By Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda
She finally managed to get a passport. Unbelievable. She was going abroad, she told everyone in her village. To Kenya, to visit her grandchildren. "Ndokuoonai ndabva mhiri kwemakungwa, pamwe gore rino handirime/ I will see you when I come from abroad, maybe I will not even be back for the farming season", my mother in law would boast to her best friend, vaChibhaghidhi. This was a dream come true for real, and for real.
When she landed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, gogo was walking with an extra step when I received her. "Muroora, ndaenda kudenga ndikadzoka/I went to heaven and came back", she mused. Initially I thought she meant it figuratively as in going to heaven with happiness! No she meant it practically as she described the flight from Harare to Nairobi, the cruise up the clouds, flying over the skies, until you can not see the land below, and one could feel the shadows of Mt Kilimanjaro on descent into Nairobi.
This was the only flight in her life time, and it meant a world to all of us. We drove through the city, past Westlands, Aghan hospital, to Gigiri and home. She was in another land, another country and another people. We were simply happy. She had come for Christmas.
The following few days were full of adventure and pure joy. We followed the news about the elections on television, and would walk to the shops nearby and mingle. Then hell broke loose. The elections turned violent, and we were glued to the news. The burning, the looting, the furious news reports. Heaven suddenly turned into hell for gogo.
My mother in law could not talk, eat or sleep. She was not scared as such, she simply did not want to die in a foreign land. She had promised her husband, that when she dies she would like to be buried next to him. She wanted her best friend vaChibhaghidhi to be at her funeral. She just could not stay an extra day. It was traumatic. 2007.
We talked long into the night with my hubby on whether we should change amai's ticket for an early return. We consulted with the children, and invited them to talk na gogo, and reassure her that things will be okay. Her mind was set, home was best.
Soon after new year, we took amai to Jomo Kenyatta airport. She was sad because she was worried about our safety. As we waived good bye, she reminded and advised again, "Mai Munashe, kana zvaomesesa dzokai kumusha. Musagare muhondo yakadai nevana."/Mai Munashe, if it really gets worse, come back home. You should not stay in this war zone with children.
Kenyan electoral violence, spoiled my mother-in-law's visit. She died, talking about how she went to heaven and landed in hell. Her passport still bears that single stamp, of her trip abroad to Kenya!