Celebrating East African Writing!
I keep a little diary of things that happen to me. Some sad. Some quite funny. Some just weird. Others life changing. I guess that has been my way of keeping record of the process of growing up. I usually sit down at the end of the year and read the journal I keep and choose the things that touched my life most, the things that stood out of all the others and the things that just make me laugh. As I read the old journal and pick up events for my Growing Up Diary, I learn and relearn lessons. I laugh at myself sometimes. I cry for what I hadn’t allowed myself to grieve for. I see things in the light of retrospect. And I know that some things I will never repeat and that I would do other things just the same if I were given a second chance. I know what I would do differently if I were given the chance.
So one morning I looked at my diary and it reminded me of the time when fireants invaded my home in Mtwapa, Mombasa. I woke up to the strange rustle of the fireant armies crawling everywhere. In a panic, I peered over the side of the bed and the site of the crawly insects made me do the exact opposite of logic. Instead of staying on the bed where I was safe for at least a while, I jumped off the bed to try and make it to the living room. Bad idea, I soon found out that fireants can move very fast. One found its way somewhere I would rather not have had it and decided to take a bite, too. I tried to get to it but couldn’t do that fast enough. It bit me again and I kept trying to get it off while still running out of the house. Out on the little dusty street in the respite of the morning breeze, I decided that the best way to deal with my furious little foe was to deny it of clothes to hide in. So I took off the one little scrap of clothing I had worn to bed. I heaved a sigh of relief as the pesky little thing fell. Then I realized that my sleepy little village had woken up and everyone was out on the street. All of them….
Then there is the entry for November 10, 2001. It was a day that might have been very beautiful. By 8.00am there was blue sky and ideas of going down to the beach for a dose of beach soccer and a swim. That was cut short when my cousin showed up at the front door. I was excited because he lived all the way in Malindi and his job made him pretty much unavailable, so I hadn’t seen him in a while. But a look on his face killed my excitement and infused a feeling that something horrible had happened. By the time he sat down with my mother, I knew the horrible that had happened even without his saying so. My brother had died. That ushered in a period of denial before I accepted my loss and allowed myself to grieve for my brother.
August 15, 2003 was just weird. I walked into the Public Library on the Island, and bumped into a very short person. I felt a strange jolt of recognition but just could not place the face I saw, a face not old, not young, not unique in any way such that I can still not describe it in detail, yet a face I knew. I ignored the feeling and went into the library for a few hours of reading. When I came out again, I bumped into the same person. This time, he grabbed my hand forcing me to stop. I thought I was being mugged or something like that. But he looked straight into my eyes and said quite clearly, “You will find the answer.” To this day I still think I might have had a minor psychotic episode that day. I never saw that person again once he walked off leaving me feeling shaken. I still think I recognized him from somewhere. I am not sure what answer he meant I would find. But the thought comes to me when I am in pain or uncertainty of one kind or the other. That with time, I will find the answer to it all.