|Timothy Khamala having a light moment with Sarika during the interview. [PHOTO: CHRISPEN SECHERE/STANDARD]|
Webuye, Kenya: There’s much to be said of the popular adage “love conquers all” at least for two unlikely lovebirds – Sarika Patel, 24, and Timothy Khamala, 25.
It has the look of a clip off Hindu romantic movies or better still a chapter in a book of fairy tales, except that the woman is of Asian extraction and the man a proud Bukusu.
Many would find it difficult to fathom but nothing would underscore the reality than the popular adage “love is blind” than this romantic epic playing out somewhere in Western Kenya.
Whereas love is no respecter of racial boundaries, this one has stretched the parameters for the Asian folks where marriage is confined within the community and select families. Whereas it is not stated openly, Asian families, even those born in Kenya, frown at relationships between their boys or girls and ordinary “black” Kenyans.
Cases of suicide have been reported among Asian families whose children have crossed this red line. But as it seems, a gush of love from an Asian girl is shattering this myth as she takes a Bukusu soulmate in an affair she has come to treat as a matter of life and death.
Dramatic was the meeting between Sarika and soft-spoken Khamala.
Theirs was a love bred in the remote village of Nangina in Webuye, one that has swam against the torrents of race, colour, religion and even more, social stratification.
“This is the man of my dreams, he knows how to love and it is him that will be the father of my unborn children. I love him with all my life,” stated a determined Sarika when The Standard visited their home.
It is chilly and rainy evening when we met the two lovebirds. Moments earlier, we learnt that Sarika’s relatives had just left their homestead trying to unpluck her from the village.
They left crestfallen, probably resigned to the fact that they had failed miserably and soon the relationship will be complicated by the entrance of children.
She stuck to her guns and refused to leave the love of her life. This is her new home, she stresses. But just what lured the young woman to the poor casual labourer with quite a humble background?
Khamala lives in a beat-up and scruffy hut and inside there is just a squeaky bed.
How a daughter of a wealthy business magnate would fall for a poor Bukusu man is something that has left many intrigued because of the line in the old dance hall song, "there is no romance without finance".
Sarika is the daughter of Chabbadia Patel, the owner of several business enterprises in Western Kenya. She is the fourth-born in a family of seven. Those close to the family say she is her father’s favourite.
“You touch her, you touch his father’s heart and that she is here I am sure the father is boiling hot,” confided a family friend.
Sarika first met Khamala when he came to work at their family business enterprise in Webuye as a casual labourer.
Today, however, Khamala no longer works at Sarika’s family premises. He was long reprimanded and sent home for falling in love with a family way above his class.
“I do not have a job right now, they sent me away. I am currently thinking hard on how I will get money to take care of my love and our daughter,” says Khamala.
And this is how Sarika recalls first meeting Khamala. “I liked him the moment I saw him. I remember he was washing my father’s vehicle. They were two of them washing the vehicle and I remember ejecting the other fellow just to be closer to Timothy. I was crazy I tell you,” said Sarika during the interview.
She added: “He is the most understanding man I have ever met, he makes me feel like a woman, he is my second love but definitely unmatched by the first. He is golden,” says Sarika.
It has not been all rosy though for the lovebirds with opposition emanating from all quarters, especially from her family.
“We have known each other for four years, and it has been dramatic. My parents do not support the relationship. They have on more than one occasion tried to unhook me from my fiancé. This has been in vain because we love each other,” says Sarika.
Khamala is a palpably shy Bukusu young man and right now is the talk of the village.
“I have met ladies, but this one is sent from above. I remember I tried resisting her, fearing that her family would kill me but not anymore. I love her,” declares Khamala.
Even more surprising, she has adopted Khamala’s daughter from his first marriage. Khamala broke up with his first wife when the daughter was a toddler. Sarika took up the task of feeding, washing and rearing the girl.
“This is my very own blood, I fed her like my own and now she is my daughter and I am proud of her,” declared Sarika.
An easy-going Sarika exudes confidence as she goes about her chores.
She bonds well with her mother-in-law Evelyn Khamala who has taught her the Bukusu dialect and she is learning slowly.
“It is quite difficult to adapt to this kind of life, I must admit. I was born and brought up in a wealthy family. However, I am comfortable living in this beaten up hut. I adore this love than riches,” she said.
Khamala’s mother says, when Sarika came, at first she was afraid of the Indian culture and she even tried discouraging his son but later on she came to accept her.
“My daughter-in-law is very different despite coming from a rich family. She is very down-to-earth, and takes care of me like her mother. She does house chores for me like washing clothes and cooking. She even helped me in planting maize in my shamba,” said the mother.
Sarika was born in Mukumu, started schooling at Webuye Kindergarten and proceeded to Booker Academy for her O-levels. Later on, she joined several schools in Nairobi before returning home to manage her father’s businesses.
Some villagers have even started proffering theories, some claiming Khamala may have used "black" magic to win the Asian beauty.
Interestingly though, Khamala tells us that it was Sarika who in fact first approached him and not the other way round.
He tells us that he was first approached by Sarika while washing their car. She asked for his number but he was too afraid to give it out. For him, he thought this was an ingenious scheme to have him fired from his workplace.
“There was no way I was going to give out my number. To my disbelief, however, she traced it through a friend,” reveals Khamala.
He reiterates culture does not matter and parents should know that.
He advises youth to tread carefully before getting into a relationship in order to identify genuine love.
“Sarika’s parents have tried taking her away but she keeps coming back. What surprises me is that for every occasion we met, she has kept some special stones for remembrance. Even the clothes she wore when we first met, she has kept them religiously,” Khamala states.
Mama Evelyn urges parents to support their children when they get ready for marriage and avoid undermining their decisions.