I remember what it was to be a child. To be almost entirely dependant on someone else. But I also remember who I was as a child.
Earlier in life I was extremely shy and withdrawn. I kept to myself a lot and spoke only to people I was bound to by blood. Then I slowly opened up, because you had to talk to people with whom you played and their friends too. You also had to talk to your desk mates and your neighbours. I’m not sure I’ve conquered shyness entirely but it’s not such a bad thing, right?
Christmas in the village is most definitely my happiest childhood memory. Waking up to go to church, where we sat outside because a lot more people come to church then, compared to every other Sunday. Festinating home to find lunch ready, and eating as one big family. That wasn’t the best part, the best part was supper time- in the middle of the compound, on mats, under the light of the moon when grannies told stories till their grandchildren slept off.
My best friends were Alex and Christine. Alex was a year older than me and the latter was a year older than him. We spent every time out of class together, except Games Time. Alex hang out with the guys while Christine and I with the girls. Walking home from school we pretended the plants were students, so we punished them for late coming, talking in class and other tiny crimes.
Whenever I needed to think, I mean if ever someone really pissed me off, I sat on the least frequented veranda and cried. I’d refuse to talk to anyone or eat until mum came and talked me into going back to the house. In the village, I hid behind the boys quarters and created movies better than Tyler Perry’s. You’ll never see them since I forgot to write them down 😉
The one injury I can’t seem to get past was a deep cut. I had visited my maternal grandparents and just happened to be bored. My idle mind was no devil’s workshop, we’d just finished having breakfast and I saw something that seemed interesting. Shaped like a seven, but more real. So I got up, hurried in its direction, and picked it up. With every bit of energy within,I lifted it and let it fall. I’d seen my cousins do that, so it couldn’t be that hard. Seeing my effort, everyone shot encouraging smiles at me. When I next lifted the wood + metal, it lost sight of the soil and landed adjacent to my left ankle. Screaming, wailing, moaning, groaning, and weeping followed. Too much for adventure! The hoe and I are better friends now. That’s a happy ending after all 😆
At some point we lived at the foot of the rock. That place was near all services; church, school, town, the library,…everything We woke up to a fresh cold breeze almost every morning. To our right was a secondary school, to our left was the Yoga residence, behind was obviously the rock and in front was the rest of the world. Leaving home was fun, no pain was experienced but the return journey was an unplanned work out. There was more than enough room for us to play. However when we put out food stuff to dry, unless someone watched, we only recovered half of it. Our monkey colleagues helped themselves to unauthorized meals. One day we got punished for negligence.👇
The three girls left saying they were going to buy tomatoes and the boy agreed to keep home. Three hours later, he followed them because he knew where they were, at a mango tree, shooting mangoes. After a few questions here and there, he joined the party. Later, as they walked home, they saw the door open. He insisted he had shut it. When they reached the compound, they started throwing away their mangoes because mother was back. After her announcement about them having their fruits for supper, she gave each one strokes of the cane. Including the little ones who thought they didn’t qualify.
In school, my brother and I were in the same class. It was a good thing since I had someone to do homework with. (You know how boring homework can be.) Although we didn’t sit together, our hearts beat as one. We talked during every break, it was hard not to. We were/are family. I sat at the front, he sat far away from me. He was always getting in trouble; either not combing his hair or talking in class or ignoring assignments (Typical stubborn-people stuff.) Each time he got strokes of the cane I cried on his behalf. It felt like I was the one being caned. And at the time, the term “Corporal punishment” had not yet made sense so… 😓
After school, we rushed to the library. That public library made me. Everyone was charged 1000 shillings for a term but you could only borrow one book per day. Being short, you used your eyes to ask the secondary school students to help you get a story book from an upper shelf. It wasn’t exactly “upper”, just not within your reach. Note to self : “Keep out of reach of children” means on the highest cabinet. I hated weekends because there was no school which meant no access to the library or the Youth Centre where we went to chillax which is slang for swinging. I could spend even 3 hours on the swing. Yes, I was one of those kids who believed in First come First serve so I didn’t leave till I was tired. Now there’s a basketball court 😋, I should visit that place soon.
The day I did something I shouldn’t have done: I didn’t hear the bell ring. So Belinda and I stayed in class, drawing on the board. She may have been drawing, I was possibly writing or doodling. It was just so intriguing to hold chalk. Then we drifted away while playing Teacher and before we knew it, it was getting dark. She had been our neighbour, so I knew their place. The plan was to walk up to the main road, somewhere near the National Water offices and then separate. The plan failed. We met mum not far from school and she wasn’t happy. I’d enjoyed being a teacher so much I was basically thrilled. She’d been worried sick,she thought I’d gotten lost or something. Poor her! Who knew I’d been rehearsing to
earn peanuts be a teacher later in life?
I remember lots of things about my childhood; dancing competitions after supper, sitting with mum when she’s making chapatti so you can taste some, sweets every Sunday after church( talk about positive reinforcement), Youth Day celebrations at church, and obviously playing dodge ball, bladder, Kasonko, Kakebe, etc. What I miss most is the innocence, not knowing what life is really about and being able to live peacefully in every moment. 😥
Of course I also miss everything being done for me. I didn’t have to cook, wash, iron,… and someone sang me to sleep. But I also know where I am from so I have roots, and fears, and values, and flaws and strengths and faith in who I am. So I can be a better person and a responsible adult. I make mistakes, own them and try to be better, get hurt, forgive and move on, meet hurdles and jump over them, because I’m no child.