I was born a boy among boys. I grew up within the homeliness and togetherness that a village creates in the heart of young boys and girls.
I played alongside my agemates and enjoyed the fun that our village served us.
Together with childhood friends, we chopped off and ate greedily that black-thing that comes out of sorghum when it does not produce grains (Ochondo in my native language).
With them, we set bulls for a fight in the grazing fields and we too, fought bitterly from the inciting tricks of boys older than us.
As a child, I learnt how to make a fishing hook and how to entice fish with those small insects. We were well conversant with force of the waters of Lake Victoria and swimming we did even against the stern warning of our mothers.
We were great footballers especially when the ball was made out of polythene papers and sisal ropes. We enjoyed the “baba na mama” play and how interesting it could be that we often forgot that goats were not to feed from maize plants.
I still know how it feels to steal sugar or how good it can be to roast maize around a fire fueled by cowdung. Such was a nice time and I grew up enjoying every bit of it.
We went to school and made new friends. I know how hard it is to count ten sticks and add seventeen others to them. I still know how difficult it was for my friend Ojwang’ to read tsetse fly, he could not imagine that it is not “tise-tise filai”.
We grew up together, shared our stories on how good it felt to seduce a girl by running with her books. How bitter but sweet it was to find your name written on a sisal leaf that you were dating an ugly girl.
We ‘chased’ music or just went after every village ‘disco -matanga’. How we danced on the line with girls, touching their breast but knowing so well that we will eventually leave them on the same line.
We escorted each other on every errand to seduce any beautiful girl in the village. How Odoyo one day trembled before and could hardly talk to Adhiambo nyar Onyango, the girl he had longed for and cheated us to be his girlfriend.
Do you remember how Jo-Kokewe almost broke our legs that night when we had gone to steal Akinyi from her grandmother’s house,or can you remember how that drunkard urinated on Owino’s head behind the thicket he was hiding?
But with all, we stuck together as brothers. We had a big dream for our future. How we had planned to build our mothers the best bungalows. How we had promised to buy them cars and never let them eat anything bitter than “dek”.
We had a dream to stick together, walk together , marry beautiful wives and incorporate them in the love that we had for each other. How I long for those days we knew no home as someone’s. We could take porridge for supper at our place, feast on Ugali /Fish at your place and find sweet potatoes at their place. We could sleep anywhere, anyhow.
Today, I look back and wish that that time can come back. Time has moved and though our love for each other still burn bright, distance and bigness have thrown us apart.
We can nolonger find ourselves around a table in one day. Life has become so busy with us. How far apart we are and how busy we become has diluted the taste of our youthfulness. I long for the days brothers.
When will we meet again, this time round, not to burry a friend’s mother or one of us?
When will we again meet to eat “Sikuku” from the kitchens of our mothers?
Come back home brothers! Come back!!
By: Frank Kauma.