Auditor turned writer: the eventual goodbye

I was an auditor. With one of the Big Four audit firms in Nairobi, KE. Assurance Line of Service, I prided in those words. Straight from the Nairobi University’s Chiromo Campus, with a wardrobe leaner than my bank balance, fresh-faced and eager to grind in this great machinery that was the corporate world. Life was good. No, scrap that. Life was splendid! I loved living, I loved life. I loved living this life. Up until its novelty started to wear out. The same life that had me routine my days to start at 5.30am and end way after dark, decided to roughen me up, and test my resolve. My prince had turned into a dead frog. And I wanted it different, I wished it different. I yearned to revert to what I knew life-work/work-life to be before it died on me. But we don’t go back, we can never go back. Days dragged on, and the grind of this machinery was rusty and noisy and balky.

The ennui was evident.

I sought for solace. My memoirs describe in great detail what seeking this solace looked like in my mind’s eyes. It was like standing at a cliff and holding a conversation with God. Me, barefoot in a white linen frock that billowed in the sun and wind. Him, somewhere up there in the sky. My emotions on this cliff were erratic and my reactions sometimes dramatic: I went from sitting cross-legged with the sun warm on my back; to surly and wagging a finger at the Heavens giving God threats and ultimatums. Then, I moved to kicking and punching the air in triumph, Kung Fu panda style. Then, to lying in the foetal position stewing in my own tears. Sometimes when I spoke to God, He would say nothing back. Other times, I saw Him smile. I worked myself up into a juvenile tantrum when He took too long to give me things I had asked of Him. On the worst days, I would threaten to canon-ball myself over the cliff. On the best days, I would frolic and tell Him how great He is. Through it all, He was constant; He never gave in to my mood swings or to my livid threats or to my fits. Me and God, we inhabited that cliff for twenty-seven months.

In January 2013, I told God I needed to go. He asked me where to, I said where You shall lead me. He nodded. So for the first three months of 2013, He prepared me to leave. He gave me friends who provided the support mechanism that goaded me towards my goal. He gave me strength to carry the burden of my unyielding Spirit. He gave me wisdom to sift through the wayward and momentary emotions, and separate the fleeting desires from the deep-seated ones. He drove me in the right direction.

3 April 2013, I stood at the edge of the cliff and balanced by the tips of my toes. My back was to the abyss beneath me, I faced the familiarity of the cliff I had sought refuge for so many weeks. I spread out my hands, shut my eyes, and tilted my head towards the sky. Then I waited. I looked like Christ the Redeemer stature from Rio de Janeiro. And when God said go, I shifted my weight and surrendered to the gravity and the uncertainty of the abyss beneath me.

Goodbye emails, or any goodbye, spell gratitude, pleasure in the interactions and let’s-(not)-keep-in-touch; a template with undertones of self-made importance. No templates for me, please. Not when I want to be a writer. Not when I want to be a writer who has this one chance to say goodbye like a writer should.
What follows is the farewell note I sent my colleagues on my last day of work. I have changed the names to protect identity.

DATE: 3 APRIL 2013, 1637HRS
SUBJECT: Last working day :: Of battered bottles, Frilly farewells and Everything else in between

Of battered bottles
October 2008 and I carry with me a bottle of water to work. We had just completed a month of learning the trade from the practitioners and poring through manuals of audit methodology, and whatnot. The brand was Keringet, blue plastic bottle, one liter of sparkling mineral water; the label hang loose from one side. It had nothing memorable about it, this bottle or the content within it. I stashed it in my locker and forgot all about it. Over the years, it remained untouched; steadfast and certain in these changing times. Sometimes when I opened my locker, I would find it staring back at me indignantly; I would mutter a uneasy ‘hey’ just to calm it down. Its response, you may have guessed, was silence.

Four years and seven months later, and the contents of that bottle remain intact. The bottle itself has plenty of character with its tattered label and bruised edges; it is now memorable. Dust has settled around it but the water it holds seems as pure and as spirited as when I first brought it to work in late October, 2008.

Today, I have poured the contents of that bottle over the edge of this Tower. Libation, if you may, to the vote of thanks that follows.

Frilly farewells
And now, a speech. The Speech.

To the friends that I made: At the start, we became friends because there was no option about it; I saw you for seven hours a day, five days a week for four years, give or take.

And then, the dynamics of this acquaintance were redefined when life happened.

We became friends because we shared in your joy when your little ones were born. Because I let you wet my shoulder from the tears that found you on the day that the weight of your loss crashed your soul. Because on day that you wedded, we danced with you in the hot Nairobi sun; when our foreheads burned as we shook our shoulders and gyrated our waists to the sounds of Kayamba Africa and that Nyatiti, late into the evening. We became friends because you invited me into your home and dined with me at your table, as if I was an honored guest. Because, when deadlines and crunching numbers got the better of us, we found solace in the tipple at the local bar.

Those moments – when you turned from colleague to friend – remain vivid.

To the entire Assurance team: A team of brilliant minds and strong backs; diligent and optimistic to a fault. These are people who are relentless in their pursuit for excellence in client service, and all else that pertains to it. And year in and year out, they continue to burn the candle at both ends. May God bless always the work of your hands.

I make special mention to Kunde Sitati, Stanley ‘Stano’ Oduor and Kendall ‘KenG’ Gacharu. To Christopher Mokaya, Serah Wa’Nduku and Edward Odhiambo.

To the Firm: May you grow in strides. The future can only get bigger from here on.

And everything else in between
Simple things are the most powerful. It is I who complicates matters when I wonder whether my Universe shall slow down to a halt as soon as I hit ‘Send’ on this email. Or if, as I strut across the carpeted floors and obey the door’s commands to ‘Pull’ to open, I shall get a flashback of all the memories of the past fifty-two months. Or if traffic shall part open, like the waters of the Red Sea, to give me elbow room to laud my vote of thanks as I drive off into the sunset.

It is simple. In an instant, I shall be on the other side of the door; a stranger on the outside looking in. The sun shall set and tomorrow it shall rise again; the days shall go on. Simple.


Proverbs 14:9 says that A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.
Reflect on that.

Skype me, or reach me on Gmail.

Sincerely yours,
F. C. Bett

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: my thoughts on the Nigerian novelist
Becoming a writer: the X stages of grief

Comments (41)

  1. yosefkim

    That is saying farewell like a writer. I am glad you have your own blog…remember this blogging thing, it can wrestle you sometimes to the ground and sit on your chest. I believe you have it in you to throw it down and write again on it back….

  2. The Real G

    Fra, I am a member of bikozulu High School. I am that guy that people never notice, and the Principal does not even know my name, or whether I exist. You on the other hand, are one of his favorites, and many a time he has mentioned you during Monday assemblies. I remember when he asked you to address one of the Monday assemblies and you spoke in tongues that very few of us could decipher. I remember the uproar from other students, who couldn’t understand the Lord’s language. It must have been the most humiliating day of your life. I understood you, and loved your writing and grasp of the Queen’s language (The Good Lord’s tongue).
    But still, you have risen above the contempt, scorn and humiliation, and now you have an assembly of your own. And for that, I salute you. I, just like you, am stuck in a profession I have very little love for. I hope I will break free like you have done. But until then, consider yourself one reader richer.

  3. Malaka

    Wow. Thatis one if the most impacting farewell letters I’ve ever read!

    Good for you for taking this brave step towards becoming a writer. Remember to please no one but yourself when you write. Every syllable, sentence and full stop creates YOUR reality. Best of luck to you! You write beautifully.

    • fra

      Thank you for dropping by Malaka.

      And thank you for the wise words. I will remember them always.

    • Isma

      You could not have put it better than this…..

  4. Wangechi

    You were born to write. And I’m glad you finally found your passion. This place was a stepping stone to greater things which I pray The Lord will shine His favour upon you as you embark on this journey.

    God Bless!

  5. hobbit

    Farewell has never sounded more idyllic. I salute you for breaking the ground with boldness. This day has finally come; before you there were many but after you they’ll be none, you are the one!

  6. Gill

    Hats off… I’m so proud of your writing, I wish I could have a gift like yours.

  7. Carola M

    Girl i said it and will say it again you’ve got talent and if God brought you this far he has miles and miles for you to cover in this new journey, kudos! yours sincerely, fan:-))

  8. Eunice ambiyo

    Lovely, its great that you pursue your passion!

  9. Pasquale Matogi

    Great this resolve is. Can’t wait for the first, will hit the shop running.

  10. Pasquale Matogi

    Great resolve! I like your writing.

  11. Heavenly Denizen

    Fra or is it flourishing Florence :).

  12. Makau

    y didnt u come out earlier…

  13. Oyunga Pala

    Hey, you took that crucial first step in a thousand mile journey. That is brave. Writing is a lonely profession and you will be rarely compensated appropriately for your efforts. Nonetheless, writers write because they have to write. Remember what informed this decision and those frustrating days when the words won’t flow, try not beat yourself down. It is the nature of business. They are good and bad days but the bad ones always seem more pronounced. Figure out your posting frequencies, choose your niche carefully, keep coming back to the blank page, honing your craft and hawking your words to the willing. Like all professions, you have to make it pay or it won’t be sustainable. Do not live for acknowledgement, speak your truth quietly and be patient when growth and success seems slow in coming. Ultimately, we are only as good as our last stories. I really wish you the best.

    Good luck F.C. Bett.

    • fra

      Thank you for the honor of your presence Oyunga. And thank you for the sobering counsel.

      The profundity of these words shall carry me through many a day, many years into the future.

  14. cyndi

    Totally love this and am so happy that you are following your dreams….takes alot of courage to do what you did.

  15. Mystery

    Form is temporary, class is permanent. I have read most of your works to know you are class. Chinua said that a story writes itself… have a gift of letting it….for now que sera sera (whatever will be, will be)…

    • fra

      Que sera sera. Que sera sera.

    • fra

      Thank you Karen. The quote from Ira Glass is close to home.

  16. Robinson

    I knew Bett was Fra. The day you wrote that goodbye note I automatically connected Fra to Bett. I am a Genius :) Been looking for your blog until today. Keep it up :)

  17. artfullyContrived

    Nice. Your have a way with words.

    I was however surprised by the phrase “I sought for solace.” as opposed to “I sought solace.”. And went about looking for more info.

    The following two links shed light on the usage

    Keep posting regularly and point us to your other works.

    • fra

      ‘Seek’ does not take ‘for’, thanks for pointing that out.

  18. Bre

    thats alot of courage fra….
    adding this blog to my bookmark

  19. Tina

    I’m a Highschooler too. Though I’ve never met you and probably never will, I’m honestly proud of you. You have escaped from this prison called fear and you are attempting to live your dreams. Whether it pays off or not one thing remains, you are more courageous than most of us who will forever wonder “what if?”

  20. mufasa

    Fra…. this is a great start…can’t wait for the everything else in between. … I’ve got a good feeling I do.!!!

  21. Brayo

    Bold and inspiring move Bett….you have it in you to write. I wish you all the best!

  22. little girl humping pillow

    Hey! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this page to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

    • fra

      And thank you for dropping by.

  23. Double M

    Now,this is talent.keep up

  24. CAA

    Dear Fra,
    I left the KE firm four years ago (which is probably around the time you joined) to pursue my dreams. Knowing the way things work there, it must have been easier for me to leave….I was in assurance, but not an auditor. Which of course translates into, it can’t have been easy for you to make this move, so well done! But even then, leaving for me meant completely changing my lifestyle, as I had to go back to grad school (still in grad school) and live like a student! Its not an easy thing to do, yet it is very fulfilling and makes you feel alive! You write very well….you are going places and once you have paid your dues, it will pay off big time! Good luck and looking forward to reading more from you!

    • fra

      Thanks CAA.

      We may literally have crossed paths without our knowing, eh?

  25. Simon

    I just read this! Really happy for you! I know from experience that leaving the firm ain’t easy. I went through some tough times when I completely changed my career (the transition from auditor to computer programmer wasn’t easy!), but now I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. Kudos for taking the leap, and good luck in your new endeavours (though you don’t need luck, you’re a superb writer already :-))

  26. Wanjiru Kimani

    wow!! simply breathtaking!!!

  27. isincera


    The closet is not a province exclusive to homosexuals, there are as many closets as there are things to hide. Bad and good. You’ve been hidding awesomeness.
    I am happy for you miss. I am happy for you that you’ve been published.
    I don’t like your blog, I love it.


    • fra

      Thank you Isincera. Your words mean alot.

  28. Lorraine Aghak

    Hey F.C..

    Your writing is raw (in a good way).. I love that!

    I happen to have stumbled upon your writing but I believe things happen for a reason. I seem to be on the same path you went through earlier in the year and now I am at the point where I am waiting on the Lord..

    All the best with your writing.. Its really good!

  29. Denis

    Fra, I am lost for words. Good work

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to our content