Everywhere you turn in the neighborhood there’s nothing but happiness. Well lit homes and beautifully decorated houses. From freshly trimmed hedges to well swept yards. Even the grass-thatched huts have their mud walls decorated with reddish-brown and yellow soil by the women. Beautiful patterns and paintings of gossiping women, kids, grazing cattle and flowers. Where they learnt to do that, putting in consideration most were illiterate, remains a mystery.
Girls are doing final touches on their well braided hair, staring in some broken pieces of mirror. Boys are already loitering on roadsides and village paths trying to decide where to spend the night, church or discos.
Don’t ask about the men. Save for the few born-again Christians, most are already on busaa, local brew that’s made from fermented maize flour. Some sipped ka vule — made from millet flour — through oluthehe (long straws), made from some sort of rattan. Take a look at the photo in the post.
The able ones have beer and nyama choma as they discuss issues affecting the village — whether to demand for a less corrupt liguru (village head) or measures to take against that village pastor sleeping with his congregants etc — , the district (now Busia County) — how to make sure more boys get recruited in the army next time — and the whole country at large — what is president Moi’s government doing for the Western Kenya people.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Christmas from the Madekesiworld!
We’re ready for Christmas the next day. As kids, we’re just over the moon. Playing hide and seek under the moonlight (if it was there), chasing one another up and down or listening to kukhu (granny) — if she was in good spirits and good health —narrate her childhood escapades as we take turns peeping in the kitchen. The aroma from mama, my sisters and aunties’ collected kitchen effort is unbearable.
But it wasn’t always the case at our home.
There’s this one particular Christmas that I don’t think I will ever forget.
As the rest of the world is already in Merry spirits; doing this and that, eating this or that, drinking this or that, at our home we’re just there.
The houses have been decorated, me and my brothers have the yard and the rest of our home compound looking magnificent. Our clothes well pressed, ready for the next day.
Made sure all the livestock — four cattle and my elder brother’s five troublesome goats — are safe in their shed. We’re just waiting for supper so that we can whiz away to joins our pals who were already having fun of all kinds — chasing girls (especially the ones from the city, the village ones rarely got scared) and scaring women who are from finalizing on last minute shopping.
Then we enter the kitchen and God forbid! It’s only ugali and kunde (cow peas leaves — hated it). Mama is seated in the living room with my younger sister, hand-sewing some piece of cloth. I think it was for Cony’s little maize–cob doll.
“Mama, ugali tu!” I started complaining before being shortly cut.
“Soo aruivirire khandi. Khunalia saa esiriwo.” (Your father has forgotten about us again. We will just eat what we have). Speaking in our local Luhya dialect.
I started crying as my older siblings angrily stormed out. Mama looked sad, it mad me stop whining.
“Sai sina pesa. Munataka nifanye nini? Nikate nyama yangu niwapikie?” In Swahili (Now I have no money. What do you want me to do? Cut my flesh and cook for you?).
That was it. I just went straight into bed. Slept hoping that I will be woken by dad’s noisy Honda motorbike. It never happened. He never showed up, or even send a proxy like he did sometimes. No chapatis or mandazis at the breakfast table, just tea and bread. Remember being dragged to church by mom, looking so sullen. Not even the bananas she bought us on the way back from the local Catholic helped. My day and my Christmas as a whole was already messed up.
I was just a child then but the good thing is that I was strong enough not to stay mad at mama for long. I shifted all the blame to dad. He was the one with money but instead had chosen to spend all of it on his second family (the special ones) and for it I hated him.
But that’s life. Now here we are! All grown up, almost starting our own families and already faced with another Christmas.
God is great. Glory be to Him for everything, more for life. The past doesn’t matter. The present does, and so does tomorrow.
I don’t know what I will be having or what I will be doing this Christmas but, but I think there’s a plan. Since I’m not going home — mama is not there. She’s already with her mother, my aunties and uncles in Uganda. She will be celebrating from there. Merry Christmas mama! — me, Cony, Jenty and her husband will be going to Naivasha to just spend the day by the lake staring at hippos, buffaloes, giraffes, zebras, wildebeests and many more other wild animals. Not to forget boat rides on the lake, and maybe, God willing, visit Hell’s Gate National Park.
You’re welcome to join us if you can make it. The guys won’t mind I’m sure.
Well, from my side I take this opportunity to wish you guys from wherever part of the world you will be celebrating from,