Tag Archives: grandparents

Keshy

My grandparents have a farm help, Njambi. She is very good at what she does, very meticulous, very diligent. Everybody that has ever been to my grandparents’ place before and after her arrival can testify to the fact that the house, the compound and even the cows – everything looks better. Waaay better… but this post is about Njambi’s daughter.
Wangechi, whom we call Keshy, is a bright 6 year old girl. When I say bright I mean not only intellectually, but personality as well. Her smile, oh, that girl’s smile is the most beautiful thing I have seen in a long time. She smiles with her whole being, she looks like a flower that is fast-forward blossoming (you know the way they do it on Nat Geo?) right in front of your eyes… Her whole body seems to light up. She has these very white, very small milk teeth, and her smile gives you a free front row seat to view this gallery of twenty. Her eyes light up, they look like they hold the essence of all the fireflies in the world, all the innocence, all the simplicity one could ever wish to acquire. Somehow all the beauty in the universe, in the night skies, the sun and the moon and the stars fit in that little, little body, when she smiles.
Now, in my grandparents’ house, there’s this room I really can’t name, but it plays a central role in today’s narrative. It looks like it could be a dining room, except that there is already a dining room. Each of its four walls has a door… two doors that are directly opposite one another each lead to a bedroom. The third door opens into the living room, and the fourth into a porch that faces the outside kitchen. This room has a cupboard that has been there since my mother and her siblings were babies, and it still keeps leftovers and salt and matchboxes and milk from the cows and flour… mostly. It also has two tables, one next to the cupboard that holds dishes that are in transit from the washing area to the living room dish cupboard, and the other that holds food in transit both to and from the kitchen. Under the first table is a small gas cooker we use to warm food in a hurry, and under the second table is a karai, where hens hatch their young. In one corner, behind the door that opens to the porch, is my grandmother’s kibanji, a huge earthen pot where she stores her drinking water so it stays cool. I think now you kinda understand why I cannot exactly give this room a conventional name.
Yesterday, Keshy introduced me to her child, Stella. She came into this room as I was preparing vegetables for supper, and I see something strapped to her back. So I asked her what was going on, and she told me that that was Stella, her child. And she was fast asleep. She needed my help adjusting the pink jumper that doubled up as the baby carrier so I obliged, and she left promptly in search of food to prepare for Stella, so that when she wakes up, she won’t have to stay hungry for long, or at all.
Stella is a very fortunate doll, if I may say so. She’s not much really, not as much a doll as she is pieces of cloth inside a larger pink one, but the love and the care that she gets is out of this world. Whenever she isn’t being cuddled and coddled, she is strapped to Keshy’s back, sharing in her adventures as she explores the farm and bush around. She is always fed on time, and I find it beautiful how Wangechi models her mother in how she takes care of that doll. She will speak to Stella, explain things, tell jokes, ask questions – even prioritize and put her before playing with her friends. She doesn’t just place Stella anywhere, she has to find a place that is stable, firm, safe, soft, fit for an actual baby. And then she will cover her well to protect her from the elements, just as she has seen it done, before she can go out to play.
So Keshy went out to search for food and left me very impressed. When she returned, about half an hour later, I asked her whether she had found the food, and whether Stella had been fed already. She said no, she hadn’t found food yet, and then looked at what I was preparing with this glint in her very white eyes. Catching on, I asked her to fetch a plate from the dish rack, and I scooped some (really like two tablespoons) out of the pot and gave her, to go feed her child. We were speaking in conspiratory whispers this entire time, and when she left holding that plate of food in her hands, I wished I could bottle up the joy that little mother was exuding. Since then, every time we meet, she has this look in her eye, and I would imagine Stella does too… the look you give a fellow conspirator when you did something and got away with it… But that’s not the point of this story and I don’t even know what the point of this story is!
All I know is that this little person inspired me to write something about her, and made me so happy just to sit back and observe her go about being a small person in such a big world, still hopeful, innocent, untainted, pure.