In Summary
  • Before I could recover from being called doctor and inform her that this was a case of mistaken identity, she went on to tell me how well “Javan” was doing, and would I believe that he was in Standard Two?
  • I tried to cut in, a bit embarrassed, but she went on, telling me that Javan’s kidneys were functioning well, and that his liver was in tip-top shape.
  • When she finally paused to take a breath, I quickly informed her that she had mistaken me for someone else.

A few days ago, at an aunt’s burial, a stranger approached me with a wide smile, her right hand proffered in greeting.

As she walked towards me, I searched furiously within  my mind, desperate to drag up her face and name before she reached me. I drew a blank.

Once in a while, I have difficulty recalling faces and names, which is an embarrassing short-coming, especially in cases where the other person seems to know you very well.

Several times, I am ashamed to admit, rather than confess that I have no idea who I am talking to, I have smiled and pretended to know the person.

“Daktari!” she exclaimed when she stopped in front of me, taking my right hand and gripping it, her smile even wider.

“It is good to see you again. I didn’t get a chance to thank you for saving my nephew’s life; we’re so grateful, and may God always grant you the desires of your heart,” she continued still gripping my hand.

Before I could recover from being called doctor and inform her that this was a case of mistaken identity, she went on to tell me how well “Javan” was doing, and would I believe that he was in Standard Two?

I tried to cut in, a bit embarrassed, but she went on, telling me that Javan’s kidneys were functioning well, and that his liver was in tip-top shape. When she finally paused to take a breath, I quickly informed her that she had mistaken me for someone else.

ARE YOU SURE?

After a heartbeat, she said, sounding incredulous, “Noooo! But you look so much like her – are you sure you aren’t Dr Wanga?” she asked.

I told her no, and informed her that I wouldn’t even know where to stick an injection needle, let alone treat kidney and liver diseases.

“Well, you look so much like her – is she your relative?” she inquired.

I had to laugh then and assure her that I had no relative by that name.

If your name is Dr Wanga, and you look like me, there’s a family and small boy called Javan that are eternally grateful to you.

This incident reminds me of another one that happened about a year ago.

I was standing outside a supermarket minding my own business as I waited for someone when a young woman approached me and announced,

“Gosh! Aki (I swear) you look so much like a cousin of mine called Agnes – she’s even fond of that hairstyle…” she said, eyeballing my swept up braids.

DOESN'T SHE LOOK LIKE AGNES?

Before I could react, she called out to a group of four women who had been standing a few steps from me and beckoned them to come.

“Si huyu anafanana na Agnes?” she asked. (Doesn’t she look like Agnes?)

You should have seen the amazed looks on the women’s faces as they looked me over as if I were a centuries-old artefact they had just discovered.

I was afraid they would start poking fingers in my ears and nostrils. At that point, I felt like a lab specimen under a microscope.

Pretending that I had spotted the person I was waiting for, I hurriedly excused myself and crossed the road, otherwise they would have probably insisted on taking my photo to shock cousin Agnes.

I’ve got a fertile imagination and such incidents kick it into overdrive, that is why, as I walked away, I found myself wondering what kind of person “cousin” Agnes was — what if she was a gun-toting criminal or a con woman and one day, in search of greener pastures, brought her criminal ways to my neighbourhood and people who knew me saw her in her element? How would I get myself out of such a situation?

I imagine this is how this conversation would go:

Accuser: “I was in the matatu you carjacked…”

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