African Daycare

I stepped out of the gate to find my four year old neighbor almost finishing the dry bread he was chewing..
Hi, Trevor! Where’s mama? I asked.
Still chewing, he shrugged..
Silent for a few minutes, with his mouth full he answered,
“I don’t know”
I held the hand without bread and walked with him to the shops.
“Why do people take trouble to leave Kenya, go around the world, reading books, googling, consulting friends and praying to get a beautiful name like Trevor…
Only not to be around to call it out often?
Why not a simple name like Sospeter?”
I thought.
We reached the shop, I bought milk and three medium sized cakes.
I added two lollipops..
One for Trevor and another for my 5 year old son.
Trevor offered to help me carry two cakes.
I prepared breakfast with Trevor watching me, while my four lazy children slept.
That was Friday..
A few minutes to one o’clock, when our lunch was almost ready,
abracadabra!
Trevor’s mama appeared at the door..
Trying to balance on her heels. She was drunk.
“Here comes trouble in a Lorry.” I thought.
“Is Trevor here?” I got up to get him, “No no no no, don’t,” she said as she handed over a packet of chips and chicken to me, “this is for Trevor’s lunch,” and this is for supper,” I took the neatly packed pizza.
“I am off to sleep.” she left.
I took the two delicacies and placed them on the kitchen counter as I said a little prayer.
“Do not lead me into temptation Lord”
To help me not take a bite of Trevor’s food.
“Deliver me from evil,”
That my children will never hate me for not buying things like these for them.
I called my children and gave each of them a plate of fried bananas and beef stew.
I stayed in the kitchen with Trevor.
“Mama is here?” he asked, excited.
“Yes she is”, I answered, “she is asleep.”
Trevor continued to eat. He knew Mama was never to be disturbed.
“What is better?” I thought,
A parent who is always there for her child, earns money honestly, which is never enough,
hardly buys the children good clothes, or pizza from Galito’s [sp] or chips and chicken from Steers.
Or
A parent who neglects her children, to go look for money in ways that are not acceptable and comes back home with nice, mouth luring food, and nice clothes for the children?
“Good Lord” I sighed.

When evening came, I knew mama Trevor was sober, but would not dare get Trevor.
The night before, I had asked her,
“Mama Trevor, if you cannot find a good job, why don’t you and Trevor go home to your mother?”
“I can’t” she said, “There is a lot of work in house and shamba, and look at this hands,” she showed me her neatly manicured hands, “Can these hands work in the kitchen and shamba?”
“You can take Trevor to your mother, then.”
I advised.
“No” she appeared protective, “People will think I am irresponsible.”
I could not hold my laughter. I laughed so loud, I laughed again, held my chest, bent over and continued laughing to tears.
“This woman does not think beyond her nose.” I thought.
“They are finished talking, they have said everything that can be said” I informed her.
She clicked her tongue, stormed into the house, got her Trevor and left.
That is why Trevor was standing on the road very early in the morning eating dry bread.
Mama Trevor had nowhere to leave him.
Trevor had his pizza for supper, I gave him a cup of cocoa and took him to bed.
Mama did not come for Trevor on Friday night, she went missing on Saturday, day and night as usual.
I tried not to worry much when Sunday passed.
I was woken up rudely by a phone call.
“Hallo!” It was mama Trevor’s voice on the other side.
I did not answer.
I could hear her sipping a drink.
“Please, please, please, I beg you, Trevor’s uniform is not clean, can I borrow your son’s?”
I placed my head on the bed and looked at the phone for about a minute.
Then placed it on my ear.
“What are you drinking mama Trevor? I asked.
“Nothing,” she answered.
“Then why can’t you remember that my son’s shirt is not the same color as your son’s?”
“Sorry, sorry,” she spoke softly.
“Please ask Mama Henry for me, if we could borrow hers”
“You and who?” I shouted into the phone.
My husband Sospeter opened one eye and looked at me.
“I told you, did I not. The moment you allowed her to leave that boy here, there would be trouble.”
I also closed one eye, looked at him and said,
“Yes, that was after she stopped bringing you roast meat”
“Take your big mouth to the living room.” he said
The second eye was now open, “and let me sleep.”
He turned to face the wall and continued snoring.
I got out of bed and went to Mama Henry’s house. I borrowed a very understanding Mama Henry, the whole set of school uniform, got shoes from Trevor’s home, dressed him up, gave him porridge and eggs. Packed some biscuits in a plastic container and milk in a bottle.
The school bus came, I kissed him on the forehead, helped him get into the bus and off he went.
My second daughter and second son, stepped out of the house, hugged me, and walked to school.
I was happy.

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Cycle, Jump, Run

Gilbert Kiptoo copy

I participated in races in my primary school and I won all the time. The teachers encouraged me to run, especially the male teachers, and I ran with all my might, before I realized what they were staring at as I ran..

So when my husband Sospeter asked me, “Can you run fast my darlin’ baby?” I answered, “I am not sure, but I’ll try”.

I had this look on my bruised face, that said, “Please feel sorry for me”. And Sospeter had this look that said, “Sorry”.  My body was aching, especially my thighs and face.. We were comfortably sitting in a bus, my arm caressing Sospeter’s when someone came in carrying a hen. Suddenly Sospeter jumped onto my lap, the sole of his shoes digging into my thighs, one hand placed on the seat in front of us and the other hand pressing my forehead, then my nose, my mouth, back to my forehead..

Now that Sospeter’s seat was empty.. The man with the hen, and a grin on his face, sat next to us. “Ah!” I shouted at Sospeter, “Cant you see the legs and wings of the hen are tied, you are hurting me”. I pushed his hand off my face.

Sospeter jumped off my lap, over the hen and ran out of the bus at the next stop. I followed him embarrassed. My body was aching from carrying a man who was more that 80 kg in the wrong way.

“Now our journey home will be delayed” Sospeter complained. “and I am hungry” he added.

I turned slowly and looked at Sospeter. “We can call home and ask our children to cook” I tried to look concerned, but the pain was too much for me to concentrate on Sospeter’s complaint.

Nooooo!” he shouted.. “What did you say? Are you trying to agonize me? No I do not want their food.”

I had asked our children to cook for us the last time we were late… They had never been to the shamba.. So they picked potato leaves, thinking they were managu.. Carrot sprouts was their dhania and apples were their tomatoes.. The only thing that was correct was the onion.. One bite of the food and we felt like crying out of torture then went to bed hungry.

We took the children around the shamba the next day, introducing them to every vegetable and fruit, told them that our shamba did not have tomatoes and explained that they were bright red. So our next food was cooked with the bright red vegetables or do I call them fruits, known as plums…

“Is that why your husband sent you away” Sospeter asked our first daughter.. “No.” she answered, “He sent me away because I shaved his beard in his sleep, I never cooked for him” I touched Sospeter hand and asked him to lower his voice.

“Now we will never get any cows” he murmured.. “And our son will never marry because we will never get any cows. Why do we have children if they will never benefit us” Then he turned to our second daughter.. Pointing at her he said, “Please grow up quickly and bring us cows, your brother needs a wife. Your older sister has failed”

Angry, Sospeter rushed to the toilet but, thank goodness, there was no paper. He had this habit of unrolling the whole tissue paper when he was angry, so I stopped placing it in the toilet and gave each member of the family to keep one for themselves..

We stood on the road for another two minutes when Sospeter turned to look at a carpenter who was working nearby.. “Do you think you can sit comfortably in a bus?” he asked “My thighs are still aching.”I answered.. He grinned, turned to look at me and asked, “Can you run fast my darling baby.” “I am not sure,”I answered, “but I’ll try” Sospeter went down on one knee, rubbing his hands together, he said, “Follow me! On your mark, get set go.” He rushed forward like a lion that had seen an antelope. I followed closely. hop, step and run because of my pain.

He entered the carpenter’s shop. I did the same. he grabbed a stool. I grabbed one too. He ran out. I rushed out. He placed the stool on the head. I did that too. He grabbed the carpenter’s bicycle and rode off.

I looked for a bicycle to grab but there was only one and Sospeter was on it. I was afraid, and forgot about the pain… and ran after Sospeter as fast as I could.

“Come on baby, come on baby.” he kept shouting to encourage me on while all the time I asked myself if my husband’s brain functioned well.. Just when I was about to give up, Sospeter managed to catch up with one slow moving bus, threw the stool inside knocking the conductor who was standing at the door, down onto the floor of the bus. I increased speed to the door of the bus, and threw my stool inside..

I walked upto where Sospeter was, he asked me to sit down, took the stool and placed both my feet on it.. He also sat and placed his feet on his stool. “I am sorry that I hurt you. Now we can travel like king and queen.”

Silence.

I did not like the way the conductor looked at us. “What is wrong with you two?” he asked..

Silence.

The next day we hired a taxi.. in the middle of the night, we drove to the carpenter’s shop and threw the stools at the watchman.. And sped off.. We decided never to mention or think about the bicycle.