Previously, ‘From my mother’s kitchen – the missing books’
From my mother’s kitchen – Where is your lunch
On reaching the staffroom, Waweru found his brother Maina seated next to his class teacher as we sobbed heavily. Waweru was taken aback since his brother was not the type to cause trouble that would have him caned to cry that intensely.
“Waweru, when was the last time that your brother had something to eat?” with eyes popping out Mrs Kamau asked.
“We…we… had bread and tea in the morning,” Waweru answered as his eyes turned teary.
But he remembered what dad always tells him; “It is unmanly to cry in public”. And so he knew he had to keep those tears away.
Mrs Kamau was not convinced and asked; “and last night what did you have for supper? And have you carried lunch today?”
“Yes,” Waweru said.
“Yes, what?” Mrs Kamau impatiently asked.
“We ate ugali and… and cabbage! Mum and dad could not afford to give us money for lunch today. But mum promised we will have a better supper tonight,” Waweru with face down explained.
Several teachers in the room quietly followed the conversation. While Waweru’s mother was known to be the friendly woman working at one of the government offices in the town, his father was known to be the friendly drunkard who was ready to buy anyone alcohol on credit.
Waweru’s father could drink until late and would ask the barman to make sure all the people he knew had drinks. While most mean were known to do that, Waweru’s father never had the money and when he had it had to clear his earlier bills.
Mrs Kamau asked the two boys to go back to class and come back to the staffroom at 12.45 when the school breaks for lunch. She organised that they get the day’s lunch at the school’s kitchen under the school feeding programme that his parents could not afford.
That evening, an embarrassed Waweru picked a note from his teacher, walked out with his brother, and went straight home. That evening, the two did not join the other boys in all the games they could play while going to home.
That evening there was no counting of vehicles on the road, no competing who would kick the largest stone furthest and definitely today there would be no visit to Baba Ali’s shop for the broken sweets.
Waweru wished that the ground would swallow him. “Why did the teachers have to embarrass me like that? Why can’t my parent be rich enough? Why is it that no one cares?” he thought to himself.
“Waweru don’t be sad… one day we will afford all that we have wished for. Our parent may have not done it but we will do it for ourselves!” Maina interrupted his big brother’s thoughts.
But the two boys had even something more pressing to think about now.
“What do you think Mrs Kamau wrote on that note? And why did she only address it to mum?” Maina asked his brother as they approached their house.
“I don’t know… do you think we should open it?,” Waweru answered.