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My bedroom was an outcrop structure in the kitchen store at a Catholic Parish that was my home for very many years during my memorable and deprived childhood.

I can cut through all the years that have now passed and still see those days like it was only yesterday.

I used to retire into my room early on Saturday nights and pretend to sleep in early after the days hardwork,doing Laundry Work for Joseph,the ‘Blackie’.

I waited until it was all quiet and the old priests were sleeping,then raised my window softly,climb out my room and walk very softly on back lawns of the parish and into the narrow streets of Kawangware slums in the West of Nairobi.

I never used to have much fun in life,but I had several distractions that I could choose from to alleviate my loneliness and boredom.

There were no lights burning in the narrow streets after 9 o’clock during the night except security lights near the Native hooch dens.

On starlight nights,I used to pace up and down those long and haphazard laid cold streets,scowling at the little sleeping cardboard houses on either side of the street.

They were flimsy shelters,some of them made of green raw poles and mud.

Yet for all their frailness,how much envy,and jealousy and unhappiness some of them managed to contain!

The life that went on in them seemed to me made up of evasions and negations,total loss of human dignity and privacy in face of abject poverty.

This guarded mode of existence was like living under some invisible tyranny.

People’s speech,their voices,their side glances were furtive and repressed.

Every individual taste,appetite,ambition was bridled by caution.

The people inside those houses,I thought,tried to live like the mice in their kitchens;to make no noise,to leave no trace,to just slip over the surface of the earth in the dark.

The growing piles of stinking garbage,ash and cinder in open-kitchen backyards were the only evidence that some trace of life could be found inside the dark slums at night.

The Laundry Man,the ‘Blackie’, was a kind and wide old fellow who paid us well for helping him out in the Laundry.

He had no children of his own.

His only daughter died aged seventeen of late-life measles.

He told me once during an unguarded moment,which were not many in his life,that his own daughter doed just as she was getting old enough to help him out in his Laundry business.

On summer afternoons,he used to sit for hours on the sidewalk in front of his laundry,his old newspaper lying on his knee,watching boys and girls through the big open window as we. Ironed and tried to serenade girls with hummed tunes from lovesongs that usually played on the radio.

The clouds of white and red dust,the gusts of hot tropical wind that withered his vegetable garden in his backyard,never seemed to disturb his calm.

His very facial expression and countenance amidst all these chaos,seemed to say that he had found the secret to contentment.

Morning and evening,he rode out in his bicycle,distributing the clean and ironed clothes,and collecting baskets of linen that cried out for washing and drying in his sun-drying lines at his backyard.

The girls from that laundry were hot during dances;the smelled of lavender ironed clothes and soap fragrances rare in our part of slums.

It is them,Dara,Christine and dimpled Chelsie that I usually visited on my Saturday night strolls in their rented one room dungeon.

Wherever you are,you three girls of my youth,remember that I still hold you so dearly in my heart.

So many years of fighting the weather,and not being together have not weathered the cherished memories I still have for you!

Just some random thoughts that came to my mind….©Profarms’ Random Thoughts©

Just some random thoughts that came to my mind….©Profarms’ Random Thoughts©

Just some random thoughts that came to my mind….©Profarms’ Random Thoughts©

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