The Girl Who Loved Books

There’s nothing like a bunch of book nerds on a road trip with no psychedelics. And by book nerds, I mean all of them, driver included, in a van to Eldoret. There’s a book title in there.

What do they talk about? Books. Science. Books. Pseudoscience. Books. History. Books. Comparative Languages. Books. African History…

And at some point, someone is inspired enough to compose Kikuyu Romantic Poetry which roughly translates to:

Her face was shining like the sun,

The scent of Rosemary clinging heavy against the sheep oil,

Her face adorned with a halo of buzzing flies…

 No, I did not say they were poets. Just a bunch of book nerds sent off to deliver 1000 books donated by the Varkey Foundation to the Kipkeino School Community Library under the Start a Library Project. The beneficiaries of the books include the Lewa Children’s Home and members of the community surrounding the school. 

But back to the road trip…

My new assignment now involves a number of these trips every month. Last month sent me to Kandutura, a place beyond the Ndeiya I used to hear off in the same phrase as: why are you behaving like a kariko from Ndeiya, usually when I wiped off a runny nose with the back of my hand. I was five!

Kandutura was not as long a drive as the road to Eldoret. But it was a long drive through country I had no idea existed. Beautiful, almost unadulterated.

And the look on these children’s faces when they realize that they have access to all these books. Such joy that makes me realize just how much I took for granted my mother’s efforts to give me access to books all through my childhood.


Partner in crime, Namulanta of the Varkey Foundation (centre) shares books with students from Kipkeino School

But the road trips themselves have brought something new to my life. As a Lupus Soldier, I’ve spent the last 5 years of my life living in fear. Fear of infection. Fear of getting sick suddenly, in public. Fear of being a burden. Fear of death.

These road trips, they haven’t negated the fear. They’ve just brought this burst of fresh air and hope, and along with it a clarity that I hope will give me courage to keep going, keep living while I still live.

So on the way back from Eldoret, with pretty much every nerve in my body buzzing with pre-exhaustion, I give in to a game initiated by the girl who loved books. Stringing up conversation on phrases made up of book titles. Book nerds, I said. 

Tomorrow, I’ll probably not be able to get out of bed, I can feel the fever coming on. Dr. Tomas will be furious. But I am happy right now.

Also, as has been the custom since our first road trip, I am gorged on Indian Sweets. Bliss.



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