LONELY PATH FIREFLIES
Goodbyes are not my ideal cup of tea. In my not so short life I have had numerous goodbyes. Some memorable, some which deserve a place in the trash can. People shed tears during goodbyes but I have never done it, partly because I am a man and partly because I had no reason to. Many shed crocodile tears, a hypocritical way which could earn them a spot in a Mexican soap opera. It is of no use portraying an emotional part of you which rarely exists. It might leave the departing person having a feeling of guilt and wishing he/she wasn’t going away.
My goodbyes started when I was a toddler rarely understanding their meanings. My mum was still pursuing her higher education back then. She would leave me for months under care of my lovely grandmother. Life back then was wonderful with no hassles. My grandmother pampered me and I never felt the pinch of my mother going away, but I always looked forward to her return because of the goodies I would get. Soon goodbyes started gaining a meaning. My mum became a teacher at my school going age. Being the only child, I was overly attached to her. Her transfers from one station to another became mine too. As soon as I started getting used to one, she moved and so did I.
The primary schools I was to leave a lot of memories on my childish brain. One amazing one was Mususye. I was there barely a year and a half but I still remember it to this day. It was situated on a hill and I used to walk up and down the steep slopes every day. I wasn’t alone, my cousins schooled there too. We used to wake up pretty much early every morning. Around four a.m. The main reason was not to get to school early for the purposes of academic excellence. The wet and thick path we used to school instead of the main road was lined up with mango trees and all surrounding farms. We wanted to get the best before the owners woke up. We used to climb the trees and shake the branches if what we found on the ground was not enough or other early birds had already passed by on their way to school.
The school was at the edge of the hills forest which was managed by lazy and corrupt forest officials. Nowadays the thickness we enjoyed there no longer exists; deforestation is falling faster and at shorter intervals than rain does. Simply, it is no longer a forest but a group of scattered trees. Every weekend was a hunting day. I would take my two dogs, kilinga and ivutu on a hunting expedition. We would pass by the school and refresh in the nearby stream we called kamwilini. Not many animals were available in the thickets but my expeditions served another bigger and larger purpose. I always longed to get away from the crowds and this was a great way to do it. I would walk on the lonely forest paths with my dogs behind or in front and whistle my lonely tunes. It created a feeling of peace and enjoyable, sinister like loneliness. I could walk or sit for hours and watch insects and birds while my dogs chased hares. Sometimes they managed to capture them and I was elated. I met snakes, different in colors and sizes. They too fascinated me, I would hide behind boulders and watch them wondering how they managed to move so fast and do other stuff. One memorable day I was perched on top of a guava tree having my fruit lunch when I noticed some movements on the next branch. On keen observation I realized that a reddish snake was molting. Slowly slithering on the branches and leaves, it left on its trail a beautiful silvery skin. The scene was simply breathtaking. It soon disappeared but I had the fragile outer skin as a memoir. I later took it to my grandmother who behaved as if she had been struck by lightning the moment she saw it. I realized it wasn’t just a normal snake skin. It belonged to a red-spitting cobra and had it realized I was there watching it I would have received my ultimate death. Still this did not stop me from having my favorite past time. The forest had beautiful flowers and butterflies frequented them, most of my time was spent watching them. My favorite time came when darkness set in, I had to leave for home but not before fire flies came out of their hiding places and filled the air. I would watch them with awe and not even my dogs could distract me, their movements were amazing and they seemed to have a pattern. It was only when I heard a distant laughter of a hyena that I moved. Fireflies still lined my path and they seemed to say goodbye till next week end. They brightened my moods but the moment I stepped out of the forest on my way home my moods dipped though I was still contended. Given the chance, I can still walk the lonely path lined with fire flies again and again.
It was while I was at this school when I noticed that girls do exist. On my particular interest was one Christine. She was the school beauty when it came to a light skin and a beautiful smile. I cannot define the feeling I had for her as love because I never missed her when I moved away. I really enjoyed her company and we used to be desk mates sharing our jokes and of course school work. I had started to like her company when I departed to another school and another neighborhood. I never got accustomed to it and I extremely missed my forest and its fireflies. I still visited it severally but the thrill never came back simply because I had to leave my loneliness too early before darkness set in and walk home.
Since then I have had many significant and insignificant goodbyes. I remember the one I gave my parents the moment they left me in my first secondary school. It felt as if I was being left to fend for myself in a jungle. I got used to it and this is where I made my best of friends so you can imagine what I felt when I was expelled in my fourth year. It was a feeling of the world crumbling under your feet. Still I managed to leave my goodbyes and forgot about it though important memories still remain. In my search for the next school to take me, I landed in Mackenzie Educational Centre, an institution designed for rejects. My admission day coincided with a massive strike and plunder, the next day I was out! No goodbyes, no friends, no nothing. Then I was admitted to Imilini, a day school bordering my old forest. My memories flooded back and for the next few months, I spend my weekends and free times there. I even discovered my fire flies lined path! My last day there was heartbreaking, I felt as if I was leaving a big chunk of me behind. One day, I promised myself, I will still go back and reminisce the loneliness and fireflies.
I never got to say my most significant goodbye which happened in the near past. I still wish I was there the night my grandmother passed away. She died peacefully in her sleep and it was two months since I had last seen her. She always held a special part in my heart and I miss her a lot. She always came to my defense those moments I arrived late from forest and made sure mum or dad never whipped me. She also never told anyone I had arrived carrying a cobra’s skin. Had she done it, my forest expeditions would be over and I know my life would have taken a completely wrong and tragic turn. Rest in peace mwaitu
Still I never want to experience goodbyes. They hurt and sometimes painfully too. Behind the façade of a brave face and clear non-blinking eyes lies a longing and desire so deep. I met my girlfriend a few months ago and I always feel like I have known her forever. She is simply the most beautiful and wonderful kindhearted creature ever to come out of God’s creation. She has this way of bringing peace and joy in to my life. Something I had missed since my hunting days. The feeling is always amazing and refreshing every day. There is only one small hitch, she schools far away from me and only few days are remaining before she bids me farewell till another holiday. No matter how hard I try to get the thoughts out of my mind, they stick painfully.
I know she will be coming back and that in itself is enough comfort. The downside is that I will get to sometime when I will terribly miss her and consequentially miss the lonely path fireflies. These are times I wish I could go down the memory lane; go back in to the time. When life had little meaning, yet so lively. Visit Mususye forest, perch on my favorite guava tree, and squat on my lonely path; watch fireflies display light streaks in their millions. Awed and fascinated, never say goodbye nor miss them again.
LONELY PATH FIREFLIES