(Continued from here)

Back in his kitchen he drained the excess water from the pot and set it down on the floor.
He then sat on his low stool and pounded the mixture until he had a really nice pot of irio which he scooped into a large calabash decorated with faces of happy-looking children and then placed upon the mouth of a boiling water pot to keep it warm. From his garden, he picked some sweet smelling herbs and soaked them into his bathing water. After a very refreshing bath, he sat himself under the shade facing towards the gate so he could see Him coming while he guarded the tray of cut sugar cane with a long fluffy flywhisk.

Now he was truly prepared for God.

But time went by and still God had not come. He kept glancing towards Heaven as if he expected Him to make a grand entourage with a band of Angels sounding their trumpets and cymbals declaring the Celestial Visit. But not even an eagle flew across the vast blue. Just a few clusters of fluffy clouds speckled from far away.

He was startled by a rather timid knock on his wooden gate and he eagerly jumped up and ran towards it. He had no intention of keeping God waiting. But when he reached there he was dismayed to see it was only an old beggar in the trademark tattered clothes and foul smell that seemed so identical in all of them. The old beggar looked like he was going to fall off into pieces any minute. So wizened and famished! Impatiently, he told him he could not let him in as he was expecting a very very important visitor. His eyes darting from side to side, his breathing labored from anxiety, he quipped. “Just walk on towards the shopping center. Tell the young man in the blue and white hotel to give you everything you need to eat.” After what seemed an eternity, the wizened old man ambled away, stinking rags and torn shoes trailing behind him like

Thankfully, for he would not have wanted God to find the dirty, old beggar in his compound, he walked back to his seat and sat down again. And waited.

Noon.

Then evening came. Soon the chill of the approaching dusk started settling in with the darkness.

And still he waited.

He watched as the stars, one after the other, peeked from the depths unknown and winked playfully at the world below. There was no moon today and with the cover of a few clouds scattered in the in the sky the sky looked gloomy and distant. The bats started swooshing by, a light bug or two danced away while the birds of the night cleared their throats in readiness for their nocturnal chorus.

It was not long, however before a sweet slumber stole him away into the land of dreams. He did not know for how long he slept or of what he dreamt, but when he woke up, it was well into the night, for the owl had taken over from the birds and now her doleful mourning rang unchallenged through the night. It was time for him to get up and start for his little wooden blue and white hotel.
Swinging his feet off as if he were in bed he lost his balance and fell of the low backed chair he was sitting in and rolled on the floor. A rude shock hit him in the face before the reality slowly dawned on him. Anger, such anger as he had never felt before, surged from the depths of his stomach as he realized he had spent the whole day and night waiting for God to come. And He hadn’t!

He looked long and hard towards the Heavens and felt a large lump crawl up his throat. He had never felt so angry with someone else.

But then he realized there was nothing he could do about it. Dejectedly, he collected his calabashes of irio and trays of peeled sugarcane and went into his house to get ready for work.
As usual the morning was busy with customers flowing in for their daily ritual. They all enquired where he had been yesterday. They tauntingly asked him whether he had been to his in-laws and why he had not invited them while others made lighthearted jokes about Samson giving them half-measures of lukewarm tea and burnt mandazis. To these he replied only with a smile knowing that if they as much as got the slightest whiff of rumor about what had kept him away, he would become the unchallenged village lunatic.

But, happy to see him again, the taunts faded as the day wore on and time ticked by.

Soon it was evening. And then the night crept back again, with it the sad memories of unfulfilled hopes and unanswered prayers for Mr. Tito. For once he did not feel like going home: the memories were too fresh and disturbing to sleep off.

From the small granary at the back of the compound, he fetched from among his medical paraphernalia, a small knotted bag. He mixed the contents into a cup of warm water and swallowed it in one gulp. Now he was going to sleep like a new born baby away from the troubling memories and heartache.

God had let him down. And what a letdown!

The night is black and serene, but for the quiet…..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. Only his endless sighs and swishing sounds he made as he turned and turned on his bed rang through the darkness. He thought he could even hear his eyes fluttering in the quiet of the approaching dawn.

He could not sleep anymore and he sat up on the bed and sighing loudly he cried “Why, O God did You not visit me…? Why did you go back on your word? Wasn’t my irio good enough for You? Or the sugarcane? Did I not sweep and sweep until the earth shone like it was polished….? Why then did You not visit…………”

He had hardly finished his questions when the same incandescent light oozed from all around him and then the petal soft voice said “I came, just as I promised I would”

Anger returning in surges, Mr. Tito screamed. “I waited all day and night long but I saw neither man approach my gates nor even an eagle in the Heavens…how could I not have seen you…?

Then the same soft voice. “What did you see while you were sitting there waiting for me?”

Nothing!

“Then who did you see while you sat there waiting for me?

“Just a beggar who came by…….”

“I was Him.”

© Kiarii Wainaina