The morning sun, making its way through a curtain, which was not properly closed, woke Kacper up. He felt well. His pain that he had last night disappeared with a combination of a painkiller and a good night’s sleep. He looked at the rose that he had received from Joyce yesterday, and smiled.
Nairobi never fails surprising Kacper. He feels good in the capital of Kenya. He likes its residents, its very cosmopolitan feeling, its green spaces, its cosy neighbourhood, and even its slightly messy but bustling city centre. Kacper is rarely bored here. There are frequently surprising events and happenings that he experiences in the city.
He remembers in 2005, he met one of the famous Polish princesses here, whose father needed to flee Poland, when the communists took over power. It was not a good thing to be a royalty in those days, so he was forced to leave for safety to the United Kingdom. As he apparently was an adventurous man, he soon decided to take his family to Nairobi, and settled in Kenya. His three little daughters accompanied him. Today, one of the daughters lives in Canada; the other one went back to the United Kingdom, while the oldest one still lived in Kenya.
She was a real aristocracy, one could tell right after exchanging just a few sentences with her. Kacper loved the way she spoke Polish. When they conversed together, he had a feeling to have moved back in time, and becoming a student in some kind of a boarding school for wealthy boys in Warsaw of 1920’ies.
‘I might have Polish, British, and Swedish passports, but above all I am Kenyan’, she informed Kacper, who was becoming more charmed with each sentence he heard from her mouth. ‘Kenya is a country that accepted me, gave me education, and brought me up’ she went on. ‘I therefore consider that most of my civic responsibilities I owe to this nation’, she concluded, while elegantly serving Kacper tea to his porcelain cup.
The Princess had an amazing life. As a young woman, she joined a charity, which was helping the poorest inhabitants of Nairobi. She worked in a clinic and cared for the ill and destitute. In the same time, she started her own business, which today has grown to be the biggest insurance company in Eastern Africa. In her 20’ies she married to the Ambassador of Sweden to Kenya (hence her Swedish passport), who later died in a plane crash. Some years later, she opened her own foundation, helping Kenyans living with HIV and AIDS. She visits Poland regularly, mainly to look after the palace that her family reclaimed in eastern part of the country, after the communism fell. She and her two sisters buried their father there in 2006, after he had died of a heart attack in Nairobi. Whenever Kacper thought of the Princess, he couldn’t help associating her with the Danish Baroness Karen Blixen, whose story, the whole world knows from her own Out of Africa. ‘What a splendid resemblance’ Kacper thought.
Kacper was on his way to the Nakumat Junction shopping centre, a modern and neat establishment with a supermarket, fine shops and restaurants. He wanted to stock up with basic goods like toothpaste, shampoos, and groceries for him and his friends in Chad. Some of these luxuries are not available there. He was even more excited, as he was to meet Bob too! Bob is his English friend; he worked with in Indonesia during the tsunami response. Funnily, he was passing through Nairobi in the same time, and had looked up Kacper’s status on his Facebook to find out that they were both in the same city!
Kacper handed a note of 1000 shillings to a cab driver and agreed that he would need a pick up in three hours. He went to a cash dispenser, withdrew some more money, and headed towards a supermarket. He entered an elegant hall leading into it, and looked at woman, who admired something at one of a shop displays. ‘Hang on a second’ he thought. ‘She looks familiar… this long, reddish her, this thin, nearly skinny body… this must be Sally!’ went through his mind. He shouted her name out so loudly that half of the hall looked at him. Sally looked back quite scared, not understanding what was happening. Slowly a disbelieving smile arrived to her face. ‘Kacper?’ she appeared quite shocked. ‘What are you doing here?’ she carried on. ‘Well, I should ask you the same… I thought you were still in Australia’, said Kacper not believing his own eyes.
Sally hugged Kacper and explained to him that she had arrived to Nairobi a day before, and in fact, was already based in South Sudan, where she worked. She was just visiting Nairobi for a conference with her colleagues. ‘Now look Sally, you are not going to believe it, but I am meeting Bob in a moment for coffee… You need to join us, we will have an Indonesian reunion in Nairobi!’ he explained. ‘Oh my God… Bob is here as well?’ she was even more surprised. Bob and Kacper both reported to Sally, when they worked in Indonesia. It just seemed quite unbelievable that three of them happened to be in Nairobi in the same time 3 years after, more so, as none of them expected the others to be there, and they all managed to miraculously bump at each other, in the city of quite a few million of people!
They were sitting, and catching up with their lives. Kacper felt at ease and didn’t feel that it was already three years that they haven’t met. They talked and laughed like in old good times. That was definitely a good start of his stay in Nairobi… Kacper needed to leave the two. He was about to meet for lunch with Joyce. He kissed Sally, hugged Bob, made them promise they would keep in touch and dashed off to a neighbouring restaurant to meet his Kenyan friend.
As usual, Joyce arrived in time. She looked beautiful, and her warm smile greeted Kacper from far away. She wore a tasteful African dress, and held a rose in her hand. ‘Kacper!’ she screamed, the moment, she noticed him. ‘This is for you…’ she handed her flower to him. ‘But Joyce, I am not used to receive flowers from beautiful women like you’ he told her charmingly. Joyce seemed pleased with the compliment. ‘You can accept it from me, can’t you?’ she insisted.
Kacper absolutely admired Joyce, and was so proud of her. They first met around 5 years ago. At that time, Kacper was working for his previous organisation, and was managing the programmes of South Sudan from his Nairobi office. Joyce worked in the house where he lived. She cleaned and cooked for him and his colleagues.
The moment Kacper met Joyce, he knew she was special! She always smiled, was in a good mood, punctual, disciplined, and hard working. As she was not a professional cook, she made sure she trained herself not to disappoint anyone, which she never did. Joyce used to bring cookbooks and experiment new dishes. Somehow, they always turned out delicious, and they were probably some best-fed people in the city. Kacper remembers Joyce surveying people in the house, and asking them, what culinary desires they might have had. An amazing thing is that she would later satisfy all of people’ tastes in one or another way. Everyone loved Joyce.
One day, one of the logisticians of the organisation needed to leave. He didn’t do his work well, and despite multiple efforts of helping him perform better, things just didn’t work out. They were in need of the new logistician… Monique and Kacper looked at each other and both whispered in the same time: ‘Joyce’. Yes, they both knew that Joyce needed to be the new logistician. She didn’t have experience, but she had everything else she needed! It was obvious.
It took Monique and Kacper two days to convince her to apply for a job. They needed to work through some of her worries. She thought, the job was too senior, she argued she was just a cook, she said she would not be capable managing men… she was a weak woman after all. They both dismissed all of her worries and promised that had she received the job, they would support her all the time, and there was no need to worry.
Joyce won the competition, got the job, and not surprisingly delivered excellently. She was so determined not to disappoint and to do her job well that she mastered all theoretical knowledge of logistics within weeks. She was a demanding, and a fair manager, and soon won over all men she used to manage.
Some months later, Kacper left Kenya. He went on to Pakistan, then Indonesia, but he stayed in touch with Joyce. Two years after he had left the country, he learnt that she won a competition to become the organisation’s business support manager for whole of East Africa. Joyce was signing her first international contract!
While eating, she was telling Kacper how things were at work, and how her family was. ‘And I learnt how to drive…’ she told him excited. She pointed at a small Toyota Yaris and proudly told him that this was her car. ‘Kacper’ she addressed him. ‘I thank you for all…’ she went on. She then said that it was him and Monique that made her believe in herself that they changed her life… ‘Joyce, stop here and now!’ demanded Kacper. ‘You changed your own life… You are the one, who you need to be grateful to, no one else…’ he explained. ‘I am just proud that I have earned such a great friend, as you are Joyce’ he added. ‘Now, will you allow me to be gentleman, and pay for our lunch?’ he offered. Joyce blushed slightly, and accepted the offer.
PS. Kacper is worried of what is happening in Chad. Heavy fighting brought out near to Abeche – where he lives. Hopes his colleagues are all fine!