It seems like most people around me have a really strong bond with their mothers. You know that best friends for life type of relationship. I never really had the kind of relationship with my mother that I’ve wanted, or wished for when growing up. It is not to say my relationship is horrible, but that it was complicated and confusing for me, and I wish it wasn’t.
When I was born, my mother was young. She was 18 years old. She used to stay in ‘Shianda’, western Kenya, her hometown. Shianda was more of a village at that time. Low education and early marriage was very popular. You either move out and look for a ‘kajob’ or your parents search a husband for you. At 16 years old, my mother found a good Samaritan, my father, who gave her a job in Nairobi and after two years I was born.
When she was pregnant, she had to go back home because the situation with my father was not right. She was his worker and now she is pregnant. My father’s wife would not have taken that slightly if she found out (though she later found out). So my mother had to go back to Shianda.
My grandparents were poor, living in a ‘manyatta’ (grass house) and they could not raise me and feed my mother too after I was born. So, there was a man who used to eye my mother as she was growing up and he wanted to make her his 3rd wife. My grand parents did not say no. Instead they waited for my mother to give birth, and I never saw her again. And that’s when it all started.
When growing up I never really knew her. I knew her only by name. She would come to visit me at my grandparents but I called her ‘aunty’. My grandparents did not correct me because they knew if I knew, I would cry day and night to be with her. Plus the husband disowned me and he never wanted to see my mother with me. She would sneak from her husband’s home to come visit me.
When I got to nursery I went to ‘Lubinu nursery School’ in Shianda Village. My grandmother would walk me all the way to school and pick me during lunch. She loved me so much. Her only girl grand child at that time. I had no communication with my dad whatsoever. I never knew who he was either. But my grandmother would talk to someone on the phone and that someone would ask how am doing. I assumed it was him.
When I got to class one, I remember a man came to my grandmother’s house, he wasn’t my father. ‘Aunty‘(my mother) was there that day. They sat outside the house under a tree talking as I played with the neighbors kids. Of course I did not know what they were talking about.
Later that evening, my clothes were packed and I was told I will be going with this man. I remember how much I cried. Being separated from my grandparents was the worst feeling in my life. I have never felt so much pain in my life. I saw ‘aunty’ cry so much as my grandmother held her so tight. The feeling of a mother losing her child. If you are a mother you can relate. But I had to go.
Being used to village life, walking bare feet, bathing in the river, no lights, grass house, sleeping on the floor and dressing partly, I was taken to this big, beautiful house in Kakamega town (my father’s house) where I met Rose, house lady. She was like a mother to me. She took care of me like her own seed.
I remember that night she told me,“Usijali”, as she wiped my tears, “Hapa ni kwa baba yako”. (Don’t worry, this is your father’s home) but looking around the house, there were pictures of other children.
To be continued….