Agnes & Her Gardener

To whom do we pray? Do we pray to the God that lives deep in the clouds? Do we present our needs to a being that listens and chooses which prayer is more urgent and righteous than the others or are all the beliefs we’ve always held folklore stories and hearsay? It’s hard to distinguish the occurrences in our lives that are ‘God inspired’ from the ones that are as a result of our own actions if any. I think it doesn’t matter to whom you lay your troubles to because the very acknowledgement that you need intervention by a power higher than yourself is faith in itself. But sometimes, we get answers that look like nothing we anticipated. We get answers that leave us with more questions than we had. 

The question is, are the answers we seek worth the pain of bearing their weight on us?

Sometime last week, I hit the jackpot. I didn’t win the lottery, but I found something that I thought was long lost; the work hard-disk that I had misplaced for a cool 3 years now. I wasn’t even looking for it when I found it hidden in a small compartment of my old bedside drawer. I had lost the keys to the drawer and since nothing felt important enough to have me break into my own drawer, I let it be. Then I got a new bed and shipped my old one to mathe’s place, forgetting what its drawers carried. I had had the privilege of interviewing hundreds of people during a project I had taken up with a certain NGO, and although they recorded everything themselves, I too recorded my personal interviews for souvenir purposes. In that hard disk lay fragments of people’s lives that had changed their worlds as they knew it, so now you probably understand why it felt like hitting the jackpot.

 I had visited mathe’s home to check up on everyone, and in the process, ended up breaking the drawer open. My curiosity has always been unmatched, but for this one, it’s almost as if the hard disk itself was whispering in my ear to go save it from the abyss I had abandoned it in. I didn’t even know what to expect when I broke into it, I just knew there had to be something. The nostalgia hit me like a bullet when the disk fell out, it’s like I had found a window that allowed me to steal sneak peeks into my past, so the temptation to binge on its content overwhelmed me.

If my recollection is still up to par, we were seated in her small porch sipping on black coffee. Her 4-year-old boy ran after the chicken that roamed their compound with a hearty laugh. Isn’t it weird how little it takes for kids to be happy? I wish I could chase a few chicks and become that happy as a result… Oh wait, I do, but I couldn’t say the same about the happy part.

I met Agnes at a friend’s wedding, with whom we got acquainted after she smudged my shirt with cake and apologized like a thousand times. I think her clumsiness stems from her jolly nature because I was more drawn to our conversation than what the bride’s mother had to say. She was exhilarated to hear what I did for a living, and the NGO project I was facilitating tickled her fancy more. “I think I have a story that’s as rare as a faithful, Luo man is…” she joked, but I later understood she meant every word. It almost felt like we were in a confession booth and I was the Priest, like there was something she needed freedom from and I held the keys. And to say I wasn’t excited would be a lie, so when the weekend came, I saddled up and went to her place, ready for the atonement of sins I didn’t bear witness to.

“Don’t get married when your love is still blind, wait the blindness out and if you still want the person, then you can get married. I think the one mistake my husband and I did was making decisions clouded by the bliss of our love…” she started, cautiously sipped her coffee and looked out to her son, then continued… “I’ve always been one of those women that fantasize about babies. My baby fever might be one of the worst I know, so when Festus and I started trying for one, I literally couldn’t keep calm. We followed a strict “baby-making” regiment, cancelling a lot of our weekend plans with friends or relatives just to stay in and get the party going…”

“You must have enjoyed the time you spent together, did any of your friends ever notice ama ilikuwa chini ya maji…”

“Haha, I personally tried to enjoy, but for him, I got the vibe it was more of a task than our alone time. Like he would say things like ‘We should copulate on Tuesday afternoon if we still want to get a girl. Your calendar says that’s when you’re most likely to conceive one…’ ” I didn’t know you could say that to your wife honestly. I could imagine Festus eyeing his watch on that said Tuesday, wondering if his nagging boss knew he had a whole human to create in a few hours.

“But it’s like the more we tried, the harder it became. Every month that came with my period carried with it a sting that became more unbearable, and I could see the frustration on my husband’s face burn a hole through him as days went by. At the time, he also served as an usher at this church we lived close by. I think his fear got to him because tulianza kuhost house fellowships kila wiki. I don’t know if he thought someone from his village had rogad him or what, but I’m telling you I’ve never had so many people come to pray at my house like that time. Things were becoming scary for me and I had no one to talk to…”

“Didn’t you guys go to the same church?”

“Well, I’m not really the churchgoer, but I have a karelationship with God I’d say. And Festus knew that when we started dating, so when he got desperate and started having his fellow ‘brethren’ coming to our place to see things, I got frightened. First I thought God was punishing me for not being too serious, so I prayed and jumped with them to appease Him. Then I got mad because what loving father subjects his children to cruelty just because they’re a little different. I knew I was a good person and despite not attending mass and handing out brochures at the gate with a fake smile, I was morally upright.”

Her son was now tired of running around and had perched on a stone by the gate, staring in awe at ants that were crawling up the wooden fence. She called out to him and he came storming at us, screeching to a halt right before he could hit the makeshift table on the porch. “Ebu wacha kukimbia kimbia huku kama kuku, huoni utamwagia anko chai…” his mother rebuked him, but he just stood there like a log, waiting to hear why he was summoned. “Enda uambie shosho akuekee uji na uvae sweater tutaenda supermarket baadae…” his mother said, and before she could add anything else, he jumped over my feet and got lost in the house, calling out his grandma’s name like a maniac.

“He’s a strong one that one, I assume he’s taken after you,” I said, still bewildered by the kid’s energy.

“Huyu ata sijui hio nguvu ametoa wapi, but we thank God…”

Their marriage felt like a football match that had just begun, only for them to get hammered 3 nil in the first 10 minutes. Her husband’s patience grew thinner by the day, and so did their relationship. They went from having sex every day to once in 2 days, then 4 days… and before they knew it, they had become cold to the touch, none of them yearned anything from the other, so they lived like rocks do in a river, together but never really together. She at the same time was trying to bring her dreams to reality and quit employment. She was an exotic plants enthusiast, and it may even be safe to say her plants gave her chills more than her husband did. Her dreams pushed her to quit her job and get into the business of selling her potted plants, and citing her rich social network, she did quite well.

Then her husband’s cousin came over to Nairobi to help her out with her small garden. I don’t know why Nairobi people prefer having someone from the country tendering to anything handy. Maybe it’s how they handle their hoes. Anyway, he came and flourished, or rather, helped her business flourish. Her husband on the other hand was now travelling to designated prayer centres and fasting for weeks on end, heartbroken yet clinging onto the hope that maybe God was going to listen to him next. He got weirder in bed, weird enough to pour anointing oil on her genitals before they commenced and after, just in case an evil spirit had joined them during intercourse.

“I really tried to get him to go see a doctor, I really did. I actually was convinced I was the one with the problem, so the doctor idea freaked me out more, but I was still willing to give it a try… I thought maybe that’s where his God’s answers were…” but Agnes had lost her husband in the frenzy, and it now seemed to not be about getting a child anymore. The husband started spending nights at the church, because ‘God’ had asked him to. He started burning incense in their house and when all his theatrics didn’t work, he quit his job to travel and seek the lord’s face as a full-time job. That’s when she knew she was probably married to herself, because the man She said her vows to had long died from the frustrations of being denied the one thing they desired the most; a complete family.

But during one of his long travels, Agnes got a little too comfortable with her shamba boy. He now wasn’t the rugged, uncoordinated boy he was when they first met. He was a fast learner, so that means he caught up to their marital problems in a minute. Wekesa was nothing like his cousin Festus. He was easy-going and charming, with a silly lunje accent that coated his words like honey – everything Agnes was deprived of. So one fateful night, after he had planted a few exotic plants in their garden, he spared one for her and sowed within her the seeds Festus had failed to, blessing her womb with the boy that now ran around his grandmother’s compound.

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