I wrote this article on the 22nd of March. I didn’t have this blog back then so it never saw light of day. I have decided to post it today, seeing as my blog is growing dusty and the clichéd cobwebs are everywhere. It needed a little dusting, so here we are.
I want to take you guys back 10 years ago, today and tomorrow. I hope that makes sense. If it doesn’t let me explain; the events that I am about to write about took place 10 years ago today and tomorrow. Makes sense now? No? Argh, there’s so much a man can do. I’ve tried.
I want you guys to see the world through the eyes of a 13 year old boy. Question, what were you doing on the 22nd of March, 2007? I can’t remember either, at least not all of it. So some parts of this story will be a little exaggerated for the benefit of the story. Ready? Here we go!
Date: 22nd March, 2007
It is 5:30AM in the morning; mom comes and wakes us up. We need to prepare and go to school. We (my brother Brian and I) have to get to school early so as to avoid the punishment of picking trash around the school compound, while the rest of the class is in class. And as a candidate, that is not acceptable, so we have to wake up as early as 5 in the morning.
We wake up not wanting to because it is FIVE AM for CHRISSAKE!!! It is at this time that sleep is sweetest the most. Mom has to come and literally yank us out of bed because as she shouts my name (why me though?) we pretend not to hear hoping that she will give in and let us sleep. But my mother is a lot of things, but a quitter.
So we wake up and mom too has to be up because she has to prepare us breakfast and iron our clothes as we showered, we are pampered that way. She has house chores to do as well. And she has to do them early for her to be at the hospital early enough so that Ochieng” (our cousin) could finally go home and rest. Ochieng’ and mom have been looking after dad in shifts; mom takes the days while Ochieng’ the nights. Yea, dad has reached that point where he cannot be left alone. He has to be monitored 24/7.
We are done by quarter past six and we leave the house. It is still dark outside, and the eerie morning silence is occasionally broken by the hoots of the Matatu horns that are eerie as well. My brother and I walk in utter silence and the only noise that we both make is that of our footsteps as out toughies Bata shoes hit the murram. Si you all know how heavy those shoes are?
We are living in the slums of Manyatta and this side of Kisumu is always known for muggings. We are scared but we have to keep going. We meet drunkards along the way talking gibberish. Yes, this side of town is also famous for chang’aa guzzlers. People get drunk at very odd hours. The walk to the main road takes less than 10mins. And there we are, at the side of the road, waiting for Rasha Tsunami, or Rasha Boko. We are picky when it comes to Matatus; the Matatu has to be hype and also it has to have space. Kids are known for standing, and we are not about that life. The Rashas are the it Matatus in town.
It is almost six thirty, and on my right, I can see a Matatu approach with horns blowing so loud it could wake the dead. From their horns I can tell which matatu from which. I am that good. Apart from the matatu, I also notice the orange hues of the sky. The sun is rising and that means we need to get to school as soon as possible. But we don’t have to worry about that, Rasha Boko got us covered. That thing flies like a jet. And funnily as it moves, there is always that hissing sound at the back that makes it even cooler. A sound that only people on the outside can hear, but once you stepped in, all was quiet, save for the booming of music from the large speakers under the back seat.
We board it and get to school on time. The first lesson is math. Our head teacher, Mr. Potash Juma doubles up as our Math teacher. He is an averagely tall guy, with squinting eyes and a very big nose. He has that baldness that comes with old age. And my Jove that thing is so shiny I bet you could see your reflection on it. Is it weird that I have always wanted to touch it and feel its softness? Yes? I know that too, so gay.
He comes in and the first thing he does is divide the blackboard in three equal parts, yes equal, he is always that good. Then he goes to the top right-hand corner of the first part and writes the date of today, and then he goes to the left and writes “8 RED”, as if to remind those who had forgotten that they are in class 8RED. Or maybe it is to constantly remind himself while he teaches lest he forgets. I will never know.
The rest of the day moves on in a rush. Nothing major happens.
At 5pm in the evening the bell rings signaling everyone that it was time to go home. Brian and I walk home from school because we are saving the Kshs. 10 that we have for bhajia once we get to this mama that cooks really big bhajias.
When we get home at around 5:45PM, we find the door locked, and kid brother waiting outside as he plays with this cousin of ours that we stay with. Mom is not home yet. But she always leaves the key at Mama Aurelia’s stall. I go there, pick the key, and we get inside. The house is ominously quiet. We turn on the television and start watching cartoon network as we wait for mom to get back home from seeing dad. Samurai Jack is on.
It is around 8 and mom has not yet come back. As the first born, I decide to cook. And what do I prepare us for supper? Strong tea, and we take it with bread. People have to eat right? We don’t have a phone to ask mom what to cook for supper. And I am happy we don’t because I am kind of tired of cooking ugali. We take the tea and bread as we watch this soap opera “La Revancha” on TV. It is really interesting; Reinaldo is being haunted by his dad, and Soledad is finally going to get married to Alejandro. We are suckers for soaps.
It is 9 and mom is not yet home. I am getting worried. What has happened to our mother? I am always a worrier, if that’s even a word. Wait, no red marks? Then it’s definitely a word. But I digress.
She has never been this out so late. News is on and it is boring as hell. We find ourselves asleep in no time. We don’t lock the door from the inside though for mom. The next thing I know, mom is waking us up to go to bed.
How is dad? I ask her in my sleepy haze
Dad is going to be fine; actually he is going to be discharged tomorrow. Your father is finally coming back home. She responds with a big smile on her face. And in her eyes, I can see that light that had faded since dad had been hospitalized. I then notice how beautiful mom really is; with her almond shaped brown eyes, her medium sized nose, her brown lips and her radiant brown skin. Mom has always been light skinned. The kind of brown people will later refer to as “rangi ya thao”.
She is happy that dad is finally coming home, and so am I. despite all that dad had done; the drinking, the banging of the table while we ate, the fights he and mom had when drunk… there was a time he chased mom from the house at night. Mom had to sleep on the verandah the whole night. I wanted to stand up for her, protect her even if it is from her husband. But I couldn’t. I am just a kid after all, what do I know about standing up for your mother while he was being abused by your father? But despite all those mom stayed. For her kids, at least that’s what she said. But as I can see from the smile, she loves that guy, and so do I. There was a time I hated him, but not tonight. We forgave him and are ready to accept him back home with open arms. After all he has said that he has quite drinking because he believes that’s what’s killing him. It takes death for reality check to kick in huh dad?
The doctors say it is pneumonia though and that he is going to be okay. Finally my father is coming home tomorrow… Or is he?
I go to bed a happy kid.
Later on in life mom will tell me how she had cried when she found her babies sprawled aimlessly on the couch sleeping, bread crumbs strewn all over the dining table. She will tell me how bad she felt that she was so busy with hospital stuff that she could not even cook a decent meal for her children. It made her feel like a bad mother. But to me, she is my heroine. She is the only woman in the entire world that I can jump off a plane for, without a parachute. I could die for her
I sleep while smiling because tomorrow I will see my father. Or will I?
…to be continued.