Life is Like Clockwork, by Lewis Muhavi
“It had hit rock bottom, you could say.”
My name is Lewis Muhavi. I was born on October 20th in Kangemi village. My parents were not living together because they had a domestic conflict in which neither was listening to the other. Up to now I still don’t know what they were quarreling about. I can imagine that my father was not meeting our needs and he became impatient if cornered.
To solve the problem, my mother got a job as a house girl. She even tried to pay for college classes since she had completed Form Four education, which my grandmother, her mum, encouraged. But the marriage could not survive. Some relatives tried to mediate in vain. My mother and father’s relationship went down and out, finally. Nothing anybody could do about it. It had hit rock bottom, you could say.
Mother’s solution was to find a job and move on with her life. She did, and left me with her parents. At about 5 years, I joined Nursery School. By Standard Two, I had proved to be very bright.
I just found my way to the top effortlessly. I didn’t understand why everyone else was struggling to learn simple words! Anyway, life is like clockwork. Sooner or later, it will strike the alarm and the noise follows. And the adrenalin will flow through your blood and into your heart. My mother lost her job and was unable to keep up with my care. She decided to square it out with my father.
She was met with my father’s new wife who was not going to accept one rude word from my mother. There was a short exchange of words before the spark blew out into a big flame. What a fight they had!
Their argument was on who had the right to my father’s assistance. My mother was reported to the area chief and was locked in a cell for three days. When she came back, she still had a black eye, and was limping a bit. But she had not lost the fight, she boasted. My stepmother needed medical attention! Three weeks later, my stepmother got even with my mother. Some men broke into my grandmother’s house and robbed us and gave Mother a good beating. So she too needed medical attention.
“Life up-country was difficult for me.”
“They didn’t like me for owning such things. To make it worse, I had a toy car. It caused so much trouble that it would have been better if I didn’t have it. It was soon stolen by one boy, then another, then fights.”
Life up-country was difficult for me. I had to do manual work. I fetched water from a spring a long way away. Then I had join a local school where I had no friends. The children upcountry are dirty, have no shoes or good school uniforms. They didn’t like me for owning such things. To make it worse, I had a toy car. It caused so much trouble that it would have been better if I didn’t have it. It was soon stolen by one boy, then another, then fights.
A year later, I attended my father’s funeral. I didn’t really understand who it meant to me because I was still too young.
One of my duties was to collect firewood from the forest. It is a very thick, green and dark forest with some animals. One day while collecting firewood, I saw a dry dark stick on the ground in the forest and went to pick it up. I noticed too late that it was a snake. It bit my leg before slithering away. When my cousins and friends heard my scream they took off and ran for help. My uncle took me to the hospital. Luckily, they acted quickly, and I recovered fully, but I became afraid of everything.
“It was almost too late for me. But in the end, here I am at Hamomi.”
So my aunt brought me back to Nairobi to live with her. That meant a new school again. In my aunt’s house, things were much better than it had been in the village. I was very skinny so she started giving me milk. My body was scarred, so she bought medicated soap and disinfectants like Dettol. In a few months, my health improved. The next task was to find me a school.
She put me into a small, clean private school I learned there for 3 years, from grade three to grade five. I was very bright and stayed at the top of my class. Then she ran out of money because it was expensive, and I joined a cheaper non-formal school. This one was poor and did not have books, desks and teachers. Although I was a child, I could tell learning was slow. That put me back, and my aunt started looking for yet another school.
Because of her work, it took her a whole year to find one. It was almost too late for me. But in the end, here I am at Hamomi. I came to Hamomi in January this year. The interview I did confirmed that I could fit in a group of candidates for this year. My aim was to work hard and show them my true colors. I have since steadily risen up and only one guy to go. My classmates at Hamomi are brighter than any children I have ever studied with.