This is the story of two strangers who met at a mall in Westlands, a tale about a kind heart and an unexpected connection that would turn around the course of their lives.
Have you ever wondered why a simple gesture can bring one to tears or how a simple watchman you pass at a gate, or that receptionist at a desk impacts their lives? What of the impact of that Ksh100 tip to a waiter and a thank you to a conductor safely arriving at your destination from work?
Then you truly understand how wonderful things can turn out to be when strangers cross paths - a reminder of the kindness residing within us all.
My wife Sarah and I woke up one morning, heading to the mall to buy bicycles for our twins. We aimed to surprise them on their 7th birthday. Originally, my plan was to purchase the boys' stylish canvas shoes or a football. However, Sarah suggested bikes to encourage their fitness.
As a husband, I live by two rules: Rule number one is to listen to my wife and rule number two is to still listen to my wife. If rule number two fails, I revert to rule number one. Married men, can you relate? Haa!
So we woke up, freshened and set off in our Sedan. As we drove, my sweetheart reminded me of her first gift, eight years ago, a wooden-carved bicycle.
The miniature wooden bicycle, fighting in the palm of my hands, rests near the wardrobe. The card that accompanied it might be lost, but its message remains etched in my memory.
You and I are like a bicycle’s pedal. Sometimes we are not on the same level but we still cycle forward together.
To this day, Sarah is always awe-struck that I kept the gift, alongside an old scarf she gave me at night to shield me from the cold when I forgot to carry a sweater to our movie date.
As we drove to the mall, traffic was chaotic, demanding patience and resilience to manoeuvre. We found ourselves entangled in a delicate spot where each step forward required restraint and determination.
In this challenging economy, even a minor scratch on someone’s car could cost you up to Ksh5,000. Pedestrians adapted to the traffic, strolling leisurely as they weaved through the congested road.
As we passed by road workers repairing the pavement, my wife noted their contribution to the unexpected traffic on busy Waiyaki Way. She rolled down the window, thanking them for their efforts.
“Asante sana madhe (mum). Ungetoa hata ya maji,” a worker said, jokingly suggesting we should offer them water. We promised to return with water, finding the interaction amusing.
At the supermarket, instead of bicycles, my wife ordered a Little Tikes car - a sizable toy car that kids drive in. Even before we completed the purchase, a playful agreement erupted between us. I usually tried to avoid disagreements with my wife, but this time, she playfully pulled me in.
“Okay, honey,” I pondered as we stood beside the Tikes car. “How do we get this Tikes car home?” I argued, scepticism lacing my tone. I wasn’t convinced it would fit inside our Sedan.
“Just pay for it,” my wife countered, her eyes sparkling with determination. “We’ll figure that out later. Let’s see if it fits first in the car, and then we can ask the supermarket if they can deliver it.”
But as I searched my wallet, realization hit me like a jab. My Co-op Bank debit card was missing. We exchanged looks, and then laughter burst forth.
“Surely, babe,” she chuckled, her voice filled with amusement. “Even if you opened a Co-op Bank account recently, how can you forget the card?” Her teasing grin was infectious, compelling me to join the laughter.
But funny enough, she hadn’t brought her card nor even her phone along - she had simply tagged along with me.
Amid our confusion, a woman waiting in line tapped my shoulder and asked “I heard you mention that you left your Co-op Bank card at home. Why not use the upgraded MCo-op Cash App or dial *667# and pay directly to the M-Pesa till?”
Her solution was like a light bulb switching on. A sense of relief immediately washed over me as I realized I had the perfect answer at my fingertips, quite literally even though I had opened my Co-op Bank account two weeks ago.
“Don’t worry,” she assured with a reassuring smile. “Download the upgraded MCo-op Cash App from Play Store or Apple Store and enjoy a range of services aimed at simplifying your financial transactions - such as saving money and applying for loans to transferring funds, paying bills, and even purchasing airtime.
“You can also access a salary advance loan of up to Ksh500,000 and pay school fees and other bills via the App,” she added, her words resonating with clarity, offering a practical solution that eased the momentary panic and confusion that had engulfed us.
With a grateful nod, we allowed her to clear her cart before us, appreciating both the simplicity of her suggestion and thoughtful demeanour.
At the parking lot, my wife and I discovered that the Tikes car we had purchased couldn’t fit inside our Sedan and looked at each other with amusement and frustration.
As we almost argued lightly, Jane, the woman who introduced us to MCo-op Cash noticed our predicament and stopped her car beside us. She smiled warmly and offered to assist us, generously proposing to transport the oversized toy in her minivan and follow us home.
Her thoughtful gesture left an indelible mark on us - a testament to the kindness that often arises when strangers connect. But it wasn’t her kindness that made me strike a conversation further, as my wife drove behind us. Coincidentally, her IT firm was among those that had applied for a tender to set up the internet at our new offices.
It was a twist of fate, right? This rare occurrence left us both chuckling at the universe’s sense of humour.
Midway through the journey, my wife honked at us and it was then that I realized that we were almost passing by the road workers we had encountered earlier. In a moment of spontaneity, she shared with them the food and water we had picked at the supermarket.
Their grateful smiles and appreciative nods warmed my heart, especially after she caught them by surprise.
Upon arriving home, after our caring friend, Jane, left, my wife and I read through the email sent by the tendering team and funny enough, her company had emerged at the forefront. It wasn’t just her generosity that stood out; her character seemed to reflect the ethos of her company.
As we retired for the day, a sense of gratitude filled our hearts, fueled not only by the pleasant surprises of the day but also by the affirmation that goodness and kindness can effortlessly thread through our lives, turning chance meetings into unforgettable chapters.