The expansive northern region of Kenya is a lonely place for a Christian. Churches are few and far apart. In many a dusty township with white turbaned minarets, they are non- existent. But isn’t it written that our hearts are temples? One needs not to look far for a place of worship, but within the self.

The Anglican Church congregation of Wajir church where I communed when I worked there was a small knit family that knew each other by name. Every other time, our Reverend would be the brother’s keeper and visit a congregant who had skipped church for some time.

At this point, some may wonder how I attend church, seeing that I am avid defender of African culture. To me, belief systems are related. Those who believe in one God and worship by kneeling in a mosque, a church, a temple or while facing Kirinyaga are children of one faith. They are different fingers of the loving hand of one Supreme Being.

Second, I believe that all true religions are like water bodies. Rivers, lakes, brooks, springs, oceans- all contain water. Same way, all true religions contain truth. Truth may be given to different people in different ways- but the source is one. That’s my personal beatitude.

Anyway, back to the story. Sometime in 2015, I was going through some internal turmoil that saw me forget church for a while. My heart recoiled, like a spring, in some deep solitude, making me lock out the world from myself. All I wanted was leave of absence from humanity. Our Reverend got concerned and organized a visit to my bachelor pad.

One balmy Sunday afternoon, I was cooking, shirtless. On my waist, hinged on my kitambi, I wore a simple cotton wrap around called kikoi. A halo of perspiration hang around my face as I kneaded the ugali slowly, mulling over my solitude.

To wash down the malignant sadness that was spreading in my heart like a bad rash, I was also drinking that fiery drink which the Scots bequeathed the world. A drink so punchy that after a few tots, I could feel a warm rush of feel good hormones coursing in my veins.

When the good Reverend knocked on my door, I placed my drink near the cooking pot and welcomed the man of God. As we talked, the food started sizzling, prompting me to empty a half full glass into the meat stew.

My Reverend got to his job and advised me that it’s not only bread that can keep a man alive, but also the word of God. I nodded vehemently, seeing that I was in the wrong.

When the food was ready, I dashed into neighbours house next door and borrowed two plates. My neighbour was a wise fellow who could read a ‘bachelor’s’ predicament, so he added me two spoons and two tumblers.I couldn’t borrow a serving tray since none of the ‘bachelors’ in the hood had any so I served the food on the cover of a bucket. We then ate the food was eaten in silence, the Reverend and I, like the communion. I could tell my guest was relishing the serving.

‘The food was pleasantly tangy.’ The Reverend confirmed my hunch after gulping down a glass of water contentedly.Its then that I realized that when the meat sizzled, I had added whiskey to it instead of water. And thus the tangy taste. This incidence, though unintended, stained my conscience and guilt gnawed at my heart like a mole rat.

The following Sunday, I was welcomed back to church, like the prodigal son. I rejoined KAMA- the Anglican men association which would sing off key hymns in church. I was back home-and on my way to healing.

My Reverend may have realized my mistake, but decided that his love for me, the one lost sheep, was bigger than my mistake.

Gilbert Mwangi

Creative writer,dreamer,and Drum Major for all things true.

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