I love tea. Sometimes, I think this is fueled by my passion for all things English; the language, the green picturesque countryside, the movies, the monarchy… In fact, it has been my longtime wish to be invited to the Buckingham Palace for a “cuppa tea” with the queen. I wonder what our discourse would be about. Swirling the deep brown tea in our silver cups, perhaps we would reminisce how “A girl went up the tree one evening and came down the next a queen.” Then again, maybe we would dwell on a subject that we both love-literature; the enchanting children’s stories of Rudyard Kipling; Shakespeare’s captivating plays; the arresting prose and interesting characters of Charles Dickens. That would most definitely be our cup of tea. To top it all up, we would then attend a church service at the Westminster Abbey where the preacher would be none but that Brilliant Bible expositor, John Stott. Now that would be something! However, deep down, I know my love for this much-enjoyed beverage comes not from England but a Faraway land and was brewed by an anomaly earlier in life.
How can I forget those days? When mother would hold women meetings, popularly known as sindikiza, at our home? The image that forever lingers in my mind is that of the women’s exuberant faces, holding cups of tea and engaged in hearty conversations. From time to time, roars of laughter would erupt ensued by sighs of breathlessness. I honestly used to think the tea must have been laced with some powerful laughing gas. How else could a 14 year old explain such mirth among those women-folk? It was in search of this mirth, which led me to perilous places. I spent more time with friends than I did with siblings and parents. Clubbing and drinking became my first priority. My life was quickly going down the drain and I didn’t know how to stop it. I did not see eye to eye with my father. My siblings thought God must have erred in making me a firstborn. My mother was heartbroken but kept on praying that I may change. She seemed to know that one day I will, or just simply believed to sooth her aching heart. All in all, I was caught up in a web of dramas and mine heart longed for some sanity. However, none seemed to be in sight.
During the sober moments, which were rather few, I did some serious soul searching. Glimpses of mother singing with her friends would oft come my way. I would then recall their laughter over a cup of tea. Overtime, I rightly came to associate tea with genuine friendship and true joy. Hence, if I got an invitation to one for the road or a cup of tea, I chose the latter-the “Karibu Chai” synonymous with many a homes, was not just a gesture of hospitality but an invite to a saner life. In spite of this positive step, there were times when I drunk myself silly. At every drinking spree, I would convince myself, “just this once!” How naive I was. I sunk deeper in the quagmire of alcohol and eventually hit rock bottom. It was here, a dismal sight I must have been, that I warmed up to God’s love. It is amazing how one can find relief at the lowest of places.
Now every time I hold this cup of tea, I perceive the love and patience that was taken in its brewing. I hear the soothing words of a true friend encouraging me in this path of life. I see the angelic faces that stood by me through thick and thin. Most assuredly, I feel God’s arm over my shoulder and I know all is well. That is why I love this cup of tea.