Articles

Educating a Girl Child is Equally Important

By Habiba Wakio

Kadzo alighted from the motorcycle and walked along the familiar path. It was grassy and wet due to the continuous rainfall. She saw a farm full of maize plants and felt nostalgic. Her family used to grow crops together. She used to consider carrying a jembe a nuisance, but once she was out of the village, that was one of the activities she missed. It always brought her family together.

Being back there brought back old memories. She had left home immediately her father informed her that she would not further her studies. There was no point in doing so because she would soon get married and start a family, he had said. Her mother believed in her and wanted the best for her daughter. She knew that her daughter was very intelligent, and it would be wrong to subject her to the pain she had gone through-not getting support to achieve her dreams. She let her daughter go away from home. Kadzo would forever be grateful to her mother for letting her pursue her dreams.

After leaving home, she went to live with her mother’s sister. Her aunt was overjoyed. She had been yearning for a child for many years. Having Kadzo in her house was a dream come true. She raised her as her own and fulfilled the duties of a parent. Kadzo did extremely well in her final exams (KCSE) and secured a scholarship. She studied medicine and made her mom and aunt very proud. Living away from her family was hard, but she had to do it for her future. That was the biggest sacrifice she had to make.

As she got closer to her home, she prayed for a warm reception. She had only been in contact with her mother, who had informed her that her elder brothers had settled in the city and only visited occasionally.

“Kadzo,” a familiar voice called. “I see you’re back home.”

Kadzo studied the woman. She was slender, with sunken cheeks and hollow eyes. Kadzo’s eyes were drawn to the woman’s bump. Before she could utter a single word, two little boys rushed to the woman’s side and tugged on her kanga.

“Mummy, he has taken my cassava,” the younger one complained.

“It is mine,” said the older one, hiding it under his torn shirt.

Kadzo watched Kasichana as she tried to stop her children’s fight.

Is this how my life would have turned out had I stayed back? She wondered.

Eight years back, Kasichana had plump cheeks and bright eyes. Looking at her now made Kadzo appreciate her escape.

“Take your brother inside!” Kasichana ordered her older son then turned towards her primary classmate. “Sorry, Kadzo. You know how kids are.”

Kadzo brushed off her apology. “It’s okay. I understand.”

“You look good. I see the city has treated you well.”

“Yes. I am grateful.” She stopped herself from saying, “You don’t look bad yourself.”

It didn’t feel right.

Instead, she said, “I am glad to be back home. This place hasn’t changed much, except for the beautiful storey houses.”

“Right,” Kasichana agreed. “Most of the youths left for the city, searching for greener pastures. They got tired of working on the farm for a meager salary. Some of them returned home to build better houses for their parents. Others stayed back and started their families.” She slapped her forehead. “Please forgive my manners. Come on in.”

Kadzo shook her head lightly and smiled thinly. “No, thank you. I must head home before it gets dark. Mom is waiting for me.”

Kasichana raised her eyebrows. “I didn’t know you two were keeping in touch. The last thing I heard was that you ran away to the city.”

“That is a story for another day. We’ll talk soon.”

Kadzo took out some cash from her purse and gave it to Kasichana, who shook her head. She insisted, saying it was her gift for the children. Kasichana took it. On the way, Kadzo met with two former classmates carrying jembes. They volunteered to carry her luggage home. On arrival, she was taken aback by the structure standing before her. One side of the kitchen had collapsed, and in place of the ruins was a nylon cover. She felt pain in her chest. Her home was among the few houses undergoing destruction. She vowed to save up money from reconstruction once she secured a job. As she got closer, a sweet aroma hit her nostrils. It was her favourite- kimalawari. Tears stung her eyes as memories flooded her mind. She wondered if her father would be reminded of her by the smell. Did he miss her?

“Kadzo, my daughter,” her mother called, standing in the doorway.

“Mum!” She sniffled and ran into the open arms.

“I have missed you.”

“Me too, mum.” Kadzo smiled at her mother. “I am glad to be back.”

“I am happy to have you back.” She held her daughter’s face in her hands and planted a kiss on her forehead. “Welcome home.”

“Kadzo!” Her father exclaimed.

Mother and daughter shifted their attention to the approaching man. He had a bushy chin and unkempt hair. Kadzo held on to her mother’s arm as the man’s piercing eyes met hers.

“I…I…am s-so-rry.” His hands flew to his chest as he collapsed.

“Dad!” Kadzo screamed.

She and her mother rushed to his side. The two men who had brought Kadzo’s luggage hurried inside.

“Let’s take him to the hospital,” one of them said and motioned for the other to help him lift Kadzo’s father up.

At the hospital, Kadzo and her mother were pacing up and down the waiting area.

“Is this the first time this is happening?” Kadzo asked, anxiously.

“It’s the second time,” her mother cried. “The doctor asked your father to take it easy, but he wouldn’t listen. He still insists on going to the farm and taking care of the livestock.”

“I am here now. He won’t do any work.” Kadzo wiped away her mother’s tears. “I won’t let him work.”

Kadzo’s mother smiled. “My daughter is back. Everything will be okay.”

“That’s right. I’ll take care of father.”

When the doctor allowed them to see her father, Kadzo looked indecisive. Her mother patted her on the back and squeezed her hand.

“Come with me. I am sure your father would like to say a few words.”

The man had a lot to say, but his first words melted Kadzo’s heart.

“I am proud of you, my dear. Your mother told me that you are now a doctor.”

“Thank you, dad.”

“I am sorry I almost shattered your dream.”

“It’s okay, dad. Please don’t apologize. Everything happens for a reason.”

“Oh, my daughter! I have realized my mistake. You also deserved a chance to finish your studies. Look at you now. Your mother and aunt did the right thing by supporting you. I failed as a parent. If only I could turn back time-”

“Please don’t say that, dad,” Kadzo cut him off. “It is all in the past.” She took her father’s hand and gave him a reassuring smile. “I am here to take care of you now. Please allow me to perform my duty.”

He smiled back. “Welcome back, Kadzo.”

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