A Dark cloud
And that’s why I wanted to write it off before 2017 goes any further. Yes before that tenderprenuer who was awarded the rain Contract by Jubilee delivers.
It must be a decade behind us now. I was barely out of teenage hood worried more about adolescent issues than the outcome of the August Eighth Elections. I was in my second year of high school. That year that all and sundry says it’s doom. When people rethink their options in life as to whether they want to drop out and use their pocket money to start a family in the neighborhood or press on and take the education guess. For everyone who happened before us says education is the key to life but me and you can offer testimonies of theories that make one believe otherwise. This was long ago before Matiangi word was a celebrity thing. Yes. A dark cloud hang lose around our home. It took control of us, control of our lives and made us captives of its being around. Our spirituality was tested. Our strength knocked at the knees. And our only hope tied on a vicious rope of economic hardships. Everything was blurry. Our presence itself smelt of sabotage. If ever you asked me about 2006 then that’s how I will begin it, end it or it might be the only thing I will tell you about.
As a family, we thought about our options. Thought about our misdoings and top of all thought about what the gods and ancestors were thinking of us. Then summoned some herehitho meetings to check if there was possibility that someone among us was not tithing accordingly. The meetings were a culmination of sombreity. But all that was just that; vanity.
Things did not just work. That home started to sound like it was earmarked for something unfathomable. We grew up in an extended family. Our granny was the head of the home. She was the eldest member everyone of us knew within the family. I think you should find time and meet that old lovely lady. She us aging gracefully everything intact save for her eye sight. She doesn’t see. So this days she tells people’s names by how they talk. “He talks like Tony” “Yes it’s me granny” Then she reaches out to feel your hands. Both of them. Then asks “why have you lost so much weight?” She tells stories. Stories of despair. Stories of joy. Stories of how she grew up. Stories far and wide. If you find her in hood mood, she narrates how she and our grandfather who is deceased met and it was love at first sight. Then that love sounds surreal and true. She talks of her life. Then her kids. She says they are five only that we knew two. She says the first two died at birth. Then our mummy was born a girl bubbling with life. Later on she bore a son. Who died as soon as he finished school. That was long ago. After her son; our uncle she got a last born daughter. The only aunty we knew of. So my mum grew up with one brother who later died and one sister. Who lived with us for some time before setting base in Nairobi as we grew older.
Every thing had been perfect okay until start of that year our mum got Ill. So sick that it sent shivers down our spines. She was sick. So sick that she rearly talked. Rearly moved. And seldom got out of her room. I think she chose to hide her fight behind her bedroom door. And shut it from our savaging attention. She said she was not going to hospital. She said her belief was strong enough that she will get well. Going to hospital for her, she said was a sign of defeat. She said that with confidence but then again grew weak everyday. It’s the only time she spoke with composure when she was blocking our hospital pleas. “My son, will you just forget about that hospital thing. I will get well and yet again if it’s God’s will then am prepared to go” she will say in defence with finality. Then that last part would clog my eyes with tears but I would avoid to cry in her presence. I would retract into my bedroom and cry the hell out. Not the loud kind of crying but sob, sob and sob the pillow wet. There has always this thing that men should not cry. Well perhaps I was coming from that school of thought.
Sometimes she would feed. Some other times she would shut up and say food tasted bad. Then days would go and her skin would wither. Her health would deteriorate down low and our hopes would diminish almost unseen. We would camp around her bed pleading that she considers the hospital option. Till it started to feel like a cold war of kids against mummy. One thing about that woman, she stands her ground and supports it with anything within reach. If supporting her ground meant going to the grave, she would still do that. I think I want to borrow that whenever am on those boardrooms full of men and women in expensive business suits. We were afraid fur her state of health. We were scared of her choice not to go to hospital but then again we were fearful of the kind of shit people would say about her choice not to go to hospital. You know how people are. They will come to pretend to be standing with you. Then withdraw home only to mill in groups and talk bad stuff about you. Sijui their church doesn’t allow people to go to church. Oooh look they don’t have money to take their menu to hospital. Mara they don’t love their mum and the way she has given her all for them, they have left her for death. Blah blah. And that would hurt more than our depressing situation.
She battled it all alone in her room. Five month into the year, she was all worn out. We were almost giving up on her situation but she was sure not to. She battled up back and came to life. Full of life now only of remnants of Ill health all over her face. She would now move. Talk. Associate and when someone said something funny, laugh her ribs out. Then some joy showed on the borders of that home.
That joy was short-lived. For on the first week of June the same year, we received a call from Nairobi that our aunty was sick in hospital. How now? That was no hoax but reality. She was on bed number 34 on the third floor of Kenyatta Hospital. In between plans were hushed for our mother in her not so good health to bed seat her.
Then bills descended on us with unmeasured audacity. Bills as huge as government’s expenditure against an income as meager as a park boy’s tip. We chose to decide to overcome. We passed word. Knocked on doors and hosted both friends and enemies for tea all in bid to tell them of the plight of our ailing aunty. Some thought this was meant to be all but our own to ponder. Some chipped in. Some prayed with us. Some pledged to come through with something then others forgot about it. The final decision was some poorly organised church harambee that raised nothing worth talking about here.
We had to live with such a lifestyle for the entire year. It sounded like life was meant to go on. But then troubles stood in its way. Troubles we knew about but had no might over. So we hoped and prayed and waited.
School was hard. Hard because everyday was trouble with the ‘mean’ authorities over school fee arrears. Hard because then how do you concentrate on your studies when back home everything was burning. So it was hard because nothing was working. We lived on hope but hope alone would not help. But we lived on hope anyway. We had to survive for man must live.
The same year for some reason unknown to us, the Education ministry decided that schools countrywide should close on the second of December. Some deputy principal of the time thought it right to be reminding us that every other parade session. So we finished everything that can be done in a school term and waited.
In between our only aunty had passed on and her lifeless body lay at the morgue. People milled around her house to mourn and back some rituals. Back home crowds thronged in in multitudes to feed on whatever little that remained in that home. Granny cried everyday in between songs of mourning. She wished her daughter had lived to burry her first. But all is God’s planning.
We now had to deal with bills. Bills from hospital and bills from the morgue. Looking right you saw some figure. Then looking left another figure. These figures didn’t lie. They spoke of a family tolled by disaster.
Everyone remained calm. Her carcass was transported home and laid to rest as we neared Christmas. The third grave visible in a compound. Then that home started to appear like an encroaching cemetery. That year it was a Sombre Christmas. Nothing to get merry about. Everything to feel sorry about.