I woke up to an ugly stomachache. Accompanied by diarrhoea. I convinced myself it would all be fine and lay in bed a while longer. When I had my first lavatory visit at 8 am, an hour thirty minutes later, I knew I would have a long day.
The shopkeeper handed me Eno, orange flavour (who introduced these?), I am into originals. I didn’t request a swap, there was an urgent lavatory meeting rescheduling again.
I had promised to visit mum. It has been almost an entire year last I saw her. I needed her ID for some official requirements.
I remember asking the officer in charge if it was possible using only one parent’s. He carefully noted that if both were alive then I would have to use both. I tried again, what if they were really far? Find a way to acquire it.
I had no choice. This way, the dreaded “appointment” was born. Would I have bothered to visit had I no need?
I got medication from a pharmacy in town to keep me afloat. I was worried the need to go will hit me in the streets. The practitioner assured me I will be fine.
She is from taking her bath when I arrive. The first. The compulsory one they say we should have daily. You can have 2 or more if you reside where water is always flowing. The highlands. Could be in these high-rise estates.
That one bath, is not to be missed. Why don’t they emphasize on the importance of general body hygiene as they do for teeth? Food for thought.
She asks me to come in when I knock on the door. I’ll just be a minute, she says. She was dressing up for the day. She had been waiting all morning since she heard I was to pass by. It was a few minutes to 2 pm.
Traffic, I use the most misused excuse the world over(in my case though, it was true) I’m also not feeling too well, I add.
By this time, she has joined me and extended her hand for greeting. She went on to alternate the hug, first right side then left. I was sitting down, so disrespectful. A disciplined girl shouldn’t let her elders bend down to her in greeting, if anything, she should be on her knees receiving blessings.
She is wearing those flared jeans she used to over 10, 11 years ago. Only the bottom is worn out. The colour is a bit faded but in that fashionable sense. She has paired it up with a yellow T-shirt printed something to do with Texas.
She sat on the opposite facing me. She pulled her ash tray, ignited a match and lit a cigarette. A few seconds later, I was inhaling the extracts from her mouth. She wasn’t blowing in my directions but the fumes aimed for my lungs. They were determined to make me a passive smoker.
Reaching out for her more than two decades old journals/notebooks, she told me she wanted to make a call. She is a keeper, like her daughter. One after the other she turned each page, bringing it so close to her face. Her vision has dwindled over the years.
She examines me as she puffs on another cigarette. Our eyes meet. Silence. I tap my phone.
Naona umerudisha mwili. Masomo yanaendelea poa. First year ulikuwa umekonda sana.
I force a smile. She needed kurudisha mwili more than I did.
My stomach was grinding once more. I asked to leave. She started putting on her pair of rubbers. She subjected me to passive smoking once more. We walked out together. She started talking to a neighbour, I walked ahead of her.
Resh, kuja usalimiane!
And I knew it had began. The greeting, meeting, introduction spree. The woman in turn called her daughter. Another handshake.
Mnafanana (to us). Ona vile ni mrembo kama mama yake (to her daughter).
Eeh, tena sana mum. Hebu waone.
I smiled. I wish I could speak as casually as that daughter to my own mother.
My mother. She is a real beauty. Her face depicts this youthfulness. A dimple forms on her left cheek when she smiles. You could look at her all day. Once you hear her laugh, you would want to keep hearing it over and over.
We pass greetings from relatives to each other. It’s been an entire 10, 11 months since I last saw or talked to her. There’s a lot that has happened.
..Hata amepata mtoto mwngine..
..Hapatikani kwa simu..
She spots one of her friends. Another greeting, meeting, introduction phase. She asks about another friend and is advised to check her house.
Enter friend’s premises. I greet, meet and I am introduced for the third time in a span of few minutes. I’m sitting there waiting for us to exit when they decide to end the chat.
She announces sombre news, Esther, their friend, had given birth this morning. The kihee had died. She had earlier told me that the to-have-been mother, never attended prenatal clinic sessions. It was Esther’s fault that the kihee never lived to undergo the knife.
I was asked when I would visit again. Soon. The friend then escorted and left us at the matatu stage. The two of us confirmed with each other the planned meeting on Sunday. We are to go see another kihee from her long term friend. This mother must have taken prenatal care very seriously..
A matatu pulled up. I hugged her, she has this habit of combining handshakes with hugs. With my right hand in hers, my upper body pulled in towards hers, we embraced shortly.
I almost said I loved her but stopped myself.
In another state, she would have confessed her love for me constantly until I got annoyed, wanting her to stop. In that state, I would never tell her I love her. She is a mess.
Our love for each other is conditional. Hers for me when drunk, mine for her when she’s alcohol free.
I might not be received by the sober individual that met me today come Sunday. From the way her hands were shaking, I could tell she is still on the bottle. Cheap liquor.
For all I know, she was headed for a swig after we departed.