Smiling Eyes and Weary Legs

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One of the streetlights along rhino road, Tena Estate’s longest road, wasn’t working and the moon was nowhere to be seen. It was in this dim light that I saw her was running running towards me. A bull dog glared at me from the first floor of an unfinished building on my left. She was now barely ten meters away from me since I was running in the opposite direction.

My running app informed me that I had just finished 11.5 kilometers in just under one hour, twenty minutes. This meant that I was on track to run my fastest time this year. But only if I hastened my steps, which is exactly what I did even though my legs were protesting. Its at this point that I met her. She was wearing a black track suit. Her track jacket was hooded, leaving only a small portion of her face visible. Despite that, her beauty shone on her countenance and in her brown eyes as they smiled. This jolted me into a faster speed and I rounded the final bend into a road that would deposit me into my court after two hundred meters. A student in a red raincoat gazed up at me with curiosity and said something to his yawning mother after I had passed them. They were waiting for the kid’s school bus.

Barely forty minutes earlier, I had rounded the Kangundo Road bend that led me into Komarock Estate. Sitting moodily to my right was T-Mall, the shopping mall that doesn’t seem to have caught fire despite having been completed a couple of years ago. I was in a good mood because I was having a good run. My legs were riding on the wings of the dawn breeze. For the first time this year, I had run the entire one-kilometre stretch of Kangundo Road without walking even for a second. Although I had previously run along this stretch non-stop, it was always in the opposite direction from Komarock, never towards Komarock. Alhamdulillah I could now tick this goal.

There were three small uber cars parked next to T-Mall but I was too focused on my run to throw a quick glance into them. I usually did this just to get an idea of what the driver was doing at that early hour as they waited for clients. Most were usually leaning back in their seats, catching a nap. I slowed to a fast walk to catch my breath and saw the young girl who is always out on the road whenever I pass here. It was 4.45AM and she was walking towards her usual location on a roadside concrete bench where she normally sits. I have always wondered why her father, mother or any grownup doesn’t normally escort her as is common with other kids who are out this early.

“If those kids are at the road before 5AM, what time do they wake up?!” My Rwandan friend Neza recently asked me. Good question.

As I sprint down towards the two-hundred meters that will lead me to a bridge where a four-meter ascent will commence, I find myself wondering about my own kids when I get them (after first finding their mother). Will they also be waking up at 4AM just so that they can catch the 5AM school bus that has to come that early because: a) it is trying to avoid Nairobi’s notorious traffic jam and b) it has to pick dozens of kids who stay all over the city. I pray that Seven and Saba (the imaginary names of our future two kids) will not have to wake up up at these crazy hours because we shall be dropping them to school ourselves or we shall also be living near that school and will just be strolling there with them.So help me God.

By the time I reached my blue gate and stopped the running app, my legs were almost weeping. But it was worth it, because today, the 8th of October 2019, I had run my fastest time this year - 7.1 mins/km over a distance of 12 kilometers. I know that this is still slow, but hey, don’t forget that I still weigh 88 kilos and until three months ago, I hadn’t run for more than six months.

As Bwak the Bantu Poet said in his epic poem, The Finish Line, ‘even one small step forward gets you closer to your destination.’ Keep taking small steps forward.     

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