Dear Jessica…

Dear Jessica,

The past 4 months have been an eye opener. Each morning as I commute to my ‘work place’, I see women coming back from the market; they’ve got huge loads on their heads, their babies strapped securely on their backs.  Some wield heavy kikapus, from the look of things; they seem to weigh not less than 15kgs. The women struggle to board the matatu, making sure that all their belongings are safe; the luggage and the baby too.

See, these women are the local Mama Mbogas back in the estates; they trade vegetables and fruits for a living. The more established ones also sell cereals and charcoal.

They are determined to make ends meet for their families. However much or little they make.  Waking up at 4 or 5 am is a norm; that’s the time you can get the best tomatoes and greens at the market.  If you sleep, you get the squashed fruits and vegetables, or the bruised bananas that we all hate so much. A little slumber and your profits go plunging down the drain.  They are used to waking up early and sleeping late; what with the household chores still waiting for them once they close shop (getting a maid is a luxury most of these women cannot afford).

And the worst bit is their babies have to adapt to the schedule of their mothers.  They are used to being dressed warmly and strapped onto their mothers’ backs using a leso.  You can see the mucus trickling down their nostrils because of the chilly mornings.  Even in the hot midday sun, you can see these kids playing happily next to their mother’s kibanda; sweat trickles down their faces but their jackets are never removed. It’s an unwritten rule; just a thing with mothers.  After all, who wants their baby to contract pneumonia?

These babies are no ordinary babies; they mature way before their time. You can see the age and wisdom in their eyes. They seem to understand what their mothers are going through; it’s for their own good.

 Women are determined you know; they can never let their children starve as they watch.  They’d rather die first. It’s a God-given gift.  A man can walk out of his children’s lives. He can eat meat while his family back at home sleeps hungry. He can buy himself expensive shoes as his kids walk around in torn clothes.  Some men even disown their babies. But a woman; she will sacrifice her own happiness and comfort just for her kids.

 Every mom wants what’s best for her children. And as I look at the hardworking women along the Kenyan streets, I can’t wait to do just the same for my daughter; for my Jessica.

 I want to give you the best that life has to offer. I don’t want to carry you around in a leso as I toil just to make sure we get enough milk for supper. I don’t want you bumping your head on a matatu roof; neither do I want you suffocating as we squeeze ourselves into the cramped seats. I don’t want you inhaling polluted traffic air; your poor lungs might get congested.  I never want you to be fed on the streets at lunch time; all the dust and cold wind blowing on your face.  I don’t want you to reek of urine and sweat in the evening. I just don’t.

I wasn’t exactly born into extravagance or riches, we made do; I turned out fine; but I don’t want the same life I had for you.

I want you to give you the best money can buy. What’s money if it can’t buy you comfort if not happiness. Yes, I shall spoil you when you come to the world, but be assured that I will not bring up a mannerless child. I want you to be able to do what you love; I want to be able to finance your ambitions. Whether you want to be a race-car driver or a poet, whether you choose to become a Q.S or an artist, I will support you.

I never want the lack of money to be a hindrance between you and your dreams. I want to be able to buy you the best clothes, the shoes you want and take you to the best schools around.  So many of my dreams got crushed because there wasn’t much money to spare and I don’t want the same for you. I don’t want you hustle as much as I did, maybe just a little so that you get to learn what life is all about. 

As I go about my work and studies, I think of the life I want to give you and I automatically become focused. I never want to become that mother that could’ve given you more yet did not; I want to be that mother that gave you the best; upbringing and all. I want to set a good example to you. I want you to be able to look up to your mother and see a great person. 

Just 7 more years so that I can hold you in my arms…or maybe 8…maybe even earlier than that…maybe later. The universe works in mysterious ways, who knows what could happen between now and then.  All I know is that I don’t want you to come into this world an accident. You shall have a home, and a loving family to come to. Because, some things can be controlled, and that is one thing I wield the power to change.

Till we meet my dear baby to be…till we meet. For now I will stick to holding and sniffing random people’s babies (freaky, right?) because they smell like heaven and look adorable.


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