Over the Easter holiday I was off to the village (now a small town) to visit my maternal grandmother Mrs. Margaret Njakasi. She had a heart problem over the last few months and as her oldest grand daughter, after my mother's death over 20 years ago, I feel obliged to take care of her. Not that she has no other children, there are three, but my mother, her first born was her best friend and naturally I feel that in her absence I should be her caretaker.
Both my maternal grand parents are alive and so is my paternal grandfather. My estimates put grandma’s age at about 80 years but her children give me different figures 76/ 78/79.
I consider her a hero; she for instance brought up my 3 cousins whose father my uncle Eddie (my mum’s brother) died of HIV in the early 90’s. One of the girls, Susan was brought to grandma’s house only 2 years old. She later told me she thought grandma was her mum. Susan is now a woman in her early 20’s.
But grandma is the only poor person I know (there are others of course) who keeps pets. Every time I visit there is a dog or a cat on her heels. I remember visiting grandma when I was young in the 80’s and she had a dog-called Pido. Naturally, I was afraid of Pido, whenever she came around I would scream and my mum, irritated would tell her mother to keep the dog away from me.
She keeps a cow, whose name is loosely translated -she who works hard- but grandma talks and sings for the cow as though she was a human being. My cousins claim the cow cries when my grandma is leaving say for church or a visit.
This Easter there was a cat. Really happy to see me, grandma invited me to go sit in the living room, as opposed to the mats we usually sit on outside the house.
So the cat came by and started mewing when they brought my tea and bread. Grandma first put a pillow and called for the cat to sit near her. She was not interested, I think she was hungry and continued mewing, even climbing on my chair.
Grandma encouraged me to give the cat some bread. Then my cousin, Banga, angrily narrated how grandma treats the cat as though it was her child. She even allows it to eat from her plate, he said really disgusted. Another cousin chipped in, she gives them (pets) milk (from the cow) not considering us.
Banga kicked the cat away, saying it is a spoilt, lazy cat that can’t even catch mice. I sensed that the cat really detests Banga, after eating a fair share of my bread she went and coiled on the pillow near grandma. Unfortunately, she has no name; maybe grandma has run out of names.
But being poor and a lover of pets, she either has to share her food with them or collect leftovers both of which she does diligently. I prefer dogs to cats, maybe I should keep one. But it is too expensive! I am sure I never inherited grandma’s love for pets or I would not think the way I do, and none of the grandchildren I know keep them either. It is different with Grandma and pets!