True Stories From Iten
Kabon was one of the last people to still worship the sun. In the early 1950s when she was already old and infirm, and blinded by cataracts, she laughed all efforts of proselytizing her to the Christian faith by pointing at the sun with her walking stick and saying that there was only one god and that was Asiis, Chepkelyen Sogol (The Sun, Our Nine-legged Daughter). She lived with her daughter in Sergoit and when she felt death coming she asked to be taken back to her home since life ( her daughter’s marriage and children) could not mix with her death. She called my mother aside, who was only about 5 years old at the time and told her of her impending death. She said she had nothing else to give my mother but her skin cloak. Then she plucked out pieces of her hair and placed it on my mother’s head and said she would live long till all her hair was as white as the clouds that scudded the sky. The next day Kabon’s son who lived in Kamariny sent two oxen bearing a forked stick (chepchuguguk) to Sergoit. On this forked stick, a mat was tied and then Kabon was laid on it and dragged to Kamariny. She had a stubborn wound on her stomach (probably a form of cancer) which could not heal and therefore could not be carried on someone’s back. In Kamariny, her son, ever so afraid that he would not see his mother in heaven went to Sing’ore to ask the Irish priest in charge of the diocese to come and baptize her mother. Meanwhile Kabon was in such agony from her stomach wound and a local medicine man pierced the wound with an arrow to let the pus out. By the time the Irish priest came, Kabon could no longer speak, and her son was ever so relieved when she was finally baptized and could then enter heaven as Elizabeth. My mother would regularly visit Kabon in Kamariny but one day she walked into her home to find the door to her hut closed. When she tried to peak inside, the adults around chased her away. Much later, in her own child’s wisdom, she figured out the spot where Kabon was buried since it was cleared of grass and had flowers planted atop.She remembered Kabon instructing people to plant a tree on her grave, and she reminded the adults around of Kabon’s last wish.They all laughed it off and told her to go and play with the other children. This disrespect of Kabon’s burial wish bothered my mother so much and food lost taste to her for a long while after that. Kabon’s husband, Kipkigey lived in the valley with his second wife. He immediately got a stroke when he heard of his wife’s death and his hands curled. The son planned a visit to go and see him but on his way someone ran up to him and told him that Kipkigey had died, which was just three days after Kabon had passed on. The son held back his tears but decided to go on and see his father, even though he was dead.