Impressions of Wundanyi

Three things I always look forward to when visiting Wundanyi; the misty evenings, the library, great laughs and peace of mind. The library the tops the list. It rarely has people and has gems of books some of whose last-borrowed stamps read the early 90’s. This saddens me a little because I think books get depressed when they sit too long without being taken off the shelves to have their pages ruffled! (Whaaaaaaat? Books have souls!) On the other hand, however, few library visitors also means that any book I have my eyes set on will be at my disposal to come to whenever I want.

The day I was travelling to Wundanyi from my sister’s place, I put Coldplay’s albums on shuffle and dropped my phone inside my bag, to watch the landscape and immerse myself in the band’s musical genius. That is how I listened to Rainy Day and wondered how it was that I had never truly listened to it, preferring to skip it in favor of Princess of China or Prospekts March.

That is how I got to Wundanyi hours later, having listened to Rainy Day more than ten times. My aunt wasn’t home when I got there but I made myself cozy with some leftover tea and Mythbusters on TV. Now Wundanyi evenings are super cold, no matter how hot the day was, and I think for that reason (and the fact that my aunt is not a nocturnal) I went to bed much earlier than my 1 a.m time. My aunt is very self-sufficient and for that I am eternally grateful, because where some relatives will look upon my not helping with breakfast with disdain, I have never felt that vibe from her. She finds it ridiculous how I insist I must wash the utensils after all meals. I think she feels I make her look old, so I leave her be and trust that she will ask for my help if needed.

It’s also why I am most restful when I visit her. If she wants something done, she will ask and not expect me to read her mind. I love her for that.

My uncle however is probably a bad influence because we are both nocturnal. We both love Discovery World and Nat Geo and he likes to shock and make me laugh with the most outrageous yet true (?) stories. Put these together and 1 am is a little too early to sleep. I rarely call him when I’m in Nairobi and that awareness saddened me in those three days I spent with them both.

Not only are they the most sane uncle and aunt in my family, but they are the most comfortable adults to be around.Both are farmers but they know that while I will gladly water the shamba, I will never take a jembe to weed their garden outside. There is never pressure to like things simply to make them feel better, or do things so they think I’m better than I am.

Regardless, I was a little worried about Sunday coming about and my aunt looking at me quizzically. She is a very firm Catholic and a small part of me was willing to go to church just to not upset her. She however addressed this one night before Sunday. I didn’t have to break the news to her officially, Facebook already did that, no doubt with those certainly offensive anti religious posts I share occasionally (cringe!).Nevertheless, she took my atheism surprisingly well; asking the usual curious questions and when at last she conceded that I didn’t want to discuss it at length, she spoke of an in-law of hers who’s also an atheist.

“But he’s a good person, alright,” she said speaking of a library he helped build in remote Taita and how during major church events, he willingly attended. I loved her more for it and told her I still would willingly attend any major church events involving my family like baptisms and the like. She was happy about this and added almost as an afterthought,“There has never been an atheist in our family though.” I shrugged and replied, “Well I’m the first I guess.”

She laughed her trickly laugh and exclaimed, “Mum wewe!”

I am named after her late mother, Elina Masido; a staunch Catholic who walked miles to get to the nearest church each Sunday and who, when a fire once broke out in the Kinyeshavua forest near her house, tried saving the trees by putting it out in vain. Helpless, she broke down and started praying. It rained.

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