Birthday Tribute

Birthday Tribute

April 2017

The clouds hovered over our heads like they were sent to clear us. Darkness threatened to loom in, despite the fact that it as 5.30pm local time. As we squeezed ourselves in between the mammoth crowds on the streets, I couldn’t help but wonder whether a ship had docked and let people out on the streets. I hated Nairobi for its flooded streets; humans in total hurry; like tomorrow seemed too far and they just had to pull it closer. I hated the fact that matatus were everywhere; and people that looked weird, and buildings everywhere. I hated everything about Nairobi.

Me: “Are you sure you know where we are headed to?”

Him: “Why do you find it hard to trust me?”

Me: “Because we have been going in circles for close to thirty minutes now.”


Blaring of horns. Howling of crazy touts. Bumping of people. Buzzes everywhere. Finally;

“Juja fifty! Juja fifty! Bei ya jioni. Wa haraka haraka. Juja! Juja!”

“Meeeeeeeeeeeeee,” I almost screamed, then noticed I had to be a big girl.

Him: “Si utafika salama?”<

Me: “Sawa.”

July 2017

Phone buzzes.

New number: “Hey stranger. Ulifika?”

I quickly check the profile picture (Thank God for these honest humans that are so true to Whatsapp to the extent of not playing around with their privacy settings).

Me: “Hahaha. See who remembered me. How dare you ask that after a whole four months?”

Him: “Well, because I figured out you will never tell me. Do you even remember my name?”

Me: “Hahaha. Yes. Your name is Vitalis, and you’re that sweet guy that offered to take me home on that chaotic day in Nairobi.”

Vitalis: “You looked cute that day.”

Me: “No. I didn’t. I was sick. I was at my worst. I couldn’t even turn my eyes. They were literally popping out.”

Vitalis: “If that is your ‘sick-look’, damn! I want to see your ‘healthy-look’ everyday.”

Well, this write up isn’t about me and my musings about life. It is about someone I rarely talk about, an incredible person that crossed my lane, that chose to look at me even when my eyes threatened to close.  Today is his birthday. So;

Dear Vitalis,

A few days ago when you texted me, I kind of felt guilty for giving you the silent treatment. I pondered on what to write, how to write, why to write, whether it would make sense, whether it is all worth it. But again, you’re one person that never takes NO for an answer, one person that ensures I am all drained out before you agree that I am tired. So here we are.

The first time I saw you, I like to say it was a mystery. I looked at your face once and noticed your small eyes. You looked distant, smiled with a lot of caution, like a glass balancing on the crest of a pyramid. Actually, you never smiled, just smirked. For some time, I thought you did not like my appearance. Or rather you didn’t just like the person I was (I hope this explains why I didn’t put myself in the struggle of getting back to you). I loved the distant look. There’s always something beyond the eyes. Beneath the skin of such people lies an untouched layer of openness, a silent voice in their heads that doesn’t dare to scream. Beyond their vision lies a completely different person.

Something about the way you walked is still engraved in my mind. Why don’t you swing your hands at all? Not even an inch? You seemed lost in space. Not wanting to be contaminated with people. I loved the way they stayed in your pockets for the whole walk. How you made random comments about women and makeup; about how women have lost the touch of originality and dwelt entirely on their outward experience. You talked and I listened; about how Mombasa was small compared to Nairobi; and campus life, and life.

One year down the line, I feel like I have known you since childhood, played with you all the games, watched each other grow and laugh at each other’s faults (What is that cliché about forever not being enough?). I don’t know about you, but you have been one of the realest people in my life. 

Should I remind you that we’ve seen each other only once? 😂 

Sometimes listening to you talk drives me into a craze. You take life so simply. You never complain about misery, about aches, about unfair treatment. Not even the hustle that life has turned into. I don’t know how you manage that, but I hope someday I will embrace positivity just the way you do.

September 2017 Vitalis: “Hey, your birthday is coming up. What do you want to do?”

Me: “I don’t know. Maybe just a small party by the beach.”

Vitalis: “Right. Do your budget then let me know.”

Two days later;

Me: “Would you mind taking care of the cake?”

Vitalis: “How many kilograms of cake do you want?”

Me: “I don’t know. Let’s go with what you’re comfortable with.”

Vitalis: “Name the price baby. It will be done.”

Me: “Alright. Three.”

I would be lying if I said I don’t regret, aha! I wish I said even five (Who doesn’t like cake anyway?).

Just like that, you made my birthday happen. You let me drown myself in ecstasy, told me I deserved the best in this world. You told me to hold my head high, and I couldn’t ask for a better way to celebrate.

Now this is your day. Thousands of miles apart, I don’t know if I will be able to give you all you ever wanted. But I hope when you read this, you feel loved and appreciated wherever you are. You’re the perfect example of truth, honesty and reliability. Every day I hope all your wishes come to pass, all your prayers get answered, and all your thirst gets quenched. I pray that all the mysteries in your world unfold before your eyes, and I hope you find real happiness when it finally happens.

I don’t get to say this often, but now that I have a chance; you’re a gem. An incredible one. And yes, you too deserve all the best that this world gets to offer. And when this day comes to an end, I pray for a shooting star to light your window. Be the best. Be you. 

Happy birthday darling.

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Meet Eunniah Mbabazi
Eunniah Mbabazi is an Electrical and Electronic Engineer with a deep passion for books and literature. She has authored Breaking Down (a collection of short stories), If My Bones Could Speak (a poetry collection), The Unbirthed Souls (a collection of short stories), and My Heart Sings, Sometimes (a poetry collection). She has also co-authored Kas Kazi (a novel) and When a Stranger Called (an anthology of short stories).

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