The day was finally here…
After years of ‘utaoa lini’, 4 years worth of mango juice dates, and the occasional fights over whether to watch Maria or Arsenal on Thursday nights…
I was finally ready to make my intentions known to Museo’s parents.
For the non-Kamba-speaking readers, Museo means mzuri… and she is beautiful.
I know I said 4 years worth of mango juice dates, but our story started long before then, for me at least.
She has a different version, but mine is better.
I first set my eyes on her in 2013. I still remember every second of our meeting quite vividly.
I had just opened up my large format printing and branding mini-workshop in the heart of Kitui town.
This was a welcome relief after a full year of tarmacking after my colorful graduation at the University of Nairobi.
Being an election year, jobs weren’t exactly flying off the shelves.
However, a small order for branded t-shirts from a parliamentary aspirant was what opened me up to my current hustle.
I remember the deal didn’t materialize, and I had to gift my entire extended family branded t-shirts, but the lessons learned,
and a wide range of connections made during the process kept me going.
Anyway, back to Museo. She walked in as I was pressing a bale of shirts for a local school.
Being a start-up, my staff included me as the cashier, receptionist, and technician.
Musyoka… I heard someone call out my name.
The voice wasn’t familiar, but it certainly left an impression.
I made my way to the front end of my mini-workshop with stains from the dye covering half of my face.
There she was, tapping her fingers on the counter as if to signal some sort of cute impatience.
I tried to wipe off the stains with the back of my back, but I must have done such a terrible job she burst into laughter with her eyes fixed on my colored face.
Her red and white polka-dot sundress gave her some sort of regal aura.
She had this child-like laughter… and for a moment I felt I was in trouble, right there and then.
Do I know you? I interrupted her laughter rather rudely… I had had enough of being laughed at.
Is that how you talk to all your customers? She responded in a bossy-tone.
No wonder your shop is full… she added sarcastically before I even had a chance to get a word in.
It took all my Sunday school lessons on patience not to snap at her. The client is always right… I kept repeating in my head.
What can I do for you, and how do you know my name? I asked in the kindest tone possible.
Smiling sheepishly, she drew my attention to her fiddling fingers that were still tapping away on the counter.
Only this time, I noticed my Coop-Bank registration documents.
I had just opened up a Biashara account at their Kitui branch, which was right next to my establishment.
Over the years it turned out to be one of my best decisions ever, but we aren’t here to talk about my banker now are we.
Back to the stranger in a polka-dot dress.
You really ought to be more careful with where you live your personal stuff….
She said in a concerned tone… As she handed me the papers she had neatly stacked.
She had me.
I like to think I could sell a freezer to Eskimos in the middle of winter, but personal organization has always been my Achilles heel.
Straight A’s, first-class honors, but finding my left sock in the morning had always been a rocket science kind of experience for me.
Thanks… I said as I placed the documents in the bottom left drawer.
I then turned my attention to the kind stranger in a polka-dot dress, suddenly wearing a smile that could turn Mt Kenya’s icy peaks into free-flowing rivers.
We have a function over the weekend, and I was wondering if I could get 30 t-shirts and 100 bottles of water, branded…. She asked….
Once again, I fell back on my Sunday school lessons on patience.
That it was just a few minutes past 4 p.m. on a Friday, I obviously needed to measure my response.
By the weekend you mean kesho… I asked… zero expression on my face.
Yes… pretty please… I know its on short notice but I’ve been putting it off only to realize susu’s burial is only a day away.
I know it’s a lot to ask, but one stranger to another I just need the favor….
It may have been the fact that her grandma had just died, or how she said it….
I agreed… she disappeared for a few seconds and walked back with a bale of white t-shirts.
I helped her with the rest of the stuff and prepared a receipt.
She then made a direct deposit to my biashara account… technology has come a long way.
I had all I needed, including directions to their homestead, and felt that was it, and got down to work.
Then I heard this tap on my back as I was just getting down to unpack the t-shirts.
What are you doing back here… I thought you already left… trying my best not to sound surprised.
Sorry, I startled you… I just thought I could help… it’s the least I can do after asking you to pull a miracle.
That’s how Musyoka and Museo became a thing.
We ended up working till late in the night during which we talked about everything under the sun and beyond.
Who would have thought that several years later, I’d be shaking nervously on my way to her dad’s boma to ask for her hand in marriage.
Who would have thought the stranger with a polka-dot dress would end up turning my mini-workshop into a mini-empire.
Who would have thought the stranger with a pretty smile would be the one to keep the business afloat during this thing called Corona.
Ok, she had some help from the Coop online platform plus other favourable facilities from the bank, you get my point.
I wouldn’t have known how to even go about it, when I even have issues tracking my left sock, remember.
She helped with that as well. It took some time, but the old dog finally learned a new trick.
How she did it is a really funny story, but one for another day.
Despite valiant efforts from my boys club to keep my emotions in check as we snaked our convoy of vehicles towards akina Museo’s…
all these memories just came flooding in.
By the time we were done dancing through the troop of Iveti’s (women) dressed in colourful lesos…
I was on the brink of an emotional meltdown.
Everyone had turned up to mark our big day.
From local cops who had Museo and I to thank for their perfectly embroidered uniform, to nurses who could make the same argument.
Kitui was ours for the day.
As I wrapped up my ‘how we met story’ during my speech, I could see my bride-to-be struggling to keep it together.
After intense closed-door talks…the two families came to a consensus…white smoke…
Now we just have to figure out who will make the list of this new ‘limited number of people’ wedding as per Covid-19 protocols.