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13 : RE-POSTING TO KITALE

The return voyage to Kenya was very pleasant, and we had an enjoyable time throughout. On arrival at Mombasa, we were met by a representative of the Government Coast Agent and informed that I had been reposted to Kitale. Although Elsie and I were both disappointed that we would not be returning to the N.F. D. (as we had previously hoped), we were nevertheless pleased to  have the opportunity of seeing my in-laws once more after all these  months.

At Mombasa, we again stayed with my cousins for a couple of days and here met (as we always did when we were in Mombasa), that unforgettable and colourful member of my family — my Dad’s younger brother, Uncle Luis. He was a real character — a bachelor who had served with the army in Addis Ababa, and a man who, despite not having a permanent job, never seemed to worry. He was well known among the various communities in Mombasa and especially at the docks at Kilindini harbour even though he had no official connections here. All he did was to help out with the clearing and forwarding of passengers’ baggage, acting as an agent for one of the local firms. Through his previous service with the Kenya & Uganda Railways & Harbours, he had got to know many Goans.

At this late stage in his life (he must have been in his fifties), he had decided to get married, and at the civil ceremony which was held at Margao (Goa) while we were on holiday, I stood as his proxy! (As the final Chapters of my manuscript were being typed, news reached us of the death in Goa on February 7th, 1985, of our dear and much-talked-about Uncle Luis. Despite his sometimes ‘eccentric’ behaviour, many will, like me, miss him.)

At Kitale to meet us when we returned were all my in-laws. They were undoubtedly delighted to have us back, especially to see Clyde so fit and grown up. He was now nearly a year old and had become the centre of attraction at home and everywhere we went — be it shopping, to church, or the Goan Institute. Everyone adored him, more so because he was such a friendly and happy baby.

When I reported for duty, Mr. Denton expressed his pleasure in having me back; my other office colleagues were equally happy that I was back at Kitale. Although we had stayed with my in-laws prior to our going on vacation leave, I had decided that we now had to move into independent accommodation; this would give us a chance to start on our own all over again. With great difficulty, I managed to secure a Government quarter and we moved in a few weeks after returning from Goa. Regrettably, the house had been left in a disgraceful condition by the previous occupant. I invited Mr. Denton to inspect the house for he so that he could assess the priority for having it at decorated. Following his recommendation after the visit, the PWD immediately set about redecorating and modifying the quarter as I had earlier requested. I do not think that the local Inspector of Works, a South African, was terribly pleased at having to get this job done as a matter of some urgency. (It is as well to explain that unlike European housing, which was well looked after and maintained, the maintenance of Asian housing left a lot to be desired.) Once the redecoration was completed, Elsie soon transformed the place into a warm and cozy home. The hitherto neglected garden also received attention, and in a matter of a few months, the whole area had received a face lift and become the envy of the neighbourhood!

The worsening of the security situation had created much extra work at the office, but all this made for variety which was important. The post of DC carried with it several other responsibilities, such as, Registrar of births, deaths and marriages, Chairman of various committees, including the all-important District Intelligence Team. While Margaret Finch, the DC’s part-time Secretary dealt with the confidential and secret correspondence in the main, I handled the bulk of the day to day correspondence and would also assist with some of the classified correspondence when asked to do so.

Despite being close to Elsie’s parents and our other friends, the urge to move back to the N.F.D. was still within me; Elsie was equally keen that we should return to Marsabit if this were possible. Kitale was a town where there was more than enough of a social life for us. There was a small but well patronized and run Goan Institute of which I was, for a time Vice-President. The clubhouse provided an ideal meeting place for young and old alike, and the one thing that sticks in my mind about these clubs is the feeling of togetherness which existed in those days. Families would come to the club together — husband, wife and children; everyone looked forward to the many social and sporting events that were organized through the year. The weekly tombola was very popular among some of the older folks, while for the younger section of the community the various sporting activities organized throughout the year proved very popular. Fixtures were organized with other clubs both locally and from outside the district too. Despite all these attractions, I was still keen on moving back to the frontier as soon as the opportunity arose.