That night I was walking down a street.
Lonely, a bit chilly, dark and deserted…
Round the corner sat a little child, watching over his fragile mother.I could tell she was broken on the inside and could see she was tattered on the outside.
The little boy walked up to me, “Excuse me miss,a penny for a fella?” He asked as he pulled on my pants at my ankle.
I looked into his eyes:
They were like peanut-sized rugby balls, sucked into their sockets. Yet the tears that flooded made them crystal clear.
I felt I could tell his life story but couldn’t tell it to the end.
“I want to buy mommy an air ticket so she can go up there. That’s where the best doctor is.” He said pointing to the sky.
For a moment my heart stopped…
Right here was a kid ready to do everything possible to achieve the impossible. Yet I was walking home mumbling about how I didn’t want to make ugali cause it had been my previous night’s dinner.
“Come, come see mommy!” He reached for my hand.
His fingers were skinny,dirty and nails so disfigured. Don’t get me wrong, my freshly done French manicure was not the reason why I couldn’t take his hand, if anything I was scared I’d break his brittle noodle-like fingers.
“Let’s go toto,” I said to him in a tone way lower than my usual one.
We walked down the dark alley and rounded to the corner where his mother lay on a cardboard mattress. I went down on my knees right next to her and placed my hand on her head.
She woke up in shock; “Max! Max! Where’s my Max?” That’s all she said on seeing my unfamiliar face.
“Mommy I brought a visitor,” little Max said to his mother.
She heaved a sigh of relief and I could see the anguish on her face slowly fade away. She struggled to sit up and I did not hesitate to help her out.
“My name is Muthoni, your son asked me for assistance ma’am,” I tried to make conversation.
“I’m Achieng’,” she replied with yet another struggle.
Max did not want his mother to speak much, he was scared each word made her weaker than before.
I let her lie down and sat there listening to little Max.
It was heading to 8:00p.m, I’d been there for almost an hour and very unaware indeed.
“Did you know that mommy can go on her own and watch over me from up there? She’ll come back when she’s better. Then we can get a house, I can get a daddy,a puppy and more little ones like me.”
The seven year old was a dreamer, or was it his ignorant age? I honestly don’t know but it seemed to capture hundred percent of my undivided attention.
“Miss you don’t have to stay you can go home. I don’t need that penny anymore, you listened to me, noone ever does. They just drop pennies and go. Some shove me to the side and say; ‘Stupid child!’ Others say; ‘Poor child!’and walk away. But you are the first to listen. When I take mommy up there I’ll tell the Man to change your dinner.”
I looked at him in shock but could afford a smile. He was listening to me mumble before!
“Max, let’s go get some supper for you and mom.” I muttered as I held out my hand to him once I was on my feet again. Little did I know that this was the beginning of an unbreakable bond.
He kissed his mother on the cheek and said, “Mommy I’ll be back with something you haven’t seen in weeks. I love you.”
We walked down the street to a nearby restaurant and I let him pick the food he wanted. As we walked out he said, “Goodbye Miss, may the angels get you home safe.” He hugged me tight and for the first time a stranger made me feel more loved than I ever did.
I watched him run back to his mother as a tear escaped my eye.
I would see him the next day,and the next and the next and this would become a habit so regular.
…to be continued…