What you need to know:
- “You cannot have come here without interstate documents.”
- “Well, here I am.”
- He did not find this funny and pointed at another gentleman. “Go and explain to him. He is the supervisor.”
- The supervisor was stunned that I was in their land without the interstate documents.
It was only after lining up at the passport control in Rwanda that I heard of an animal called an interstate document. Talk of blissful ignorance. As I handed over my identity card to the customs official, I said:
“First time in Rwanda, I’m excited.” The grin on my face quickly cleared when, instead of a smile from this fellow East African, he said,
“It is your interstate documents I need to see. Not this card.” I gave him the boarding pass Kenya Airways had printed out.
“No…no…not this one. The other document, the one with a stamp from your country.”
“I have no other document.”
He sighed and gave me the exact look that I give my six-year-old when he asks me why he must shower every day.
“Check in your handbag. You have them.”
“I have no other document. I did not get any other document. I was told that I only needed this national identity card to come to Rwanda.”
“You cannot have come here without interstate documents.”
“Well, here I am.” He did not find this funny and pointed at another gentleman. “Go and explain to him. He is the supervisor.”
The supervisor was stunned that I was in their land without the interstate documents.
“Where are they?”
“No. Show them to me.” This was not the time to joke, as it turned out. He listened to my story, which was relatively brief. The invite said that East Africans only require their national identity card. Seeing as my passport was expired, I had carried my identity card with my e-ticket, taxi and accommodation money. The rest was a breeze. Check-in and one and half hours later, boarded the plane and there I was. He interrogated me, called another person who asked me to start the story all over again, more questions and finally said,
“Go sit there. Wait.” Brother, didn’t I wait! Next to the Isolation Room set aside for anyone whose temperatures reached the Covid-19 limits.
The masked officials threw suspicious looks at my sad self. One uniformed official after the other came to hear my story. When they were exhausted with grilling me, their security guards followed. The first three guards had not got the full memo and assumed that I was Rwandese. They spoke in Kinyarwanda, and I responded in Kimeru. We perfectly misunderstood each other. A different official came, grilled me afresh and then said, “We can’t even deport you. There is nothing to show that you have even exited Kenya.”
“Oh. I’m I like an illegal alien now?”
“You have no interstate documents.”
Needed a weekend away
Tail in between my legs, I called hubby. You see before this trip, we had a heated quarrel, and I had left for Rwanda in a huff, barely letting him know anything about my travel. I desperately needed a weekend away and time alone, staring at the endless expanse of water. Kisumu was on my mind. Lake Victoria’s captivating beauty and calm are magical. Still, when the invite for Rwanda came, I jumped at the chance like a hungry baby does for its mother’s breast.
At the start of the New Year, I had read somewhere that happiness is found within you and not derived from another person. I also read that to unearth that happiness within you, it was important to say yes more to life than saying no. After a decade in marriage, the humdrum had set in. I felt unseen, unheard and taken for granted. What broke the camel’s back was asking about date nights and expecting the little affections that make a girl – whether she’s 50 or 20 – feel loved. “Are we going to pay school fees or to party?” was his reply. I was saying yes to life. I had to find my happy. And now here, sitting at that corner like a naughty child, I had a lot of reflecting to do.
The fight had followed me
His scepticism was making me wonder whether karma was at play.
“You got into Rwanda without an entry visa? How?” He was starting to doubt my straightforward story and must have wondered whether I had hooked up with a suave Rwandese brother. This led to fresh text fighting. Borders notwithstanding, the fight had followed me.
When I travelled back, our mentor couple intervened.
“Why didn’t you take the weekend away together?” they asked us.
“She did not even tell me about the trip,” hubby replied.
“He would not have wanted to go!” I shot right back.
“Why not? I like to travel…”
“Would you rather pay school fees or party?” was my apt response.
We had entered smack into the battlefield.