Am seated right here,my feet all curled up onto these hard but comfortable sofa cushions,an action that over the years has become a bad habit to let go of.Found myself raising my feet for rest on my toilet seat,bad habits,huh?On the other arm rests a star fish in form of a decoration.
For the least of my knowledge,caused mostly by ignorance in my Zoology classes back in first year of University.Wait a moment:but I was naive and cared non the less.University was meant to be a source of knowledge and a pool of growth but sure this din’t apply to most of us.As it seems it never hit me to know the full anatomy of a starfish for if that was the case,this crustacean wouldn’t be lying lifeless on my sofa arm as a decoration but would be swimming free in the deep Indian Ocean.
My mind wanders and I find me tracing the origin of this decoration.In memory am down the dusty Mombasa-Ukunda highway.A cool stretch of green vegetation and beautiful blue sky that is.Along the road streaks of baked-brick houses mostly in shades of yellow and grey cement to hold.
A sight that helps less but remind me of my younger years back in Kuria district on your way to the Kenyan-Tanzania borders,a place called Isebania.Quite a flash it is,with the red murram earth that holds water so well making the digging of boreholes seem like child’s play.
Well,in my lost trail of thoughts am down to Wasini village and we are calmly set onto huge wooden boats.Our tour guides cum hosts are a couple of humble,amazing and honestly pleasant Swahili speaking coastarians.Most of them,digos and others giriamas,a language bordering Swahili but with an oomph you want to infect you.The digos I listen to in envy,if only I could learn there dialect….mmmh
A ride through the waters of the Indian Ocean it sure is,rough and slippery,with waves upon waves of water beating the sides of the old,brown planks of wood that we use for a boat.The captain,I think he called himself Captain Omari sits quite calm at the oars and it kind of gives you inner peace and confidence that the ride will be safe despite the rough and angry waters.
With us in the boat is this beautiful baby,quite heavy and unhealthy I judge on my first glance.But looks can be deceiving.I initially thought the mother had neglected and overfed the baby who couldn’t walk by himself and had to be ridden in a baby carrier.
We get off the boat on a secluded but beautiful inland Island.A marine park it is.How I almost drowned in my show of bravado is a story for another day.
The same baby is gotten off the boat and onto the Island.Heavy he sure is and I pity the guides who being good swimmers have to carry him and man ain’t they slender?
On the Island a companion of mine whom I haven’t mentioned so far looks at the baby.We will call her Kare.In her eyes I see compassion of a thousand hills.Like the force of a fleet of streams down the mountain side.Those beautiful round eyes water and fill with a tenderness I had not noticed for the entire time we had spent together.When I met her I knew she was beautiful but the intensity manifested now made me weak on the knees.
She draws towards the mother of the baby and has a chat with her.For a moment all else is forgotten as the two get deep in conversation.I believe they discussing about the baby.
I drift off and play sand-games with Morena who really knows how to throw balls of sand and they can hurt for sure.She should have stayed in the water and watched the fish under goggles,but here she is not giving me peace on the beach,inland remember?
Kare comes back after their moment with the baby’s mom.Her heart seems sunken and eyes can tell a thousand sorrows.From them you can tell the love she has for babies not just from being a mother herself but in it is true love for the health of babies.
She goes ahead to explain that the lil boy is not unhealthily overfed but suffers from a birth disorder.A condition called hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE),a condition caused by neonatic asphyxia that leads to a severe lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain during birth,this in turn injures brain cells causing (HIE).I am taken aback and now understand why the lil boy’s feet could not flatten and he couldn’t walk on his feet rather he used his toes.
How stupid and inhuman could I have been to have even let that evil judgement cross my mind?A case of jumping before I leaped or not fitting into another’s tight shoes but saying how stingy they are they couldn’t even buy shoes that fit them.
I recoil into my judgemental shame and am honestly humbled by Kare’s compassion.A true show of love for one’s neighbours,an attribute I always preach about only to learn I din’t even know how to apply.
We are back to the boat and as the divers help carry the lil boy to the boat,I find myself drawn to help.I take the boy off their hands as the mother is helped onto the boat by another.
I want to give him away when mom is on board but his mama looks tired and instinct tells me to hold him longer.After all it wouldn’t cost my lap now,would it?I take to the bench on the boat side and hold him to my laps.It is hard keeping him upright but we soon find a synchrony that works quite well.
At this point his drools are streams of joy and him biting on my arm emits a wave of warmth as I find peace within myself.Govi on the other end teases me of how good a father am becoming eliciting a smile from Kare.
I rock with him on my laps in symphony with the waves rocking upon the sides of the boat as we head back to Wasini Island.
Along the waves we get an amazing display of dolphins swimming up out of the water and taking beautiful dips into the ocean.A total display of tact and unmatched evolution and adaptation.
Did you know that dolphins apart from humans are the only fish that have sex out of pleasure rather than mere mating?I thought you should know.
This time round the waves are quite angry as they beat vehemently upon the boat,which in turn sways to and fro from side to side.For a moment I whispered a prayer for us all.It reminded me of the story of Jonah as he was escaping from God and the sea was wroth with him.How the people in the ship cried out from fear,full-bearded men.What a sight!
We hold on tight encouraged and comforted by Omari,the captain’s composure and within no time we are at Wasini Island for lunch.
Lunch is an exciting display of Swahili cuisine,a plate of sea weed vegetables,one that soon becomes a delicacy and lust of all the tables around us.I am amazed at how Francie and Govi crush huge crabs and gobble down there insides.For the first time right in front of me I see squids as food.Thank God am no lover of sea food but how Philippe is munching on this you would think it is the best meal in the world.
Well,we love how they serve,the enthusiasm and reception is overwhelming.The food O so simple but doesn’t it entice all the taste buds? We eat and eat and eat and being the only meal of the day I guess,we eat some more.
Soon we get a tour into Wasini Island.An Island homing around 3000 persons and of a size of 3x7km2.We walk through calmly paths lined by little boys and girls,some holding shells for sale.
Not quite an amusing sight to behold.Little boys and girls pleading with us to buy the sea shells and other treasures gotten from the ocean.A heightened display of poverty,nothing to write home about but if I don’t who will?
The first statement I hear from Kare after a long sweep through the village is,”The sight of all these little girls and boys and how dilapidated this place looks like makes my heart sink.I can’t imagine we rarely lack even what to eat and aren’t even grateful about it but here the parents to these kids send them out to hustle for a little money to put something on the table.”
Her concern is genuine and looking at the little girls,the compassion and concern in her eyes is immense.I am moved and actually fall in love with her personality if not her.A human that makes my heart fill with both joy and care.So without thought I am led to get the starfish that she so loves and asks if it has been painted or it came like that from the ocean?A question to which I teasingly answer that it must have been painted for all that reddish beauty.
Her smile fills the sad salty and humid air and I swear the dolphins in the ocean must have leaped into the air just from the warmth she created at that point.
We wait for the small canoes to take us to the huge wooden boats seated by the rocks hand in hand as we chit and chat.
My heart knows no bounds at this point as the canoe comes and we silently but joyfully leap on.If you was in my shoes,wouldn’t you have fallen in love with her?