Mr. Tito is a small wiry man, older than the railway line and cheery as Santa Claus. Every morning before the second cock crows and rouses the slumbering village, while the mournful owl is still droning her night’s quota of The Everlasting Dirge and the bats still haunting the night, Mr. Tito makes his way to his little wooden hotel at the shopping center.

Mr. Tito was a content man, too. He was more than happy to make breakfast for the hurried town-bound government workers who either had no time for a cup at home or had no stomach for the watery concoctions their wives made for breakfast. To these Mr. Tito was not just a god-sent tea-maker but a keeper of their secrets, for they had no intention of letting their wives know of their secret watering hole.

As the doleful sing-song of the Mwadhini woos the faithful from across the valley, his four ancient kettles begin to bubble and hiss on the open charcoal stove. Through the open window, the Western Star crawls further from the slowly dawning east, the darkness quietly seeping back into depths unknown, and a thin white veil of misty frost settles upon the valley as if in preparation for the god-sun.

Thus his mornings came and went, and days wheezed by.

One evening, when Mr. Tito had hung his overcoat behind the door and had polished his zip-boots, after he had summed up the day’s totals in the large hardcover ledger, he climbed onto his warm bed, content than ever for his business was doing better by the day. Pulling the blankets over his head, he stretched his hand and put out the lamp by his bed. He had but only one wish to make and if it should come true, then he would feel his life had been the best any man could ever have had. Closing his eyes in the darkness, he smiled wistfully and whispered, “If only God would visit me someday……..” and with that he drifted to a deep slumber.

The night is black and serene, but for the quiet chirr of the giant crickets or the muffled croaks of the frogs down by the marshy pond that answered unceasingly to the occasional monotone of the lonely night owl. The countless stars winked flirtatiously at the universe below, like countless eyes peeping through a tattered blanket. Even the night dogs and the gluttonous hyenas usually prowling in the dark seemed to have rolled off to bed. The slight breeze that had graced the evening had long ceased, too. Only the darkness seemed to roll off from unseen depths, engulfing everything around it. And the stars shone brighter and brighter. It was the beginning of the end of the night. And it was the darkest hour of the night, too.

Suddenly Mr. Tito was awakened by a soft incandescent light that seemed to ooze from everything around him, including himself. Trembling like a leaf on a windy day, barely able to breathe or even flutter his eyes, he lay there as frightened as any man can ever be.
After what seemed an eternity, a whisper as soft as the touch of a feather, and which filled the whole room all at once, called out his name “Tito…Tito….tomorrow I will surely visit you…”
But Mr. Tito had already forgotten all about his little prayer earlier in the night and now, dazed by the unusual happenings in his bedroom and still half asleep, he managed to stammer, with a barely audible voice, but which to him sounded like claps of thunder in the ensuing silence “…I … I…who are you?”

Beats of silence.

And then in the same petal soft whisper the voice said “Have you no faith in your prayers?”

The reality slapped him like a sudden gush of ice-cold rain.

Dawn, like the proverbial thief in the night crouched stealthily closer and closer. He had to get up and rearrange his day. Throwing a coat over his shoulders, he hurried over towards Samson’s house. He had to arrange for someone else to take care of his little wooden hotel while he waited for God to come around.

Although his compound was always immaculately clean and tidy, he sprinkled some water to keep the dust down and then swept and swept until the earthen floor shone like a cow’s nostrils. Now it was time to prepare something for God to eat when He comes visiting. From his garden down the river he fetched the best of the vegetables and the straightest, juiciest sugarcane.
Back in his kitchen, he selected the driest firewood and set up the pots boiling. First he boiled soft maize and beans while he sat down to peel the potatoes and cut up the pumpkin leaves.

While he waited for the mixture to boil, he peeled the sugar cane and cut it up in nice even pieces. These he covered in a white cotton cloth which he had bought a long time ago but had never found reason to use and put it under the shade so that God could have something to chew and water the throat while He waited for the food to be ready. It must be a long journey from up there.

Now, to the boiling maize and beans, he added the peeled potatoes, pumpkin and arrow-root leaves and a little magadi soda to soften the leaves and remove their strong undesirable taste.

Now he could do with a little rest. He walked to the front of the house and looked around half expecting to find God had already arrived and was looking admiringly around his compound. But God had not arrived yet.

(Read part II here)

© Kiarii Wainaina