Today is Maundy Thursday. An ode to a tight pal with a beautiful heart. I first met Chebet Vicky Kones (below) one Sunday about 10 years ago. I had woken up early and went in search of the papers because there was a story I had keen interest in.
The first things that would strike you if you ran into Chebet was the beauty, the mile wide smile and a deep throated and loud- almost rowdy- laughter. She was a stranger in that part of town and was on a mission to search for the younger brother who had left home the previous night under the pretext of going to the shop, only to switch off the phone and disappear into the night.
Then in a sweet pleading voice she asked if I would be kind enough to help her in the search. A text book example of a damsel in distress. Now it is only a certified idiot or a cursed man who would let such a fine lady roam the big bad city all by herself in search of a missing brother. Since I am neither an idiot nor cursed I readily jumped in.
Seemed like a fool’s errand. At the end of it we never found the brother but I found a new pal. Thus began a long friendship. Every time she would call she would begin with “Iyomune arap Osanjo? Habari ya ng’ombe yako?”
Sounded quite weird to my ears, this form of greeting. But Vicky later explained that in Kalenjin culture the highest and most respectful compliment you could proffer a man was to ask him about the health of his cows.
Always following current affairs, we would have lots to talk – and argue- about. Years earlier I had interviewed the father the late Kipkalya Kones time and again. Vicky was the father’s daughter- always engaged in heated arguments over politics or any other issue she thought was worth fighting for.
Not that she was the quarrelsome type. On the contrary Vicky was one of the friendliest human beings I ever met. I would leave her at a totally new place to go run a few errands and coming back some short 30 minutes later she was already friends with some strangers talking like they were childhood friends.
When she finally visited me at home my nieces took an instance liking to her. “Mnajua mimi naweza kuwa mama yenu?” was the greeting and the young girls nodded in agreement. Soon I would introduce her to my pal Michael Kamau and the two began a quarrel that was never settled- whether Nakuru County or Bomet County was the better one in football. The kind of arguments that leave you wondering how they started in the first place. Michael claimed that his Nakuru County had a lethal striker by the name of arap Kimutai who could tear the Bomet defense apart but Chebet countered that the said arap Kimutai was a Kipsigis from Bomet who could only play for his home county. I wonder if either of them ever got to meet the mysterious arap Kimutai.
Then came the last elections and Vicky’s brother made news headlines when he ran against his step mother for the Bomet parliamentary seat. Vicky was the campaign manager. I remember calling her to find out the strange political formation and Vicky to whom nothing was ever a matter of life and death broke into her signature laughter and told me how she was having the time of her life. On why they were taking on their step mother she just laughed and informed me that Kenya is a democracy and anyone can run for the seat they so desire.
Vicky moved to Eldoret and as we are wont to do, I would call and promise that I would look for her when I arrive in Sisibo. A promise we never keep until one of us takes the journey of no return. So today my pal Carol Chem calls me and breaks the sad news- Vicky is no more. Chilling and numbing news. Rest in peace buddy. The memories of the good- and the bad- times will always be a sweet fragrance of your remembrance…