The sound of the engine of his car impresses him. No not because it’s has a turbo or anything of the kind, but because it is his first car brand new car and the sound of the engine is nearly no sound at all. For the fifteen years he has been a lecturer, he always had second hand cars. His first car was a Daihatsu – Charade. That was the time his first born son was about ten years old. He had that car for three years until he had to sell it because he was going to have another son at the same time his first born son was going to form one. He felt like he was having two new-born babies at the same time. You know the way taking your child to a new school, a high school to be specific – costs a whole bank. And yea, you have to treat the kiddo like a baby again or else he will cry for his mother all over the high school just like new born. So now you see why he had to sell it.
Ah! He started off as a high school teacher by the way. After his fourth salary as a lecturer, he bought his first car. He taught Math and Physics which were his favorite subjects since his prime days in high school. Time came when he felt he was too good for high school. He needed something a little more. Even the salary should be a little more. And just like that, with the approval of his wife, he pursued a masters degree in Maths and Physics. It seemed like life was waiting for him to make that move since he was called to lecture at Kenyatta University as soon as he graduated.
Even his sons say that their father has always been a lover of cars. It has always been his dream to buy a brand new car. Ever since they were kids, their father has always narrated the story behind his love for cars and his own brand new car in particular. In 1974, when he was just eight years old, a mzungu priest who headed the Parish in Machakos where his family fellowshipped in acquired a car. It was a Land Rover. Wazungus having cars was not a big deal, yes. But it was a big deal for him because he was the first person the priest gave a lift in the new car for the Parish. The priest had driven all the way from Mombasa where he received the car from the port. And just before he halted his journey at the Parish, he meets the little boy leaving the Parish from a catechism lesson. He was always the first to arrive and the last to leave. Hell yea the priest knew that and liked him for that. So he decided to bless the boy with a 50 meter lift in the first car he has ever boarded in his eight years on earth. He must have known the kid would never forget that and for sure, he didn’t. The priest’s words before the boy alighted were, “Kamwana ikia vitii sukulu ukwate wia museo. Alafu wiiyuwie ngali yaku.” (“Young boy, work hard in school and you will get a good job. Then you can buy yourself a new car.”) For the record, that Mzungu priest knew three local languages including Kamba while some of us don’t even know what ‘water’ is called in our mother tongues.
The level of dedication he puts into the things he does is just remarkable. This character in his personality has seen him go against all odds in his family of seven siblings with him being the last. Before his mother passed on in 2013, she said that he is the most hard working among his seven children. Together with his sister (the only sister), they both made her very proud. She thanked him for pausing his personal plans and dreams like his dream of buying a brand new car and building a house for his family just to care for her last days on earth after she was diagnosed with stroke.
So after ages of waiting for his miracle, Tom Wambua, a 52 year old lecturer finally drove into campus in his brand new car. That was two months ago. He doesn’t allow me to say how much it was, but he definitely wants every mjango reading this to know it was a Toyota Mac X. He also asked me not to forget to mention how much he loves the sound of the engine from the inside. None of the cars he has ever parked in his garage has had a calm engine like this beautiful mama called Mac X. You can almost not know whether the car is accelerating.
The choice of the car was recommended by his first born son, Jerry Wambua. His argument was a Mac X is simple but the right kind of classy car for his dad. Jerry is 25 years old now and a civil engineering graduate. Tom’s second born, Alfred Wambua wanted him to buy a Land Cruiser TX. “That was way over my budget,” Tom says.
“What about your wife? Which car did she want?” I ask.
“My wife is the exact opposite of me when it comes to some things such as cars. In fact my sons and I drove home in the Mac X and the first thing she said when she saw the car was, “I thought a Mac X was bigger than a Prado.” We laugh together but I could see he was holding back a ton of it because of the pain in the better part of his body.
He couldn’t help but smile all the way through the streets of campus. It must have been the best feeling in life; to finally make the dream that is like a cloud that has been hovering in the sky of his life for a lifetime to rain and rain real well on the dry but ambitious soils of his heart. He must have been too happy to remember that he had a class. I would later know I was wrong about this. So for the first time in fifteen years of lecturing, he was late for a class. Some of his students peeping from the classroom windows saw him alight from the brand new Mac X and others had seen him from the school gate. The famous Mathematics lecturer and his new ride was now the trending talk in campus though not for long. “It was only a matter of time until talks about my new moti was overridden by something devastating. Though I find it a little unique since not many people trend for two things on the same day.” Tom said. I later asked him how he got to speak sheng unlike most of our parents who are around his age. He said his sons and students, but mostly his students teach him a few words or two. His students love him and confide in him sometimes a little more than they do with their parents.
He got an applause when he walked into class and actually thought that it was because he was late for class for the first time. A second later, he realized it’s because he had walked into class while fidgeting his car keys on his fingers; something he had never done while he had all the other cars.
“Are you sure you didn’t do that intentionally?” I ask while rubbing my chin to show I’ll not allow my leg to be pulled.
He says, “I can’t lie to you. I’m way past the bragging age by the way. My being late for class was really a bother to me. In fact I was quite embarrassed that they thought I was late because I had a new ride.”
“Oh so you were not late because of your brand new car? You had me thinking that too.”
He chuckles, “Nah! I had had a terrible night. That actually is the reason we are here today. I had a severe headache that lasted for about six hours. It was a strange one. Like it was going in circles and every new round it made it came back stronger. I couldn’t sleep at all. My wife tried to give me pain killers but nothing worked. Then finally in the wee hours of the morning, it reduced and I managed to sleep. I didn’t hear my alarm but my wife did but she didn’t wake me up.”
“She thought I deserved the day off. She knows I have had millions of headaches before but none like that. So I woke up later and I even didn’t have time to debate on whether she made the right call not to wake me up for work or not.”
Forty five minutes into the lesson, Tom started to feel the same kind of headache that had caused him his sweet sleep – crawling back gradually. He tried to brush it off and continue teaching. He believed he would make it to the end of the lesson and he would later go home to get some rest. Even drinking water that his wife packed for him didn’t help. The headache that felt like someone was sucking his head like a lollipop got stronger to the extent that he couldn’t see or hear clearly. Just like that, he got dizzy and collapsed.
He doesn’t know what transpired after then. He cannot recall anything until where he woke up in a hospital bed with drips pinned to his hands and a gas mask fixed on his face there days later. He later got to know through several visits from his family, friends and students that his own students are the ones who rushed him to hospital. Some of his students told him by his bedside about how they gathered a caravan of up to eleven vehicles to escort him to hospital with the school ambulance being in the middle. His new Mac X that he had just driven twice was taken back home by Jerry.
Tom was diagnosed with a brain tumor that the doctors said was as big as a middle aged rat by then. The tumor was growing really fast and so they had to commence treatment as soon as they could. Financial complications have slowed down the treatment. He should have been at home recovering since a month ago. His condition has now made him lose every sense on the left side of his body. I had to sit on the right side of his bed so we’d communicate. But he is still as lively and chatty as he has always been as Jerry tells me after my interview with his dad. I saw Jerry’s post about his father on Instagram. I sent him a DM asking whether I could interview him.
“Do you miss you new car?” I ask Tom.
He chuckles, “Of course I do miss her. I hear cars should be referred to as ‘she’” He says.
Laughing, “You hear well.”
“I miss my old life in general. When I could walk and talk without complications, those simple things we take for granted. Teaching, oh I miss being in a classroom. I miss being there for my family. But I guess life is showing them that it’s time for them to be there for me. I’m not discouraged though. I am glad that God has helped me live to achieve every dream I had. From having a lovely family to providing for my sons, to building a house for us, to having my passion as my career and getting myself a brand new car. I must say I’ve lived my dream. If I die, I will die a happy man.”
“Do you find it creepy that just after you bought a brand new car like you have always dreamed of doing – you fall terribly ill to the extent you are not even able to enjoy it.” I ask fearing that I might have thrown my humility outside the window by asking that question.
He smiles mildly and says, “I knew you’d ask that. I bet you couldn’t help it right?”
I try to pretend. I fail!
He continues, “Well, that issue came to mind in the prime stages of my admission in hospital. But I came to realise that I can’t have everything in life. What if I had fallen sick before buying the new Mac X? I wouldn’t feel like I have achieved my life’s goal. My sons will live on to tell my story that their dad didn’t give up until he achieved his dreams. A rare thing among those who die.”
I left Tom’s ward feeling more happy for him than pity. Godspeed Mr. Tom Wambua and family.


What do you think?

100 Points
Upvote Downvote

Written by The Mjango

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
4 years ago

I relate to this on so many levels. We had a tad about somewhat the same topic i.e That moment when you realise all your dreams and feel, “Nimefika,”. Thats about when things change.