I don’t know what exactly I miss. Is it the place, the people, or a feeling? Or it something i’m trying to project on it?
Going home, always feels like traveling to a distant country. Where the rules of this one don’t apply there. Where time stops.. Where things remain the same. Where people greet you as if you were with them yesterday.
I am haunted by the longing of home.
I don’t know whether it is the heat that calls me. Because here where I live, I can’t even look pretty in a dress. I have to cover up lest the cold bites into my lungs.
But there, home, the sun made a vow with our ancestors, to never leave us bereft. It rises up at dawn. And starts stinging at 10am. In between every building becomes an oven.
Or maybe its the dryness. I know I am almost there when the vegetation on the way looses any hint of green. And the undergrowth, becomes nonexistent. Replaced by hard earth, faded red earth, whose top soil went with the wind.
Or maybe its the way things don’t matter. Here people go to work, earn a salary, pay bills and live. On Fridays and weekends they pour into social spaces to find something to distract them from their very existence.
There, its like life is just is. People wake up, live. Sleep, wake up the next day and continue living. Its like there is no formula to it. Everything flows. You die today, we stop everything to come comfort your family. We bring firewood, and chairs for visitors. We help with cooking tea. And on the day you choose, we come bury the dead.
And the next week, we go kushika that child that has been born. We carry sugar and other household items. We celebrate with you. And the next day, we go to church. Where its more of a social gathering than spiritual feeding.
We will bring our tithes in the form kunde, pigeon peas, mayai ya kienyeji , lambs, cocks, mangoes, oranges and pawpaws. And we will give our offering in the same items that shall be sold in church and translated to a much bigger offering than if we had sold it outside there.
Maybe it is the certainty of life that I miss. At home no one questions the meaning of life. Life just is. As it is. We come, toil, give birth to kids, watch them grow , and then die. And that pattern doesn’t seem to worry anyone.
Maybe it is that faith in life that I miss. That we’ll wake up kesho, that everyone seems to have. Nothing seems to faze home. Its like life must move on in its rhythm somehow.
Not even the government or what it does in Nairobi, reaching to us via the newspaper, is enough to make us worry. We read the story, discuss it on the roads as we greet each other and later use the newspaper as wrapping for meat. Unaffected. That’s what we behave as if we are.
The only thing that once in a while upends our existence is thieves. We hate thieves. They upturn the social order. They go against our moral fabric. That is written that, everyone eats what they planted. Or at least what they sold. Or what they brokered. Or what they convinced someone else into giving them.
So we burn them. We complain about them first to the police post. As usual they do nothing. But telling them has little to do with expecting them to do anything, but serves as a statement of intent. So that when we trap and burn them, the police shall officially turn up only after the bodies are beyond rescue, and even then, the unsaid rule is that they shall investigate nothing.
And back we go to the way we are used to life.
Maybe its that that I miss. That nothing fazes people. Not even death. It is just but a part of life.
Here where I am, people get angry, frustrated and all sorts of emotions, for all sort of things that don’t bother them. A white man is found in a septic tank somewhere, and somehow that is everyone’s business. A woman is groped somewhere, and that turns online spaces into a war between the sexes. Some money is stolen somewhere, and there we go giving advises on what should be done.
Here everything is everyone’s business. Except their own.
Or maybe its the peace. Not peace as in no wrangles. Peace as in bickering couples will stay bickering for over 40 years. Hating each other. Yet staying together. In war. As if its the way things are supposed to be done.
Its like people have made peace with their fate. Whatever life has handed them, they have accepted it. They’ll complain about it endlessly, but you can sense acceptance in their complaints.
Here people are angry. Like happiness is foreign here. Very foreign. Depression is the norm. Hard weeks. Hard life. Trying. Running after. More money. Less money. More troubles. Bad government. Toxic friends. Bad lovers. Toxic work environments. Traffic jam. Sonko. Waititu. Stupidity. Madness. Rush. Run. Rain. Cold.
Bliss is nonexistent here. And to find it, people have to leave this place. Go on a road trip. A vacation. Its the only way to maintain their sanity.
And the know it all attitude here. At home people listen. And NGOs assume that is because they don’t know. Together with politicians. But the most beautiful debates, I have heard them at home.
But here, people know it all, about Wanjiku and watu wa mashinani. Not knowing that what they know, they don’t even know.
I miss home.
That feeling of other worldliness it evokes.
That feeling of being one with the sun, the dryness, the heat, the toil, the laughter, death, birth and everything in between.
I long for that feeling. Of seeing dried short shrubs, and knowing that this is where I come from. A land unmoved. Unchanged. And only understood by those it has borne.