Given how we all have to be politically correct and culturally sensitive in order to exist in continuous harmony with the universe, I am left to wonder what happens to the groups that slip through the cracks. The ones who are told to walk it off, or slap on a band aid and get over it. There are the groups who are not visible enough to carry placards and demonstrate in the streets, they do not have colorful parades or international holidays, they only reside in the shadows and come out when put in the spot light by those who are part of the “walk it off” party. Maybe I am being too harsh, perhaps I should allow some room for excuses, and blame it on the system. The system responsible for screwing people over, and getting away with it. Because the system does not have a face or an address, it is a force of nature wielding more power than you can argue with, and you will be part of it or find another planet to live on.
So I found myself wondering how it is that no one in the entire “system” thought of being slightly more sensitive to the children who would like to voice their concerns, but do not know how to. Last week, the syllabus was covering the subject family. I suppose the family tree was covered in great detail and assignments sent home for further exploration of the gene pool. My son, who is usually an eager beaver when it comes to anything related to school was not so chipper this time round. He had already started on the assignment, but we usually go over it together just so I know what is going on. I take out an assignment chit headed “All about Grand-pa”, and my heart stops for a sec. The first line read, my Grand-pa’s name is………. I could not read what was written, so I ask for clarification. My son quietly says Karanja.
I take a minute to process this.
I ask, who is Karanja? He says, you know that nice Guka I play with, the one who wears a cowboy hat. I frantically search my memory and remember that the said Karanja was a favorite patron at my mums establishment. I look at him and say, you know that you are named after your real Guka, so this here should read Wamwea and not Karanja. He looks at me and retorts, with bloody perfect logic;
“Mama, my Guka died way before I was born. If I am to write his name, I will have to leave the rest of the assignment blank because I never met him and have never done anything with him. I will get zero and I do not want that.”
If ever there was a sound of a heart break, I heard it then. My heart broke to a million pieces, for a child who has a notion that cannot be confirmed, and suspects of a love he will never feel. He knows a grandfather should exist, but his understanding of death is limited. If he could, he would change his situation so the ideal would fit, and like the other students, he would relate of his escapades with a living breathing Grandfather.
For the rest of the assignment, I became the student, as my son told me how he and Guka Karanja liked to eat Nyama Choma, and shared ice cream when it was hot. That he liked to be tickled because Guka Karanja made him laugh always.
I learnt that it truly takes a village to raise a child. My son, would be lost if this kind man had not paid him attention and showed him love enough that the void left behind was not so awkward. I saw the innocence of children, I saw a generation lost, I felt gratitude for all who know that children are not to be punished, but loved for they do not choose who to be or where to be born.
To all those who show kindness to the innocent… may your hearts always be full and your cups overflow.
Foreign vocab explained 😉
Guka – Grand father in Kikuyu
Nyama Choma – Grilled meat