The Sunday Obama was in Nairobi, the city was empty and very still– even unusually so for a Sunday. My sister Wangari and I were hoping to go up KICC but couldn’t because it wasn’t open to the public that day. So instead we took a walk– and photos of ourselves on this walk– like tourists in our own city, posing in the middle of deserted tarmac roads like the stars of a pop music video.The resulting photos feel a little dream like– especially considering the fact that there was a hailstorm just the day after, and by then Nairobi was back to its usual self– noisy, busy, full of matatus fighting for a slice of the road.
The haziness of this scene reminds me so much of the Robert Frost poem I referenced at the start of this post (which you can read in its entirety here). I really really love the first three lines especially: “Two roads diverged in the yellow woods/ And sorry I could not travel both/ And be one traveler, long I stood”.
That hesitation when making decisions is something that really speaks to me. But also, the inevitability of it: you may stand for long, but eventually you have to choose and keep on moving to the next fork, and the one after that, and the one after that. I also think about how big and irreversible decisions can feel sometimes: the heaviness of feeling that this one choice might make “all the difference” in your life, whether for better or for worse, and the resulting fear and inertia that that can cause. I’ve learnt that sometimes “Just Do It” a la Nike is the best way to approach situations. As long as neither of the choices is unethical or dangerous, just going for it and moving on to the next big fork.
The day after Obama left Nairobi, hail fell from the sky. It had mostly melted by evening but late at night I found that a slab of ice had frozen over at one small corner of our compound.