Celebrating East African Writing!
My name is Leila. I am six months old. Yes, Six months old! My language is complex. Crying. The cries vary. Hunger, fatigue, wetness, pain and sleep. My mother and my nanny can recognize all these cries. Right now I am about to cry. But for a different reason. I will miss my nanny. I am in my cot. My guardian angel has taught me your language because you don`t recognize mine. I don`t know what time it is. It could be in the evening .What I know is that my mother is crying. My nanny packed her stuff crying. She went just before giving me porridge. I don`t understand.
I love my parents. They adore me too. This I know because I am their first child. Every day they go to work. Daddy comes back earlier than mummy, before dark. He always holds me in his arms and plays with me. Mummy comes back just before dark. During the day, I remain at home with nanny. I can`t tell how old she is. She seems to be as old as my mother. I think they are age mates. Her name is Philo. She is so swift in her work….. and industrious. She does all the household chores. She takes good care of me…eei…don`t I love her? She knows exactly when to give me porridge, change my diapers, rock me to sleep. Sometimes she talks to me in your language. When I answer her, she laughs and gets excited because I stutter…… “Trrrrrrr, tha tha tha tha tha”
I will never forget the day Philo took me to the clinic. Let me tell you what she did to me. I really did not like the experience. I didn`t do anything wrong to the lady in white! In fact I had never met her, leave alone seeing her! But philo took me to her and she pricked my thigh so hard! I felt bad. Philo then bought a lollipop for me. It was too big for me. She cut a piece with her teeth to a lesser size and gave me. I loved it and loved it. I had never tasted a lollipop before because mummy never permitted it. That day, I was not able to take my porridge because it was not as sweet as the lollipop. I did not sleep well. I cried almost the whole night. My thigh was hurting, I had fever and nothing tasted like the lollipop. My mummy`s milk was good but it wasn`t coming out so I bit her nipples. She was mad at me and let Philo force the porridge down my throat. I cried and I did not want anyone around me. No one understood me. Daddy took me to his laps but I cried on. Mummy decided to hand me over to Philo for the night and I cried even more.
Finally, Philo managed to soothe me to sleep. It was late in the night. I slept soundly like I always do. I woke up in the middle of the night. I was not feeling hungry neither was I wet but I think I heard a soft knock. I stared in the darkness and started playing with the mosquito net that hung above me. Just then I heard voices. I thought that Philo was dreaming loudly, but then I heard a second voice. It was coming from outside the window. I lost concentration but I heard Philo going outside the room. Then whispering began. I couldn`t sit up by myself. I was unable to figure out exactly who was the second person. I am not so sure if that voice was familiar.
I smiled to myself and continued playing. I was used to voices in the night in my parents` room. Daddy is an occasional “snorer”. Mummy sleeps soundly or so I think, but she would check on me every time and again and thus wake me up. Though in most cases I`ve heard her screaming softly. I never understood why daddy never came to her rescue, even though I could hear him breathe heavily .However, it was long since I heard her soft screams.
The whispering stopped. I become bored. I felt hungry and uncomfortable. Philo had checked on me earlier and that was long ago. I started fidgeting .Just then I heard Philo scream softly like the way mummy does. I was afraid. Not because of Philo` soft screams, but her bed. I started whining. I wanted my attention. Philo continued with her soft scream. Then I let out a loud cry. The scary bed stopped. I heard a scuffle. Philo came to pick me up. She put me on her shoulder and started soothing me the way she does. In my cry, I heard the door open and close. I heard someone or something going out silently. Philo sung the “sleep, sleep baby sleep” song. I slept.
In the morning, my mother did not wake up early as usual. My guardian angel told me that it was a Saturday. However, daddy had woken up early. I think he was travelling. His bag was in the sitting room. He always travelled. Daddy took me from Philo`s room. He wanted to have breakfast with me. I enjoyed the tea. As soon as he was done, he called mummy to say good bye to her. She came and took me from him. Then daddy gave mummy and I a peck. Mummy wished him safe journey. He left.
Mummy instructed Philo to start thorough cleaning the house. You see……Philo does this every Saturday. I was wet so I started crying. Mummy noticed I was wet and changed my diapers. She took the wet diapers to the dustbin outside. She found Philo emptying the contents to a bigger plastic bag. Just then an object fell aside. Mummy looked at it surprised. Philo stared at it shocked. I gazed at it blankly. Mummy took a stick and poked it. She jerked in fright. Philo shrank in fear. Mummy asked her what it was. She kept quiet. Mummy asked her again and she did not answer. The third time she slapped her. Philo rushed to the house and locked herself in her room. Mummy was mad, very mad.
She went to the house and made a phone call. I didn`t understand. “Where have you reached?…….Yes…………a used condom!…..” I guess the response was not correct, though I did not understand her tantrums.
Her eyes were watery. She started shouting in anger in the phone conversation. She demanded philo to open the door. Philo did not open the door immediately. She finally did. Mummy told her to leave. She told her that she did not want to see her again. Philo started sobbing. Mummy started crying. I was afraid. Mummy put me in my cot and went back to Philo`s room. I heard mummy beating her up. She screamed loudly. Then I saw Philo leaving with her bag. She was sobbing.
Philo said “I swear it was not him!” Mummy pushed her and called her names. My guardian angel cautioned me not to mention the names here. Mummy did not want to hear anything from Philo. Philo tried pleading with her but mummy was very angry. Philo left sobbing.
I asked my guardian angel why mummy was angry at Philo. She said that I wouldn`t understand. I asked her if nanny did anything wrong. She told me, no .I didn`t understand.
©Mercy Barasa 2011
This short story was submitted into the Storymoja Urban Narratives : No One Told Me… Short Story Contest. Please comment on the short story for the author’s benefit and then vote on the story. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being weak and 10 being excellent, please indicate where you rank this story. Points will be tallied on the 6th of August, and the winner announced on the 7th of August 2011.