Sleeping in turns.
My childhood memories are hazy at times, mostly ambiguous or just outright deceptive. A night cuddled next to grandma is however an odyssey I can never quite relinquish from my lost thoughts and forlorn eyes.
Before she passed on, to be with the Lord as we were told, grandma was a jewel, a strong pillar to lean on, and a fortress of knowledge. As her hand sheltered me and my sister from the cold in her squeaky rusty bed, and as her voice lamented about how we should not fear the slurps and slaps of the River “Mweteta” which flowed speedily past her homestead, we felt at peace. She had these long earlobes which I always picture myself swinging on. The mark of her duty she said, but I could never quite grasp which duty this was, that could elongate ones earlobes so.
A night in “Murimo” used to start with the loud but distant coercive voices of “big boys,” young men much older than myself, as they coaxed their cows humbly to heed and proceed to their sheds and rest, for the night was filled with uncertainty and no one could protect them in the cover of darkness. The cows would moo, almost affectionately but with a semblance of defiance. “We haven’t finished our grass” I would picture them say.
The sound of jugs, Jerri cans, bottles, calabashes and mugs. It was more than a murmur as ladies from all over Nyathuna came to take their share of river Mweteta. We heard it all you see for as I said before our home was in close proximity to the bulging stream. The gossip of the ridges also subdued the noise of the river, as the ladies lamented and spoke over the hidden mysteries of the land.
The whisper of the night was greeted by the low grunts of the men, as they went to “Kanyuira’s” to partake of his special tea which we children could not partake. It’s a cruel thing, I used to think, to deny a child tea. Especially this kind of strong tea that made men more opinionative, more aggressive and occasionally made some of them confuse the River Mweteta for their way home. A cruel thing indeed.
As the men departed from their usual convergence at Kanyuira’s nest, my elder brother told me he could hear the creak of beds and wails of women at night, as he came from “kianda” where he was watering mama’s ‘bebe.’ What made the women wail, who had died? Grandma said something about the women wailing since the sun had succumbed to the night, but she reprimanded my sister sternly when she tried to re-enact the wailing.
As the night settled, the creatures of the night would awake, and the dogs knew it, for an incessant barking all over the three ridges would start.
It is at this times that grandma would tell us stories of a land without vehicles or bicycles. How they used to walk from ‘Mweteta’ to ‘Murimo’ and about a man she met in her youth who apparently had my hands and my sister’s eyes.
As the small fire we had lit dulled down, so did grandma’s eyes, and she would hurry us to bed before there was complete absence of light. In her cradle like arms we would slip into sleep, me and my sister and awake to find River ‘Mweteta’ had actually woken before us and the night had long faded away.
 Mweteta; the name of a River.
 Murimo; the name of a location; translated it means ‘the land above’
 Nyathuna; the main location; all villages and locations were within Nyathuna.
 The name of a man who owned a bar where he sold a fermented drink called ‘Muratina’ his name means place to drink.
 Kianda; name of a location, where most farms were located; literally means the land below
 Bebe; means maize plants