This is Kerio valley as seen from Koibarak. When I was about eight, the stretch of trees and shrubs were thicker. I would often see teams of Colobus monkeys leaping through the canopy with effortless grace and would be reminded of the song the old men sang:

“Colobus monkey it is not man that kills you but your beautiful coat”

Sadly there are no more Colobus monkeys. Nor are there dikdiks which were plentiful too. A few squirrels and rock hyraxes remain.
Sometimes I would get bored of this valley and fill it up with water. I would sail on a boat across it and stare down at the men and women who went about their farm obligations, unaware they were now under water. But mostly I would just stare at nothing as I ate the wild siriek, komolik, tabirbir and some other red fruit with white juice whose name I can no longer recall.

I was a dutiful catholic then and heard about this old woman who had met the Virgin Mary here. The Virgin was described to be a woman with kind eyes, covered with a white veil with butterflies hovering over her head like a halo. From then on, I wished for nothing else but to meet her too. I would come here with my rosary and genuflect. I would hum the rosary prayers dutifully; believing the stones that scoured my knees, would convince Maria of my faith and make her appear.

One day I saw a single, conical cloud in the sky and remembered how it was for Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, the three Portuguese children herding sheep in 1916 when Maria appeared to them from the sky. I felt sad that I had forgotten to carry my rosary that day. Still, I knelt down, praying with fervor, believing that Maria would whisper to me the Secrets of Fatima as she did to those children. But the cloud failed to turn into the Blessed Virgin. Instead a sharp wind tore it like tufts of cotton and spread it across the sky. I sat down on a stone and wiped the white dust off my knees.