Weaving through a crowd of tourists in Luoyang, China, I take a moment to reflect. Yes, we’re told to dream big but coming from rural Kenya, the reality of life quickly turns those dreams into mere wishful thinking. How did I get here? I chuckle at the question. I quickly remember the difficulties my dearest mother, Phanice, endured to give me a chance at escaping that hard life. My mother labored on people’s farms from morning to evening to pay for my examination fees. She burned and sold charcoal to buy text and exercise books, geometrical sets, and pens. I quickly remember when she’d wake me up at 5:00am in the morning to study under the kerosene-lit lamp. My eyes heavy of sleep, legs dipped in cold water ( to stay awake), I’d read through the torn pages of KCPE Mirror English. And oh! The lectures she gave whenever I scored anything short of a B+ were hard to forget. But most moving for me were her prayers. Every night before retiring to bed, she prayed asking God to change her life by giving her children an education. Watching tears trickle down her face gave me the motivation to power through lessons on an empty stomach. Watching tears trickle down her face gave me the motivation to walk to my teacher’s home every weekend for extra help. Whenever I felt like giving up, slacking, the picture of my mother on her knees would jolt me to think again.
These efforts paid off as I graduated first in my class. My mom was proud! That night, she cut a chicken to celebrate my performance. She also took another to my primary school as a thank you to my teachers. Fast forward three years later, I am in Callaway chapel at EHS on the landline phone crying to her that I was homesick. It had been two years since I saw her and my siblings and I was struggling at that. She said, “Abi, ki kweli mama sijui maisha yako kule US, lakini najua si rahisi. Nakuombea Mungu kila siku mwanangu. Abi, utokako ni mbali na tunakufurahia sana. Sana. Wenzako wanaendelea vizuri na hata mie niko sawa. Acha tuombe uhai, tutaonana tena usijali,” which translate to , “ Abi, to tell you the truth, I don’t know about your life in the US but I know that it is not easy. I pray for you every day! Abi, you’ve come from far and we’re so proud of you. Your siblings are healthy and I am doing alright, too. For now, let’s pray for good health. We shall see each other soon. ” Hearing these words, I was assured that all will be well.
Fast forward another four years, it’s 3:00am and I am on the phone with her complaining about the multiple essays I had to write in forty eight hours. Calm, collected she said, “ wa! Uko na kazi mama lakini jikaze. Karibu wamaliza (Wow! That’s a lot but you got this. You’re almost done.” With my mom’s encouraging words – and three cups of dark coffee-, I finished the essays on time.
As I write this blog, I beam of happiness. I am filled with gratitude towards my mother for her constant support. Now, I do not know where life will take me, but I know for sure that I will always have her as my number one fan. So, mom, Asante (thank you)!!