“In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit…Amen!” We all chorused, opened our eyes and Dana opened the lid of the cream coloured tea pot. It was a huge aluminum pot with poorly applied paint with a ring of green on the brim that the lid often concealed. Now Odhiambo and I were trying to figure out what she was doing. It was hot water mixed with milk what was the inspection for?

We waited; she looked inside it and then coughed directly into the tea pot! I looked at my brother with the, “What the HELL IS SHE DOING?” look on. I couldn’t say it out loud, because it would be disrespectful to our 80 year old grandma. I never liked her; we were there because Mum insisted we should be there. Why? Only she knows; I had wanted to spend time by the river and enjoy some mangoes and sugarcane fresh from the farm. But Oh! No…

“Even if you don’t like her, she is your grandmother; it is kind to make an effort to spend time with her”.

Mum would go on and on about its ‘importance”. Grandma was old, smelly and mean, and now she had just contaminated our tea. I was so upset; I really didn’t want to be there. My brother looked at me knowingly, then gave me the nudging look, then mouthed, ‘just pretend’. And pretend we did, we had to act like what she did was of no consequence to our health.

“Aluoch serve the tea.” I grit my teeth and served her first, asking her how many cups of cocoa she wanted. “Nusu” and half a tea spoon it was stirred and served. She sipped it with a lot of enthusiasm. I served Odhiambo and finally myself. I hated the bitterness of cocoa; needless to say, I doused my drink with sugar.

Ketho chiemo!” Dana exclaimed. I refrained myself from rolling my eyes disrespectfully.

Mos.” I apologized to my grandmother for my “transgression”.

“Mos ma nadi?” Oh! Lord, here we go, she didn’t take too kindly to a simple apology, now I was the pilfering grandchild who was ungrateful and didn’t even bring a ‘carton’ of gifts. Because that is what a grandchild living in the city should do. Bring a ‘carton’ of goodies for Grandma? Why? Because well, it is a token of appreciation, appreciation my foot!

I had tuned out of her tirade, once she had wrapped up, I was standing up to serve myself a second cup of cocoa. Odhiambo looked at me like I was mad. All I was thinking was, we were forced to be here, I might as well sip my way through this hour ordeal with a blood relative I didn’t care for.


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