That Sunday evening, I was seated on my couch deep in thought pensively thinking about the good memories I shared with my wife Hannah and our daughter Doreen.
As I struggled to contain my emotions, I reminisced how we would share a cold coke while having dinner every night and how my daughter Doreen always insisted on being the caterer.
She would laugh and say "You wanna taste that feeling", in the spirit of Coca-Cola. Haaa!
I can't explain it but it seems that on this Sunday night, more than any other, the vault that contained deep-seated memories within my mind had let loose for the night, wiring me back to my wedding day and the four years that were happiest in my life. I could not help it.
After courting Hannah for three years and tying the knot in 2016, we had a pretty good picture of exactly how we wanted our life to go. Enjoying sunset rides on a boat on Lake Victoria with our three children, a son and two daughters.
The first bundle of joy (Doreen) arrived a year later, in 2017 and she instantly became my number one obsession. I no longer spent late nights in the office.
Every moment of each day, I looked forward to having her in my arms.
“Daddy, I love you,” Doreen muttered since the first chance she got to learn how to speak, and that always made my heart swell with pride (more than all the bonus cheques I got from my banking job every time a deal got sealed).
As a young 29-year-old of average build, my career had also taken off well which prompted us to take a mortgage and become homeowners in our 20s, what a feat. Hannah’s career in interior design had also taken off well. We were living inside a work of art.
A short recap. I met Hannah on Campus. I was pursuing the ubiquitous Bachelor of Commerce and she, with her high taste, was embroiled in the Interior Design world. Coincidentally, we met at the Dean's office over missing marks.
United by the hustle to graduate, we found ourselves mostly eating lunch together while hunting down our respective lecturers. We did graduate but our union was solidified when we discovered our worlds had a lot in common. And we rode the positive wave.
My world came crashing down in 2020 after I lost both my wife and daughter in an incident I don’t think I am ready to talk about yet. My fragile heart healed from the tragedy.
For a moment, my life lost meaning but my work colleagues never lost hope in me. From regularly checking up to uplifting messages, they were always around.
“Luke, you can’t change the past. All we can do is move forward and we as your team are here for you. That is too huge a loss to handle alone,” my co-worker Kirk who was always checking up on me.
After a year, I began finding solace at work and I was increasingly attending events organized by my family and colleagues. I was making baby steps towards finding happiness.
With time, I also gathered the strength to attend football matches and watch televised matches with my colleagues.
With the World Cup coming up, 2022 was shaping to be one hell of a year. Just a few weeks ago, Real Madrid beat Liverpool again, I say again, in the Champions League final.
So Kirk had invited me to watch a soccer match in the city, a tournament I don't know dubbed UEFA Nations League. Being privy to my family’s tradition, he ordered Coca Cola and we reminisced about the good old days.
It was a match between Germany and Italy, with the former winning 5-2.
After our first Coca Cola ran out, I hit the bar for a refill to the amusement of the bartender. He was shocked at the pace we were taking the drink.
“This is a tradition for me, Man. I always did this with my daughter every Saturday night,” I defended my love for the drink.
He looked at me and laughed then asked.
"Then you must have tried out the new Coca Cola promo?"
"Which promotion?" I responded.
“Coca Cola is offering five slots for individuals to go watch the FIFA World Cup matches in Qatar. Just send the eight-digit code under the crown to 40111, you could win other things such as airtime and hard cash,” he explained and my heart was pricked.
When I ordered a cab to take us home, I was determined to try it. I sent the code and a few minutes later, I received a message that has upended my life for good.
I alighted the cab which had stopped at the traffic lights to celebrate the feat along Moi Avenue traffic, attracting all and sundry.
“Yeeeeesssss! I am going to Qatar. Yesssss!” I shouted while running up and down the streets as traders watched me in disbelief.
After around five minutes of merry-making, I jumped back into the cab and began googling details about Qatar, the country.