About a month ago my domestic chores assistant (DCA) (read house help) started making noises about going for her daughter’s prayer day. Her daughter is sitting for her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams this year. The prayer day wouldn’t have warranted such advance warning had the girl been enrolled at a Nairobi school. She ‘schools’ in Western, so attending the prayer day would mean that my DCA would have to travel upcountry.
Sometime between her first mention of the thing and the thing itself, a lady passed on at my DCA’s church. Tragically, she died in childbirth and so did her unborn child. It was heartbreaking. Naturally, the Nairobi leg of the funeral had to be attended, and predictably, it involved a kesha. Because the whole dying-in-childbirth thing was so distressing, and I really, truly felt for the family of the deceased, I allowed my DCA to pull an all-nighter on a work night. I thought that would be the end of it. Clearly, I’m not too bright.
Early this week, some more noises were made about how the Western part of the funeral would be held just one day after the prayer day. Seeing as she would be in the region anyway, she asked if she could attend, giving a convoluted account of how she would be able to catch this bus or that, sleep or not sleep, just so she would make it back to Nairobi in time for me to make it to work without too much interference. I considered saying no but I knew that would be a waste of spit.
So this weekend, the woman is somewhere in Luyhia land, praying for her daughter’s success and laying her friend to rest.
As it turns out, my DCA was not the only mother praying for her child to pass the KCPE exams. Mothers (and fathers) across the country have assembled over the course of the month to seek audience with the Almighty, asking him to give their children the wisdom to pass this crucial test. Some are praying for a helping hand and others are praying for an outright miracle.
Which got me to thinking about the child and the series of tests she is already going through in her young life. Peadiatricians call them milestones. I remember distinctly being admonished by one of them when baby was about a month old. I was insisting that she had begun smiling at me, while the doctor was insisting that it was gas. How now? A mother would know that her child was smiling at her, no? Well, no. According to the esteemed medical professional, baby’s only begin to smile (consciously) at about three months of age. And not a month (or a couple) before. Oh boo. What a killjoy.
But now that my daughter flashes her trademark, wide toothless grin with frequency, I can see what the doc was trying to tell me. “When she gives you a real smile, you’ll know it,” she said.