I entered the house just when she was saying, “Lord, why can’t he see!” I obviously startled her out of the emotional prayers she was making. Clearly she had shed so many tears; for her eyes were dark red. She tried to clean the tears off as quickly as she could but it was too late. It hurt deeply me to see my dear mum cry.
The “he” that was being mentioned in the prayer was me, Phares. A lazy braggart! A dim-wit.
I instantly hated myself when I saw the tears. And for the first time, I saw how deep my mum had been affected. I stood still like a camel (if camels stand still), unable to get in. I chose to cry! No, I actually wept. I said, “mama, forgive me!” I cried more because of the inexpressible pain I had for what had befell me!
My mum, Queen, was a single mother. By single I mean, my dad had refused to take responsibility for his inability to practice family planning!
I’m told that he had relations with my mother alongside other two ladies. No wonder I have two siblings from different mothers who are about my age (plus or minus 2 or 3 weeks old). Daah! It is further rumoured that my father preferred a young senorita from the coastal region- Giriama to be precise. I’m yet to research the reasons behind it. But it has something to do with what our ancestor unwittingly referred to…Kuenda Mombasa ni raha, kutoka ni matanga!
So, immediately she informed him that she was pregnant with me, he took off for a couple of days from the house they were living. It is friends who came to tell mum that he had insinuated that she was an adulteress.
She ignored the rumours.
Anyway, even when he came back with a dubious and illegal attitude, she didn’t really pay much attention, partly because he was an occasional drinker. When he beat her up for silly mistakes, she tried to withstand it.
She still recounts that that was her biggest mistake. She laments that she didn’t leave immediately; when she first read the signs.
And she is right!
However, the circumstances were not so favourable for her. One, my dad and my mum started living together before they had any meaningful jobs. My dad was in charge of supplying water from 5 huge 10,000 litre containers the ward council had bought as a means of employing the youth. He, a 39-year-old Zinjathropus, reclaimed the position, he had a distant cousin who knew someone. So, this “old-youth” had a little money at the end of each day. It wasn’t enough for us and his narcissistic insatiable and unrestrained libido.
He was paid just enough to keep him coming back daily….an amount that he joyfully drank with. Once or twice he risked or forgot and bought sugar and milk. And he could sing the entire month for supposedly “doing heavy shopping”!
Before mum delivered a handsome and jovial son, dad chased her away. She walked out with a few things; her clothes, her diploma certificate written –Hotels and Hospitality Management .
She had nowhere to sleep…but she had a plan. All that was remaining for her to do was to try to beg her parents for a place to stay for a while. Alternatively, she could go for the quickest way out of the world-suicide. She had chosen poison over the robe.
There was an immediate problem though. They were living in Nakuru with this “woman chaser!” while her parents were in Kisumu. She still can’t explain how a stranger trusted her enough to help…do these things still happen?
Anyway, when the father saw her, he forgot that he hadn’t received dowry. He jovially welcomed her home. He didn’t ask her what had happened…not because fathers don’t know how to ask questions, but…he saw her pain. He saw on her face that she had given everything and decided to live with her supposed husband but, even her “everything” was not weightier than his libido and sexual inclinations.
She gave birth to a son and called him Phares. She worked hard baking cakes left right and centre. She didn’t want to lack money for my school fees. She refused to settle in cake business.
She established a Kibanda or Kiosk if you like and developed a single menu. Hot fried fish, kachumbari and brown Ugali. She didn’t price it much. Even the competitors came to eat in her place because it was cheaper.
Then, a close friend suggested that she could triple her profits if she established herself in Nairobi. She didn’t waste time neither did she wait for any other kind of advice…. she left Kisumu for Nairobi with her sufurias, pans and cooking sticks. She managed because her father refused to stand aside. He had her back all the way to the top. Plus, she had a son who needed a better life…and of course, there were other village children she was educating.
Well, in Nairobi, she struggled at first. But, she had her pans and sufurias…she fried her fish and Nairobians ate. They kept eating till they ensured that she had enough money to establish herself in Kilimani. That’s where we lived.
She had grown to establish two charity organizations and a quarterly mentorship program for young girls. She also invested in other business whose profit was going to her charities and back to the village to support widowed women. Mum has always had a big heart.
When my dad saw or heard that fortunes were turning towards mum, especially when we moved to Nairobi, he didn’t waste time. He had been occasionally coming, pretending to check on me but everyone knew that his eyes were really on the money. I remember one day, at about 7pm or 8pm in the night he showed up at our place in Kilimani with huge bags. I still recall how mum opened the door and found him standing upright but deadly confused. They had stood at the door for about 30 minutes talking in low tones. Occasionally, I could pick one or two words like, ” Liar, die, sitaki, forgive!”
Anyway, he came in and sat next to me.
We had been having supper and he served himself a huge portion of the chicken and rice that we were having. He “drank” the food and added more.
We barely spoke. I just didn’t know what to say to him neither did he really try to say anything meaningful other than ” study hard my son” “don’t joke with girls” ” when I was your age…”
Of course, he was given the visitors’ room to rest in. Surprisingly, I didn’t find him the next morning. Mum told me that she had to ask him to leave. Apparently, he had tried to sneak into her bedroom at night. When he found the door closed, he knocked for about 2 hours!
Anyway, It is in Kilimani where I grew up and studied in my later years as a young adult. And at about 24 years…I fell in love with a lady called Jacinta.
She was the reason why my mum was praying for me!
I remember the first day I introduced her to mum. It was a Tuesday afternoon, the 8th March. I had cooked some rice, vegetables and some chicken. I had also gone into the trouble of squeezing several dry mangoes for 4 glasses of juice. Yes, I literally measured. And of course, I gave the house help an extra hand in cleaning the house.
Knowing the kind of music my mum played, which intertwines between gospel and Rhumba, I requested her to stick to Rhumba. I didn’t want us to come out as weirdly religious because I knew that my girlfriend occasionally preferred one or two bottles of liquor…no judgments.
So, she walked into the house at about 5:30pm. I opened the door for her and hugged her tightly.
She had these heavy metals on her left hand. She had slightly curled her hair backwards and applied make-up generously. She shone like a star. She was my star. The only part I didn’t agree with her dressing was her top. It didn’t cover them fully. By “them”, you should know that I mean the two balloons….I won’t say their names for obvious reasons.
I also don’t know why she chose to wear a tight pair of sweatpants!
Anyway, my mum saw the thighs and she didn’t mind. She even commented about their brownness and we all laughed. I giggled shyly!
So we started talking and soon, we had our supper. I was silent most of the time…it is Jacinta and mum who spoke. I was so glad that they were getting along well.
Jacinta was also staying with her parents at Lavington area, along Oloitoktok road. When it was time to leave, we both escorted her to the gate to the taxi we had called for and saw her off. The moment she left, mum turned towards me and said, ” my son, if you want a good life, leave that lady immediately.”
I have never been shocked in my life. I said, “what!” about 5 times but, she didn’t answer. It is when we got to the house that she told me that Jacinta wasn’t faithful. She had no direct evidence to support her “allegations”. I concluded that it was because of her dressing style. She only said firmly, “there is something about her that isn’t right. I have felt it”!
That discussion injured our relationship. We became cold to each other for the simple reason that she became bitter and insisted that I had to let my girlfriend go. I, on the other hand, loved Jacinta so much. I had never ever imagined that she could cheat on me. I had to even check her phone and go through her messages and calls. I found nothing.
I even told her that my mum was against our relationship. Yes, yes I know it was stupid.
Since we were not the best of friends and in the best of a mother to son relationship, I started showing up late at home. I was doing my IT internship at the moment and kept blaming work for taking me away for long.
My mum on the other hand spoke less and less….
Looking back, I don’t know how she felt…”seeing” her only child going down the road leading to death! …that’s where she had concluded, I was going.
After about 3 months since we first argued, I moved out. I had been taken in as a junior developer and I had other IT side hustles that gave me enough money to pay rent and even get my own car albeit on loan.
I started living with Jacinta.
It didn’t take us 2 months living together before the entire world came crumbling down on me.
We were having an introduction party at an hotel in town. We were going to partner with two other firms for a certain long term project the World Bank had given us. Three of my immediate colleagues and I were representing our company in the semi-official party. Like most parties, after the serious talks, we started having one or two drinks. That’s when a guy from one of the firms showed us a picture of Jacinta and confessed that they were deeply in love and that they were even contemplating marriage.
I painfully but, intelligently asked him to proof it by suggesting that she was out of his league. He drunkenly went to his gallery and pulled semi-nude pictures he had taken of Jacinta; clearly without her consent. In the pictures, she was in his bed smiling under a dark duvet! Her left thumb finger had a white bandage that I had personally used to cover her knife wound.
I walked out immediately. Guess where I was headed to…?