On my first visit to Lamu;

I was picked at Manda Airport and tossed over the ocean in a boat. My first ever; I wore both excitement and fear, which I strapped tightly with an orange life jacket.

That evening I absentmindedly stared at couples seated between glowing restaurant lanterns listening to the soft ocean breeze, and I thought about the woman I loved.

I remember spending my last day – a Saturday – riveted to the allure of the oldest National Museum in Kenya which soaks in history dating as far back as the 12th century. Try as I might, I couldn’t absorb half of it by midday, and had to reluctantly leave.

My second,
fourth visits, I can’t remember much. But I certainly can’t forget my most recent.

July 15th. I hurriedly shot off for an emergency mission as Mpeketoni Attacks tapered off. Tense, cold. Streets bare, and business at a zero. Religious fangs were out and an uneasy silence stooped over Lamu island.

I must have held my breath till I left. But not before visiting the mainland where pain had found a home. I wrote some accounts here.

On my last day, I took a walk in the island. Lots of construction using stone blocks, instead of coral was going on (stone blocks restricted after Lamu was declared a UNESCO heritage site). On my last day, I walked by a crowd surrounding a man lying prostrate – unconscious after a drug overload. Common scene.

As I hovered over the island, I stared out my airplane window thinking about a text message I’d received from my mainland volunteer translator two nights back: ‘there is a shoot-out happening outside. . . what do I do?’ 
I stared outside feeling like a spurned lover, nostalgic about good old days; wishing I could call them back. And lovingly gaze outside that window. With my woman.

It’s a year down since Mpeketoni Attacks.


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