you all the while. Or have my doubts taken over? But I know that deep down within the depths of my
aching soul, deep down where my ghosts are still roaming longing to be laid to rest. Deep down
where my demons are struggling to gain freedom… Deep down where I have a longing to be forever
unchained. Deep down… I know I believe every word you said. I believe that whatever I ask of you,
I shall receive if only I believe. If my belief is the problem, then teach me truth about who you
are. Teach me diligence and indulgence in nothing but your word and being. There just doesn’t seem
to be any other way.”

Just as I finish mumbling more words that don’t even resonate with my beliefs, He comes back from
the washroom saying, he’s feeling better. In a span of 10 minutes, I hear the waiter,” here’s your
food Miss. Enjoy.” I wish it was an Italian eatery so that the waiter would be forced to say,”here’s your food signorina. Buon appetito.” But no, I’m in the middle of Nairobi CBD. I should
have at least nagged the man with a light face, so he’d let us have brunch in Uptown, where
Trattoria would do us a lot of Italian good. In such a pandemic, love is tough and money can hardly
be minted. So we’ll stick to CBD, as my date’s pocket may.
“Thank you.” I say to the waiter, staring gently at my food in smiles. Smiles buy me time to
silently fumble Grace under my breath, in thanksgiving for a nice meal, one I haven’t had in a
while.

Love in a time of uncertainties. Maybe the food made me forget this unhealthy man seated across.
Maybe even here in this discomfort there was someone watching over us. As I bite into my chicken,
my date asks,” is it nice?” I say, “It’s amazing dad. I hardly enjoy my food in Kajiado when I’m
alone. I mostly take tea in the evenings. Thanks for Brunch. Means the world in such a season.” He
smiles. Brunch with someone dark and lovely for a daughter is often his remedy. His poison. Any
parent would rejoice at such a precious moment.

Brunch was good. At least that was my eventual conclusion. Maybe it was that prayer that gave me
peace for the rest of the time. But I know that the more I keep looking up to God, the stronger my
faith will be. My date will keep getting better, because even beyond our brunch table, beyond my
crib in Kajiado. Away from home and family, there is a strong power in intercession, and I believe
that is what has sustained My father all these years even in his unbelief. Our prayers are
the biggest gesture of love that can be offered in such a season of uncertainties.

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2 Comments
  • Tynnah
    Posted at 06:23h, 16 June Reply

    Whaaaaaat????,,,,,awwww now this was sooo capturing and a very emotional kind of piece right there…..mmmmh,,,,it comes out as one of those writer’s pieces who’ve had it all rough growing up in an environment that only knew the kind of toxic love or no love at all buh currently struggling to give out what she never experienced growing up. Mmmmh,,,,it depicts how someone out there is suffering to really tryna fit in and make themselves known and appreciated even for the very little things they have done much as they kinda tryna get to terms with the kind of choices they settled for years back.
    It depicts a whole lot of struggles with living in this day and wanting to feel loved when all has broken loose…..
    It tells what it means to have a longterm ailment that could sound embarrassing if they open up to it to family or friends or close ppl they love,so they try to cover up everything to seem okay and normal buh then its just hard to go by….and getting to stretches of the bottle seem to numb that kind of pain and regrets buh in reality it worsens everything.
    It tells how that person feels they could reverse back time and makes things right buh time has caught up with them and they got no choice but to live by it,,and nurse the wounds.

    Ppl need lots of love more than you can imagine and growing up in a toxic kind of love environment makes it very hard to understand and give what you ought to give in terms of love.
    Wow that was soooo thoughtful of you Beryl Muga.

    Keep the fire burning gal.,,You gat this.

  • Tynnah
    Posted at 08:06h, 16 June Reply

    Whaaaaaat????,,,,,awwww now this was sooo capturing and a very emotional kind of piece right there…..mmmmh,,,,it comes out as one of those writer’s pieces who’ve had it all rough growing up in an environment that only knew the kind of toxic love or no love at all buh currently struggling to give out what she never experienced growing up. Mmmmh,,,,it depicts how someone out there is suffering to really tryna fit in and make themselves known and appreciated even for the very little things they have done much as they kinda tryna get to terms with the kind of choices they settled for years back.
    It depicts a whole lot of struggles with living in this day and wanting to feel loved when all has broken loose…..
    It tells what it means to have a longterm ailment that could sound embarrassing if they open up to it to family or friends or close ppl they love,so they try to cover up everything to seem okay and normal buh then its just hard to go by….and getting to stretches of the bottle seem to numb that kind of pain and regrets buh in reality it worsens everything.
    It tells how that person feels they could reverse back time and makes things right buh time has caught up with them and they got no choice but to live by it,,and nurse the wounds.

    Ppl need lots of love more than you can imagine and growing up in a toxic kind of love environment makes it very hard to understand and give what you ought to give in terms of love.
    Wow that was soooo thoughtful of you Beryl Muga.

    Keep the fire burning gal.,,You gat this.

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