It’s like she carries happiness in a mug. I am saying this because of her infectious laugh. Maybe it’s because she makes me laugh so hard that my ribs hurt. Unlike most crushes, this one I have talked to. She represents what’s productive of all extra-familial relationships. You see, she is a staunch believer. Religious to a fault, I see her every Sunday in church. If not leading praise and worship team, she is leading outreach activities. She is a member of the development committee in church. I think she is a treasurer. Why am I telling you all this? I am saying this because I intend to write her a letter. Being a man ‘of the world’ she represents that light that awaits at the end of my darkness. She represents hope for a better future for myself, my conscience and my survival.
Let’s call her Monica. Monica is an epitome of drive, willpower, strength, and determination. She holds peace in one hand and graciousness in the other. When I say she is a walking bowl of sunshine, I am not lying because she not only illuminates me but the whole congregation. We have spoken two times. In both instances she called me by name;
Her: Maina, you look lost. Not lost completely, but you are headed there. You have been struggling to get out of the dark but it seems like an impossible task. I can tell that you have numerous issues you are struggling with, alcoholism being one of them. [I had taken several shots of whiskey before entering the church that morning.
Her: There are issues with a woman too. No. not a woman but women… several of them. You have had illicit sexual affairs and I can tell they are wearing you down. I have been shown this because God believes that you need to be liberated.
Me: First, how do you know my name?
We were standing at the entrance of the Vicarage and everyone had since disappeared after the service. She had sent her brother to ask me to wait. I had wondered who wanted to talk to me and out of curiosity, I had waited.
When Monica had shown up, I was pleasantly surprised. She had been wearing an A-line blue dress with matching shoes. Her hair was cut short and perfectly trimmed. She hadn’t bothered to introduce herself and after pleasantries, she had gone ahead to eloquently describe her vision. Of course, all she had said was true. I was an addict. An alcoholic and I was struggling with sexual addiction. She had seen through me in her vision. The reason I had started going to church was that I felt that it was time I reestablished my relationship with God.
Me: Our reading today comes from Corinthians Chapter Five verses 13 to 26. The title of our reading from the reader earlier today is:
Life by the spirit… I will read
I read the described verses then when am done…
That’s the word of God.
The congregation: Thanks be to God.
Me: Let’s bow our heads and pray. Dear Lord, we have read your word, may its interpretation be based on your intended message and not my mere mortal understanding. Use me as a vessel to deliver your message of hope to everyone gathered here and may your will be done through me. In Jesus name, we pray.
The congregation and me: Amen
I am the guest speaker at a Youth Event at ACK Thindigwa Parish. Being the Parish Secretary means that I travel around the parish preaching to the youth about everything ranging from behavior change, peer pressure, drug use and illicit sex. I am a darling to many of my fellow parish youth. I was elected Secretary unopposed two years earlier. After everyone learned of my intention to run, they had all stepped down and endorsed my candidature
So here I am, dressed in a fitting black suit, given the responsibility of ministering to more than 200 young men and women from the Parish. I have refused the services of an interpreter since I want my message to reach the young people unbiased and unchanged. I go ahead and expound the reading to the congregation with an emphasis of the dos and don’ts of engaging the flesh at the expense of spiritual straightforwardness and spirituality. I rebuke sexual immorality, fleshly endeavors like drunkenness and drug abuse and caution everyone listening by telling them that anyone who takes pleasure at indulging in the pleasures of the flesh will not inherit the Kingdom.
Me: Verse 17 says that desires of the flesh are contrary to the Spirit, and consequently what’s right with the spirit is contrary to that which the flesh desires. They are in conflict with each other so that you are not to do whatever you want.
There’s freedom, and the Bible gives us that but we should not what 2nd Timothy Chapter 2 verse 22 says: Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. This verse among so many others speaks of the need to stride away from the immature, selfish desires of our youth and journey, instead, towards a life of faith and love. The verse teaches us that we as young people we should strive towards resisting earthly desires and instead seek godliness as a virtue of choice.
After exactly forty-five minutes, I say a prayer and drive off after the end of the service.
I had been steady in the Gospel until I traveled to Cape Town to do my Masters in International Development. The first few months had been successful until I met Sheba on a mission in KwaZulu Natal. She had been a visiting student from North Carolina. Having been brought up in the States, she was quite accustomed to the flashy life and she introduced this life to me a dose at a time. It had started with energy drinks, then wine, then beer and ultimately I had gotten hooked to hard liquor. She was my partner in orgies, crime, and self-indulgence. She was self-destruction covered in honey, beautiful looks, a peal of infectious laughter and unparalleled wit. Scheba peeled off my mask of protection and replaced it with arrogance, self-importance and an earthliness I hadn’t known I was capable of.
Having been in the ministry, this meant that my slow but sure path off the righteous path didn’t go unnoticed. The outreach team was at one time sent to my hostel to know what had happened to me and upon arrival they had found me snorting cocaine with Sheba lying naked, making out with another girl on the bed. After that incidence, a student we had been admitted with, Musa (who happened to be from my own parish) wrote to our Evangelist who then wrote a letter to me:
Reports reaching me indicate that you have strayed from a God chosen path and instead chosen the ways of the world and its pleasures. I will pray for you and ask God to show you the way back into his embrace.
Take care of yourself. Remember to read 2nd Timothy 2: 22.
That hadn’t bothered me at all.
Two months later I had been diagnosed with Chlamydia. Upon realization of this, Sheba had traveled back to her country and sent me an air ticket two weeks later to go to the US and seek treatment. By the time I left blindness was almost catching up with me. The drugs I had used before complicated the treatment and I had to go through a cleansing kind of procedure to ensure that the drugs were out of my system. For the medication to take effect, I had no option. As such, I had to deal with withdrawal and almost a month in HDU.
It had gotten so bad that I almost kicked it all away. But amazingly, I had found a way to recovery. Sheba had been by my side through it all. She had paid for the treatment and upon full recovery, we had flown back to Cape Town to at least try and get our shit together… Nothing changed… Upon touchdown, we had gone back to our default settings of an extraordinary, larger than life existence characterized by sniffs, injections and endless booze consumption. Three months after landing in SA, I had been informed of my grandfather’s illness and since he had been exceptional in my bringing up, I had flown back to Nairobi to at least tend to him.
However, the person who had sent the email had watered down the severity of the illness. Upon arrival in Kenyatta, I had been met by frailty in the place of a built-up mzee who once could run for 14 kilometers without breaking a sweat. Lying on his bed, he couldn’t even recognize me as I held his hand. Half the time, his eyes were closed or half shut. He couldn’t move from his bed and nurses had to tend to him the way a mother tends to a newborn.
My heart was broken.
How long has he been here like this? I remembered asking a nurse. 9 months. She had answered after confirming the duration of his stay in the hospital records. The bill had accumulated to millions of shillings. The only people who had come to see him was my elder brother and I. Being an addicted student, I couldn’t offer much to help ease off the hospital bill. Two days after arrival in Nairobi he had passed on. His body, however, couldn’t be released to us because of the hospital bill. I had emailed Sheba and she had found a way to send me the money we needed to offset the bill.
The burial had been at Langata cemetery because all his properties had been sold to help in paying for the diabetes treatment. The death of my grandfather had hit me in a way I never expected. I think part of the reason was that he had died alone with me being in a far-away land having orgies and wasting away my life. That had eaten me up and I took to alcohol in an effort to ease the suffering.