By Bundi Kiambi
Dusk is falling quickly as light showers muzzle steadily. My mother and I hurry home. She clenches hard on my arm as I seize hers. Her heavy footsteps thumb the ground hard as she walks; “she has such long strides” , I think to myself. I make haste to keep up with her.
We have had an exhausting market day, my mother takes me with her wherever she goes.
On her other arm a bag hangs heavy on her shoulder. It is the days’ shopping. Inside it bears all varieties of produce ; grains, cereal, onions, potatoes, fruits, vegetables and a few snacks. She keeps her head high despite its weight.
Out of the blue she breaks into a song. She hums to a melody of her favourite hymn. It’s a vernacular piece that I now know by heart, because she can’t keep it off her lips.
She sings it in the kitchen while cooking and in the garden while
tending seedlings. She hums to it in the shower and in the evening when she retires to bed. I listen to her over and over and over again like a fine midnight train record.
It’s an old song, about the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ. It tells of her pain and dismay as she stood helpless under the tree upon which her son hang, crucified.
“My sweet boy,” it goes, “the fruit of my vine,
How could I have known,
When I was told a sword would pierce this heart of mine?
In your moments of woe and despair,
I was there.”
I join in and we sing along to the beat of our footsteps.
On my other hand I chew on a banana. I can’t balance between jogging, singing and admiring my mother so I choke a little when I attempt to hit a high note with a banana chunk in my mouth. My mother steals one of those stern glances at me, and I remember her frequent words “one at a time”. She slows down to allow me to breath at least , only to pick up her speed again when heavy torrents hit the ground.
I grasp her hand even tighter, she slowly builds momentum and takes off. I race after her.
Clouds burst open and down comes hailstorm. We are a long way from home, but knowing my mother, we will get there. Soaked and drenched but we will get there.
It’s starts bucketing down. Darkness has fallen. It’s pitch dark. A spark of lightning occasionally tears the space and lights up the sky. Cracks and rumbles of thunderstorm reverberate. They take turns and put a remarkable show, admirable one under different circumstances.
I’m Scared out of my wits. I literally quack in my boots, which are are now soaking; sloshing with each movement I make.
I look up to my mother. Her face races like an arrow cutting through the downpour. She’s bathed to the toe. Her hair, now soaked through drips down her shirt. The water drains into the shopping bag, but it remains hooked on her shoulder, it doesn’t move an inch.
I look at her face again. Like a warrior charging towards an enemy, her head dead set on the target. She moves unwavered, strong and mighty. Like a super hero.
Water splashes down our feet and the ground gets slippery. I slip and stumble but she pulls me up everytime, and on she runs.
We run through the hailstorm, me and my mother.
We trudge through a couple of ditches, me and my mother.
We swerve and dodge an avalanche of stones, me and my mother.
We trip and fall occasionally, me and my mother.
We move undeterred, headstrong. We fall and rise and fall again but on we move.
I take another look at her just in time to catch her smile. Her gaze fixated on an object ahead, she lets out a sigh; I follow her eyes. Out in the darkness of mist and downpour, a structure materializes. It is our house. We are safe. We are home.