Friday, April 9, 2010

Grandma: Lover of Pets

Over the Easter holiday, I was off to the village (now a small town) to visit my maternal grandmother Mrs. Margaret Njakasi. She has had a heart problem over the last few months and as her granddaughter, I feel obliged to care for her. Not that she has no children, she has three of them but my mother R.I.P, her firstborn was her best friend and naturally I feel that in her absence I should be her caretaker.

Both my maternal grandparents are alive and so is my paternal grandmother from whom I get my first name, Esther. My estimates put grandma’s age (Mrs. Njakasi) at about 80 years but her children give me different figures 76-79. Whatever.

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 almost the only poor person I know (there are others of course) who keep pets. Every time I visit there is a dog or a cat on her heels. I remember visiting grandma when I was young and she had a dog-called Pido. Naturally, as a kid I was afraid of Pido, whenever Pido came near me I would scream and my mum, irritated, would tell her mother to keep 'her' dog away from me.

Grandma keeps a cow, whose name 'Alinyikira' 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 grandma is leaving say for church or a visit. Strange!

On this Easter day, there was a new 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 on the verandah.

Mr or Ms. Cat spotted me with tea and bread and the mewing started. Grandma first put a pillow and called for the cat to sit near her. The cat was more interested in what I was eating. She climbed really close to my chair and mewed louder. Oh dear!

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; grandma has run out of names I guess.

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 from Grandma and pets!

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