Home Creative The Village That Brought Me Up

The Village That Brought Me Up

by Shiko Msa

Village Pic

I love the village. A lot. What’s not to love? Free organic food and fruit? Crisp fresh air? Varying shades of green as far as the eye can see? Spending evenings in the outside firewood kitchen? Waking up to the splendid view of Mt. Kenya? The absolute silence? Except for the goat bleats and crowing roosters but that does not count as noise.

It is no surprise that I’m typing this from the village and have not yet bothered to get back to the hustle and bustle of city life after the festivities. I have no njaanuary to deal with and will only stretch and go back to the city after people have shaken off holiday hangovers and work meetings have started. For now it is making perfect sense that I’m seated in the village writing about the village.

The village is the kind of environment that affords me the luxury of sitting under a tree and writing. I will get tired/done with writing and pick a book to read and by late afternoon, I will watch a movie or an episode of something. My biggest decision in the morning is not which road to avoid due to traffic, but which tree to sit under and work. Ok now I guess I’m boasting :-D.

Here in the village, some city things cease to make sense. Like spending money to control weight. The village controls your weight for you. As far as exercise goes, ours is a hilly area and every errand will involve going up or down some hill. Even just fetching vegetables for lunch from the shamba. Life is healthy by default and the snacks around are such as fresh fruit and boiled arrowroot or plantain leftovers. A clear disconnect from my city life where on a normal day I’ll have eaten 2 ndaos by 10am. Someone will come to the desk with biscuits and I’ll reach out for two or three of those too. And then I’ll head out to lunch and more often than not eat wrong food and wash it down with soda. Argh.

If I want soda here, I have to take a 15 minute walk to the shops as opposed to taking the lift downstairs to the kiosk back in the city. So I’ll usually let it slide. If one is here long enough the difference starts to show.

This is not the first time I’m writing about my love for the village. Back in 2009 while I was still living in Mombasa I wrote this: “I go home at every opportunity. Home upcountry to the farm. Friends often ask me why on earth I keep going to shags half the country away. Well, for one my mum lives there. The fresh air, the endless compound. And these cute calves that are born every other month. The ones my little nephew is always insisting we carry back to Mombasa. Auntie ni kadogo utakaweka kwa nyumba”. Eish! The thought!

I grew up between here and Mombasa and then went ahead and spent all my adult life in Mombasa. Until I moved cities 3 years ago, a visit to the village back here in Nyeri was a treat I could only afford twice a year. Sometimes just once. It was always an overnight bus trip and then a 2 hour matatu journey. Now I’m just under 2 hours away and I come home with a vengeance. For all the years I spent 10 hours on the road just to come and spend 2 or 3 days in the place I so love. To come and spend 2 or 3 days with my mother.

My work days in the village are pretty much as they would be back in the city – less the commute, the traffic and restaurant food. I still start my day with a to do list of office work. Except here it will also have items like call the agrovet, order cow-feed, and buy roofing nails and door hedges for minor repairs around the compound.

Anyway, with all the gushing about my village, I don’t exactly stay here too long. I’m still a city girl and soon enough I crave Nairobi. I want to see bright lights and go to java to waste money on overpriced cake. I want to visit Yaya and have my nails done. (You should see nails after two weeks in the village). I want to pass by Nakumatt after work and buy some things for the house – along with unnecessary lotions. And then I want go to Newscafe and take that tall glass of Seven deadly sins.

I do not take for granted that I can work from the village and be able to switch seamlessly to the city. My story would have been very different were it not for the fact I can still keep connections with the city when I’m here. I’m still able to keep upto date with office work, with my friends on facebook and Instagram, and with hilarious twitter banter. Rural electrification and Safaricom internet for the win! These are the two things that enable me to keep connected to the world, even from the comfort of the village.

Just a few short years ago I would never have dreamt of working from here or even staying long. Anything to do with internet I would have to go to the nearest town which is not so near and into a cyber to contend with those extra old computers that go to cyber cafes to make some money as they breath their last.

More than anything, I’m also grateful to the village for raising me. Not in the sense that any random neighbor could pinch me in the name of discipline but in the sense that the people  and the environment here played a part in shaping my perceptions of life.

Over the next two weeks I’ll be remembering and telling the stories of the village that brought me up. Let’s hear your stories too! 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.

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