Christmas with Angela

He had been away from home for a very long time. 6 years on a peace keeping mission in Somalia had kept him away. He missed the simple things about home, the home cooked meals cooked over the open fires, the children singing, the biting cold from being so close to the mountain, the green landscapes of the countryside, he missed it all. Right now all that surrounded him was the dessert, sounds of gunfire, soldiers and a solemn mood of loss. He longed to go back home again. He could have given anything just to sit down and watch another sunset or sunrise on the mountain. It always seems magical when the skies look orange and the sun looks like it is coming from the mountain or disappearing behind it. There is always certain calmness from that. The war in Somalia had killed all the beauty of Mother Nature and so there were no such moments.

However, apart from the peace and beautiful sounds of Kenya, he missed her most, Angela, his new bride. Well they have been married for six years now but then again, they had a wedding right before he got deployed.  This meant that they were technically still newlyweds. It had been a small wedding ceremony held at a little chapel by the side of the highway. She looked so beautiful in her yellow flowered dress carrying a bunch of fresh flowers. She wore the most amazing smile that made him feel like the luckiest man alive.

It was just the two of them and the priest, Father Morgan. A friendly man who did not ask any questions when they arrived at the chapel out of breath almost desperate to get married. Two hours after saying their vows, he was at the airport leaving for Somalia.

Kenya had just gone into Somalia to try and bring peace into the war torn country. Of course Trevor signed up to join the army so that he could do something meaningful. However, the Kenyan army had never been engaged in war ever. This was the first time and everyone was excited and quite nervous at the same time. As luck would have it, he was deployed just three months after he started dating Angela.

He first saw her in church. She sang in the choir and always looked so happy doing it. When he heard her sing “Amazing grace”, he could have sworn that she must have been an angel. He was curious about her and vowed to himself that he would get to know her.

He asked her out five different times before she agreed to go for coffee with him. She was a librarian, had no living family and was definitely the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. All this is information that he got on that coffee date. There was something about her that he simply loved. She wasn’t too pleased when he mentioned that he was a soldier. She associated the career with death.

“So how can you say that you love God while you cause so much destruction with guns and violence”, she once asked him.

“ You have it wrong Angela, we bring peace where there is destruction, hope where there is none and teach of God’s love where there is so much pain that people don’t even know there is God” Trevor explained without looking offended by her accusation.

He wanted to be a part of her life so bad that he never skipped a church service since they met. Soon, they were meeting up after church and going on walks afterwards. They started reading the word together and even praying together. Trevor and Angela became inseparable and everyone else could see this.

He told her that he was leaving for Somalia and then asked her to marry him at the same time. She said yes without a second thought. A few hours later they found the chapel. It all happened so fast but at the same time they just knew that they wanted to be together. They could have gotten married at the office of the Attorney General but they did not want a civil wedding. They were Christians and even though not Catholics, they figured a priest would still be more suitable than a judge. They wanted God to be a part of their union.

Everyone was terrified of Somalia. The country had been at war for years. In recent times, the effects of the war started being felt in Kenya through a number of terrorist attacks. The government then had to intervene. Angela was scared about Trevor going to war. She thought she would lose him but this did not make her love him any less. On the other hand, Trevor got the strength to leave because he knew that there was someone that he would come back to. She was all that he had in the world and so that gave him the will to live and see Angela again.

At first, the war was supposed to only take a year. During this time, they wrote to each other almost daily and spoke on the phone as often as possible. Every day, she would watch the news and say a prayer for him. When the bodies started coming back home, she kept praying and trusting God to keep him safe.

The invasion was prolonged for a further three years. This broke her heart but she kept writing, praying and waiting for him to come back home. Things got tougher with every new day when he was away in Somali. She watched her friends get married and start their families while she continued to wait.

When the war was prolonged again for three more years, the letters just stopped. Trevor kept writing but he did not get anything back. He spent days and nights wondering if she was okay. The soldiers who went home did not bring him back any news. It was like that she had just disappeared. He kept writing though and hoping that one day he would see her again.

However, as the years went by, he lost hope of ever seeing her again. He thought he would die at the war without ever getting the chance to go home. As the military kept advancing deeper into the enemy territory, the body count kept getting higher. The possibility of dying kept getting real each day.

He also thought that something could have happened to Angela. Just recently, a terrorist attack on Kenya had left over 60 people dead. There were numerous cases of crimes and so he thought she could have fallen victim to one of them. In addition, Kenya had elections that ended up badly with a thousand people dead and millions displaced.

She could have met another man! This thought broke his heart but it was definitely a possibility. It had been 6 years. She was young and attractive and she deserved a good man in her life. However, the thought of her in another man’s arms just tore him apart.

Now he was about to find out the truth. After 6 long years, Somalia had been neutralized and the capital city had been captured. The rebels and militia had been driven out of the country and healing had just begun. There was a lot of merry making and celebrations all through the capital city of Mogadishu. For once, there were no sounds of gunfire or weeping; there was only laughter and thanksgiving. The Kenyan soldiers were now getting ready to go back home just in time for the Christmas holidays.

The last night in Mogadishu was simply celebratory. Most of the soldiers were going home to their families. Some had left young babies at home, expectant wives and were eager to go back home and become dads. Other had girlfriends and wives that they hadn’t seen in six years while others had elderly parents who missed them dearly. Everyone had something to go back home. Stories of Kenya, their beloved motherland filled the night as the soldiers. Trevor listened on quietly just thinking about Angela. He wondered where she could be and mostly he wondered if she still thought about him. He kept thinking about her in the yellow flowered dress, the day she became his wife.

It was three days to Christmas when they finally got back home. As always, the country was in a festive mood. Shops were decorated and all the way from the airport, there were billboards advertising Christmas offers. Hotels had huge Christmas trees and “Santa Claus is coming to town” was playing everywhere. Trevor wondered of Angela was somewhere in a new home perhaps setting up the Christmas trees and singing carols with someone else.

At the headquarters, they found so many people waiting. Families were assembled eagerly waiting for the military bus. There were women already crying, others simply craning their necks trying to catch a glimpse of the soldiers. Then the screaming, shouting, laughing, loud sobbing and talking started all at once. The soldiers were running out of the bus and into the arms of the waiting loved ones.

Trevor sat at the back of the bus. For once he felt more alone and afraid than he ever did even in Somalia. At least there he had his comrades who always supported him in the battlefield. Now he was coming home to the unknown. He felt his throat tighten as tears streamed down his cheeks. 6 years in combat and this is the first time he has cried. He really needed her. Soon the whole bus was empty and he was left all alone with his tears and feelings.

He looked outside the bus at the families leaving and a knot formed in his chest. Then suddenly, something caught his eye. Bright yellow flowered dress. Angela! She was standing right there, craning her neck and trying to look at the bus. A hand clutched her chest, it was clear to see that she distressed. Trevor woke up from his seat slowly and walked outside the bus as if in a dream.

He watched her eyes widen with recognition and then she started running towards him. She flung herself into his arms as he picked her up and swung her around.

“Oh Angela, you are so beautiful”. That is all he managed to say under his breath.

“I thought you were dead!” She exclaimed almost in an accusatory tone.

They hugged and cried losing all track of time and all that was around them. She looked the same as he had left her. Life had changed her and maturity was now showing but in his eyes, she was still the most beautiful woman in the world. She told him that she had lost their home after the elections and had been living with the displaced in a UN camp. That is when she had found out that Kenya had worn the war in Somali and the soldiers were coming home. Father Morgan who she met helping out the displaced and became friends with is the one who brought her to Nairobi to meet him.

“We do not have a home, Trevor, we lost everything”, she tearfully told him.

“When I was coming home, I thought that I had lost everything but then I found out that I have you”. He said.

“We have each other and so the rest, we leave to God.We will be okay Angela…” Trevor said as he looked at her.

“I never stopped praying for you Trevor”… She said.

Sometimes, you were all that I could pray for”. He responded.

In the distance, a Christmas carol started playing as the soldier and his wife left the military headquarter hand in hand. Six years later, they finally got their honeymoon and it couldn’t have come at a better time of the year. Trevor looked at the car waiting for them with Father Morgan standing at the door. The last time he was standing in front of them, they had vowed to love each other for a lifetime. He had a feeling that their lifetime had just begun.