Lunch In the summer of 2012, Jackie travelled to her hometown in Kenya to start a literacy project. The following story is written from the perspective of one of her young students. Last night I made porridge with the last of the corn flour. We all enjoyed it. Eva, my nine-year-old sister, and I left home for school quite early today as Denis, my older brother, travelled to town. At school, I try to be attentive in class. The Science lesson with Mr. Kamau is always fun. Today we are learning about the vertebrates and some exceptional mammals like the duck-billed platypus. Mr. Kamau asks, “We now know the egg-laying mammals. Do we also have toothless mammals?” Tommy lifts his hand up. “My grandmother,” he says. The class bursts into laughter. But Tommy is right. His old grandmother is edentulous. I usually look forward to break time. I love playing kati. Kati is a Kenyan version of dodgeball played by two teams, one ball and bottle tops. The goal is to make a tower with the bottletops before being hit by the ball. The running, the screaming, the jumping, and the arguing when unfairly hit by the ball all produce a special energy. As lunch time approaches, I am hardly attentive in class. The bell rings. As usual, the kids in the lower primary shout “Luuuuuunch!” as they rush home. “Are you going for lunch?” asks my friend Mary Judith. “Oh yes!” I reply. “See you in the afternoon girl. Enjoy your lunch!” Mary Judith runs off. As I watch her go, I smile.
Mr. Kamau asks, “We now know the egg-laying mammals. Do we also have toothless mammals?” Tommy lifts his hand up. “My grandmother,” he says. 06
The Williams Telos
by Jackline Odhiambo I walk out of my class to the grazing field outside school. I can see another student walking towards the Jacaranda tree next to the boys’ soccer field. I am consoled. Everything drags. The sun is faithfully scorching. The wind blows the dust in a circular array. It is beautiful to watch the spiral even though dust gets into your eyes. The young shepherds are grazing their goats and sheep. With their bare chests, I can count the ribs on their bare chests. Their lips are dry and cracked. “It is a beautiful day, isn’t it, schoolgirl?” one asks me. “Oh yes! Very beautiful indeed,” I reply. These shepherds are a funny lot. I come out to this field to listen to their songs. Yesterday they were singing about the richness of the fields that fatten their animals. Today they are praising the grey clouds that bring fresh water. I look at the rich blue sky, decorated by white, irregular-shaped moving clouds. The thought of a great meal tonight cloud my mind. Eva and I decided pilau would be the appropriate dish. Pilau is spiced rice prepared with goat meat and spices like cumin, cinnamon, and cloves. Eva will make a salad of kachumbari with diced tomatoes, onions, carrots, and cilantro, mixed with lemon juice. I can smell the fragrance of pilau. We reminded Denis to bring some soda too. My afternoon lessons are uneventful. I am the first to leave school for home. Eva smiles at my entrance and continues washing the dishes. She has collected firewood enough to last us for another week. I join her and together we finish household chores while chatting. “I will make the pilau,” Eva says. “Then the aroma will fill your stomach before you eat,” I interject. “ You make kachumbari as you usually do, and leave the pilau work for me.” Eva laughs. Dusk quickly approaches. I lit the kerosene lamp and put it on the table as she locks the door. We sit at the table to do homework as we wait for Denis. Eva picks the lamp up and walks to the bedroom. “I need the lamp here, Eva.” “I know, just getting my math homework,” she shouts from the bedroom.
Fall 2012 issue of The Williams College Telos. Theme: Hunger.