Have you entered for a competition even though you knew the odds were against you? I have. A long time ago when I was in primary school I participated in a race – we were having practice for the school’s annual inter-house sports. As a kid I was bow legged; a small puppy could run between my legs with ease because they couldn’t come together without putting extra effort. I walked around with legs like parentheses, like a pregnant woman close to her due date. It wasn’t much of a problem when I wore the standard uniform which was a gown and a bucket hat, but because we wore t-shirts and shorts during practice, it was quite obvious that my knees repelled each other; as if there was a magical force field keeping them apart, – Thou shall not pass!
When I signed up for the race, I was jittery and my heart pounded in my chest. All around me different activities were going on. The kids were running wild and the teachers tried to keep things moving amidst the chaos. That day I wanted a price which was guaranteed as long as I participated, and that was what made me fight down my fear. After the race, I was so excited (even though I didn’t win), my cheeks were flushed, eyes wide and hands outstretched for my price. The teacher in charge of the race scooped snowy white glucose D powder into my palm. Even now I can remember the taste of it, a rush of sugar and melting ice. One of my most memorable childhood moments was getting high on glucose D and giving off the impression that I was consuming cocaine like in the movies.
My darling girl, what is that thing which you want and are willing to do all that you can to get? There’s this African proverb that says, ‘To try and to fail is not laziness.’ I want you to go after the things that you desire for yourself. You don’t what to live your life plagued with regrets because you didn’t try, no matter what the outcome may be. Do the best that you can and your reward will be sweet.
It’s was raining and the sound of it beating on my roof woke me up. It’s been several minutes since I have been listening and watching the rain through my fogged window. If you had asked me how I felt, I’d tell you that I was happy and sad. Happy that obviously it’s raining, the sound of the rain feels like an old friend, the same as the organ that bellows in my church. There’s nostalgia and a lot of memories that come with the rain. I’m sad because I would really like to be out there in the torrid weather, cold water running down my sagging breasts and thighs, droplets catching on my eyelashes by choice, because I’m aware that there are several people out there, not by choice, who’d rather be inside, safe and warm.
It’s always like this for me when it rains. My memories sharpen, such as the ones of the house where we lived when I was a child. It had a bad ceiling and was drafty because the house was old and was not well maintained. Not only was it unpleasant when it rained, but it also got cold like an icebox. The only good thing was running outside to fetch water and play in the rain with the rest of the kids in the compound. This didn’t happen every time our parents were around. On the occasions when we were allowed, our underwear would stick to our skins like paint on canvas. There was little need for modesty, soon we would chase each other naked and screaming, with our bottoms freezing. It made no difference except it made the experience better. After we are called into our respective homes, we got dry and wrapped in towels. Sometimes our father would massage us with Robb (we turned down Aboniki, ask your mother, she knows what I’m talking about) and our teeth would chatter involuntarily for a couple of minutes as the chill was chased away. If our mother was up to it, we’d fill our bellies with a warm meal. After getting dressed in dry clothes, my siblings and I would huddle under covers for warmth. It could be on our tiny couch in our living room or on our spring bed that squeaked with the effort of holding our weight (it was well past the age of retirement). Part of the reason was to get our feet off the worn carpet that didn’t help to keep them warm. Whenever I think of warmth, I remember the times I fell asleep piled up like laundry with the rest of my siblings. When our parents were not around we’d fend for ourselves.
Most days we’d be too energetic to sleep, especially if it was still daytime. The games we played in the dark to pass the time can never be forgotten(because it was almost always dark when it rains, with the electricity cut off). We built forts with sheets, cushions and pillows. The neighbors would come sometimes and we could team up for wrestling matches or cards. We told ludicrous stories or rehashed old grievances. It was always something when it rains.
Days like this I’m stuck in my chair, my arthritic hands and feet testifying, and still the rain with it’s tap tap tap on my roof brings back memories long forgotten, sweet and sour. I expect your memories of the rain to be different from mine (your mother has heard stories like this, and I’ll send along with this letter some of the pictures from that time). Tell me what you feel when it rains in your next letter and don’t start with your excuses that I won’t find them interesting. Your stories make me feel younger than my years, so indulge this old woman. I wonder that it’s still raining quite frequently in June, hian! Soon the weather would be warmer; you should expect my endless letters complaining about the heat.