Yesterday, as I was leaving for work- I have no clue how they always manage to wake up before I do- one of my twin brothers, Andrew, (his twin, the evil one, is Adrian) wanted to have a taste of my coffee. Naturally, my mother would not stand for it and in her words, “Kahawa ni mbaya kwa watoto!” So I backed off. She then decided to make him something milder; chocolate in this case. But then, she forgot the golden rule you never forget when dealing with children’s beverages: Make sure there is plenty of sugar in whatever it is you’re trying to get them to drink. Naturally, Andrew, who’s recollection of chocolate only goes past a bar of brown stuff that was purchased at Uchumi, did not understand how my mother could possibly have procured chocolate that fast, yet he hadn’t seen her leave for Uchumi, nor was there a paper bag labeled Uchumi. To make matters worse, this so called chocolate was in a cup.
But then, like all kids his age, curiosity got the better of him. He decided to go have a taste of this so called chocolate in a cup. He had a sip.
“Yuck!” he frowned, “Mummy wewe pea mimi tope!” he exclaimed, utterly disgusted. He proceeded to take this now labeled ‘tope’ to his twin to have a taste, who equally disgusted proclaimed “Tupa tope.” And he emptied the contents of the cup into the sink without further ado. I have never seen the rascals happier to eat their porridge, without my mother having to threaten them “Ngukuringa uume ndogo!” (I will beat you up till smoke comes out of you) as she usually threatens them. Needless to say we were in uncontrollable fits of laughter by then… my mother, God bless her soul, later swore she felt a slight headache from the laughter. For us all, and even more to her, it was more than a memory. It represented the culmination of her efforts to raise her sons wonderfully up to until the stage of their lives they were in.
The whole thing, as amusing as it was later caused me to reflect on my own life. I am now 24 years of age; a full grown man who’ll no doubt have his own family in the next few years (Bae, she’s given me a deadline for our firstborn btw). 24 years ago that woman clothed me, breast fed me, wiped my tiny ass whenever I shit on myself and changed my diapers. She rocked me to sleep and sang to me to stop me from crying for hours like all babies do and carried me on her back and sat me on her lap even when I didn’t need her to. She watched me take crawl and heard my first words. She devoted her entire adulthood into ensuring that I received proper education, the best she could afford. She was there when I passed my KCPE and joined Starehe Boys Centre and was still there when four years later, I passed and qualified to join University and eventually graduate as an Engineer and a useful member of the community. A journey that started 24 years ago when she was still in campus and barely able to support herself or us both for that matter.
Her love never weakened, didn’t dim as love usually does. And it’s not like I never did anything to test her or to get her really mad at me and upset. Trust me, I was a handful. And most of them usually ended with me on the receiving end of a painful, merciless, but loving beating.
This one time I don’t think I will forget any time soon, she literally tied me up – you know, like how they show us the CIA ties up suspected terrorists and beats them up senseless in a bid to discover why they were plotting to attack the USA. Which quite frankly doesn’t really make sense because well, they are terrorists. To be fair, I did deserve that one. I was 9, if I remember correctly and in class 4 and yes, I was a little cheeky, naughty boy- people who know me will attest I was an extraordinarily gifted kid at finding or making trouble if there was none. Anyway, being the bright kid I was, I always had a passion for learning. And since at school the teacher always taught us using the blackboard, I thought, hey, why shouldn’t I make my own blackboard and teach myself. That way I don’t have to go to school. I did just that.
We lived in a second floor apartment back then and it so happened that the landlord was adding yet another floor on top. So one day I got my chance when they accidentally left black paint in one of the rooms; they didn’t have doors yet so it was easy to get in. I painted my blackboard and stole chalk from my mother, coincidentally happened to be a secondary school teacher. For the next few days I was happy. Blissful. Till the the landlord showed up at our door demanding compensation for damages. That a 9 year old was responsible for. Naturally my mother argued but you cant really argue with the testimony of all the other kids in the apartment who claimed I had been teaching them Mathematics on our board. In addition, the landlord demanded that we move out. So here we were; with an eviction notice, a dent in the already bloated monthly budget in the form compensation, and an angry landlord. I will spare you the details of what ensued, but you should know that my blackboard did make my wish come true. The next day I was too sore to go to school.
Regardless, I still loved my mother and she still loved me. Today, I appreciate all those hard (painful) lessons, her sacrifice, her love, all of it. She still does. My point is, if your mother is alive and well, why should you have to wait for a single day called Mothers Day to celebrate her? Why not remind her every opportunity you get that you love her and you appreciate her? Send her an SMS, call her, visit her every once in a while. If you haven’t already done so, buy her a decoder so she can watch her favourite channels now that we’re already doing the #DigitalMigration? Because the fact is, you’ll never get another mother, not one that loves you more unconditionally than flies love the smell of shit. To me, she, and not Martha Karua or Margaret Thatcher will always be the Iron Lady in my life.