Wave after wave

Some things are just unsettling, and for the life of you you might never understand them. One moment the sun in all it’s majestic form spreads all over and cures everything, the butterflies are no longer in people’s stomachs, they are out there hoping from one flower to the other. The white puffy clouds stretch from horizon to another. And behold another moment ushers itself in, unannounced, like a thug in the night who breaks the door and turns every thing upside down. The lightning splits the mighty fig into two, generations of birds no longer have a home. See that’s the thing about this life, one moment the tide is high and shore is getting hit by wave after another and the next the ocean is lost and people come collecting shells.
“Can you show me how to make those paper spider webs”
“Me?”
“Yes, you stupid”
“Why are you talking to me? No one talks to me.”
“Look Kira, are you going to show me how to make the webs or no?”
It was really strange that Crystal, the most popular girl in class was talking to the girl who nearly everyone did not to the least say a word. It’s not that it bothered her, she was always in her own world most of the time. Her head was always up in the clouds, somewhere no one else could get to. It was like a dirt road into the woods that no one else had walked upon and only her knew every turn and she did not have to leave breadcrumbs behind, getting lost in there was the very essence, an adventure of some sort. This usually got her in problems with the teachers who took it for arrogance. Her absentminded behavior always led her to miss out on mathematics formulae or the history of David Livingstone. She was however a genius when it came to art and crafts. Art class was where she excelled. She gave it her full attention and for a ten year old girl she was a connoisseur. The fact that Crystal was talking to her after four years of being in the same class was a little fishy. What was she up to? Was this some sort of trickery? What shenanigans was she up to?
“Okay, fine. I’ll show you, it’s really easy.”
“Really?”
“Yeah, you just fold a paper twice, then draw lines along here,” Kira said while demonstrating slowly to the queen bee who seemed to be paying close attention.
“Then you cut along the drawings and unfold it and there you have a spider web.”
“Wow, that’s amazing, thank you. We should be friends.”
Crystal who left with a coy smile returned to her friends and whispered something to them after which they turned to look at Kira and burst out in laughter. Like she had suspected, that wicked girl had been up to no good. Charlotte, who was Crystal’s best friend started walking towards where Kira’s desk.
“What do you want! Do you also want to know how to make a web!”
“Calm down freak, I don’t want anything from you.”
“Then what do you want.”
“I just came to tell you you will never be friends with Crystal. She lied, she can never be friends with an ugly weirdo like you.”
“But I showed her to make a web”
“Yes, that’s because Dylan was going to come to you to ask you to show him how to make a web. He is Crystal’s boyfriend.”
“Boyfriend?”
“Yes, so stay away from him you ugly girl”
That day Kira got suspended from school because she did not take it all too well being called ugly. Every one knew her as a recluse girl who kept to herself but after beating Charlotte, the teachers had after a deliberation were now convinced she was disturbed. No teacher would believe the absentminded girl’s story over the popular girls. Who would have believed they had started the storm.
It was not over. It had just began. One day can change a lot for a ten year old girl. One day you are just an innocent girl who loved reading books by Robert Louis Stephenson and then the next moment this life introduces something new in your life. She went home in her little blue dress that was just below the knees. It was her favorite dress, but now it was covered in tears. She wondered to herself, was she really ugly. She had no idea what a boyfriend was. She had only read about princes and princesses.
Her house was an old cottage by the woods that used to belong to an old tailor who had passed away about a decade ago and her parents had bought it. When she got home she knew she would get a scolding from her parents for being suspended from school. So she tiptoed towards the backyard to check if there was a way she would sneak in the house, go to her room and stay there till evening. This would allow her time to come up with a cover up story to get her out of trouble. She peered through the kitchen window. She saw her mother being held on the neck by a man who she could not clearly see who it was. Could it be her father? Her legs felt weak. A thousand thoughts were going through her mind all at the same time. Was someone trying to hurt her mother? Was she to scream for help? How would she explain not being at school?
“I’ve been a very very naughty girl, punish me daddy.” IMG-20160612-WA0003
That’s when Kira had her first glance into something new, the universe had come crushing with waves. It was not her father who was tearing her mother’s clothes apart. It was a man being addressed as ‘Daddy’. It was not her grandfather either, so why was her mother calling him ‘daddy’? What would her father think of this? Did he know there was a man in their house ripping mum’s clothes off? For a girl who spent too much time in her head, it was chaos in there, the lightning split figs and her innocence had no home in there, not anymore.

Memories of Loss

By Grace

It is now a quarter to one. Midnight has come and gone, a new day crept in and made itself comfortable while my eyes were glued to the TV screen. No count down in its anticipation, no fireworks, not a sound of ululation at its arrival. In the death of the night, this new day has come unnoticed, content in just being amongst us. It is quiet, even the cocks are quiet, asleep maybe. Not a crow, a quack or a bark from the neighbor’s dogs. A silent night. A holy night?

I wrap the sleeping bag tighter around me,shut my eyes tightly and call out to sleep. I do not shout, I whisper gently, softly. I wait in bated breath to drift off on her wings,but the only sounds I hear are those of  my shallow breathing and the beating of my heart inside my ears. The couches pillows press hard on my back,the tv’s light casts an eerie glow on the walls. I switch it off and  suddenly, I’m engulfed in darkness. I feel my way around, like a blind man,my hands become my eyes.I do not stumble.

The sound of the flushing toilet reverberates across the house, hitting walls,shattering the silence. I now hear the barking dogs, perhaps upset at the rude interruption.To what, I cannot tell. I make it to my room without bumping into any furniture. My bed is cold,devoid of warmth, of life. I burrow deeper,push my legs past the solitude. I wiggle incessantly,the springs creaking in protest,then silence.I am left in the company of my thoughts.

It occurs to me,for the umpteenth time, that I am indeed, alone. I think, albeit vaguely, of my inability to sustain a commitment, to stay, to love for long periods. I, involuntarily, think of lost love, arrogantly thrown away in moments of folly. My mind lingers on memories now washed off  by heavy rains, blown away by the wind to far off lands. I cling desperately to moments shared, then sweet and precious, now hanging precariously on the edge, about to fall into oblivion. I try to recreate them,I stop in my tracks to catch these beautiful butterflies. I’m close, but all too fast, they fly away leaving me empty. I’m in  a flower garden once flourishing with lilies and daisies and lilacs. They smell of love and warmth. Their scent is in my nose,my lungs,my heart. It clings to my dress and my hair. I sparkle.

I take captive these memories and refuse to let go. They are crystal clear. Then without warning,  they are dew in the morning melting away at the kiss of the sun.They are tiny droplets on rose petals falling onto the ground never to be seen again. They are a book stored for too long, mould growing on  its pages obscuring its letters, leaving entire pages blank, void.

IMG-20160531-WA0044

I lose, on purpose, the memories that like sharp knives nick and slice whatever they find. I try, sometimes successfully, to throw out completely those words that when uttered, had left a trail of blood in their wake. I bury them deep,under layers and layers of earth. I forget, for while, that they exist. It doesn’t always work, for sometimes, in the most unsuspecting moments, they come back to life and leave me with gashes so deep I can’t help but let the long unshed tears flow.

 

Hope

For a moment, I’m twelve. Loosing teeth fast and growing more aware each day. I now know what a bank loan means. My mind is yet to decide whether it’s a good or bad thing but I know I wouldn’t want it on anyone. Three days in a row, I approach my mother, solemn and anxious asking “Is the loan over?”
On each day, she gives me a brusque “No.” My father rushes me off to finish my never-ending homework. I hate doing homework. I abhorr, revolt against it. I really don’t know what it is good for. Much like a loan. But homework is a more immediate concern that numbs my little, virgin mind against worries of loans.
One day I walk in on my mother with pen and paper, sitted at the dressing table, gazing into the mirror like it were an endless sea. She looks tired but her voice is not. Immediately I walk in, she startles me with a roar “Are you done with your homework?”
Oh, shit. Yes, I was doing my homework. I had totally forgotten. I am struggling everyday with concentration issues. My mind always seems lost deep in vaults unknown and I seem to be getting worse each day. Soon after, follows a deeply sobering moment when a close family member asks my mother “Is his mind right?” I am present. Fully aware. Acting blank, blase.
“Yes.” She replies. Confident.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. I think.” A bit shaky this time.
“And his ears…” this question eventually checks me into Kenyatta Hospital for a specialist assessment on whether my ears are fine. More like whether my ears are the source of my unusual behaviour. In all this, I am only going through the motions. I feel fine. But for all I know, I could be a mad little boy with hearing problems. It could get worse, right?
Days later I finally find the piece of paper my mother was writing on. On it, are random figures. Fees, food, househelp, fare and right there at the bottom, loan. The figure seated comfortably next to it, is tremendous. Huge. In fact I only encounter such figures when doing multiplication. Somehow, these random figures make complete sense to me.
That evening, I and my questions happen. “What if we just give back the loan?” My mind has at this point inferenced a loan to be a modern yoke of slavery.
Maybe he is mad afterall. My parents give me a momentary glance then continue watching TV. “Have you finished cleaning everyone’s shoes?”
Oh shit.
I rush outside to finish on the three shoes I am yet to clean.
My immediate sibling is eight. A graceful creature with the most innocent countenance I have encountered yet. Once a chubby baby, she is loosing her baby-fat fast but also growing quieter each day.  Nowadays does not smile and play around like she once used to. Still, she’s quite the entertainer. Everyday she comes home with these crazy notions. Like this one day she comes home having concluded that she must be Luo. In fact she confesses to be Luo. No one will convince her otherwise. So we laugh happily at her childish innocence.
Our baby, the last born is four. Chubby and round faced, she has kinky red hair. One neighbour says that she needs to eat more fruits. Another says she needs to drink water. I think she is perfect and the only one who needs to drink pools of water is the neigbour. She is loosing her fears fast and growing her imagination everyday.
She is about to finish pre-unit and soon join us in primary school. We can barely contain our excitement that she is coming.
She also can’t contain hers as she doesn’t have any. She shares not, our ambitions. You see, she has her sights elsewhere. On a different school that is the stuff of myth around the community. Every time it appears on anyone’s lips, it never lacks one more wildly amusing rumour than the last which blows its myth to epic proportions.
“I hear the children there eat sausages and bacon every morning and go swimming in the afternoon”
“That’s nothing. Last year they produced several candidates who were top ten in the country. I saw it with my own eyes”
“I hear they have a new school bus.”
“Another one?”
“Yes… you would think driving yourself to school is not enough…”
I mean, at this point, I can only equate it to Hogwarts, the legendary. Everything about it seems stuff of imagination. If heaven had a school for little angels, this would be it. And that’s where our baby had her sights fixed. She believes that she would soon study there. Convicted with every bone in her body.
Mad, we all were mad kids. She the most.
Finally the year comes to an end. The Christmas holidays zoom by in a blur colored with kiddish hapiness. We are now finishing our homeworks and reparing our damaged uniforms for next year. Our house help has found this nice fundi who is not that busy and has offered to make a new uniform for our baby before she joins our school.
When she hears this, she cries. Hysterically. She then retreats to herself. I share in her sadness from a distance, perhaps I am even sadder. I don’t know why just yet. But I know she might receive a tap on her arm for unwarranted tantrums. Only much later do I realize the cause of my sadness. I had witnessed the hope in her eyes and the joy in her smile flicker. It is one of the saddest things you will ever see.
Days before school finally resumes, my father comes home in the evening with three pairs of new Bata shoes. “I knew it. I knew it!” our baby screams.
“Knew what?”
She knew that she was going to Hogwarts. Turns out we all were. And we all did. Her unwavering faith had carried us. That night, every time I woke up from my toss-and-turn-with-excitement sleep to glance over at my new pair of shoes I felt like anything was possible.
***
To this day, my mother says she does not grasp how we joined Hogwarts. It was too expensive, too mighty an attempt. Yet somehow, my little sister carried us on the wings of her little uncommon faith into the land of milk and honey.
I complete my twenty third trip around the sun this year and I can assure you, these trips are not free. With every trip, after a certain tipping point, we pay with grey hairs, waning sight and failing strength. Worst of all, is the point where we are loosing faith fast and growing pains daily. So I write this piece to present and future me, and anyone else who relates, that it will always spark a little faith, in a dimming soul.