I have always enjoyed travelling but I never put a lot of effort to make it happen. It’s like someone else was responsible for deciding when and where I will travel. Usually it was the school, church or my parents. Now in my 40s, visiting new places and meeting new people is like a requirement for graduation into my second half. Being chairman of the Kenya Golf Union afforded me the opportunity to travel and I loved it. My life of public service will most likely entail travel and that’s a huge motivation for me. Now my travel plans are rarely relegated. I actively plan and follow through on most of them. I cherish each experience.
I’m somewhat surprised at the strong urge to travel now. Though my mum has always said I have roaming feet. Sometimes I wish it were possible to parent, run my business and home by remote control so that I could travel more. There are times I feel this ka pressure like the window is closing and I have to cover as much ground as possible. Maybe in a sense time is running out. Christopher Morley tells us to cherish all our happy moments for they make a fine cushion for old age. I need to accumulate mob cushions. Travel as much as you can folks. And as far as you can. I guarantee it will make you a better human. My passion for photography, now awakened, will fuel the desire for travel even more. I look forward to the adventures ahead.
With that psych in mind I recently helped organise a trip to Oyugis to see Cousin Bob’s mum. You see Bob and I are in the same boys’ club. He’s from the lake side and would often lie to us that Barrack Obama was his first cousin. That when chatting he would refer to Obama as cousin Barry and Obama would refer to him as cousin Bob. That’s how we ended up referring to him as cousin Bob. True Luopean he is. Though heavily influenced by his kikuyu friends as he drove a Toyota Premio (old shape) for many years despite being a mkubwa in corporate Kenya some years back. He was investing his chums in real estate na tushamba. I see him surprising us with that big 4 x 4 soon and hopefully not a Probox.
Earlier in the year (on one of our many impromptu AGMs on the golf course) we decided that we need to deepen our friendships by getting to know each other’s parents. So with all on board we agreed on doing a road (and golf) trip to cousin’s mum in Oyugis. It was a sunny Friday when we set off in Sancho’s van that he had kindly donated for us to use. We took the Narok route and passed through Bomet and Sotik. All the while as we caught up, laughed and enjoyed the scenery that’s our beautiful country. Thank you president Mwai Kibaki for the road network. It’s made it much easier to Tembea Kenya.
We arrived at cousin’s mum at 5pm with heavy rain welcoming us to Kisii and Oyugis. She was elated to meet us at her tastefully furnished rural home. Mum had this cool demeanour that was assured and deep. Meeting her reminded me that mothers are God’s ambassadors on earth. She had been waiting for us since 11am after having prepared a spread of food that would make some big hotel buffets look like a kiosk menu.
We washed our hands with soap like good school boys then mum prayed for the food and we dug in. I fed like I had just come home on half-term from boarding school. Food from shags has never tasted so delicious. What we eat here in the city, ni Mungu tu. On the menu was brown and white ugali, fresh fish that tasted like it was alive an hour earlier, crunchy cassava, mukimo, some heavy weight chapos and the list goes on. We fed to our fill and topped up with tea and boiled maize as dessert.
With our tummies full we reclined on the comfortable couches in mum’s seating room where cousin Bob began introducing each of us in detail. His mum and big sister listened attentively (and maybe curiously too). After the intros were done, we blest mum with a bahasha to express our appreciation of her. It was way past 10 pm so we stood up for mum to close our visit with a word of prayer. That prayer was the highlight of our visit.
For some of us the effect of the pili pili we had put in our food started started showing in our eyes because of Mum’s prayer. I started getting emotional and teary-eyed so it must be the chilli folks. Work with me here please. It dawned on me how meaningful this trip was to cousin’s mum. She said she has never seen anything like this. Children travelling many kilometres to visit a parent. During the chats after dinner she asked if we were on that side for business and decided to check on her. We told her she was the only agenda that brought us to that side of the country. She seemed in shock.
I felt (and I’m convinced) that her prayer over our lives together with our families will be answered in full. That moment made me realise that time has come for us folks to be intentional in how we perceive and interact with our parents. We are at a steep growth curve in our lives juggling several important balls in the air. Unknowingly we may end up neglecting our parents or the significant seniors in our lives. Many of us need to change the view we had when growing up that our parents are all sorted, strong and in charge. Old age has caught up with them and many may not admit it but they do need our help much more than they ask. It’s our turn to parent our parents.
That was vivid to me from that visit to cousin’s mum. We easily could have added years to her life just by spending an evening with her. We promised to visit her again next year and that’s a promise my boys club intends to keep. Plus, we plan to have visited each other’s parents before going back to Oyugis.
I came back challenged to spend more time with my folks and be more available to them even as I seek and pursue this future of significance. Now I understand why my mum calls me Baba yetu. She and mzee have become my Babysharks in a way. Our parents need us more than we think guys, so let’s make the days count for the time we have left with them.