The life she chose

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In my family, there are four kids, though I have several stepsisters who have kids even older than I am. I don’t know some of these step sissies or I have just seen them once- in funerals because that seems to be the only unifying factor for the ties they hold in Chweya’s family.

My papa comes from a long pedigree of hardworking men. I doubt his ancestors were Casanovas as he has proved to be (to me) over the time I have known him. Having inherited this latter trait from him, I am now starting to believe that I might never fall too far from his brackets. Even if I end up wearing a life emblazoned like father like son, there are so many things I am glad we highly differ.

The four of us came from one single womb of a mother who is now deceased. Next year, we shall be having the 20th anniversary to celebrate her death. It is not like we have one, it all happens inside me. Every year I have to grieve my mother once or twice because her death left a deep gorge that keeps being filled up by the wrong people. Of all the siblings, I think I am the most affected by the death of mummy. I don’t know if Eric, Asnath or Norah grieve in silence too.

I am the crier of the family. I recall crying during my grandma’s burial in 2011, in front of everyone when she was being lowered to the ground. My granny’s death, however, came with a blessing. As it is the custom of the Kisii people, when the grandmother dies, the eldest male from the eldest male child of the granny must do something we call egekamago- which is the first dig of the grave. It is like giving a go-ahead for the gravediggers to start their work. This happens on the eve of the burial, continuing all night and into the next day. Then that person will inherit a goat, or a cow or a calf from the ones his granny owned.

Eric is the eldest in the family given that my dad is the eldest male of my granny’s. But he’s never at home, or he’s not recognized as I am. Eric is like a stowaway who ran from home and only, just like my step sisters, shows up during funerals. So I earned the privilege. I got myself a female calf which has by now given two births, and people are enjoying the milk.

In 2016, my step-sister passed on. Again, while delivering a speech that moved the crowd, I cried. Both my speech and cry were so powerful that people got moved and cried too. After I spoke, there was nothing else to be spoken about. It was like I had emptied everything everyone wanted to say. I don’t know why they haven’t given me Mr. Crier sobriquet.

This post is about my eldest blood sister, Asnath. It is my business, since a young age, to keep my family out of my online business. Sometimes I talk loads of shit that may put them in trouble. One thing I promised to never reveal is their photos. I have to take care of everyone I care about- safety first- the same with Elsie and her mom.

Right from the time we were kids, Asnath didn’t like me much. I beg to differ with her reasons but maybe they were genuine. As for me, it was a stage that had me indulge in so many crazy things. She couldn’t understand that so I don’t hold any grudge against her.

To be honest, I am an odd member of the family. I care less about so many things. I don’t even know the real ages of my siblings. The closest to it is my imagination and what I hear people say. But as you know, you can only imagine what soothes you and your ego.  We will go with my imagination as it is stellar and sometimes, intriguing.

Asnath might be my elder by 4 or 5 years. Meaning she might be licking her thirties by the ass or just smelling it around the corner. That hate thing she had on me has to sink. She snitched on me every time I did something shady- which was quite often given that I was the misfit. Given the circumstances by then, I would never behave.

Today I am stealing money from my dad’s jacket, tomorrow I have broken the radios to look for the broadcasters in there and also get the magnet (I had immense love for magnets), another day I would be stealing women underwears (never had any- I enjoyed their fuzzy feeling. They made me feel like a total man at the same time as a gay), and at times, breaking chicken legs with slingshots and stones.

Looking at my life then, it looked as if God had prescribed trouble for me as my daily dosage. I would sneak from home to go and play- this was against my dad who said I was hanging out with bad company (esaabu embe). While he saw the bad company, I saw fun mates who made my otherwise full of trouble life worthwhile.

My dad knocked me out so many times with canes. He was feared in the village for his ‘disciplining’ abilities. So you can imagine the most feared disciplinarian in the village on my back almost after every fortnight. I used to scream so loud that the whole village would be alarmed. Everyone knew every time I got a beating. The pain would crawl under my skin and make me scream the hell out of myself. Over time, I became afraid of my dad. I started avoiding him almost every time, I couldn’t stand him. Almost every beating came as a result of being snitched by my sissy.

One day, Asnath lost fifteen shillings. 15 bob damn it! You know she took a panga and cut my foot. Had I not tried to escape, I think I would never survive without my shoes on. My leg looked ugly for days.  Everyone had the reason to believe that I stole the money since I was the village thief. To be honest, I could only steal money from my dad, not any other person. That one I was very sure; too bad that I was the first suspect in every stealing activity that happened in and around our homestead.

Asnath being older than me, she was expected to be way ahead of me in class, though we never attended the same schools. She and Norah had been taken to a shady academy.

I caught up with Asnath in class four. My sister was and is still thick. Eric, Norah and I were sharp. Eric would top in his class, though he would later drop out of school in late class seven.  Norah just finished her form four after years of struggle from teenage adolescence crisis coupled with a disease that attacked her legs. I am happy for her.

Asnath would also drop out in class 5. I was in class 6 by then. She then disappeared just like Eric to my granny on my mother’s side.

Previously, I had caught George (a cousin) and Asnath having sex in a banana plantation. I watched them do it from the middle of maize and bananas. Boy, I lost the taste for many days on end. It was the first live porn I ever watched. The memory was so grim that I have never forgotten it. My taste came back, thanks to God.

She left a few days afterward, for a place we didn’t know. Just like that, she had defined the life she wanted to lead; though to my guess, the estrogen in her was influencing her to make dicey decisions. According to my analysis, she was at the peak of her adolescence. I could read all the signs right from her restless behavior and fondness towards males. It is how she ended up in a coital affair with George.

My life moved on. At that age, it was the most prudent thing I could have done. I was not old enough to save someone, even if they were my blood sisters or brothers. They were the elders who were supposed to keep an eye on me so that I don’t sojourn anywhere I wasn’t meant to be. But all the best they could do was to leave Norah and me behind to go and chase dreams that only came and ended with adolescence.

Asnath could later conceive and give birth to a girl. No one knew when she was expectant as her pregnancy was not visible at all. She was staying at my granny’s, who knew shit was going down. I only came to learn a year or later that she had a kid when she visited. I guess my dad didn’t look or bother to know who the kid was. She’s a beautiful soul with a lean body shape just like that of her mother’s- actually my mother’s too.

When I was in class seven and eight, I barely saw Asnath. I was so busy with studies because I wanted to ace that A and go to Starehe Boys Centre. It was my dream. Another reason is that I was a boarder. We also had tuition, therefore, denying me the opportunity to visit my grandmother. I sat my KCPE and scored 408 marks out of the probable 500; making me the village hero as I was the first ever to score 400 marks and above.

Life moved with me going to Nakuru High School and moving far away from my home ground nearly cut all the windows to ever see my siblings. Going to high school gave me freedom, yet it denied me the utmost want in my life; family. In a way, I would later make one, with so many complications.

Life also moved on for Asnath. Her world had changed and the adolescence had ended its reign. With it gone, reality took the driver’s seat. She had to face it now that she could see clearer. Much happened in between that I don’t know since after going to high school I hardly came home. My holidays were spent in Nairobi, and sometimes, in Nakuru.

In the countryside, there is only one thing that saves a lady from the wrath of life- marriage. She moved in with a man, one I never met. Time made quick steps, life happened, and then one day, she moved out. I don’t know where. I could only hear her stories because bad stories travel like the wind.

I guess our family might be suffering from Casanova disease. In no time, she had another man on her sleeve, moving in together, including the kid. She took the kid everywhere she went except one time when my grandma told her she was putting the kid through a lot of stress moving her around wherever she went like a purse.

It was not until in varsity when Asnath would start calling me. For chrissake, I cared less of her. She could call to let me know how bad her life was going. I hated seeing her number coming through, and in most cases, I would ignore. I guess she noticed so she took the courtesy of the unspoken and slowed her problems on me.

The calls could later start trickling in during my fourth year on campus. By then, I had matured and I had learnt much about life. We started talking and I could get reeled talking to her because she always cared to call. More often than not, she called to tell me what was going on with the rest of my siblings. Just like any woman, she had the grapevine, which she had to share with me. It reached a time I felt like she had no one to speak to other than me as she would call almost daily and ask me to turn on my airtel line so that we can talk.

I spent hours of my evenings on calls. I was starting to love her. The fact that she called all the time shows that I was taking her calls well. In my final year, my enterprising mind helped me lead a better life. I never struggled with money in my final year per se. I had a little to spare which I sent  to her to take her kid to school, or clear her school fees, sometimes for food (there are times she had nothing to eat, with no money), and sometimes for her small ‘business.’

It was my time to become responsible, and it made me feel good that I was helping out. What is family for if they can’t help during tough times? I enjoy helping her out; it also makes her proud that I have grown to become a nice brother. Though I don’t know if she ever remembers what she did to me when we were young. But as Dolly Parton said, when it is family, we forgive what we kill others for.

She is now ‘married’ to a man we’ve never seen. By we I mean my dad, I and my other two siblings. No dowry was ever paid so we still know it is just a marriage set up that can end up anytime. I have had her tell me that her man lives somewhere else, only coming through during the weekends, sometimes. The many times we talk, it makes me think that she has no man. She is always asking me for money, the kid is always being sent home for school fees, she is often hungry with nothing to eat- her life suggests of emptiness.

As a hardworking man, at least it’s what I am trying to be, I chip in when my pockets are good. every time I help her out, she’s grateful. In the past, I have spent so much money on women, most of whom I never ended up with. Naturally, as a Casanova, it is a habit I am trying to war so that instead of wasting my money on women, maybe for sex and extortion, to just use that money to help out my siblings.

I have a dream that one day when things go well, I will change their lives completely. I want them to be happy, now that some of them never had a chance to enjoy the fruits of education. I want to work so hard, make so much money and then move them into one of these leafy suburbs and let them enjoy life.

In her world right now, she knows nothing about WhatsApp or social media for that case- not even Facebook. I doubt if I ever gave her a smartphone she would be able to use it. The best she can do is to wake up the following morning and sell it. She doesn’t know makeup or slay queens, or even how to use TV remote (at least she’s not alone here- slay queens don’t either). If you gave her a laptop, she wouldn’t know how to use it after powering it up (you remember the lady I’m teaching how to use a computer at 27?).

She lacks exposure and knowledge of the basic things of this world- the most important being education. She can’t converse well in English or perfect Swahili. The only common thing for her and city women is Arimi’s. For her, it is because she uses it to milk cows, but for city women, it is body oil.

That doesn’t imply that she can’t do things in her knowledge exceptionally- she’s a perfect wife material ( a plethora of experience now that she’s been in a number of marriages) and she can cook well. I don’t blame her for hopping into and out of marriages- you would do the same if you didn’t find what you were looking for in it, though as of now she is given up, letting fate take its course.

If you’re wondering if that bothers me, it doesn’t. She might or might not have chosen that life. So long as I am helping where I can, I am happy with that. I guess she’s happy too. Why would you stay somewhere if you’re sad all the time? Unless sadness is your happiness.

Nowadays she calls almost thrice a week. She feeds me so much info on what is going around our family circle. Apparently, she talks to almost everyone. By the time she talks to me, she has gathered everything so mine is to listen and laugh. Feeling that she might feel wasted if not appreciated after one hour feeds, I M-pesa her something if I am okay. If not, I sambaza airtime so that she can call the following day.

As the days go by, fate has pulled us closer. Not fate as much, but I have grown an immense love for my family. As for her, she’s the only one who is more concerned about my well being. Unlike others, she calls and asks how I am doing, what plans I have, when I am visiting them and stuff. She makes me feel loved. Since she’s the only simplest reflection of my mother that is still alive, I try as much as possible to make her feel worth living.

It is what it is, life.

 

Yours,

Mzangila Snr

Where shall we go, we who wander in this wasteland in search of better selves?

 

 

 

 

 

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About Mzangila

Mentor, media consultant, photographer, editor, poet, writer, blogger, and counselor- PR

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