When Norah Njeri married Kinuthia Muturi in 1970, their dream was to start a family and grow old together.
However, fate would later give them the bitter taste of mourning four deaths in their family, three in quick succession, with one of their sons to be laid to rest next Wednesday.
None of the two lovebirds had foreseen the road accident, tragedy and depression that have now entered her life with total abandon, threatening the peace of mind she has always sought and shattering her faith in God.
"God, why have You abandoned this faithful family and Your servants in prayer? Why have you allowed the devil the power of life to torment me so much? But to you God who is never questioned, I submit... May your will be done," she wailed during the interview at her Inoi village in Kiharu constituency on Tuesday.
Now 68, Njeri says that people can make plans, but it's fate that decides how it will turn out, giving life its incomprehensible and unpredictable turns.
"We were both farmers whose livelihood depended on casual labour in our village of Inoi ... I entered marriage as the mother of a son and together we were blessed with three more. But in 1993, my world was turned upside down when my husband died from respiratory complications," she says.
The death left her as the head of the family, "and God knows the struggles I went through to pay school fees and other bills for the family".
Everything seemed to have stabilised when her sons began to lead independent lives, earning incomes in various trades and easing her burden by supporting her.
But the devil "did not seem to like my peace and staunch Christian faith and gave me a big scare on January 8 this year".
"It was about 3pm when I received a call from someone who introduced himself as a doctor. The message was that I was needed at Murang'a Level Five Hospital because some of my family members had been involved in a road accident," she recalls.
She says she simply asked how many members there were and the answer was six.
"I did not even change my clothes ... I travelled and arrived. My son and five grandchildren had been involved in an accident on their way home from Gospel Outreach Church in Nyeri County," she recalls.
Footage of the accident showed the car veering off the road, racing madly through the bush and reaching steep terrain that sent it flying, landing head first in a residential area and remaining stuck between two houses.
"How the car flew over the two houses and landed between them remains the miracle ... But one of my grandchildren was seriously injured, and the doctors gave her a survival rate of less than 10 per cent. All the others survived the accident but the child named after me — Norah Njeri — died on January 12 at the age of 21, leaving us with a hospital bill of Sh200,000," says Njeri.
Njeri's death hit her father, Wilson Macharia, so hard that he went into depression, and died on February 3, 2023.
"Macharia was my second-born son and his death hit my family hard. He loved his first-born daughter very much and had networked with friends to get her a visa to the United States, where she was due to fly later this year. He never accepted that she was dead and depression drove him to his death," laments Njeri.
She adds: "The two deaths caused panic in my family and my first-born son, Christopher Maina, started suffering from hallucinations and said he was being visited by the angel of death with the message that our family would be wiped out."
Maina was admitted to the hospital on May 10 and died on June 4.
He will be buried on Wednesday next week, leaving behind a bill of Sh700,000 "which I had to surrender my title deed as security to release the body for burial while we work out a plan to pay".
Her two remaining sons — Ephantus Kamau and Stephen Muturi — now claim they fear for their lives as the angel of death seems to have been picking on their family with vicious frequency.
"I was the one driving the vehicle in which the six of us were coming from church. I just saw some images in front of me and I lost control of everything. I heard all five passengers screaming ... I unconsciously felt the car fly and saw it land between the houses. I saw a face peeking into the vehicle and whispering to me that the mission was accomplished and I should go and wait for my appointment with destiny," Kamau claims.
Kamau, who used to take alcohol, is now a teetotaler. "I have now surrendered my life to God, born again in the hope that the move will keep the devil of death away from me."
He says he fears most for his mother "who has been shaken to the core by this turn of events and I urge all those who know how to pray to ask God to have mercy on us and spare us this agony".
The family spokesman, Sospeter Maina, tells Nation.Africa: "We are now very meek before the throne of mercy and ask all believers to keep us in their prayers as we mourn these tragedies that have made our village restless."
He adds: "There are many theories being peddled left, right and centre about these tragedies in this family, but our position as Christians is that it is God's doing and He will come through for us in His unfailing mercy.
He says the family needs professional counsellors to help the five survivors of the accident come out of their trauma and also to help Njeri come to terms with the heavy blows that the deaths in her family have dealt her.