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February 21, 2019

In search of a foreign husband

Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same. - Francesca Reigler

She was sitting across the table facing me. I had invited her for a cup of coffee after she called me and hung up without a word. She was an old friend from college days. A go getter of the ‘no nonsense’ type, she was known to work hard and focus on whatever she wanted to achieve, with minimal or no coercion from any quarters. I looked at her and wondered what had changed of her strong personality.

Lucy was her name. She was nowhere close to what one might describe as beautiful, but her demeanor sold her off as amiable, intelligent and sociable. Start any conversation, be it politics, books, religion or sports, and her contribution would carry the weight of a person who knows the world well. A well-read modern lady. That was what Lucy was during our time in college. We all knew she was going places. But a look at her now was not convincing at all.

After Lucy had downed a strong cup of coffee in silence, she was bold enough to open up to me, her trepidations.  She had been very busy on the internet of late. Though she claimed not to be totally hooked to it, a big part of her day was spent on the Facebook or Twitter. Along that route, she had met, and supposedly fallen in love with a man, a ‘Mzungu’ living somewhere in America.

They had been on conversation for a month or so, and she was convinced she had found the love of her life. The man had proposed, and Lucy had accepted the proposal without question, against the expert opinion of friends who told her to give herself more time. But she had this feeling that if she played hard to get, she could lose the opportunity of a lifetime. Getting a “Mzungu” for a husband, let alone a boyfriend, was not a walk in the park. Too many of the so called modern ladies were all looking for the same thing. The only difference was where to look. Some went to hotels frequented by foreigners, some joined groups going to the game parks, and some, the majority, stuck to the internet. It offered the cheapest and most promising options without undue exposure to competition. Lucy had succeeded in getting herself one. But she had not foreseen the red tapes lined up between her and her man.

She had been to the US embassy to apply for a visa to travel to the country. She thought she had all what was required. A letter of invitation from her internet boyfriend, proof of means to reach her destination, her boyfriend’s financial status was solid and her conduct certificated from the criminal investigation department showed she was clean. But she was denied travel visa. Reason - that she was unlikely to return to Kenya. She wanted to reapply, using a different approach. She wanted me to write a letter, showing that she worked in my company as a sales executive, and she was going to the US to do marketing for Bushman Adventure Safaris. She was so intent on visiting America and uniting with her internet friend, that she was willing to risk her reputation and money to reapply. She never considered it could be a hoax, or a con game. I looked at her, and I pitied her, and the likes of her who think of imports being better than homemade.

We were sited close to the fence, which had been levelled not many days before and had some leaves already dead. On the ground were some dead flowers and small branches. A very colourful sterling was gathering the dead flowers and moving them to a branch of an acacia tree, to make a home. The bird kept herself busy, flying in and out of the garden as she collected whatever she could find to make a home. At one point, the bird tried to tear off a piece of an old rug that had been left behind by the cleaners hanging on the newly trimmed fence. She had many choices and she was taking her time to choose carefully what she wanted in life. I pointed the bird to my friend Lucy and said to her, “This is a bird. She can fly out without a visa, a ticket, and any documents at all. But she is busy using the locally available materials to build her home.  Why are we so ignorant in life?”



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