of beginnings…

I was born in a little town called Meru. As long as I can remember there was only my mother. When I asked her where my father was, she told me I didn’t need to know and that I should never ask her that question again.

She worked hard to prove to the world that she was managing alone. So she sent my brother and me to quite a nice school for lower primary. She also gave us a reasonably nice home.

Meru was a little town where everyone knew everyone. On the weekends we’d visit our cousins and play while the Mums talked. We’d make a fire, cook potatoes and grass we picked along the way and eat it. A few times the boys caught a bird. And I think we roasted and ate one once. SMH!

My Mum was strict, no nonsense, hard to please. As we grew up she made sure I knew how to do house work – washing dishes mainly, but also some cooking, especially chapati.

At school every day, I day dreamed about my father coming to pick me up. I imagined that he was strong, like the soldiers I read about in childhood novels. He was successful, maybe like a banker. Or a lawyer. He was coming for me. But every day, he didn’t come😔.

At school I also remember running fast and winning some angel hangings as presents (Catholic school), plucking a rose flower and getting in trouble for it (had to pay 10shs that my mother made me wish I’d never seen those flowers), I remember one girl fighting with my boy cousin (who fights with boys, I thought), I remember home science and wood work projects we did, and I remember waiting for my daddy to come pick me.

What else do I remember from my early years? My nursery school teacher, Miss Hilda, I remember changing schools often, I remember the tug of war match that almost cost me my finger (my finger was crushed by the rope against a pole), and the chips and sausage treats after church (at my aunt’s chips restaurant).  I remember trips to the town Doctor (I struggled with tonsillitis frequently). He was said to be great with kids but every time I saw his white coat and his greying head, I swear my stomach was in knots!

We didn’t have a TV, so my brother and I thought we were poor.

One day an older girl came to visit. Someone casually mentioned that she was my sister. She brought my brother and I presents. Then she’d go away again for a long time.