I grew up on a street, where I could come home from school, and play kati, bladda, and a weird kind of tennis – played with a piece of flat wood, and a tennis ball. The grown ups on the street looked out for each other’s kids, sometimes even disciplining their neighbours kids, but mostly just letting kids be.
No, it was not a century ago, and it was not in some Utopia. Shit happened on the street I lived in. The boy with manic depression who lived with his folks in the very last house on the street, was gang raped not very far from where we lived. No one really found out who did it, and if they did they kept their mouths shut. He ended up being institutionalized for a really long time.
The guy who lived in the house next to us was arrested in 1999. Apparently he had been an armed robber for a really long time. And to think he was kindest to us kids. But I think what confounds me is that no one really knew what he was until after he got arrested, and this in a place where everyone knew pretty much everyone else and their business too.
I left my little hometown at 21, and vowed never to return. That little town holds some of my very best memories, and some of my worst. I guess I never quite expected that I would miss that little town, but I do. I’ve spent the last few years loving the big city, the drama, the opportunity…
But during the quieter times, I miss waking up to the muezzin’s voice as clear as crystal against the early morning breeze. I miss the clear blue skies against the morning sun. I guess I feel it more now that the bloody Nairobi weather is so freaking cold. When the chill sets in, I am lost in nostalgia. I miss the jade sea that carried my tears, the cream sands where life is taught against the ocean wind, the palm trees that see it all, the mangrove strands that hide the secrets.
I guess I miss him too.