The good thing about growing up in upcountry, you get to be one with nature in more than one way. As a kid, you get the true meaning of joy that those in urban areas cannot possibly imagine. I spent quite a number of months in Kangundo (my ancestral land) as a child. Quite a delightful span in my life. We had our own house there, a small land that my dad constantly referred to as ‘shamba’ (garden), our school was a five minute walk from home and my grandma was literally a stone throw away. Not to mention we were living in Central Business District. Yes, we were those kids. I don’t know why children refer to their grandparents’ house as ‘kwa shosho’ (at grandma’s) yet both grandparents live there. A little confusing, don’t you think?
During the holidays my cousin, my brother and I would go to grandmas since she had a much bigger compound and countless dogs, most were stray dogs but who cared? We considered them our friends. We were loyal to her place, a bit too loyal than we should have been but all grandchildren are slaves of their grandparents’ love. She always served meat, meat with rice, meat with ugali, meat with chapatti almost tried meat with meat. She was the best in my eyes. Until she started dishing out duties and giving out porridge. I hated working especially after drinking porridge, it was an easy tranquilizer.
It rained that morning. By midday the sun was up and there is no rewarding feeling like a child’s prayer of the sun to shine. Three boys go outside set out for mischief and bad deeds. Yes, I was a boy. An energetic one though a bit quiet for anyone’s liking. My grandmother loved animals to the extent that she named her cows. Her favorite, Teresia, a massive cow, with patches of brown and white, all white hooves and a nasty look on its face. If it was human, it would probably be friends with Martha Karua. No pun intended.
Playing with mud got boring, we needed more action and less boredom. What do the three musketeers do? Go disturb a calf. Seemed more like a horse back then but I guess visual incapability served us right. Poking it with sticks, hurling pebbles, pushing it and hitting its head. Quite inhumane one would say but to me it was a unicorn with less flair, no harm. The next thing I remember was running. Panting, falling down, getting up, leaving a boot behind, going back to pick it, leaving the other boot behind, ignoring the snails on the way. Apparently Teresia had already given birth. Quite a nice way of showing us. We were chased for up to ten minutes, serious case of mad cow. The boys were long gone, hid in my uncle’s compound. Men. Sigh.
Returned home with one boot, mud on my behind, grass and pebbles inside my left boot, grazed elbow, my trousers looked unfinished and my hair was missing though it was missing from before. Every child below seven years had to shave their heads- an unwritten rule but a common tradition in Kangundo. I then became a girl after this. I hate cows.