Active Nostalgia: 2007/8 Post Election
I opened my eyes from the deep slumber on the laps of my grandmother. I was feeling fresh and strong in my long juvenile bones as my grandmother Helen stroked her palms on my hair. She stretched her legs and sat upright to hold me close to her. I closed my eyes once again to feel the love of a fore, a kind of love my parents never lived long enough to show me.
She looked through my eyes with her palms resting gently on my cheeks and said, “Your father Tom was just like you. He had those eyes!” Helen pulled a small kitchen stool next to her and ushered me to sit. She got hold of her walking stick from the ground and struggled to stand up. She was getting weak and old. I sat down and watched her walk briskly to the house.
“Oyier…!”She called me. I raced up into the old round thatched house that she had lived for about 70 years. I guess from the time she was married here. She is 87 now. “Yes mum, what is it? I am here.” I replied standing next to her. She pointed to the dark soot filled ceiling and said, “I kept some bananas up there, i am sure they are ripe.” I smiled and hurriedly pulled a stool to help me get up there.
“Hold on!” She shouted. “That stool is broken my grandson.” She added. She dragged a table across the floor and ushered me onto it. I looked at her as soon as i got stable on the table as if to seek her permission to climb up the ceiling. She looked back at me and kicked my butt gently. In about two minutes, i had brought down a cut out 20 litter yellow container full of ripe bananas. I don’t know how she had managed to get that container up there in the first place but the aroma from that container flushed away all my thoughts. I wanted to tear the wrapper off but she held my hand.
Helen slowly uncovered the container and revealed beautiful ripe bananas. She unpacked a few of them and put them on the table. I pushed the table back in its place, took a small container and put the few ripe bananas in. We went back outside and sat right where we were before.
She peeled one banana halfway and passed on to me to eat. We ate silently. She took one more piece, peeled it and raised it up to my eyes. I stopped chewing the one i had and stared at the one right across my face wondering whether to bite it or wait for a directive.”Listen my grandson; our lives are just like this banana. At some stage in your life you will be weak and defenceless” She uttered firmly. “Some people will take advantage of that weakness and strip you off all you got and leave you for dead!” She added sympathetically.
I swallowed a paste of banana i had strategically held in my mouth as she spoke then raised my eyes from the banana she was holding across my face to her eyes. She looked serious. I had never seen her that way. Her eyes rolled back in her eyelids as she blinked. I stared at her and not a word came from my mouth. In class 6, i knew it was a taboo to talk back at your elders. I chose to listen.
“Your time is now my grandson. Your parents were very happy to have you. Your father was my only son and i am very lucky to have you as my only grandson. I have lived my life fully and i am not strong anymore” She spoke painfully. She blinked again and a tear pressed itself out of her left eye, another one followed. I felt a strong shiver inside me and raised my right hand to take away the banana she was still holding across my face. She took it away and took a big bite of it, my hand remained suspended. Helen then passed the remaining to my mouth and fed me. She took her lesso tip and wiped off her eye and continued talking. “My grandson, someone killed your parents in political violence.” She said. My heart skipped a beat as the mention of the death of my parents pressed a hot nail on a yet to heal wound.
I was only 5 years old when some parents of my classmates and their friends came to our house at night and told bad things to my parents. The filled up our single roomed house, each one carrying a machete, took mum and dad to the darkness. They set our house on fire and the whole residential plot was ablaze. I had a small body and tiny so i managed to get through the grills of our window and rushed to the darkness.
Everybody was screaming for help and so nobody even bothered to come to my rescue. I felt a strong pain on my back and head but i could not see a thing in the darkness. I sat down a distance away from our burning house crying uncontrollably of the pain. I called out for my mum and dad but they never came back. I saw a big light in front of me for a few seconds and then everything went silent.
“That was the ambulance that rescued you from the road, you were seating on the main road.”My grandmother reminded me as i narrated that horrifying moment to her. I had narrated that part of the story to her every time we sat to talk. She could practically say those words with me as i spoke. She could shade tears all along. The post election violence had taken away my parents and everything they owned and left me with scars on my back, hands and head.
“My grandson, many of your classmates and friends lost their lives and parents too. I hope the next elections are violence free because i do not want to lose you even if i am dead.”She said it in tears. We have not healed yet and those post elections chaos should teach all of us a lesson, however, it is never too late to learn after all. She said as she rubbed the scars on my head.
Posted on February 26, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged #CORD #UHURUTU, #KEDebate13, Kenya Decides, Kenya General Elections 2013, Kenyan Elections, Post Election Violence. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.