The funny thing about being in shagz is that no matter how simple and predated many things seem, there is a lot of joy and satisfaction in the everyday tasks. My cousin, Morgan, whips a cow, briefly runs after it and stops just where I am sitting. On my grandmother’s verandah.
‘Morgan, idhi nade?’ (How are you doing Morgan?)
‘Adhi maber.’ (I am well)
His face draws on a sweet, genuine, smile, and he brushes his feet on the soil to show he is glad I said hi. Morgan is about 7 years old, and already he can run after bulls, show them where to graze. He tells me he knows them all by name. His favorite is Kajwang’, a fat, black bull with terrible mood swings. Kajwang’ is named after a Luo politician who coincidentally passed away at the time he(the bull) was bought from the market. Kajwang’ seems to like Morgan, he doesn’t charge after him like he does the heifers. Why would a bull want to fight heifers anyway? Misplaced hormones.
Morgan runs after Kajwang’ and whips him again. Kajwang’ instead goes on to leisurely sniff the ass of a brown cow. Morgan sits down on a rock, stares at a group of children playing in the next homestead. They are my cousins. Everyone is my cousin or uncle or grandfather around here. We are all relatives. But we rarely say much to one another.
Once upon a time many years ago, there was a lot to say. There would be family gatherings and feasts over the December holidays. There was laughter and joy all around. That is no more. The stories died with the people. Our fathers who remained moved away to the big cities to search for greener pastures. Life became quiet, conversations in hushed tones.
So this December, like many that have passed, will be a quiet one. Unless they (the older generation) call for a get-together(I heard rumors of the same). My grandmother says people nowadays come home only to bury someone.
I’ll just be sitting here on her verandah waiting to see if a motorbike will roll down the opposite hill carrying someone with a bag of sugar and some cooking oil. Grandma’s house is at the top of a small hill, surrounded by many other similar ones. If you sit at her doorstep, you’re able to see someone coming from Oyugis town on a motorbike, or on foot, or in a car. Whatever means they choose, they have to go through the opposite hill, and up the one that leads to grandma’s house. If your eyes are good enough, you’ll even be able to tell who it is from a distance.
Sitting on my grandma’s doorstep you’re also able to see the only developed school in the area, where all my fathers and forefathers sat for their CPE. Initially it was only a primary school, but they got funds and expanded it to host a secondary school for both boys and girls.
I am yet to find out the statistics of kids from around here that attend that school, because I never see any youths around. Only people of my grandmother’s age busy pounding their millet, and young married women balancing twenty litre jerrycans on their heads, and very young children like my cousin Morgan, running after Kajwang’ and his mates. The youth probably got tired of the deafening silence and like our fathers, left for the big cities in search of greener pastures.
Morgan stands up, walks after his herd, driving them down the slope toward the stream. He is barefeet, and his shirt stretches all the way to his fat knees, so that you wouldn’t know if he is actually wearing anything inside, or the oversized shirt serves all purpose.
He whistles as his silhouette disappears down the hill, lifting his whip once in a while to guide back a stray cow.
He is a happy boy.