Friday, April 11, 2008

Bugs Bunny

When I was a young happy girl growing up in my granma and mama’s farm,I picked up smells and identified things by their smell.Like the rabbits I reared.Their fur has a comfortable scent that makes you want to cuddle . It’s not the same smell when someone has butchered the little balls of fur and they are cooking together with some vegetables, what used to be the rabbits’ food.

Mama would scold me daily if I didn’t give enough leaves to the poor animals and even if it was dark and misty I’d go out carrying a touch to pick a few leaves.How is one supposed to know which leaves are green when it’s dark?

I would have to smell the leaves to know which were safe and which would fetch me a beating. If by mistake a single onion stem got into the mix and the nose missed it, wo!

I’d be peeled,kuunurwo,proper.To be one the safe side,I’d try to trace some spinach and banana leaves.The spinach would definitely result into a beating,lucern was out of the question,that was for the dairy cows.Pigweed was for the sheep, cabbage leaves for the chicken, and the kales we ate.To differentiate the weeds in the dark was the hardest task.Some weeds made the rabbits' ears sick.

So apart from sharpening my sense of smell,my sense of touch just had to catch up.That’s how I I’d know how to get the blackjack and not the stinging nettle and how to avoid the Datura thorn apple.

One day after my night tour I smelt datura but, assumed the smell was coming from my gumboots and clothes since I had been wading among the weeds.When I got to the hutch mama was waiting . I was mumbling prayers, when I handed the leaves to mama for inspection and was pretending to scrape the mud and weeds from my boots on the grass.I looked up when he said nothing for a whole minute ,he was holding up-a datura thorn apple leaf-along with a face that’d have split a log of cider.

Mwana uyu kai ugucagia kii?{you child,what drug do you use?}

Ugatwira mbuku magurukia?{you got datura for the rabbits?}

Datura, in kikuyu if translated would mean the plant that causes madness.

I could never answer my uncle back so I just kept quiet and the smell of the plum tree cane intensified[that was what I received my strokes from,a fresh pimpled stick} ,and the taste of tears was strong in my mouth.My ears were itching and I could not even hear what he was saying.Just the strong voice of my cucu in the kitchen saying to tata:

Ici mbuku ni ciaki ituragia mwana na kiriro[what’s the use of these rabbits ,they just bring tears to the child]

But at the moment,any beating was alright,as long as I kept my rabbits,and my cats,and the puppies,and the chicken,and the trees I was watering every evening and forgetting to feed the rabbits.

Now that I moved into the city I hate it each day because you will not imagine the smells I pick.But I can still remember how blue gum leaves smell and taste,how the sap smells and taste, how the blade of a two handle saw smells after it has been sawing through wood all day.

When I see rabbits,I remember the old times how mama threatened to set free all the rabbits if I didn’t feed them enough.

I read in a magazine that just because rabbits have long ears doesn’t mean they should be used as handles.I read that somewhere and laughed because mama would scold me when I held my chicken like a cat,not roughly by the legs,like a handbag.Yet,he doesn’t get near chickens himself.He says they are full of fleas,and a health hazard,their sole purpose to destroy his cabbages


Tata-aunt,mama’s wife

Cucu-grand mother


  1. What a wonderful article! Growing up in the village has all the unique advantages of connecting with nature. Tell a city kid the beauty of rearing rabbits, dogs, cats, chicken as well as cows and goats all at the same time and they think it's an impossible task. You have wonderful memories that will last you a lifetime. There is nothing you can swap the beautiful village life with anything...I know it. You had a big bonus Ciss. When one day you have your own kids, make sure you get them a pet or two...but dont borrow any lessons of displine from your uncle - you may not see much light of the day if you do as little as lifting your hand in the direction of your kids...the 'law' will not think much on the benefits of disciplining your kids. Not these days. Nema Kuhia

  2. Nema Kuhia:thanks.
    If I ever have kids,I'll first need to get some land,and plant some things,and get some animals...OR convert the roof of my house into a garden.
    If mama didn't discipline me,I'd be walking on everyone's head,ni guturika.