Njoki looked tired, hungry, old and full of grief as she sat under the shade of that huge Mugumo Tree. But I can’t really tell whether she was old because constant hunger and grief forces one to appear somehow old. Clouds hung black and heavy all day these days as if they reflected what she felt inside. Mwangi, her husband had gone to war, just as the sons and husbands of many other women who were living with her, in that forced concentrated village. Their homes, land, livestock and all crops had been taken away by the white men. Njoki couldn’t hold back the memories of her early marriage from slamming into her. Together with her husband, they had barely stayed married three seasons. Happiness and thrill filled her innocent heart those days for starting a family, her very own home. Those feelings could not be contained then, just as the rising and setting of the sun. It was a blissful beginning.
As Njoki let these memories run through her mind like a bird from one branch to the next, she had a sickening feeling in her now pregnant stomach. She was now a small fly trapped in a big spider’s web. She was weak and vulnerable. How was she going to welcome and raise this baby all by herself in this pathetic environment? She did not think life was ugly and unkind until now. But she held on to those lasts whispers from her husband. “I will be back for you; it’s going to be okay”. Those were the words that kept Njoki alive and gave meaning to her empty life. They were the magical flickering flames of a dying candle. They were delicate and safe inside her heart. She thought she had a thump, a kick! The baby kicked for the first and second time and she felt it! Her heart softened with a squash. She was fighting back hard the tears that were now shamelessly wetting her eyes. Was it joy? Was she wallowing? She didn’t have the right words to define that bittersweet moment.