The Changing Tide

Places:Friday Feature1

Beaches, Mountains, Forests or somewhere else you like…Write a story inspired by the place you like most.

The Changing Tide

Enya loved her hometown. She’d lived in the same stone ranch house all her life, with her mother and siblings: a nice three bedroom house that she loved to bits. Her hometown was situated in a semi-urban area, one could hardly call it Nairobi but it was; the roads were bad, the infrastructure unsexy, and any one bringing a Mercedes to this street was just inviting midnight visitors. You know, those late night callers who came to give the new Merc in town a spin while y’all slept.

Yes, her little world had once received those late night callers. She’d been eleven or twelve. She was jerked awake from a deep sleep to discover strangers prowling the house, taking the television, the radio, the cups, mugs, spoons and pots. She’d been scared, but her mother had put on a brave face through it, talking to those strangers so they wouldn’t hurt her children. Her mother had fought a big fight that night, with words, and cajoling…the memory was fading…but she couldn’t forget her mother’s valiant effort to keep her children safe that night. That week, that incident had been the talk of the town.

Enya doubted anyone would remember that incident now.

Gossip was like that in her hometown. Every week something new…the rumor mills were sleepless on Ndwaru Road. It was the one reliable intelligence source in the country. You just needed to know the right person to talk to. Find that person, and you’d never be out of the loop on the going-ons of the people living on this street.

Enya smiled. The trick was not to share the source. Peaceful living and all poke a beehive and the bees will sting you and all that…no, she’d never reveal her sources. But it was good to be in the know. Part of being in the community, one of the people…

pretty treeNow Enya stopped to purchase milk for the evening tea. Her gaze on the changing tides sweeping the street.

When she’d been young, she’d wished for more people living on Ndwaru Road. She remembered her home being isolated by forests and bushes, people hadn’t believed her family could bear to live so alone. Now, the place had changed. More people building, more people moving in. While this was a good thing, the isolation ended…the influx of the human population was taking away the charm of the street. The green was gone. The fresh air ended, replaced with trash, instances of sewer on the road and dirty water.

The neighbors were changing; no longer familiar faces from childhood. There was a time she’d walk on the path to her house and know who was coming toward her. Know where that person belonged, and if they were friend or foe.

These days, she just had no idea who was walking on that path anymore. Too many new people, one couldn’t keep up.

Enya sighed. It wasn’t a bad thing. In terms of growth, it was a good thing; she just wished the growth was happening in a moderate and elegant way. The street was changing, but she rather thought it a violent process. A clash of those who understood why moderation was needed in progress, and those who wanted a fast growth, a quick one…and in their haste, ended up with the trash, and dirty water on the road.

But she was digressing…..

Enya refused to think of these negative aspects of her home. This place she’d loved all her life. The good parts were that she remembered the familiar faces from her childhood. There was nothing more welcoming than having someone pick you out in the sea of new faces with a smile.

“Hello,” they’d say. “How are you? Greet your family.”

Small words, little words, but so full of connection, Enya understood while the conversation might not be longer, the recognition was all that mattered. It felt like she belonged.

Enya walked along the path to her house and smiled. A few days before she’d come home in the rain. She’d taken the bus from town, and it had gradually gotten dark on the way home. Her friend had worried for her.

“Are you sure you’re safe?” her friend asked.

Enya had smiled, and nodded. Getting off the bus, in the pouring rain, she’d crossed the street and felt relief as she walked along the familiar path.

Ah…I’m home, she’d thought. Once I’m here, I can’t get lost.

Like running a race and you reach that last stretch with no one able to catch up…the best feeling in the world.  Enya entered her gate, and smiled. Yes, the best part of this hometown was her home.

The old tree that grew by the gate, it was older than her and she was atleast thirty. The mango tree her grandmother hadIMG_0095 brought all the way from Nyeri, to come and plant it in their home. She’d been six years old…her grandmother was long gone now…but the tree remained. Every year, they ate mangoes and remembered their grandmother planting the tree.

The farm was where she’d played hide and seek when she’d been young. She’d also tried her hand in farming. She’d planted sixty cabbages once and all of them had died. She’d cried with disappointment, even though the season had been all wrong for cabbages.

This place where her father was buried, Enya visited his grave some days to talk about particularly bad days or very good days.

Enya paused beside a bush of lavender. She picked a branch and breathed in the scent. Before the lavender, there had been a tree growing there. When she and her siblings would do something bad, their mother would threaten to tie them to the tree and beat them on that tree. Not that their mother had ever done it but Enya had been glad when that tree was cut down. Enya smiled at the memory and entered the second gate.

Their house was lighted, her mother singing inside as she cooked dinner. Her siblings lost in their own activities. Enya stood outside and stared up at the sky. Despite the tides of change sweeping Ndwaru Road, this place would always hold a special place in her heart.

After all, it was home.

****

Please Check out other EA Friday Feature Stories:

It’s not all Strippers and Burritos my Friend

Sex on the Beach

My Favorite Place to Be

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