“Stop making that sound”, Nana’s mother said. “You know I don’t like it when you do that.”
“But I’m hungry mama”. Said five year old Nana.
“I know you are. Just a little while longer and the food will be ready. You hear? Oya come have some more water.”
Nana’s mother scoops some water from the bucket in the corner and gives it to her. She drinks the water and goes to lie down on the mat in the room, where her two year old brother was lying, fast asleep.
Nana’s mother looks at her and smiles. Nana smiled back and her mother looked away so Nana won’t see the tears threatening to roll out of her eyes. The firewood was beginning to burn fiercely now and the smoke filled everywhere. She removed a few sticks to reduce the embers of the flames. Her eyes watered now and the tears came freely. It was hard to tell if the tears were as a result of the smoke or the pleading look she saw in her daughter’s eyes. Or was it the rise and fall of Bibi’s oddly protruding stomach, so huge for such a small frame?
Or the never ending sound the rain water made as it dropped into the pale long after the rain had stopped? Could it be the fact that there was just a cup of rice left, which she was saving for tomorrow morning, from the three cups mama Japhet had been kind enough to give her?
Could it be the pesky mosquito constantly buzzing around her ear and her powerlessness to do anything about it? Her constant swatting at the mosquito with a broom yielded no result. She turned to look at Nana through the open door, she was fast asleep. She went in, picked up the wrapper lying on the lone chair in the room and covered them with it. She caressed Nana’s brown coloured hair and turned Bibi on his side. She walked out, not before hitting the empty tin of milk Bibi was playing with earlier, sending it towards the door. She froze and slowly turned around to make sure the sound had not woken up the children. Seeing them still fast asleep, she breathed a sigh of relief, picked up the can and kept it aside.
She went back to the fire burning steadily now. She removed the remaining firewood and quenched the fire. She brought the pot down and carried it to the back of the house. She stood there, with tears running down her cheeks, for what seemed like forever, opened it and poured out the water and stones. She sighed and went back into the house.