After rainy nights the ground was usually soaked. Largely constituted of black cotton soil, this meant that the mud would be thick and sticky. Dark and unforgiving. The seasonal rivers would roar as the sun tried to break free from the usually dark emotional nimbus clouds. There usually seemed to be a negotiation as to whether they should just let go or hold on for another night of domination and uncontrolled downpour.
When the ancestors were pleased with us, the sun would break out by the wee am’. We would wake up with the heat on our foreheads and breakfast on the front porch would be an unforgettable affair. Most of these times the smell of deep fried eggs would find its way into our nostrils and that would pull us out of the sweet sleep that the night rains usually facilitated. Mum and dad would in most of these mornings get late to go to work because we had to be fed and they had to struggle with the mud in an old school locomotive that seemed to be resilient all season long, year after year, storm into the next.
The unfortunate ones in the family would have to wrestle with the realization that they had to rush to school but since I was excepted from the practice, I would spend the whole day indoors listening to the bird’s chirp, the rivers roar, and the grounds dry up. When too bored, I would get away from the confines of the house and sit at the corridor and watch the dew escape from the grass in the garden and moisture escape back to the clouds in readiness for the facilitation of another havoc in heavy rain.
Soon my cousins would rouse me from my daily delirium with 22979 dogs barking all around the compound. The noise they made more often than not would awaken the dead from their graves and the village warmed up to the idea of a hunt. My age-mates would soon get released from the embrace of their ‘thingiras’ and we would rush off to the wild. Behind us were 37849 dogs following us. Many more joined the chase as we went from a thicket to the next in pursuit of wild hares, geese, antelopes that were ever so evasive.
Crossing a wild river on frail bridges, our skins being torn by sharp poisonous thorns made our perseverance more determined. Once in a while, the thud of our footsteps, the shrieking of the dogs, the smell of our sweat combined with directives from the ancestors would force one or two wild creatures from their hiding place and the chase would begin. Screams of excitement would rock the heavens as dogs sprinted, followed by the 786 of us, after a probable delicacy on dinner tables later in the day.
Thorns pierced bare soles, rocks broke barefoot skins, adrenaline kicked off, ancestors clapped in anticipation as the death of the hunted came nearer. Snakes crawled back to their hiding caves as birds watched from the safety of their nests. Beautiful, ebony beauties watched from the top of the escarpment, deciphering who was the fastest of them all. Being the only one in running shoes, I stood out from the dark masculine legs running alongside me but I never stood a chance with any of them. They feared my mum like no one’s business (hehe). My timidity didn’t improve my situation.
After 7.67 minutes of chase, Tom the dog would finally catch up with the hare. Tom the guy would take it from the grasp of Tom’s sharp canine teeth and everyone would be up congratulating him for his courageousness. You would have mistaken that for winning a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics. Girls would squirm at his sight, and a blush here and there characterized every walk he had in the village paths.
The sun would soon give up and the horizon would give it its long overdue embrace.
Soiled, wet, tired, sweating and dirty, I would find my way home to meet my mum at the gate, hands akimbo waiting for my grand arrival…
“Saa hii ni saa ngapi?” She would go ahead and ask me…