How does one mourn her baby?

Seven days earlier Moses, being the joyful baby whom everyone loved, was in high spirit, enjoying himself and even entertaining guests during the colorful wedding of his parents at their Nyakhobi village 

BY GAD WESONGA

A distraught Eunice Ndeda wailed when her firstborn son Moses Ikhabi Ndeda breathed his last on October 27 while undergoing treatment at Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi, wondering how on earth she was going to mourn her baby.

Exactly seven days earlier, October 20th, Moses, being the joyful baby whom everyone loved, was in high spirit, enjoying himself and even entertaining guests who included Busia Governor Sospeter Ojamoong during the colorful wedding of his parents Eunice and Andrew Ndeda, at their Nyakhobi village home in Funyula, Busia county.

At the same wedding grounds where Moses had tickled crowds, sat grief-stricken mourners whose answers to the questions, why Moses, why now could not be answered this Saturday, November 9,2019. 

The joy borne out of celebration of a holy matrimony was quickly replaced with a thick cloud of sorrow and anguish as the cruel hands of death plucked from their midst, the greatest gift of their union: Moses Ikhabi Ndeda. 

His middle name Ikhabi, is a Luhya word meaning luck, but with death having robbed them of this luck early, his crestfallen father mourned with bitterness at how his luck was taken away at just 12. Like any other parent, there is never strength to see your child go six feet deep.

“At 12, you lived an entire human cycle. The fullness in your life is a memory we will live with forever,” Andrew reconstructed Moses’s time in the family’s midst. “As a baby you were dependent on us for care, support, counsel and guidance. You cried for attention, you were changed diapers, you were fed, and you never said when sick but indicated that you were. You were a true baby.  That is how brief you were as a child. “

He could not believe how days ahead would look like, reminiscing vividly how baby Moses would look up to him and the mother for attention, care and how he looked safe and secure in their hands- The joy of parenthood, the sweet call to responsibility.

The late Master Moses Ndeda

Battle with Sickle Cell

Eunice, who gave birth to Moses thought she would only teach her beloved son what the world is made up of but was surprised to know that she learnt more from Moses, sometimes more than she taught him.

Dancing in the rain and being still in the storm just waiting for the light to illuminate the end of the tunnel are lessons Eunice will live with.

Despite Moses’s sickness, he battled sickle cell with a smile on his face and never did he stay away from high spirits. He never said he was sick even though sometimes he looked so, or was indeed sick – what a brave young man at a very tender age! His uncle, Dr Timona Obura, a leading medic at the Agha Khan hospital sorrowfully remarked: “Rest peacefully dear Moses”.

“When still a little cute baby, Moses’s life was punctuated with storms and crises. Through it all however, he would soar like an eagle, higher above the raging winds, he would flap his wings open and bring joy to the family,” Eunice narrated as she struggled to find perfect words to mourn the apple of her eyes and fruit of her womb.

Eunice says, Moses taught her and the father that no challenge was beyond their ability such that “despite his battle with sickle cell, his father and I were the proudest parents”. 

With words, Eunice painted how Moses, that little bundle of joy, helped them stay together especially during the “mute” zone. 

“He would create an environment that ensured we left the mute zone. His brother Amani was so lucky to have such a great mentor,’ Eunice said, her eyes glittering with sneaking tears.

Big Shoes to Fill 

From a hurting brother, Amani cried: ‘Moses, I do miss you. You were the one and only brother I had. I miss you and I love you. May you Rest in Peace. I thought you were getting better, why did you leave me? You have been sicker before and got well, but now why did you leave me?  I loved you and God loved you more’. 

Amani is joined by his father who says, “We shall miss your services of helping do Amani’s homework.  It is hard to believe that you are no more. 

“God plucked you when it was least expected. I have no answer to your brother Amani who asks why you left to be with the angels when you were less ill. 

“Other than telling your brother that God’s timing is the best, I am thankful to God for the extra days he extended your life with us. Each day was cherishing with you son. You left us Joshua (your brother Amani) to lead us to Canaan. Though your shoes are big for him, we shall together soldier on. Go well my son, we shall miss you.’

Lonely friend

Stephen Mbuthia, Moses’s closest playmate in Ruai where the Ndedas have set up a home could not restrain his devastation.  

“You were a precious jewel and that is why God picked you from our midst. Thank you for welcoming me in the neighborhood and encouraging me with my schoolwork and homework. I will miss our play station. Going to church on Sunday without you will never be the same. I will continue keeping Amani Company and please greet for me my sister Angel Margaret Mweisheki. Rest at Jesus’ feet my friend Moses.’ 

According to Eunice, Moses lived a life on his terms. He did not conform to social pressure or peer expectations. 

“He was responsible and so smart that I would tell him to loosen up so that I can be a disciplinarian mother to which he would just smile. I am broken beyond words. Losing you Moses is something I did not and may never have prepared for,” adding that Moses fought sickle cell like a true warrior and understood how to self manage that he lived a normal life. 

Just a week earlier, Moses, 1st left, had enjoyed himself during parents wedding. 3rd is Amani, his brother and only other sibling.

The disease 

According to experts, sickle cell disease is a group of disorders that affects hemoglobin, the molecule in red blood cells that delivers oxygen to cells throughout the body. People with this disorder have atypical hemoglobin molecules called hemoglobin S, which can distort red blood cells into a sickle, or crescent shape.

Signs and symptoms of sickle cell disease usually begin in early childhood. Characteristic features of this disorder include a low number of red blood cells (anemia), repeated infections, and periodic episodes of pain. The severity of symptoms varies from person to person. Some people have mild symptoms, while others are frequently hospitalized for more serious complications.

This is the enemy that prematurely plucked Moses from our midst, robbing society of a brilliant young man who aimed at becoming a professor and demonstrated his determination to achieve this target by his love for school and books. He would detest missing school even when sick and during his free time, studies were part of it such that position one was always reserved for him in all exams he sat through various schools

Education

Moses joined school in September 2010 at Pema Education Centre in Buruburu where he attended his pre- primary education. During this time, besides being top of his class, his artistic prowess was noted and nurtured. 

In 2014, he joined Vickmerry School where he participated in many activities including wild life and homemakers clubs. 

Just like the luck that his name connotes, Ikhabi thrived in whatever he ventured into. He topped in all examinations he sat in all classes and at all levels. At the time of his rest, he had sat for his end of class six exams and excelled as usual by topping the class.

Sigalame High School

The late Moses was a grandchild to the late Mwalimu Gideon Saul Ndeda Nakholi, the pioneering principal of Sigalame High School; a premier boys’ school in Funyula sub County of Busia County. 

Among those who joined in mourning the young Moses were Busia Governor Sospeter Ojamoong and County Speaker Bernard Wamalwa. The service was led by the Rt. Reverend Dr Robert Magina, bishop of ACK Diocese of Nambale who condoled the bereaved thus: “The Lord gave this lovely creation to the family for a short and precious period. May the Lord provide the strength needed for this difficult time’

As Captain Elechi Amadi in his masterpiece novel, The Concubine said, “Death is a bad reaper; often plucking the unripe fruit.”

Rest in eternal peace Master Moses Ikhabi Ndeda.  

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