By Scholastica Memusi
The only way Africans knew how to bid one goodbye was to hold a proper feast. As much as Wambui did not want anything extravagant, her family wouldn’t take no for an answer.
So as per the usual, the feast had to include nyama choma and a bunch of drinks and as typical Africans, if you invite people to a get-together, the bill is definitely on you. Surrounded by a table full of family and friends, she could not stop smiling, but deep inside, she felt loneliness creeping in.
What would happen now that she was moving away, would she be able to
survive on her own? Away from everyone else, new surroundings? She was used to being the noisy one in the room, but she knew where she was headed, she couldn’t be the same person. People would find her weird if she walked into a room and just burst into laughter.
She would have to give them time to accustom to her loud personality. What they wouldn’t know was that the noise she was making was just a façade, to hide the loneliness that would creep in every time she decided to keep to herself.
How was she going to survive this?
Her flight was on Sunday afternoon. The hugs were tight, the farewells touching, but as soon as she stepped on the plane, she felt empty. This new chapter was going to be difficult.
Her phone buzzed.
Mercy was calling.
“Hey quizn, I just got onto my flight. Where were you? I missed seeing you at Roadhouse.”
“I was trying to finish up an assignment. Sucks I missed out on the nyama and drinks. Anyway, go make us proud, we’ll be awaiting the graduation invitations and of course your awesome valedictorian speech.”
“I feel homesick already and I haven’t even left yet, lol.”
“You’ll ace this, you have always been the bright one.”
“Thanks love. Time to leave. I’ll holla once I’ve landed.”
The lump in her throat kept getting bigger and bigger. A tear almost escaped from her eye but before she even had a chance to shed any, the lady in the next seat asked for help adjusting her seat belt. A welcome distraction.
An hour later, they arrived in the ‘land of 1000 hills’. This was going to be home for the next year or so.
“Breathe in, breathe out. You got this. All you have to do is take life one step at a time.”
She sent out a quick text to Davies.
“Arrived safely, headed to the hostel.”
“Great! Make us proud little sister.”
“Will do. 😊 ”
There’s just one thing missing. Mum hadn’t called to confirm that her baby girl had landed safely. But how could she?
There was a horn blaring in the distance, the bus had come to pick her up. Right on cue, otherwise, she could have broken down in public while lugging around a humongous suitcase twice her size.
“Amakuru! Hope you had a good flight and are now ready for classes.”
“Yes, I am.”
“Great, let’s go then. Is that all your luggage?”
“Yeah, tried fitting everything in here coz I didn’t want to heave around more than one suitcase.”
There was no time to sit down and sob about being alone in a new country. It was time to put on a smile and blend in. After all, there was no way she could survive without friends.
As the days went by and she slowly started adapting to the new schedule, she barely had enough time to look at her phone. Her friends would check in ever so often as they promised they would.
“Found a house yet?”
“Yeah, was lucky to find two people who needed a housemate.”
“Great, when do you go shopping?”
“Found a mattress and utensils?”
“Yeah, was directed to Nyabugogo market, we even got a meko. Tonight, we are having some decent ugali for supper 😊 .”
“Week one and I have 3 assignments due. What life is this?”
“Kazana mami. We are praying for you.”
“Who invented MATLAB and why? This life is torture ☹ “
“Haha, soma, si wewe ndio ulitaka Masters?”
The days went on, the messages got fewer, the deadlines got hectic and the tears and sweat were in abundance. Was she ready to do this?
Mum was telepathic. It’s like she always knew when her baby girl was in trouble and would send a text demanding a phone call.
‘Please call me, thank you.’
“Hey, how is the going? Is the food any good? Is it as clean as they say it is?”
“I have eaten too much rice. I miss githeri and ugali.”
“Kwani hawana unga? Tell us what you need we’ll send it over. Can it come by bus?”
“Their ugali tastes meh. The unga here is too fine so it doesn’t come out as good. It takes longer to cook. And will you manage to send over stuff?”
“What do you mean it ‘tastes meh’? Just send me a list. I’ll get your brother to send them over.”
“Great, some decent ugali…ooh yeah and uji.”
“Are you planning on opening a shop? Sasa unataka unga ya wimbi pia?”
“It’s just a few things, unga ya ugali, ya uji and some honey as well. Ooh and Kericho Gold tea bags”
“Just send me the list, I won’t remember all these things by tomorrow morning. Plus, I am about to go to bed.”
“I will, let me finish an assignment that has a midnight deadl…”
She suddenly woke up.
She had dozed off on the sofa in the student’s lounge. She needed to get that assignment done before midnight. She sent a quick text to Davies;
“Hey bro, I need a few things sent over.”
“Cool, send me a list. I’ll try to send em before the week ends.”
She kept counting down the days to when she would be back home. This kept her going. Often, she checked her phone. No new messages, no missed calls. Life was happening around her. It was time she stopped feeling sorry for herself and started enjoying her life.
But all she wanted was a hug, someone to ask if she had been eating right, sleeping well and how her studies were progressing. Her advisor asked if she was doing ok, and she said she was.
When she was quiet, her classmates would know something was wrong, after all, she was always the loudest in the room and had this laugh that was just infectious. But when she went home at the end of an 18-hour day, all she did was curl up and cry into her pillow to muffle her sobs until she fell asleep.
It was going to be a tough year, and she did not know how she was going to survive. All she knew is that she had to keep fighting. She was not a quitter. Her guardian angel was watching.
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”
Scholastica Memusi is an upcoming Writer/Blogger from Nairobi, Kenya. She currently runs the blog http://www.mimimemc.wordpress.com. To read her full bio, click on the “WRITERS FEATURED” page at the top.