I get a message to pick up a registered letter from the central Nairobi postal service in Kenyatta Square. I decide to walk. As I turn into the main street my senses turn cartwheels as I encounter the riot of colour, noise and dusty aroma of down town Nairobi.
The post office is ‘manned’ by a small woman in blue uniform. She is in a visibly padlocked kiosk surrounded by lockers. I give her the number and after a few minutes she returns with the registered envelope with Bishop Raith’s impressive bishops mitre logo on the front.
‘We don’t handle many of these, sir.’ Her mouth splits into an impossibly wide white teeth smile. Kenyan
‘Thank you’ I reply with a smile as I try to fit the larger than average vellum envelope into my jacket pocket.
‘Neither do I,’I reply with a nod and a slight wink. I suddenly worry if this is inappropriate these days but she keeps smiling. Luckily most Kenyan people seem to be particularly friendly towards the British.
I decide to go straight back to Hassocks and Cassocks because I can feel the envelope is bulky. I call an Uber. I feel slightly uneasy about walking all the way back. Such an unusual embossed envelope may have attracted attention.
When I get back I go through the shop straight to our back office. I wave to the young work experience student is behind the counter. He smiles back I know he wants more hours.
He is adjusting a colourful Kenya style priest’s cloak for the mannequin display. I can’t help noticing even in the relative gloom of the shop that although his shirt is pressed and spotlessly white his elbow is sticking through a small hole in the arm of his shirt.
Cafe has told me that Kenyans like to pull together as one. Their culture is about responsibility and self-reliance. I wonder, for a moment if he will notice and sew it up. It has probably been worn thin through over use. I know that we do not have any fittings on the books today and if nothing is sold today his wages will be meagre.
Bishop Raith has sent me a cheque – a large one from Couttes Bank. It looks almost fake with its fancy victorian script. I have to admit it’s impressive but I now see it as part of the show. Bishop Raith Show. I feel increasingly uncomfortable with our conversations. The visit to the orphanage has unnerved me. I sense a dissonance there – something off key.
Why does he send this cheque rather than the usual bank transfers we normally receive? Now I will have to go to our bank on Monday. I roll my eyes to heaven and sigh. He is really jerking my chain with all this palaver. It will be days before it is actually shows up in our on line account.
The letter he sends with the cheque is in formally courteous bishop-speak but there is another smaller sealed envelope hand written for me……….