Last Saturday I woke up in good spirits. My elevated mood might have been caused by the fact that it was a weekend, but ever since the pandemic hit us, weekdays & weekends started to feel all the same. Truth is, I was elated because we had been invited to a wedding ceremony in a pristine location in Karen and I knew that there would be lots of food and free drinks to go around. I made sure to have a light breakfast so that I could leave enough room for the delicacies I intended to imbibe once I arrived at the ceremony. Mia on the other hand, ate to her fill, and even topped up her meal with a fresh glass of mango juice. I didn’t complain, in fact, my joy was enhanced because then I knew I’d have to clear both my plate & hers at the ceremony. Everything was going perfectly.
I took a warm shower and slipped into my grey suit – one I keep around for special occasions. Complementing the look with my Rolex timepiece and Moccasins as footwear, I felt ready to conquer the world and looked the part. Equally so, Mia was stunting in an elegant maroon floral dress that enhanced her curves. When I complimented her, she told me the dress was burgundy and not maroon. I let it slide because I didn’t want semantics to get in the way of my happiness & I.
We arrived at the venue on time just before the ceremony commenced. I sat with my fingers crossed, hoping the master of ceremony would rush through the formalities and allow us to eat & mingle. I wasn’t as lucky, because the pastor decided to deliver a not-so-short sermon on love through thick & thin. All I could think of at that time was how my patience was being stretched too thin. Soon, however, the two lovebirds exchanged their vows and I rubbed my hands in glee, knowing that I too, was going to get the chance to indulge with my love – food.
We were ushered into the reception area where a tent had been laid out on about a quarter an acre of greenery. It was a buffet service, thank God. We queued for our turn and as you might have already guessed, I filled my plate to the brim – two chapatis, some roast meat on the bone, pilau, beef and fish fillet. Mia & I found a table and sat and just before I could put the first morsel of food in my mouth, I heard someone call my name,
My fists almost clenched into a ball, but with a smile forced on my face, I turned to face my newly found troubles. It was a cousin of mine, Rhoda, whom I hadn’t seen in a while.
”Sikujua utakuwa hapa!”, she exclaimed, ”you mean you also know Ken & Immaculate?”.
”Yeah, we’re not close though. We were invited courtesy of Mia”, I retorted, beckoning Mia to come say hi.
They exchanged pleasantries. Meanwhile, my food was getting cold, and so was my heart.
”Come, you have to meet your other cousins. Kina Steve pia wako hapa. Hata Tina is around. We haven’t seen you in a while, I’m sure watakuwa excited kukuona!” said Rhoda, face beaming with excitement.
”Ummh, let me finish my food firs….”, I tried to explain my predicament but an overzealous Rhoda was already walking away and beckoning me to follow her. I had few choices – ignore her and sit down to finish my meal then look for her later and apologise. In other words, I could pull a ‘haribu jina, jenga mwili’ strategy. The alternative was to follow her and endure a few more minutes of inconvenience then settle down without any further interruption. I chose the latter.
Unfortunately, once I was at their table, everyone kept asking how the family was, how my siblings were fairing on, whether I finished school or dropped out, and who is the fine lass that was keeping me company today, and why had I never introduced her to them. So I stayed much longer than I intended to.
When I got the chance to sneak back to my table, significant time had elapsed and the two wedding birds now wanted to make a toast. Almost everyone had finished eating and I was hoping I’d be able to catch up before the caterers whisked my plate away. The master of ceremony asked for everyone’s attention and soon, the venue was silent you could hear a pin drop.
In the meantime, I was hoping to at least eat half of what was remaining in my plate before I abandoned it, and was in the process of stuffing big chunks of meat down my throat when one stubbornly refused to flow down my gut into my eager stomach.
If you’ve never been choked before, I wouldn’t blame you for not empathizing. Getting choked by food feels like you’re been strangled, but this time, from the inside out. Soon, I was gasping for air, and the sounds of a cough escaped my lungs like the engine of an old Datsun attempting one final journey. People’s attention were now shifting from the lovebirds to me. Sweat was trickling down my brow and I couldn’t breathe or talk. A panicked Mia, unable to decipher what had transpired, had nothing else up her sleeve but the question,
”Ni nini mbaya? Ni nini?”
The more I gasped for air, the less I received, and soon my hand was loosely clasped around my throat, and my coughs were getting weaker and weaker. There is always that moment of uneasy calm before a storm. For me, the calm was that moment when everyone was looking at me expressionless, before a woman screamed, ”Covid-19!!!” and everyone who was close to me started scampering away to safety.
Darn! My goose was cooked. My whole life started flashing in front of my eyes. Meanwhile a bewildered Mia was also screaming, ”Sio Covid, sio Covid,” but Kenyans being the skeptics they are could not come within a 200 metre radius to a human who came to develop breathing problems at a wedding.
Luckily for me, an introspective middle-aged man, who might have seen me demolishing the food on my plate earlier, soon realized that what was chocking the breath out of my lungs was not a virus, nor was it love, but possibly a half-chewed piece of chicken that had gotten stuck within my gut. He rushed to my aid, slightly bending me over then landed a heavy slap at the centre of my back.
The culprit flew out of my mouth, across the venue and almost landed on the bride’s white dress. I merely whispered a thank you to the good Samaritan who saved my life before I left in a huff. That was how an otherwise perfect Saturday was ruined. Later that evening, I saw a text. It was Rhoda. She was asking if I was okay. I was tempted to answer back and inform her that she was the cause of my predicaments that day, but I didn’t. As for Mia, I have given her an ultimatum – she either picks up first aid emergency response classes, or she picks her belongings and leave me in one piece. I could have died and she wouldn’t have known what to do.
Till next time good people. Asante for reading.