My mum is a retired teacher and educationist at heart. She taught in the local school for so long that she was still around to teach her former students’ children. This way she has formed bonds with the entire village, the district and the provincial education fraternity as a whole.

She has since moved to far off lands but she still keeps so connected to the village you’d think she still lives there. She still has the village education situation at her fingertips and genuine concerns for it. She knows who passed exams and who didn’t do so well. She does all this via constant phone calls with other teachers in her old school. She also knows which students need support and sends a bit of money via Mpesa to assist when she can.

When we were growing up, Mum never once raised a finger to hit any of us. Her style of discipline was just gentleness you did not want to upset. Every once in a while she’d get worked up and let out a harsh word. Then she’d come back and say “sorry I got mad at you but see what you did there?” You did, and actually felt really shitty for it. Still my siblings and I were little rascals every once in a while. We erred again and again but at the end of the day we were well behaved. We turned out fine.

This is the same gentleness with which she went about her work at school and that is how she earned so much love and respect that nobody wanted to do wrong by her. Kids wanted to be in time for school during her duty week. They wanted to keep the school clean without being followed around. For example, we all know how savage kids can get with nicknames for teachers. But my mother’s students nicknamed her ‘golden’. Partly because she smelt nice and partly because she was good to them. I totally agree with them on that name 😀

My mother’s signature scent was ladygay lotion. This scent was and is still love to me. It is the hug I received from her when she came home from work. The calming assurance in her room whenever my siblings and I walked in. It was her aura and for me it was love, care and safety. Ladygay was the scent that wafted from her room in the morning when she was getting ready for work. And by extension an assurance that everything was ok and the world was safe. They have since changed the scent of ladygay and I think they even took it off the shelves but I’ve never forgotten, and will never forget the original scent.

This story is part of a 6 part series to celebrate the village that brought me up. Do you have stories of such characters back home who stand out? Post them here and let’s remember our upbringings together. And not just the village. Anything or anyone you feel made or is making an impact in your life.

Other stories in this series:

The village that brought me up – An intro

The village that brought me up – The village drunkard

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