Remember when I was four years old and I refused to sing the National anthem in school?
In my four-year old mind, I thought that having a teacher as a mother should earn me some privileges- like getting out of singing, which I really hated. Your version of the story was that I folded my hands on my back and said:
“I am not singing, my mother is a teacher.”
The teacher, quite alarmed, told you when you came to pick me from school that I had started “growing horns quite early”.
But you were having none of that.
Remember how you sat me down and told me that the sun was actually the eye of God, and that it would come down and melt me if I did not sing? That we would never see each other again?
That single story, you said later, sent me to hysterical tears and set the path for a diligent student. For the next few years, at least.
Remember when I was nine years old and had to sing (the singing, again) a traditional solo song in front of the whole school? I was backstage and had on a P.E t-shirt, bloomers and sisal skirt. A fly whisk completed my look. You came to wish me luck (How come I never saw other performer’s parents backstage), and then decided that the T-shirt had to go.
“But mum,” I remember muttering “I have breasts!” (There were little hard stones on my chest that I was rather fond of but did not want the whole world to see. Especially that boy I was oh so fond of.)
Remember how you lifted up my shirt and said:
“There is nothing here for anyone to see,” then proceeded to separate me from my protective T-shirt.
“Now you look more traditional,” you added.
Needless to say that I sang in front of the whole school bare-chested. It took me a year to live that down, but set the trend for rather awesome public speaking skills, if I do say so myself( Jay Z accent).
Remember when I was 12 years and pretended to have a fainting disorder? I executed timely fainting spells at appropriate times: during heavy chores, just after I had been caught committing crimes (like truancy, buying ice cream through the school fence), during sports that I did not like, lessons I did not enjoy, and cross country- that was a good year.
Remember how you never questioned the legitimacy of my fainting? Remember how you would pick me from school and buy me Krest baridi (because that is what I always decided I wanted after ‘regaining consciousnesses) and tell people at home not to mess with me because I had a ‘condition’.
In retrospect, I see the wisdom in your actions towards a child that had a sickly older sister and that was craving for attention, in whatever form. And you gave that to me.
Remember when I was 13 years and did not want to sing in the choir? It was because they always had me stand at the back with the boys, I explained to you, and made me sing alto when what I really wanted was to be at the front with the other little girls singing soprano. I was always too tall for my age.
Remember how you wrote a note to Mr Sunguti, told him to remove me from the school choir at once?
“Who does your mother think she is?” a fuming Mr Sunguti asked me the next day. I reported verbatim back to you.
“I think I am your mother,” was your retort.
Later, of course, you went to pay him a visit and had me join the drama team instead (seeing as I had previously displayed excellent acting skills in my one year of fainting spells)
Remember when I was sweet sixteen and boys started hovering in the compound?
Remember what you said to me?
“Let them come through the front door and face me first if they are serious about dating you. “
A few awkward teenage boys (mostly the ones you once taught in primary school) made it through the front door.
Remember how you served them juice and biscuits? Then took them through a series of questions?
I always hid in the bedroom, so I never heard what you said. I just remember the shy waves later. What did you say to my potential suitors?
These are the memories of you that I am keeping with me.
You have been on my mind lately, maybe because I will be a mother soon.
People say I should have inherited your beautiful skin. Your sense of style. Your grace. But now I say, I hope I can be to my child, even a quarter of the mother you were to me.
That is what I hope to inherit.
Photo credit: vivekchugh
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When I was ten years old, I wanted to be an air hostess after reading Cynthia Hunter’s ‘Anna the Air Hostess’. A few months later, I read her book ‘Pamela the Probation Officer’ and experienced a burning desire to become a probation officer. Years later, I realized that what I had fallen in love with was reading and writing, not the professions. Writing, then, is not what I do. It is who I am. Check out my blog literarychronicles.wordpress.com.