The rain had ruined her day’s plans. She’s scheduled a binge-watch of a season of her favorite telenovela in bed, only getting up to refill snacks every two or so hours. This was just what she needed: the long holidays had finally come around and she had sped out of the city the very day she finished her exams. Her friends always laughed at how ready she was to leave; they’d probably be recovering from a post-exam party or another job rejection letter. Such was life. She had negotiated a two week recess by herself at the family’s rural home. Her parents were keen on her taking advantage of her “free time”by delving into some kind of internship or the other. They had offered to talk to friends and friends of friends. She should have declined and insisted on forging her own path but long application processes and the probability of rejection humbled her. Her long time family friend, Uncle J, drove her to the farm at her father’s request. She had voiced the thought of taking a bus on the family chat but her mother had called her yelling about insecurity and demons. Her lamentation somehow extended to how rarely she came home and how she did not love them any more. She had been going on for almost a quarter and hour when her father, who just wanted to do his carvings in peace, had said bas and ordered her home. Even in the grainy video call image she could see just when he raised his eyebrows at her when her mother wasn’t looking; egging her to relent. Her campus was in the outskirts of the City and their family home at the center, she really should have gone farther for Uni.
She had had two more weeks of term time left and one essay to hand in. The house was almost always empty during the day and she had missed her room anyways. She agreed to come home in exchange for an unsupervised two weeks at the farm. That Friday, they had pored over the details of the arrangement. When her mother was satisfied they’d had dinner in front of the TV, where her mother worked off her exhaustion from the firm’s litigation load by soaking her feet in the massage bucket and catching up on episodes. Her father’s color stained hands had served the food out onto the plates her twin brother had made in pottery class and shipped home. She almost rolled her eyes at how sentimental they all were.
With her on the farm Aunty Flo, the caretaker, went on leave leaving her enough groceries, a to-do-list, emergency numbers and mushene to last her the week. She would be back to check on mdosi’s daughter after Church that weekend. The rains were due and Flo’s scrawl on a sticky-note on the fridge door reminded her to cover over the leaky the ghala roof with tarpaulin and make sure to secure it well. She removed her headphones when she heard the sound of water against the drain pipes. She pulled on her beaten sweatpants, gumboots and Flo’s raincoat. Her earphones blasted some repetitive pop song for motivation; the trek was short but the hill was steep and slippery. The pleasant smell of petrichor was heavy and the mud already thickening as she left the house. Their house was the closest one to the granaries in the whole village. When she was younger, she and her brother would sit on the fence and watch people as they trudged up the hill. Sometimes cheering them on sometimes watching silently because their mother had pinched them for yelling at passers by. She opened up her palms to the warm rain and took out her earphones to hear the rain patter.
The tarpaulin was coming undone, she rolled up her sleeves as she came up to the makeshift stout metal gate and plugged her earphones back in. She’d almost forgotten how heavy it was and how her brother had once got his foot snagged under it and howled for a whole hour. His injury availed him princely treatment for a full month until the crutches and dressing were no longer needed. The mud had built around it so she would have to lift it then swing it open. She unlocked the drop bolts and latch, grasped the lock rail, and lifted one of the gates, slowly backing up. Her arms were not the strongest and the mud and oil from the bolts made her fingers slippery. She heard a sloshing behind her and was comforted by the thought that someone else was caught out in the rain. She wedged out more than enough space to pass through and eased the gate back down. The blue plastic was flailing in the wind and would collapse heavily on the granary when the wind ceased. The raindrops noisily beat on the tile and corrugated iron roofs of the surrounding sheds, drowning out most of Nas’ rap bars. She turned up the volume as she got to work. The music player shuffled onto Eric Wainaina’s Nchi ya kitu kidogo. Her mind took her back to the most memorable occasions she had jammed to it. When she was six years old and her parents were belting it out in their sitting room; at twelve when it played on the radio in the car and she got her Mother to pull over and turn off the deafening engine so she could record it onto her phone and set it as a caller tone. On ” Throwback-Nite” two weeks ago when all the late nineties- early two thousand Kenyan jams played all night at the campus club; at the kiosk where she had gone to buy maandazi and Fanta that morning. The rain was seeping into her gumboots- wellies as her best friend had began to call them- and she belted it out too knowing no one could hear her over the downpour.
She began to laugh: at the heavy rain and her soaked socks and the faded tarpaulin she was wrestling. She began to miss her town before she even left.