Ndereba and Imelda's Love Story
Over eight hours drive cross the border from Nairobi destined for Kampala, Uganda having spent the Easter holiday with family in Murang’a, I am a bit fatigued and sleep is beckoning tempting my weary flame to give in, but I have a few kilometers to cover to my destination.
In that long and lonely drive, I had played all sort of music, sang my voice hoarse to keep myself attentive on the road, and drank litres of water and Delmonte till my bowels could take no more. With my head buzzing with myriad thoughts of the week ahead, I am exhaustively driving past Jinja town toward the bridge of river Nile when a maroon CRV Honda cruises off past me leaving a thin layer of dust on the tarmac.
My antennae are triggered, my energies rejuvenated and once again, I find a reason to race behind the CRV, with the hope that the car was destined for Kampala. Nothing would give me more pleasure like having a companion to challenge me on the road for the remaining kilometers. In split of a second, I swerve off behind the trailer in front of me and race behind my target. From a distant, I would see the face of a young woman clad in a purple top and in a neatly tightened coiffure resting on her shoulders, her black shades stealing glances to behind her via the side mirror.
Somehow, she noted my enthusiasm and commitment to overtake her and this only gave her renewed vigour and zeal to accelerate faster towards the bridge. She lowered her hand through the window and satirically waved me goodbye then swerved off in a breath-taking speed with her eyes still pinned on the side mirror tracking my reaction.
It was our speed that was to light our journey to our destination, so I thought. Having noted the leather watch fastened on her wrist just above the strap that resembled the Kenyan flag, an amazing reflex played on me and I whirled faster behind her. Like oil on a flying pan, we melted through the tarmac in wild chase to fate knew where. Gilded by the beams of sun set and caressed by the breeze of the clean air blowing off the Nile we are in tow to each other.
In a stretched limited by space, my glowing smile is blown off by multiple sirens of hooting vehicles and countless red lights of oncoming traffic. Squeezing my Nissan X-trail in between two long trailers left a buzzling noise of emergency brakes behind me and then almost immediately, the maroon CRV is thrown back on the road.
My lady challenger on the road, unable to pull back on her lane to avoid a head-on collision had opted to cross over on the wrong side, hitting the barbed radius fence of river Nile and the impact threw her back on the road. Having only sustained a minor injury on her arm, I offered to drive the stranger to hospital and later to her home. Stealing side glances to her, I would see her teary eyes wonder around with her mind getting lost in some mental jungle, perhaps contemplating the worst from the accident. Leisurely taking her eyes off the road, she loosened her safety belt, turned towards me and said; “thank you for rescuing me.” With no much recollection of the discussion we had then, we are finally at the IHK hospital in Kampala.
Beyond the sun rays and the woolen cloud cover, I drop my patient home. Darkness fast penetrating, I introduce myself for the first time and inform her that I will have her car delivered in thirty minutes. The car had been driven by a driver I had hired to my house. Immersed in a web of heavy assignments, I only managed to visit Imelda once, albeit very briefly. With a promise to see her soon. Off I went unaware of what would befall me tomorrow.
As if the professional gods had their own scheme on me, I am redeployed to Cairo, Egypt as a replacement to a colleague who had left the company. With only six hours to prepare, I never said goodbye to Imelda. With no contact numbers, there is no way to be in touch with Imelda, somehow I loved it that way since I never wanted to raise my hopes in her.
Six months later, I am back in Kampala and my first stop from the Airport was Imelda’s apartment. True to my intuition and as fate would have programmed, Imelda had left the apartment months ago, in what the neighbours told me was a transfer back to Nairobi.
Years later and with the air of Imelda having been blown off long time ago, I am invited by the African Union to give a presentation to a group of young people converging at Port Louis in Mauritius. I am to leave JKIA early morning via Johannesburg, South Africa and connect to Mauritius. In Johannesburg, with four hours to waste and without a visa, I was condemned to remain at the Airport.
Embracing the capital in its true form and nature, I hatch a plan to keep myself busy by tasting wines and whisky at the duty free shops. The boarding call found me staggering towards the boarding lobby when someone shouted my name. The voice was so distinctive yet unknown to me and so I kept walking towards the lobbying.
Blanketed in a blue royal dress, with a radiant charming smile, her lips gushing with warm air, I am face to face with Imelda who wrapped me in along tight hug. Like sculptures in the Museum, we get stuck together amidst the cheers of the unsuspecting crowd of strangers.
At the airport Lobby in Johannesburg, I proposed to Imelda with no engagement ring! She is destined to Switzerland while I am on a connection flight to Mauritius, a route I had protested to the organizers as I saw no reason why I could not fly straight from JKIA to Mauritius!
With my wrist watch as the engagement tool, we part ways with a promise to each other of meeting soon. From the first time, I met Imelda along the Jinja-Kampala highway, she dislodged the safety pin of my feelings and fired a bullet through my heart. In South Africa, I held her hand and she gave me her heart. In this charming relationship, a hallmark of a tremendous craft of aspirations, the heavens have daily smiled to us, graciously gifting us a pair of bountiful heirs with whom our future has been signed to bring forth.
Like little pieces of glitter, we sublime into magical space, into the calmness of our paired heaven each time we are together. In my life, and particularly this month, if I would be given a chance to do one thing again, I would pray hard and pay any price to meet Imelda again for the first time.
The story above is written by the couple and has not been edited for authenticity purposes.