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Showing posts from August, 2020

A Visit From Jehovah Witnesses

Ever since I could remember, my mother was religious. She was a bible-wielding, song-singing prayerful woman. I assume her pact with God must have started earlier, inspired by my grandfather, who was, and is still is a fervent churchman, in his 90s. And yes, I have seen what teenagers wore in the 1970s, and my mother was no exception.     My first memory of organized religion could have been forgotten, yet it clings to my mind vividly. Three people were knocking at our high iron gate. It lacked symmetry, and the person outside the gate could see me. And I could see them. The artisan who had made that gate had never been to a geometry class, and I was standing there feeling three sets of eyes looking at me through the gaps.   The two gentlemen had white shirts, a suit and tie. I remember immediately looking at myself; even a child can be self-conscious. I had been rolling around on the veranda—my dirty brown shirt, dusty shorts and dry, scaly legs told the story. The lady was less i

My First Time At the Library

We were in class, contemplating our existence as six-year-olds when our class teacher, Mr Gitembo, walked in. Behind him was a radiant young woman wearing a dark green dress, and carrying a sizable  box. Our class teacher had a bigger box accompanied with a toothy grin. "Good morning, class?" inquired the lady. “Good Morning, Mrs...” She had a calming voice, like the auntie who you visited to eat cake and sweets. She had our attention and Mr Gitembo’s too.   "My name is Ms Claire. I work with the library near the school, and I have brought you gifts." She opened the boxes and brought our games and storybooks, then urged us to come closer. We ran to the front and picked a book, or sat down to play a game.   Up till then, my reading was a clumsy attempt.   Trying to understand my elder sister's magazines, father's newspapers, and Jehovah Witness literature left in a drawer to gather dust for years. These made no sense to me. But as I opened the boo

My Adorable Younger Sister

  There was a screeching wail, and a tiny alien appeared in my parent’s bedroom. I was three years old when my younger sister was born. I remember holding her and couldn’t wrap my hands all round, and nearly dropping her. Still, I insisted. “Momma let me carry her,” I said. The alien had these alert beautiful brown eyes that seemed to say, “wait till I can get my hands and legs moving, and you will see,” Those independent eyes burned through my small skull. Maybe, that’s me trying to simplify years of interacting with her. I was there when she first crawled, there when she staggered and then stood, and there when she walked. Then held my breath, remembering her burning eyes as I held her when she was younger. I forgot the reason she did all these in quick succession was to keep up with her inquisitive, troublesome older brother. For three years, she silently watched, listened, and soaked it all in. Now she trailed me everywhere. She would release a shrill if I dared leave h

Buying a Television

  We lived in a rectangular-shaped bungalow. A mason had a brilliant idea to make the sitting room smaller by erecting a wall for a separate room. Unfortunately, the new room looked like a corridor. It, therefore, became a corridor us kids loved to play in and cause a racket. My parents became wiser with time and did away with the wall.   For entertainment, I played outside or listened to the radio- a larger than life apparatus no bigger than a gym bag. Loud enough for neighbors to hear from the comfort of single rooms, on the other side of the picket fence. The radio announcers weaved stories and painted vivid pictures in my mind. It's the reason I still enjoy listening to a good radio program. I never understood football commentary, since I had never gone to a football stadium. I imagined, men like my father's friends with beer bellies running after a ball, with a crowd of people running after them shouting. A ball for me was papers rolled together, and bound with nylon s

A Nanny From Hell.

                 “A.B.C.” “Repeat.” “A.B.C.” “Repeat.” This went on and on. Over and over again. My eyes rolled in their sockets. As we went through a painful exercise of rote learning. We had done this so many times. It became seared in my memory. The kids were bored, the teachers fared no better. And at five years old, I learned to let my mind wander, as my mouth repeated the chatter. Routine was critical in kindergarten. We would be in class from eight in the morning, take a break at ten to play in the dirt with tires, rolling in the playground. Then a quick lesson that got us to lunch, a nap, and be picked by our minders by 2 pm. It all felt wrong, and I was utterly disgruntled with the routine. Yet, what did a five-year-old know? My nanny then, I vaguely remember, was a sweet young woman, caring and gentle who held my hand as we walked the dusty road to the nursery gates. The school was a good kilometre away, in an estate of bungalows with five-feet high picket fences.

Breaking a Hair Clip

I was six years old, and Captain Hook was chasing Peter Pan. Back then, as in now, I star in my dreams and take the persona of the hero. I woke up in a sweat shivering and my sheets wet. “Mom! Captain Hook is a pirate and was chasing my boat, and I got a little wet,” was my explanation the following morning. The year was 1990, and I was in a public school—one of the best in Nanyuki. Given they were only two. It was leafy, clean, and prestigious. As I recall, we were twenty in my class with one teacher attending us. That’s where the good news ends.   Our teacher was Mr. Gitembo, an angry middle-aged man, with a temper, a beard, a hat, and deformity on his left leg. I feared and loathed him. No wonder I was dead last in all the tests we did in my class and was labeled fat, slow and naughty. I didn’t want to disappoint and lived up to my labels. Class one was my worst year in primary school, and it took two years after to recover. Days seemed longer than usual, even though we