I had sat on it on numerous occasions, the rock; my rock. I loved calling it mine coz it gave me that sense and pride of owning something that other people rarely made notice of. It’s like the way my buddy Rashid likes saying that Man United is his team even though he doesn’t own it. He still calls it so even after the regular thrashing that has become so synonymous with their recent games.
Or the way some other people am not at liberty to name call the company car that picks them from their places of residence ‘theirs’. My wife terms me as hers in front of her friends, just like i call her mine in front of the entire world!
Anyways, the rock was mine. It was not in our property btw; it was on a tiny hill which separated the Gikuyu from Maa community, just a few minutes from our homestead. Homestead, for those who may not have a mental picture in their mind is a traditionally architectured work of art consisting of one big house with a rarely used chimney (santa never dropped around), a small kitchen right next to it made of timber, a chicken house further ahead, cow shed, sheep enclosure behind the kitchen and a fence made of thorny bushes.
Oh, and don’t forget the granary!
A homestead, like ours, always had lots of glossy feathered cockerels running after their female counterparts just so they could step on them and ‘bite’ their necks. The end product of such behaviour was lots of eggs.
Eggs make pancakes yellow and very delicious, but i guess u already know that.
So i sat on my rock at the top of the tiny hill, looking down on our homestead. Suzanna’s home, my teenage dream queen, was to the right, separated from ours by a dusty road which flooded seriously during the rains. Those times she would cross the temporary lake with her skirt hiked to her mid thighs, something that would make blood rush at break neck speed to my head making me feel dizzy.
I loved the feeling!
The football field, home ground of my village’s soccer team was also to the right. Like Rashid’s Man U, our Moyes was also doing a terrible job of coaching. A couple of shops surrounded our theater of broken dreams. Some of these shops were just bare and the young men of my village used to hang around them, pissing on the inside corners, smoking things, talking about nothing and everything and staring at girls.
At times they would whistle at the girls. The girls would turn around annoyed, showing them their tongues or hurl nasty insults at them if they came from a less cultured homestead.
My homestead was cultured. I never whistled at girls. I didn’t even know how to whistle. It was not in my mum’s syllabus!
I was not part of this crowd. It did not define me. It gave me no satisfaction in hanging out with them other than the feeling of utter loss. If at any moment i felt the urge to fit in and be part of them, i would kill it with a Wilbur Smith right away.
My mind went back to my stone. A dung beetle passed at the edge of my stone, busily pedaling a fine ball of cow dung with its hind legs. I pulled a dried strand of grass and started poking my gums as if looking for something hidden in them. The grass just tasted like grass. Perhaps i would have found it more succulent if i was a dromedary or a Zebu.
From my vantage position i felt like i was on top of the world, looking down on our village, our homestead and everything else. I tried fitting myself in that setting but it was either too big or too small for me, i couldn’t tell.
It would have been too big since the community expected me to do great things in line with the private school education my mother had put me through.
It would have been too small had i told them that i aspired to be a writer of note, a scribbler, master of the written word. This would not have been met with the same enthusiasm was i to be a doctor, lawyer, pilot or even the location Chief.
To them, these were professions of respect, power and lots of money (please omit the chief here!). They were professions worth mentioning and being a writer faded in comparison to that; according to their gospel. My gospel dictated that being a writer surpassed all that in terms of freedom of imagination and expression.
I wanted to be a writer and swim upstream while all others chose to swim downstream. As a writer i would have the privilege of perceiving the world with a keener more critical eye devoid of mechanizations and limitations so common in other ideologies.
From a far i could see lots of smoke rising through the edge of our kitchen’s roof. It was dark, the smoke, trying to ascertain itself amid the strong breeze which dispersed it within a short time. I was pretty sure my kid bro was in the kitchen, blowing hard on the maize cob fueled fire, teary eyed and coughing.
I chuckled. Making a fire out of maize cobs was no mean task!
I wondered where the breeze would disperse us to, my bro and i.
I loved my rock coz it offered me priceless moments of self accountability as i tried to build my life into something tangible. Sitting on it i would look up to the sky and see it as a huge canvas or pad which i could write lots of articles on.
Perhaps one day, i mused, i would find myself walking in the shadows of great writers like Chinua Achebe, Lo Liyong, Ngugi Wa Thion’go and Grace Ogot.
That thought made me happy. I spread my legs on the dry grass and used my stone as a pillow. It felt nice, lying there looking at the expansive blue sky and thinking about the title of my first book.