F our years ago, on a dark and silent night in Kenya, my mother had trouble falling asleep. And it wasn’t because she was on safari and the bed was unfamiliar. Nope. My parents live in Kenya and my mom was excited about her upcoming trip to Israel. She got out of bed quietly and stared out the bedroom window. In the distance, the lights of Nairobi twinkled. Suddenly she noticed a lot of movement near the garden gate. In Kenya every home has a guard stationed at the gate and, usually, he falls asleep sometime during the night. So movement meant trouble. I still have no idea what made my mom so brave, but she decided to go and see if the guard was okay. Before my father could protest, she was out of the house.

As Mom approached the guard box, a man, who certainly wasn’t the guard, jumped out of the bougainvillea bushes. Mom stopped walking. “I see you have a gun,” she said to him. “Keep calm and don’t do anything you’ll regret.” Then she noticed the guard, bound and gagged, lying on the floor of the guard box.

“Take us into your house,” the man said, motioning to three cronies to follow.

“We have guests,” Mom called out to warn my father.

By now you’ve realized that my mom is one gutsy lady with a sense of humor that works under pressure. Before Dad could move, the ringleader motioned for Kamau and Solomon (yes, he called them by name) to grab Dad. Then they tied him up and pushed him under the coffee table.

“You can’t do that,” Mom protested, taking a step toward Dad.

“Why not?” the ringleader asked.

“He has a bad back.”

The ringleader stared at Mom. He waved his gun at her. “Madam, we are in charge here,” he said. “Take us upstairs. We want money.”

And that was how Mom ended up sitting in her rocking chair in her bedroom with two thieves, the ringleader and Njoroge. (The ringleader called him by name, too.)

Njoroge sat on the stool opposite the dressing table and began chewing his nails. The ringleader yanked open one of the closet doors and began rummaging through the clothes.

“Don’t make too much of a mess,” Mom said, very loudly. “I just tidied them.”

The ringleader glared at her. “Quiet,” he said. (Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 662)