“Have we met?”
“You haven’t,” Shirley responded. “This is her first time here”
“Oh, you look like someone else, he said.”
When I told him I was from Nigeria and only here a few months before going to Kenya, he invited me to meet his wife, and then we went back to their home to see photos from when he was a young Military Chaplain in Kenya in the 1950s.
Each photo is accompanied by a short, hand-written description, and I spend a Sunday afternoon after church sipping sherry and chatting about boat rides from Singapore and Aden, MauMau fighters and men in boats who sold postcards without pictures.
Wood carvings, perfectly preserved over decades, were displayed on the shelves of their summer house, and he’d turn on lights along the tops of the shelves as we got to each section, so that I could take closer looks at the carvings of Maasai warriors and animals. There was an intricate ivory piece of about 15 tiny elephants carved in rows, and it was all so beautiful it made me wonder how many things we do joyfully and normally now, will be declared wrong or inhuman or barbaric decades down the line, and if anyone will pause long enough to view these things from all sides and judge us by our intent, what we knew as true at the time, and not just what is true at the time it is being considered.
I think I wanted to shock myself awake, and that’s why I left everything behind. It had become too easy to build the world I wanted and hide in it. That world had its time—when keeping things and people out was the difference between life and death. After resurrection, fear is no longer a thing to shrink from. "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I go out once every two days, mostly to a coffee shop down the road to have scrambled eggs and salmon on toast and a cup or two of coffee while reading or working on my laptop. The owner is from Turkey and speaks French. Each time he speaks it to someone, I remember B and Ake last November.
I don’t know how, but we settled into a rhythm. Whenever there’s quiet in the cafe, we talk for a few minutes till the next coffee drinker wanders in.
I told him about my trip and he told me how he had moved from London to open his own coffee shop here 10 years ago. A few days ago, he invited me to hangout with his friends at a Lebanese place during the weekend.
I don’t know if I’ll go, but the point of leaving home was to stop hiding away in my room and leaving only to go to church or wander through art exhibitions. Maybe everything connects to home somehow in the end.