THE SKETCHES UNFOLD Fireside stories pt2 (PePa)

……so grandma clears her throat and chokes off the firewood from the three stone fireplace.She lets a long wary but warm smile linger astride her lips,letting the broth within her earthen pot simmer.A tilt off the lid and oooh…on closing my eyes I can still smell that sweet tempting aroma;you could only compare it to the sacrifices our ancestors made of bulls prepared upon rocks with fire,the sweet smelling aroma rising up to the heavens.

The cooking is hereby heavenly if such a word cuts through.We snuggle closer to the waxing fireplace,pulling out our over-baked mushrooms from under the ashes,I din’t just say baked now,did I?Haha…overly-burnt is the word,or better still,sooted black if that brings out the actual essence.Robert doesn’t forget his almost charring maize cob either.

Did I mention Sarah snuggled up close to Robert,I think it was because he had the roasted maize,and friendships became handy when meals were involved.Her eyes are piercing red from the smoke of the evening.All we are right now is a bunch of utter joy and anticipation for grandma’s story.

Auntie joins us,carrying plastic open-plan plates(get the picture?),any older lady who was never our mom or granny definitely became and auntie those days you know?

“So once upon a time,”beams grandma,a child was born;beautiful and amazing,ebony could not manage to describe the lustrous colour of his rich skin tone.It was a wave of full aesthetics and richness upon it.The year of birth is span and woven in time to when snipers at war called their targets to move closer to enable them take a better shot.

In times of beautiful green expanse;when the birds played merry go round up in the trees and skies hung low in pregnancy,filled with a burst of grey energy.

When the monkeys of the lying forests babbled and called to each other to mate within the thickets in the afternoon heat,a relief for sure.

A period described by herds upon herds of cattle trooping to the riversides filled with both mud and coolness of even flow,a flow only equated to the freshness and breeze of the afternoon air softly through the leafy trees.

Grandma takes a long pause as if taking in a fill of all that beauty and then goes on about this amazing baby boy.

The baby boy was thus visited upon birth with endless showers of gifts;hides freshly harvested and nicely cleaned,a couple of raiment acquired from the white folks among us at that time.

So over the valleys and along the beautiful Anyuola river was the baby boy born.A feast as held in his honour and what a celebration it was;of dances traditional raining with chants and screams all of untold joy.At such a time by the way kids,an African boy,kenyan in particular at a time ruled by imperialists,he was O so lucky to acquire and English name.

“And what was his name?” Sarah asks curiously.”Robert,” quips grandma with a wink.just like you my dear Robert.At this point,Robert beams with excitement and shrugs his shoulders against us.We rub his head roughly and with gay as we listen more to grandma.

Hence Robert grew very fast and gets interested in the new white education introduced into his village,a village whose education was through passing down of skills from father to son or mother to daughter.He chooses going to white man’s school over taking care of cattle along with his friends.Granny looks at Robert at this point and grins,as if to scold him.He on the other hand is nonchalant and wholly unmoved,putting his head between hands supported by his bent knees,feet flat on ground.

“He thus went to school and became the village hero,” granny continues.The other side of the river lying over the valleys thus became the talk of all nearby villages,his name spreading like a bushfire.Renowned and awed was his village making him a giant in personality though a little boy he was.He became respected and approved of both village elders and chiefs of the area.

In an era ruled by white imperialists thus,Robert grew to rival even his colonizers in not only thought but also reason.And that is how he ended up being needed to work in high places and offices.Prestigious at that time.

Grandma grins so hard at this point that even the fireside embers can’t rival her beautiful bright smile.She reminisces in complete immersion .You would think she was Robert’s achievement herself.

With her fingers pinned to her chin as if lost in thought,she asks us if we would like to know what became of Robert.Shouting we say ,”YESSSS,” in unison.

“If you want to know the adventures of Robert then you must first have and finish your dinner,”retorts grandma.Dissapointedly we each stretch forward our plates for a filling of granny’s portion of sweet aroma and fill-up of githeri(mix of corn and beans).Curling up our feet we then sit and stare at granny in anticipation of more tales of Robert.

So Pen and paper thus takes a coil and waits for the tales of Roberto to continue.

(PePa)

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