Meanwhile, it’s Christmas Eve and the mood is just perfect…
Everybody is back to their ancestral homes or at least a majority and those in the big cities have traveled back to be with the loved ones. As for dad, he was away, for about a week now, working, doing what he knows best away from home. This time the project has taken him to Sindo in Mbita. Dad could not spare a chance to work, get money and he always followed leads whenever it takes him, be it building the nation in Miwani, Fort Ternan, Gem Ulumbi, Yala, Kisumo, somewhere around the great Uyoma peninsula or the larger Asembo or Sakwa. Baba would go and he would carry his crew with him if he had to. A time like this, being Catholics, everybody attends the vigil mass at night. Just before this there are concerts performed by altar boys which precedes the joyful moment of to celebrate the birth of Christ.
As is tradition, to celebrate with the loved ones, most urban dwellers would be back home at least two days before Christmas. I have not seen any signs. My senior Francis Owanoh is in the seminary and the bigger one Lucas Owano is working in the big city but I have not seen anyone and they rarely miss home for celebrations. We always looked forward to this…you know, the opportunity to have new clothes, the lively homestead, the noise of happiness (the laughter of Owanoh Francis could always be heard kilometers away),lots of chapat, juice… you feel me? I have gone herding and am very worried. Will this Christmas really be successful?
Mum is a great strategist, she had instructed me to return home early in order to help in chasing the rooster which will be slaughtered for Christmas. She had bought some packets of wheat flour for chapatis and as usual, Berita Atieno will help in cooking mandazi or kitumbua as she called them. This is still not convincing for me. Where is everybody? I decide not to herd so far away from home just to ensure I don’t miss anyone coming with the goodies, people from town. Everywhere, folks are upbeat and the roads are buzzing with happiness and sounds of festivities. The cows are now watered and since River Mawira is not so far away from home, the animals could easily trace their way back to the shed but I decide to take a different route to avoid meeting all the happy faces. What are they laughing about, can’t they see am depressed?
My immediate senior, Owanoh Remmy Elias was not bothered at all, his life was easy and free and since it’s an easy day, he has gone to take a stroll. The dude is visiting friends and window shopping at Madiany Shopping Centre where he will come back to prepare for the vigil mass. It crosses my mind that I can as well delay and return very late with the cows when it’s almost darkness but then I will not find peace as the cows will make all the noise when they need milking or at least to see their calves. Sorting the mess would take me too much time and I will miss the concert in church which was the hallmark of the vigil mass for me anyway. Those altar boys were just too damn funny; they could dramatize the birth of Jesus precisely from the visit by Angel Gabriel to Mary through to the Nativity, Three Wise Men… entirely to birth with anecdotes that always left everybody gasping. It’s 5pm am on my way home.
There is the chasing of the cock for slaughtering, milking is in the programme too before I shower. Elias is back and is busy organizing the next move, he has some two friends and mum capitalizes on this opportunity and involves them in the chase after pointing at the fattest one in the group. They run a few cycles behind the main house, towards the fence before they eventually corner the hapless bird. Just as this was going on, two bike riders with luggage pulls over at the entrance of the main house. Am smiling, these are not ordinary luggage. It’s a large suit case and a huge carton, yes those ones with the label “This Side UP’’
‘Whose are these?’ I asked. ‘You come with us to carry the others still left at the bus stop’ one of them responded.
They had decided to meet in Kisumu and travel home together.
I missed the concert, dad also arrived by 7:30pm with two large ‘nyamami’ fish…