We left the house and the compound. Somehow, my mother had contrived to ensure that our departure did not clash with the arrival of my grandmother and seven aunties.
My mother did not hurry me but, in some way, I sensed she didn't want me dawdling. I got the feeling that today was not one of those days I was allowed to inspect lizards sunning themselves on a rock, kick at oddly-shaped pebbles, or follow the trail of the vicious, red soldier ants. No. Somehow, I sensed that my mother needed me to keep her pace as much as my chubby little legs could carry me. However, my mother also knew that this journey, arduous enough for an adult, would be a killer for a child so she brought her cart along. It wasn't a regular cart like the ones you saw drawn by the villagers who preferred them to wheel barrows, it was a labour of love...
The first incident took place when I was three years old.
My grandmother and seven aunties wanted to prepare a feast to mark my third year on earth.
My mother refused, bluntly.
You must understand that this is unlike my mother. With her mother-in-law and seven sisters-in-law, she had always chosen her battles carefully. All those childless years of cruel teasing, taunting and torments... she scraped, she smiled, she bowed; in short, she stooped to conquer, as it were.
For the quiet.
Because she loved my father and was able to deal with their noise more than he could. She allowed them the first year to gloat, to joy, to make merry while she and my father sat with quiet smiles at the feasting table.
The second year, the same.
But, not this year.