A weekend in the Masai Mara. Too much gorgeousness to record. Lions, giraffes, a Masai birthday, cubs wrestling, baby elephants, newborn gazelles, male lions strutting across the plains, children colouring, birdwatching, laughing, games, early morning tea on the savannah, g and t’s at sunset.

Today I knocked at R’s door in my sweatpants, empty yoghurt container in hand, begging for some coffee grinds. She made the coffee for me, cried about motherhood, while P’s voice floated down from her Playmobil world.

M is developing a secret language. A code that looks like elaborate hieroglyphics. J can’t stop reading at night, tired but addicted to the thrill of books. P holds the brown dog her dad gave her for her birthday. Shines its blue stars on the ceiling when she’s scared.

When I stop for produce at Lucy’s stand, P stays in the car, peeks her head out the window. Lucy gathers bananas and sikuma, transfers yellow passion fruit from a cardboard box into my straw basket, reaches into her top for a small envelope of shillings. She gives me extra bananas for a discount. We each take one handle of the heavy basket and carry it to the car, shake hands in the exhaust of matatus.

J starts to cry at the supper table, silent, while stirring her soup. She won’t tell us why. Later, after riding her bike around the track at dusk, parking it by the library, she holds my hand and pulls me back, says she’s ready to tell me a secret. She was crying before, she says, because when she went into the wrong bathroom at school, all the kids laughed at her. She wasn’t embarrassed, but felt really bad. I hug her, tell her about the time I walked into the bathroom when the principal was peeing. We laugh and wonder why kids don’t realize how hurtful laughter is. She skips home, lighter.

The sight of J’s large shaky printing, her perfect two’s, her big round dots on her i’s, brings tears to my eyes. I wish i could freeze the girls in this morning, spend a lifetime enjoying their shaky spelling and their imaginary languages. The days pass too quickly. I’m not ready for their passing.

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