Our ex-askari popped over last night. He'd said like the car at 6am on Sunday morning. First job for the driver; to pick up the cake. The wedding starts at 10am. His planning is fastidious. I think he might be getting pre-wedding jitters!
It's quite sweet actually.
He said, 'Thank you so much for lending us the car. It would have cost over 15,000 Kenya shillings to hire one. My pastor couldn't believe I was getting one from a friend and not even having to pay petrol!'
'That's what it's all about isn't it. Getting friends and community all to chip in what they can. We are very happy to have been asked.' I said, a little magnanimously I admit.
'Yes,' he said, 'I'm borrowing a suit from AMREF, the pastor has bought me shoes! A member of the congregation has bought a suit for my son to wear, another is donating the cake. My friends all chipped in to pay for the printing of invitations and 300 orders of service.' Now I was humbled.
I said, 'is there anything else you'll need?'
He said, 'well, food and drink.'
Oh - my mind was racing - for three hundred!
He explained that lots of people will come to the wedding just to watch and he's happy for them to do that - just so that the positive message will stretch far and wide.
'They will see us and see our son who is big now (and HIV clear), in not just primary school but now in secondary and they will see that people can go on quite well.....If they go home having had a soda, they will be even happier.'
I said, 'I'll see what I can do. We can put sodas, cups, snacks in the car.'
Guess that's our wedding present sorted then! He also told us that various local TV stations like KTN, NTV, even CNN may be coming to film the wedding.
Our ex-askari also greeted and chatted to our three girls. He was quite stern with our eldest, but in the nicest possible way.
'How are you?' he asked. She hurriedly handed me her bowl of ice-cream to hold and wiped her sticky fingers down her white school sports shorts before shaking hands.
'Very good.' She said.
'Now you are grown big,' he said, 'I hope you are studying hard in school. What are your favourite things to do?'
Her response was pretty quick, 'I like running, swimming, drawing.'
'What do you want to do when you are grown up?'
'Be a writer.' She said very definitely. (Wasn't I proud!)
'And so what are you doing now that will help you realise your goal?'
(this one would have sent me into sheer panic aged 10 but my daughter was cool as a cucumber!)
'Well,' she said, 'I read a lot and I'm good at English.'
'Excellent!' said our ex-askari. Aside to me in a whisper, 'she is very focused!!'
I thought, that's not the daughter I know but what the hey, let's run with it!
'Good,' he was talking to her again now, 'then when you are a writer you must come back and help us learn lots of things too.'
A good education is a valuable gift and the responsibility weighs heavily on the bearer here in Kenya.