Ever wondered how some people are so good at narrating things about their childhood? Especially when they were three to five years old? And I mean very detailed narrations. I always wonder how that is even possible. I can barely remember things that happened when I was in that age bracket. I remember going to Kindergarten, for sure, I remember where it was and I remember I used to go to school with my younger brother. I remember us meeting very abusive women on our way to school (It only happened once though). They told us to rush to school and called us punda (donkeys), not forgetting that we were right on time and we were already at the school’s gate. I remember us getting really scared of them. Actually, looking back now, I think those were really crude women, honestly…how do you bully children who are like 30 years younger than you.
I also remember some of my Kindergarten classmates, two of whom I’ve been friends with to date, this kind of friendship is rare. I only had girlfriends…I never really made friends with boys, my brother was my only male friend at Kindergarten. I remember sitting in a class and learning alphabets and numbers and writing and drawing on soil. Yes, we actually did most of our learning like that. Our books were rarely used. Our teacher was a very loving lady, may her soul rest in peace…I don’t remember her name though. I remember us enjoying hot chocolate and scones during tea break and playing on a slide and a sea-saw. I remember us excitedly singing “Naskia sauti, naskia sauti, sauti ya mamaa, sauti ya mamaa, sasa ni saa sita, sasa ni saa sita, mwalimu kwaheri, watoto kwaheri” (I can hear mum’s voice, it’s noon and it’s time to go home). We sang this everyday at noon and we would be so happy knowing that it was time to go home, after the song, we’d storm out of our classes, saying our “goodbyes” and “see you tomorrows”. The school also had a huge compound and there are times I found wild greens(these ones were called onyulo in French) growing and I could pluck some and take to my mum to cook…of course she never cooked them but they were very edible. She always got some from the market. I loved these particular greens. They have the same consistency that Okra has when overcooked and I love that.
I also remember playing with my siblings and our neighbours after school and on weekends. We lived in a big compound with two houses adjacent to each other. We had about five big trees that we could climb when playing and a garden where my mum tended to very well, She grew kale, tomatoes and cow-peas there. She also had another one at the back of our compound where she had peanuts and sweet potatoes. I also remember joining class one a few weeks after my age mates had joined. My mother was a teacher in the same school. It was my first class, I was sitting next to the class teacher’s son, he was a genius. It took me one class to know this. When his mum, our class teacher, Mrs Odhiambo, gave us a short quiz, I copied everything from her son’s book, even his name! I don’t know where I learned that behaviour, that was not me but hey… he laid it wide open on his desk and I was clueless, I was new…and I didn’t even understand what I was supposed to do. Anyway, the teacher was very impressed with my work, I scored 100%, until, of course, when she saw her son’s name on my book as well. We were to always write our names on every page and so her son’s name appeared on two pages…to say I was embarrassed is an understatement. In fact, I only realized what I did when she mentioned it…the class laughed at me…yeah…but well, I never copied anyone’s work ever again and I always did very well.
The rest of the information I remember from when I was 3 to 6 years old is very sketchy. I remember my parents were both involved in education and that meant that they often got transfers. My mum always sought to be transferred whenever my dad got a transfer. We lived in various locations and we were always together. There was a time my mum was a teacher at St. Oda school for the blind, Aluor. I remember she once risked her life to rescue a girl who was attacked by a swarm of bees. She also got stung, her hands swell up and she had to cut off her wedding ring from her finger. I remember another blind girl accidentally jumping into a well full of water…she was rescued, she survived, that was God. We lived in the school compound…I remember our neighbour having a very nice garden with a mini orchard…I remember my dad taking me to the salon most of the time because my mum had my brother to take care of. I am the third born in a family of five children. My younger brother and I are like twins. I also remember a cockerel washing its feet on wet grass and checking them out after rain….yes! I remember that clearly. I also remember my mum and her colleagues hosting games for the students. It’s surprising how even the blind are good at short races and jumping hurdles. The powers that God giveth cannot be contested.
My sister is always reminding us about things in our childhood, with so much detail… sometimes, I can just tell she’s made them up…very active imagination she has. “But you were not even born when that happened, how do you even know” I chide her sometimes….but she always insists she was there and she’s very confident with these made up stories.
The first years of life. Good old days.
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