Chematya and Kabon
Kabon had four children. The eldest was Kimoi my grand-mother who got married in Sergoit. In 1926, she gave birth to her second daughter Chematya who was left-handed; that same year too there was a full Solar eclipse. Kimoi described it as darkness rising like a snake and swallowing up the sun, terrifying children and waking up hyenas, ghosts and other shadows that hid in the west waiting for the sun to set.
When Chematya was about 5 years old, my grandfather who had a way with horses moved to Mr. Right’s farm near Sing’ore where he proved an able hand at breaking horses. After a while Mr. Right gave him a piece of land to farm and he brought along his wife Kimoi to stay with him so that she could also seek out work at the farm and get paid wages. Kimoi was so sad to leave Chematya behind but finally she left her daughter with her younger sister who lived in Kamariny and went on her way. Kimoi would rise up early every morning at Mr. Right’s farm and pray her rosary; mixing ancient chants to the sun goddess with Latin chants she had learnt by rote at church, praying for her daughter Chematya to be well.
Months later news reached her that Chematya was very sick, and as worried as she was, it took her a while to get permission from Mr. Right to go to Kamariny. When she reached Kamariny, her sister met her at the gate and told her that Chematya had passed on 4 days before. The body had not been moved from the hut where it lay, and Kimoi walked in to see that her daughter had grown really pale and shrunken.
Since her husband was away at the farm and his brothers far away in Chepkorio, there was no one to bury her daughter (Keiyo culture did not allow the maternal side of the family to handle the corpse). So Kimoi washed her daughter’s body and swaddled it on her back, then carried it all the way to Sergoit (10 KMs away). She arrived late in the afternoon, and with no one to assist her, she buried her daughter at a corner of her farm. I hear she wept all night long, cursing at the darkness for taking her daughter as it once had taken the sun.
For the rest of her life, whenever a grand-child was born, Kimoi would ask if the child was left-handed. She never lived to see another leftie in our family. In 1988, just a day before she passed on, she told my mother that she saw Chematya, a full grown woman, standing before a gate, looking so happy. A sweet aroma wafted from the gate, and right then Chematya had said
“Mama, you look so hungry. I have made you some good food. Come inside we feast.”