The Story so far… By the end of the day, it seemed like, I was the friend to Oliver and his fiancée was the introduced friend. That is how our relationship began. Happily, innocently and perfectly secured. In the coming months, we would share meals, hang out, watch movies together, charity work, among others. Just like old times when we were younger. He became part of the crew. I became part of the crew he was in – my old crew now upgraded and life never seemed any less normal. It’s because of him that I would get to meet top officers at Karen, dine in restaurants I wouldn’t have considered on my to-do list, visit Golf courses and country clubs at weird hours of the night, and even drive in the middle of the night in buses & vans with cabin crew headed home from their flights.
Oliver was tall, chocolate, slim in stature, and handsome at first glance. He had an afro. Sort of, like the one I had at the time. Besides the interest in aviation, the afro probably got me bonding with him. Oliver was in Kenya for a holiday. He was born in the western parts of Kenya. From a small village called Mur Malanga. The only child of a feared headman with a reputation for bringing order to the village using unscripted strategies. He had this fancy job with an airline or an airline agency in the United Arab Emirates. It is an unwritten rule to side with family or friends whenever there is an additional member or prospect. For instance, my sisters’ husbands should be my friends as well because whether I like it or not, they are my brothers now. I would be the one to be hated if I did not like the people my friends liked. That is why we see how exhausting relationships were to a clique of friends when we were younger, because one moment someone is your girlfriend, and the next you are exes, and the whole crew had to make do with all sharing the girl or the guy as an ex too. Alignment is key and when the lady says this is my man, we say yes ma’am, and life continues as one big family.
Within the course of the festivities of the day, we had to see off one of the guests who were part of the party. So we had to walk from Gathwariga Shopping Center to Flyover so that he could get Matatus which would get him to Nairobi faster. The guest was Vivian’s uncle. You know how you have to walk with your uncle as he is catching up with you because the last time you saw each other was eons ago. He’s now asking “What do you do nowadays?” in his mother tongue. The uncles and aunties are not usually interested in your career, but they’re actually interested in your family life. It’s like you don’t matter if you’re not doing family. I am sure that uncle here was nudging Vivian to get to know when she would be bringing the person. Unbeknown to Uncle here, The person was right under their noses. But then as long as you are not introduced, you are just another person like us – friends and neighbors. I can only imagine how that conversation went. So while Uncle and Vivian were having a conversation the entire walk to the ‘Stage‘, we conversed at length matters aviation and related. Oliver had an unwavering love for aviation. He was super passionate. For a super long moment there, I saw myself in him. It is no wonder that I liked him. Born and raised in Mur Malanga till after high school, he nurtured his fascination for airplanes since he was a child. As he grew older, his dream of working in the aviation industry became his driving force. with his determination and resilience, he plotted a path for himself and found a fulfilling career in the Emirates.
From the conversation, Oliver was a flight dispatcher with one of the agencies that were handling the major airlines in the Gulf region. He specialized in cargo operations. His role was crucial in ensuring the safe and efficient movement of goods across different destinations. He was responsible for coordinating operations between states and continents. From his narration, he knew his job. His connections and networks ran deep. Name an air cargo line and he would know the top three in the company. Oliver’s passion for aviation went beyond his professional life. He used to spend his weekends visiting aviation events, and airshows, and participating in aviation-related geeky activities. He had actually enrolled in a flight school and was already pursuing the crème of aviation. Being a pilot is what he too wanted to be. He had the money, the opportunity, and the flexibility. He immersed himself in the world of airplanes, constantly learning about new technologies, aircraft models, and industry trends. Like myself. It is this kind of passion that got everyone thinking I was a pilot way before I actually started flying, Oliver sounded like he was known among his friends and colleagues for his extensive knowledge and enthusiasm for aviation. I believed him, I could relate.
We get to the highway and Uncle’s hurry is no more. In fact, It seems like this story is more intense, and there was a more urgent matter to be discussed by the uncle and niece. Matatu after Matatu passed us. We let all of them go. We received a call from Malik. Malik was Vivian’s brother. He was asking us why we have spent a long time away from the gathering and the roast meat was about to start doing rounds. Malik would have left with us too but he too was under the tight grip of uncle Frank who also wanted to know whether there was a problem finding a suitable helper. There was a lot of pressure to return to the compound because the eldest of the girls was outside and they needed to eat the pieces of meat that were reserved for the girls together with the others as the meat was going round. So uncle number one left for the city and we got back on our way to the homestead. The walk back was awkward because now I was the third wheel. For a moment I questioned whether my love for aviation was really this important to walk out of the door with these two lovebirds and risk being exiled out there. What was I even thinking? Interestingly enough, the walk back did not take as long as I had anticipated. We got back and found the first round of speeches ending. This is what marked the entry of the roasted ribs.
Kikuyu love their roasted meat, the room was full of excitement as the ribs and limbs went round. What’s interesting is that this came after everyone had wiped clean their plates of Kikuyu cuisine that had been served earlier. Yes, whatever you’re thinking was on the menu was there. Including the potatoes, and cabbages. I also noticed some pretty calabashes that were in a corner of the room. I took several photos of them and I was informed that they were not beauty pieces but in fact, they were utensils of honor. Fermented porridge was part of the menu and every delicacy that had been consumed that day had to be escorted with a cold calabash of fermented porridge. Out of courtesy, I took half a calabash, but this was only to appease the hosts and the elders in the vicinity. I partook of the porridge and I was so full the rest of the day was a blur.
At some point in the late afternoon, we walked to the garden and started taking photos of flowers and scenes and everything that would end up behind a lens and appear nice. We strolled around the huge paddocks and admired the young bulls and heifers and gave names to calves that we knew we would never see again ever. These were good times. When the porridge had settled a bit, we returned to the house and had another round of Mutura. Part of me was remembering I will be going back to my house in Umoja and there was no way I was going to be cooking that night. The day of festivities ended and everyone started working their way home.
At Gathwariga we managed to get a 14 seater Matatu that would get us to Limuru town and then we would take another one from Limuru to Nairobi. My mind was just thinking about planes. I couldn’t wait to get back to school on Monday and work my way up. While I’m thinking about this, I now see how much respect the real “self-made” people deserve. Navigating any endeavor without a proper guide can be one messy affair. Some would refer to them as mentors. Anyway, We got home with a few laughs here and there. By now everyone is back to default settings. Meaning no more aviation banter because Vivian was curled up in Oliver’s arms while the rest of us watched the city lights passing by, slipping in and out of sleep, interrupted by fermented porridge burps here and there. We hopped onto the final matatu that would get us back to our hood. Since our stories had not really come to an end, we planned to hang out with Oliver some other time. And since we were the best of friends now we definitely would be having this conversation again. He promised to give me the exact details of how he ended up in the Emirates. Seemed like there was more than I knew at this point.
I got back home and couldn’t stop thinking about the future of my aviation career. Either my mind was playing games on me or somewhere in the conversation I heard Oliver mention that he had met a very friendly guy and he is the one who got him to where he was. This is the part I was interested in. I got home and since I had slept enough on the way, I had a few cells of energy remaining to utilize. I got to my corner and started my computer. I lost myself to uncountable circuits on the flight simulator till late. I think part of me was already selling eggs, from chickens that hadn’t grown, from chicks that hadn’t hatched. Life is good, I told myself. The Lord is remembering his servant.
To be Continued…
‘Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. ‘
1 Peter 4:8 (ESV)