I spent all my leave days early in the year on a series of missions with the youth choir, in which choir I feature marginally. I've attended very few practice sessions and performed on stage with them even fewer times. They should regard me more as a groupie than a bona fide member. We went on two trips to Coast, specifically Watamu and Kilifi, and one to Eldoret. The Eldoret trip was my favorite of the year.
Travelling home in August for the annual Campmeeting Week accounted for another long absence from work, 10 days that time. At that event I sang three of my own compositions to thin crowds which did not appreciate the English. Also, Stage Fright is real, people. One does not simply wake up one day and sing alone to the public without prior experience, even if one must start somewhere. As far as feedback went, at least nobody complained. All the compliments came from family and friends, so those were swallowed with the requisite pinch of salt.
And I met Lynette with the brown eyes at the Camp Meeting.
But I digress. By the time December came around, all my leave days were exhausted, and so was I. As colleagues rushed to fill leave forms I sat lugubriously yearning for even one day I could say I regretted taking so the man could see about refunding it, but there was none to be found. So I resolved to use the too-short long weekend to legally journey home and back, losing a full day en route, rather than risking madness by staying in Nairobi alone and unloved. I ran off to the village.
Got home, slept like a baby.
In church the next morning the congregation sang like subdued frogs condemned to a lifetime of horrible slavery. Funny thing, the choir, which is drawn from the croaking congregation, sang splendidly. Where were these angelic voices when our ears were bleeding? And later we had foot washing and holy communion.
And then I had Lynette all to myself for the rest of the afternoon.
Late evening, mum and I sped off to my maternal grandmother's home, where all her grandchildren were congregating on Christmas eve. Maybe twenty of us this year excluding no-shows. The usual awkward greeting of uncles and aunties, enthusiasic flaming of cousins and squeezing of ribcages of younger cousins proceeded. A heavy feast for supper. Sleep.
A heavy breakfast the next morning had me telling anyone who cared to listen that I had eaten my equivalent weekly ration in just two sittings. They gave me pitying looks.
A pastor popped up at eleven a.m. to address the gathered lot under a tree; we are Adventist like that: even our family gatherings feature prayers and spiritual pep talks for the flagging soul. Good talk he gave. I laughed and reflected and took pictures.
The heavy lunch which followed fuelled our late afternoon tour of neighbouring homesteads where even more far fetched extended family could be found. People whose names I do not know, but am supposed to, recited to me all my insider nicknames and hobbies of childhood. That was awkward. Some of them wanted to talk but I was in deep introvert Listening Only Mode. Social Gear was far from me as usual and if they continued addressing me they would find the undercurrent of my introspection dragging them to uncharted depths. Fortunately there were many of us, shortly the spotlight moved off me.
I began to feel an itch to go back home. So I went home by myself, leaving mother dearest in the tender care of her own mother and siblings. For half the trip I had to hang precariously at the open door of a speeding, overloaded fourteen seater minivan. Because transport in the festive season is a hassle. One takes what one gets. I had to connect using another bus for the secind half of the journey, and for a moment it seemed there was no public transport, but providentially a hired bus came along, filled with Legio Maria adherents who gladly accepted my fare.
So I got home by nightfall, had the house all to myself. My kind of retreat. Listened to music, probably opined something on Facebook, slept.
Morning. Woke up super late. Lynette also showed up. We chatted and ate and stared at one another's smiles. Time flew, we parted at four p.m. as I dashed for the next bus to Nairobi.
No hanging off an open door this time, thank heavens.
And now I'm back to work having spent many man hours narrating these events. Let me stop now and look busy even though my heart is very far away.