The two donkeys were hurtling towards us with scared looks in their usually expressionless faces. Hot on their heels were three German Shepherd dogs. I stopped in my tracks as did Mulhat. As the man, I tried to look brave and behave as if I met angry German Shepherd dogs every other day. Truth is, the last time I had met with a German shepherd dog was ten years earlier in Imola, Italy as I was strolling down a lonely street.
“Where are those dogs coming from!” Mulhat lamented as she pressed against the fence of the fisheries department as if willing it to open up and protect her. Her green hijab blew softly in the wind as did her bui bui.
A Rastafarian beach boy soon trotted along and nodded proudly when I asked him if he was with the dogs. Mulhat’s pretty face relaxed and we continued walking along the sea wall in bouts of chatter that were punctuated by occasional moments of silence as we exchanged loving glances. Within a few minutes, we took a right turn that led to Dudu Villas and Cottages. It was just after 6.30 PM and as is true of Lamu, it was already dark.
Bang, bang! I knocked the heavy wooden gate. No response.
‘Hodi!’ ‘Hodi!’ I shouted.
‘Kuna watu?!’ Is there anyone? Mulhat shouted. No response.
Just as we were preparing for another round of gate-banging, a couple joined us at the gate. They were staff, and so they proceeded to make a phone call that resulted in quick opening of the gate.
Mbarak, the Manager of Dudu Villas was walking towards the gate, smiling warmly.
“Welcome my friends!” he said and immediately took the small rucksack that I was carrying.
If only he knew what was in this bag, he probably wouldn’t carry it. I thought to myself and exchanged a mischievous look with Mulhat. She adjusted her blue hijab so that not a single hair was sticking out. Gazing at the index and thumb of her right finger moving the hijab closer to her forehead, I felt as if the warm ocean breeze was lifting me off my feet and placing me in the midst of those stars that were bound to light up the sky later that night.
This feeling was still dancing my chest when I took a bite from the doughnut that Mbarak’s wife had graciously offered us. I had never eaten such delicious doughnuts before. Oh my God, they were divine. I told her that and Mbarak’s face lit up with pride.
“My wife is a very talented chef,” he said, “she actually has her own catering business.”
“I will be sure to invite her to my wedding as the caterer,” I said and cast another playful glance at Mulhat. She responded with a smile so imperceptible that am the only one who noticed it. But when Mbarak told a potter, a young man wearing a uniform of grey shorts and a white shirt, to carry the small rucksack to my room, Mulhat’s smile became noticeable.
If only they knew what was in that bag…