Tuesday, 10 June 2014

On Being Twenty Eight

In a few months I will turn 28. Now this is a milestone. You see 28 is that age when you realize that you are old. You could safely be called a sage, and wear that title like a badge of honour. 

But this realization has hit me hard, like an early morning slap. The kind my grandma gave to clear the cobwebs out of your eyes. 

Ten years ago, I read about 28 being the best age to get your first kid. It was in one of those lifestyle magazines; could have been any: SatMag, True Love etc. but that point of wisdom stuck. I promised myself then, as an 18year old that I’d go to college (that was sheer faith and a little arrogance and ambition) graduate at 24 and work for four years as I improve the conditions back at home then get myself a baby with a pretty damsel somewhere. But there is no baby in sight. 

I now realize that even when I get to 28, I will still be 27 and 26, and 25, and 24, and 23, and 22, and 21, and 20….you get the drift… and 15, and 14, ….and 10 and 9….and 5 and 3…and 1. 

Sometimes I’m two and I babble and play myself silly. I sit on the floor of my small house; I lie down and crawl about. I drift back to the period my mum minded me, and I feel the pain of a gentle slap when I bit her tit as I suckled, looking straight in to her eyes. 

Sometimes I am five, walking in shorts with both hands in the pocket. I remember my mum telling me of the nice shorts my father made for me when I was younger. I have a shiny mark on my forehead. Mum said it was the shorts that brought it. I fell down the stairs and rolled all the way down, the hands in the pockets not useful at all. 

Sometimes I am twelve. Sitting with my father in his workshop. Seeing him cut fabric into pieces. Many pieces. He joins the pieces together beautifully. He works and the music of the Singer Sewing machine rings in my mind. The customers come and the smiles on their faces tell me they are satisfied. I learn that good work is well rewarded. When he goes to town to get more work I hold brief for him, driving his machine and helping him with padding for the jackets. “Fundi ametoka kidogo tu, anarudi saa hii,” is all I say to everybody who asks. I sneak a few repairs in between and make some pocket money. He never knows; but he suspects and teaches me the best way to perform basic repairs. 

Sometimes I am 18 and all my friends have girlfriends but I don’t. My first girl happens to be older than me. She’s come back to school. She’s a class behind me. I like her. She likes me and we like one another. I believe she’s very beautiful. I don’t know what to do with her but I write her a few love letters. That’s all I can do. I sit my exams and we lose contact and that’s it. 

Sometimes I am twenty and all big and grown up. In college. Post freshman. Have an Afro haircut. Believe that everything is going to be alright. I read a lot. I scribble stuff sometimes. Have a closely knit group of friends. A long distance relationship. Singing in a church choir. Enjoying everything there is about life. Generally well. No worries. 

But at 28, and a sage. Life’s unpredictable. Milestones achieved are several. The only thing remaining is a baby.  I don’t even know if my seeds are viable. But this baby thing remains on my mind for a long time. I should stop reading magazines at 28. 

Inspired by ‘Eleven' by Sandra Cisneros

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