The chorus to Anthony Hamilton’s song by the post title goes like this:

Mama knew love like the back roads.

Used to fall asleep daily in her work clothes.

Mom I swear you never have to worry again.

Last Sunday was Mother’s day. Throughout the week, I got to catch up on several blog posts that I follow that had articles on lost parents written recently or in past years. Some of them had tears welling up in my eyes. This post is not only about mothers though it might lean a lot towards this earthly angels. Aleya’s story on her mum losing her father and her realizing that her mum was a daughter just like she was gave a new perspective on how many shoes one can occupy in a lifetime. A child will grow up to be a daughter, a mother, a sister, an aunt and a grandmother. She will experience emotions on several tangents and axes but one thing is for sure. The graph will always remain the same. Biko worked around the same theme. He brought his daughter into it. Her resemblance with his late mother – God rest her soul – is just the slightest projections of how the life force is transferred from one being to another.

Owaahh stepped outside his listicles and history zone to bring us a new side of him. The loss of an uncle who understood him. That one relative you know gets you despite being a generation or 2 apart. Suprisingly, he has no fear of death despite being a free-thinker (I use this because I still have no idea whether he is an atheist or he is agnostic) just like me a true Christian believer. The final piece I read by Magunga had a tear roll down my cheek (I can’t say I sobbed like Ruto on an election winning Sunday because that is unmanly of African men). He not only lost his dad but the burial happened to be on his birthday. I have since re-assured him that if we were to consider burial as a celebration of his dad’s life. Then he should be proud of sharing this day with him as 2 lives get celebrated on that day. One for the life lived and one for more years to come ahead.

I am lucky to have both my parents alive. And these 4 have given their existence new meaning if at all I never knew it. As the typical Mama’s boy and a last born, I shall mostly talk of my mother. As most African men know. The relationship with our fathers is a grunt stew spiced with a “Where did Stone Cold go?” rhetorical question here and there. It is not an Aromat moment. My dad once kicked a football to my stomach while we played against my brothers and his best words of consolation is to get up or we might lose the game. Dad, you are the best!! 😀

Now this woman Njeri, she is the apple of my eye. She has literally been there every single step of my life. From a sickly kid, through school, through life and she continues to be there. Her words, her prayers and her Bible have been a morality tower for as long as I can remember. Of course against her yardstick, I am as bent as a Vera Sidika shoe rack. She does not get yet how morality applies in my generation. Every generation keeps falling a level below.

The year is  1994. I am lying on her lap in a Limuru hospital. I have lost so much strength from throwing up all my food, all week. This was an illness that had plagued me since I was either 5 or 6. One last time and I had no more strength to hold onto consciousness. All went black…………… I woke up about 2 hours later. My mum was holding me on a hospital bed. She was all cried out. Apparently, at a certain time, the doctor after several tries at reviving me had given up and told her to expect the worst. I was back from the “dead”. It would take another 3 years before the illness finally went away. Never got a diagnosis. And by then she put at task the project to fill up my skinny bones. In a year I was the “fluffiest” in class. 🙂 . A “condition” that would follow me till running after some hard ball with curved sticks at the Alliance High School would finally burn up all the Fluff (Not you Zo).

This woman here is a Superwoman. Literally!! Seen here with the man who inspired my hair. “Mum, I heard you hating on mini skirts recently huh?”

That photo would need carbon dating were it not for the clear date below it.
That photo would need carbon dating were it not for the clear date below it.

She never got to University and with her college education and her teaching career, she decided that all her kids will have to excel. “Education is the key” was and still is her motto. It would open doors that would enable you to unlock your potential. She was up by 5 everyday. To heat water for us to wash up. Tea and bread was always ready and lunch packed for the day. Our parents’ generation has told and re-told stories of having to walk miles to get to school in the morning dew and cold. I can proudly attest that I went through the same. The only difference being that I had shoes and some pretty warm clothes on. But my mum always knew deep in her heart that, that might be the way it began but that was not the way it was going to be at the end.

That is why immediately my KCPE results came out, she was up and about checking at national schools whether by any chance I had been admitted to one. The dream school was The Alliance. Hers and mine. But with some points off getting to the 600 mark, I was sure that dream was dead. So shock on me when she came home from Kikuyu one day with a list printed from the principal’s office. I had been selected to join Bush as we fondly (some less fondly know it. Starcherians and Mang’erians I see you). Selection number 116 out of 182. She had been worried for nothing but what a better thing for a parent to worry about. We had always had plan of how I could…no..would become a doctor. That was never going to happen for me as soon as we dissected that frog in biology class. But I am still a doctor of words. The Doctor Bandit? Close enough mum? no? ok.

We all have had those silly moments we think we hate our moms. Mine was probably because I missed a lot wrestling matches in primary school. She would try to explain to me how those guys were working and making money as I lost a chance to read and achieve my goals. But I would hear none of that. How could guys who seemed to be having so much fun be paid for that? Plus it all seemed so “REAL”? So it is was definitely a shock when later in campus I would miss watching football matches to go study while giving myself the same reason. Lesson learnt mother.

Homework time. Now what the hell colour is this?
Homework time. That’s the kind of head I cover with this hair.

Fast forward to the present. She wants me to shave (This is notwithstanding the fact that she used to pay for my hairdresser all the way through college and campus). She also wants to see a consistent/constant girlfriend. ( Someone should tell her of Celesste – see my last post – then maybe she could pray for a miracle 😀 ) I am trying mum. Not really but oh well. She also wants to see my kids. I always counter this with. “You have 7 kids, and I am the last born yes?”. To which she nods. And then I ask, “Only 2 of these kids have given you grandchildren and yet you still insist on mine?”. She tries to convince me that she is getting old and seeing the last born’s kids would be a good chapter to close at. At this point I pull a Balotelli face.Why always me Njeri? :D

She has a myriad issues with my piercing. Not actually the piercing itself but rather the sizes of studs I stick through it. I know how quiet and solemn dad is. So this eccentricity I posses definitely came from her. Try and convince her of that. Refer back to mini skirt above. I naturally revel in not following the crowd and stepping out of my comfort zone. It is no wonder that my favourite quote is: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”.

In the end I have allowed work, fatigue and all other excuses I come up with to make my visits to her less often. I used to go home every 2 weeks. Now it is every 2 months. And the wife/wives (You never know new Kenya and all) and kids will only make this duration longer. I may not see her often but I never fail to tell her I love her. I have had enough friends and experience to teach me on the importance of the time we have with our mothers in this world. It is almost sure that rarely does a parent bury her child. And with this conviction that she might and probably will leave before I do. It is upon me to celebrate her in any way I can and when I can. She has seen me through to the ripe age of 27 and she still hassles me when I don’t tell her I have a cold. It is innately in her to do this. You will never be nothing more than her fledgling. My mastery of this language I write in is from her careful but stern hand that guided me through Hallo Children, Read with us and the then popular English Aid. Who gives a kid an Encyclopaedia Britannica at age 10? I have tried to use my poetic prowess to immortalize her in words but always failed miserably. Words cannot describe her. She can only be loved, be thanked and be remembered. In this literary annals of the Internet I can leave this note. And hopefully generations after can find it or the aliens when they finally find an intelligent species on earth (my money is on the cat, otherwise how do you explain being such an insolent pet and still getting the best of treatments?). In the immortal words of Tupac Amaru Shakur

Pauline Njeri

Ain't a woman alive that can take my momma place
Ain’t a woman alive that can take my momma place

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