She was hardly 6 then. V ran home as usual, excited after a long school day and not allowing the rigours of the day to weigh her down. This was her daily routine; Leba, her mom, would wake her up a few minutes to seven, bathe her and prepare her for school. At least that was what was expected of a mother. V had no clear recollections of this though. She must have had breakfast, it was only natural. After that she went to school at around 8. Her’s was a new school and she was one of the pioneer students. Upon admission, there were only five other students, two of whom were related to her. Her elder sister held her hand to school every morning.
V had joined Serve Academy at the tender age of 3. She remembered well how she had had trouble telling teacher Priscilla her father’s name because she only knew the first name, Titus. Lydia, her sister had come to her rescue and that was how V came to know her dad’s second name permanently. She also remembered well how she amazed her teachers the very first time they had had a test. It had been a dictation. She had spelled the word chair correctly while the rest of the class had flanked. V had been a good student from the onset. Her parents knew this and they were very proud.
Every evening, there was tea or some other snack she came home to. On this particular evening, she expected no less. She was anxious to tell mummy and daddy about her day, have them doll over their amazing daughter, probably have a bath, then have her snack. She was sure that some of that happened everyday. She wasn’t sure of the order though.
V made the last bend, saying hello to all and sundry. Their gate was an open space, more of an entrance than a gate. Their compound had five houses, her’s was the first from the entrance, followed closely by her paternal grandparent’s then uncle Stanley’s, uncle Sammy’s and finally uncle Josephat’s. Uncle Sammy’s house was the only permanent house in the compound at the time. V had recollections of what her house looked like. The door was a bit raised. The sitting room was large. It served as the dining room as well. There was one room next to the sitting room to the far left. V and Lydia shared this room every night. There was a small corridor leaving the sitting room from somewhere near the middle. It led outside. Somewhere along the corridor was the master bedroom to the right. So the master bedroom was behind the sitting room, literally speaking.
The boys shared a room adjacent to the kitchen, detached from the main house. There were three of them, two blood brothers and one step brother. At the moment, there was no difference to her. She and Bradil, her step brother, had grown up as twins, given they were born the same year, only three months apart, V being the elder one. Her younger brother, Harry, was born a year later which meant that the three of them looked more like triplets. However, in their time, V had grown closer to Bradil than Harry. There was a remarkable resemblance between V and Bradil, they had taken after their father. Harry was lighter and had taken his looks from their mother’s side. Most houses in her neighborhood were built in this fashion. V’s house was a home. A family. She loved all of it. She loved her family. Her neighbors loved her. Her parents loved her. Her grandparents too. Her grandpa was her favorite of the two.
Something was off that evening as soon as she got to her door. This she remembered like it had been the other day. The door looked beat. Some of the vanish was scraped. Some parts of it were chipped, like someone had knocked on it with something heavy. This wasn’t the norm. However, V was too young to realize it. She went right on in. Her dad was home unlike him. V must have said hi, that was how she had been raised by her parents, to always salute her elders and ask them how she could be of help. This nature had never abandoned her. V was a stubborn hard-headed girl who always had problems with people who tried to control her. However, anyone that interacted with her realized just how caring she could be. She was the kind of person that still gave up her seat on the bus to someone more worthy. She was the kind of person that would not walk past someone carrying heavy luggage if they looked like they needed help, without offering it. She was the kind of person that would stop mob justice if she had the power to. She was the kind of person that would defend a total stranger when she had the ability to. She never bothered to wait for gratitude. She did it from her heart, without expecting anything in return. V had a desire to get involved. Sometimes she would end up annoying people, but most times she would end up pleased with herself. She had once tried to stop students from beating up another student who had pinched a phone in a female hostel and had gotten in the middle of it. Someone had then asked her to let it go and she had. When she later heard that the student had been killed, she had felt so bad but had soon gotten over it, because above everything, V was good at forgiving herself. Something else had contributed to making her into the kind of person she was, her life experiences maybe.
“Where is mom, dad?”
V had searched the house for her mother, because that was who she saw first every time she came back home from school. V had no idea where the rest of her siblings were. They were probably there. After all, she was the talkative of them all. Her elder brother, Janvick, was away at a boarding school. It was a good school. A school that to this date had kept its fame. A public school that for some reason was only attended by children from well-to-do families. Her parents had some money at the time. Her father was a teacher. A primary school deputy headteacher. A title that commanded respect back in the day. At the time when owning a bicycle in her hometown was a big deal, V’s dad owned a vehicle. KXT. People called it “matatu” back then before the word started to mean a public service vehicle. V’s dad was also a business man. He owned a butchery and a slaughter house, which were run by the woman of the house. The meat business was good. They supplied some of it to the school where Janvick attended. A school owned by a great Man, Moses Mudavadi, and his family. This man had been a prominent politician in his time and had started the school in his front yard. The meat paid part of Janvick’s school fees.
“She went to her home to visit. But she’ll be back”
“Why did she go without us? That’s unlike her!”
“It was urgent, she will explain when she comes back.”
“When is that?”
For a kid, tomorrow is undefined, just like yesterday could mean last month. V had no idea tomorrow would find her all grown. So she started to wait. Every dusk came with hope. And every dawn came with disappointment. Because she would ask the same question, and she would always get the same answer, tomorrow.
It wasn’t going to be for long though. She would soon stop asking. She would soon start getting over it. Because she would soon lose the only person who cared enough to lie. She would soon get the whole story. And she would watch her entire family tear apart. She was young, but bright. Her mind processed every detail with zeal. Her young self was forced to grow up. Soon enough, she was going to be the only sane member of the family left. Her mother’s disappearance had dealt a big blow on the rest of them. But V never stopped laughing. She was a jovial little girl. One that laughed at any and every little joke so hard that sometimes her grandmother called her names. But she was unstoppable.