No. It’s not the one you think it is. The one who leaves you in her sleek black Harrier at the parking lot outside a shoe store in Kilimani to go get you one pair of Nike sneakers (courtesy of bowing to the ‘pressure’ of spotting King’ori sporting a pair he bought from a crafty character in Ngara) as you listen to Madilu System’s RTC Riva blasting from the car radio and Rose Muhando’s Yesu Nakupenda playing in the music tab of your brain that is housed in your big hard head. Anyway, Mochomo…Kachomo…Vechomo ooh Chochomo ooh…likunda ntuna tumu mamba…bolingo anga manja Camelot…

It’s Mama Hemedi. Hemedi is her responsible son who was calling her frequently, asking her how far she was from your common destination. As though heaven-sent, she had secured a seat beside you in the matatu you boarded at the beginning of the journey, humbly requesting you to preserve it for her as she went to purchase a bag of chips, which she would later invite you to join her in devouring, saying, “Karibu tule chipsi mwanangu…” Mama Kimani would never!

Then there’s Mrs Kamotho. Bi Zuhura realized. If you know, you know. Her comfortable fatty arm ensured total rest for your swinging head as you dozed off en route home in the heat of a stuffy matatu on a sunny afternoon after a rather long semester. You notice it only when she slightly shifts to respond to a text message from My Dia reading, “Fungua wozap uone ile ploti.” Must be Mr Kamotho, you think. She wakes you up twice, wanting to know whether one mango from the hawkers at a particular stopover would be enough for you and your exact destination in order to alert the driver on your behalf once you get there.

You didn’t get her name throughout the ceremony, but it was at that moment you spotted her spinning chapatis at the ruracio, the fat in her arm dangling beneath, you knew they were going to be delicious. As though the task was just a walk in the park, you later spot her dancing vigorously to Ruth Wamuyu’s Ni Gukena, chatting happily with everyone and anyone. She heaps up a generous portion of collard greens on your plate with a touch of “msichana kama wewe hafai kukataa hii” amid your “sikulangi hiyo” shenanigans and is on the verge of slipping an extra watermelon slice into your pocket as food is being served, be that as it may you have never seen her on a single day in your life. Guests leave at their own pleasure and she almost offers to carry you back home.

(Boyz II Men’s A Song for Mama playing in the background)


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