By Lilian Wairimu
As William took a stroll along the beautifully paved street, taking in the scenery around him, the clear blue sky, the random singing from a bird, he noticed someone lying down under the canopy of a huge tree, with the lush green grass cushioning his back against the hard cruel ground. Staring into the beautiful scene before him, for others, it might even have been a moment of taking an instant selfie and post it on Instagram #lifeisbeautiful, or maybe #Godsbeauty, but instead for William it triggered a different image, his tree was different, not nearly close to #lifeisbeautiful or #Godsbeauty it left a lot to be desired. With a slight mix of chagrin and a deep exhale, it takes him back.
The night is cold, but the stars give an illusion of heat in the disguise of stars. William tries to curl himself into a tighter ball but still the cold creeps in. With a sigh, he gives up and unrolls himself to stretch and looks up towards the sky. He starts counting the stars, maybe which will cheat his already almost frozen mind. As he continues to stare into the deep blue/purple sky, a cloud creeps slowly into his eye of vision. The cloud slowly changes shape and before long, it looks like a woman holding a child. As he stares even further, maybe it is his mind, but it slowly transforms the shape of his mother, a headscarf with polka dots, and is that the khanga she wore around her waist.
Before he knows it, tears are streaming down his face. Quickly wiping them away with his dirty hand, he now sits up and folds his knees towards his chest. Looking into the no longer define the shape of a cloud he finds himself asking out loud into the sky, “why mum, why did you leave?” He quietly asks the now shapeless cloud. “Without you, our lives changed…” he continues now the tears flowing freely down his cheeks leaving almost two parallel tracks on his face.
“Do you know dad brought home another mum that she quickly made sure we are no longer important to dad…and not before long; I was now in charge of Jane and Winne. I tried mum to keep them safe and warm” he sobs quietly.
“I failed mum. My stomach could not handle the shivers and the constant lack of communication between my mouth and it. I left, promising them I will back. Go back I did mum, but it was too late. I am sorry mum I wasn’t there to defend and protect our little angels. The crosses on the ground were too much for me to bear. I beat her mum, I beat her so bad, that I had to leave for good this time around.
Lakini najua wako safe at least na wewe saa hii mum.” William continues, now with his body racked with sobs “mummy, si uniruhusu nikam mahali uko please? Nimechoka mum. Let me sleep. When I close my eyes can I wake up next to you?” William lies back and rolls up again, shivering.
“Hey! Watch it man!” a rough voice breaks into William’s reverie. He realizes he was standing now under the beautiful tree and staring at the young man who had dozed off with an open book across his chest.
‘’So sorry, I am new here” William apologies. “Well, clearly you are lost. Take the path there” pointing to his left “and proceed to the admin block. You will find help there dude.” William goes along as instructed. Looking around him, he notices the smiling faces the different colored backgrounds they are fixed on and how content they looked. Posing to himself, did any of them come across lady luck, a fairy godmother, maybe even the Holy Mary as he did? Did their lives take drastic turns from bad to good? One minute you are ready to say goodbye, the next all you can see is many hellos.
Climbing up a flight of stairs while distracted by his thoughts he hears a soft female voice drifting towards his ears. “Yes, may I help you?” Clearing his mind, he looks down and finds himself looking down into big deep blue eyes fixed on a heart-shaped face. I am new here, I am from Nairobi I don’t know where to start he hears his voice say, but for sure it doesn’t sound like him. He clears his throat. This way please, I will your orientation guide for the day. Welcome to our prestigious school,’’ she says.
As he follows her, looking around the streets of the huge school, he can’t help and think back to his previous school. What a contrast and a blessing.
Holding tightly, despite his sweaty palms, he was not going to let go of this woman’s hand. After a meal of chips, half kuku and a bottle of soda, if this lady took William to hell he would follow her, especially since there’s a promise of more meals, clean clothes, and a roof over his head.
‘’Welcome, William, this is your new home. All I will ask of you is to give us a chance and let us be your new family and we shall take care of you. I am Glory na uko safe hapa.’’
He looks up into Glory’s face and all he can see is sincerity and compassion.
‘’Ok,’’ he whispers back.
Welcome…welcome…welcome… shouts of other children greet William, as he gets closer to a hall that has what looks like a mix of wooden benches and chairs. The children continue to sing and shout “welcome …welcome…!” They throng around him and some trying to shake his hand others offering to give him hugs. William is overwhelmed and starts crying and looking around him he looks for Glory’s face and he sees her smiling with tears streaming down her face.
‘’Goodnight William,” Glory instructs him as she tucks him tight under the light but clean blanket. “I hope you enjoyed your first day here. Tomorrow we start going to class and if you work hard enough I will make sure you see the world.”
The idea of the world was one too much for Williams’s mind to comprehend. “That’s ok Ms Glory, all I ask is for you to everyday to give me something to eat and I will do my best in everything. Asante sana mama”. With a sudden sense of urgency rushing through him he sits up and throwing his skinny arms around Glory’s neck he proceeds to hug her tight. Accepting the hug, Glory pushes him back into the bed, tucks him in again, and leaves for the dormitory door. And with a look of contentment, she closes the door behind her.
Over a steaming hot of drinking chocolate, Glory reflects back to William and where she found him. All curled up, crying, shivering and trying to rock himself for some warmth. Something about him just pulled all her heartstrings and she found herself gravitating toward him. And as she drew closer, she could hear him muttering and sobbing at the same time. Reaching out towards his shoulder, he suddenly looks up and with dazed and confused eyes looks into hers, “Mum…have you come to take me home now? I am tired and cold.”
Knowing it is not her he sees, her heart broke again, and she reaches out to him and says “yes my son.” With all knowledge that her son is asleep next to his father with a fresh bouquet of flowers next to them every day.