Looking through the eyes_Robert Mungai Mbugua
Owl: As I perched I could see the village it was morning at sunrise. I
could see the children playing and chasing each other. I could smile
though I had a beak. They seemed to amuse me very much as they run
up and down I wondered what it could be if I could join them. The hut
that stired me was one below the branch. For a moment billowing smoke
from below caught me by surprise. I wondered what was cooking.
Swiveling smoke saw me beckoning for another branch. There was an
old woman who saw me thought I was an owl in her mind but the she
just looked at me. Her gazing opted for some children to start looking
at me as I could see their eyes. They were full of innocence and courage.
I had perched there for sometime and turned my head towards
the other end.
Peter: “Grand mother” the bird has big eyes like a human being eyes.
What is it?
Grandma: It is an owl my grandson. He was young and energetic his
face resembles his father.
Peter: Why does it have big eyes?, he asked.
Grandma: As I replied to Peter telling him that the owl has big eyes
to see well at night, then they all laughed loudly. Grandma was trying
to get the fire to glow so that she can prepare some food for us. The
wood was not quite dry enough to lit the fire quickly. We talked about
the owl and how it became to be there and I explained everything concerning
it to Peter.
Grandma: I took the pot and went inside the hut where the mild smoke
was. I gathered some firewood from outside and put them on the
fire. After adding some water into the pot which was starting to boil
the with the three stones supporting it. I added some cereals in it and
went out. The sun was getting hot and the air was humid. The children
were still playing in the scorching sun. Then a kid came to me as
I tried to straighten my back which was now aching done my old age.
“Grandma, can I stay with you under this tree?”, I said, “Yes my
Grandson”, as he sat next to me under the tree. Whirling breeze made
me feel freshened as we talked with my Grandson. Suddenly there
was a voice calling Peter from the mother. “Peter, where are you?”
“Here I am, mummy”, he replied as he stood up. My back was feeling
much better. His mother came out of the hut and came to where we
were. I felt thirsty and I decided to send Peter for some water for me
to drink. His mother wanted to sit too but, on the other end there was
some white patches next to where she was. I explain that they were
owl’s tears and she sat where Peter was.
Peter: As I stood up I watched my mother and grandmother I left and
fetched some water for her. After I returned with some water in a gourd.
I handed the gourd to my Grandma as I watched her hands were weak
and her eyes pale. Certainly I thought how old she must have been she
grabbed the gourd with her fingers faintly and she drunk from the guard.
She swallowed slowly and slowly I kept on thinking about it as she
drunk. Her eyes met mine as she was drinking. Her brittle fingers seemed
to have weared out and gave me back the gourd. I left with it back
to the hut.
Grandma: My thirst was quenched as handed the boy back the guard.
I thought he is a nice boy and he smiled and looked like his father. For
some time I just looked at him as he left for the hut. His eyes were
sharp and confident. He came back and pointed to me some white patches
on the grass. Grandma has made him a nice boy as I thought as
I wondered what will be of him when he grows up.
Peter: The white marks on the grass made me remember that the owl
was crying last night. I narrated the story to my mother as Grandma
listened. It was a terrible dream and I was scared. It had woken me at
night as I told the story.
It was a terrible dream and I was so scared due to the sound of an owl.
I could hear the sound of the owl, it was quiet but its sound could be
heard from a distance. I had listened to it for some time when I crawled
back to sleep. Grandma watched as I finished narrating the story.
She was keen and listened every word. Mother interrupted me later
and told me to go and fetch water from the river.
Peter: The scorching sun at noon and I went back to the hut. I picked
a big gourd and headed to the river. It was clear and clean as I wanted
to fetch some water and take it back home. I just glanced at the river
pondering what to do next. There was a little frog an a rock which
I had gazed for sometime. Looking at it, I could tell it was hiding from
the hot sun. Suddenly I saw a small snake, which drew me to its attention.
The colour of it made me aware that it was not poisonous, or
harmful. Though it was small I toyed with it. The frog just looked at
me from a safe distance. The snake wanted to eat the frog that had scampered
to safety. As I toyed with it by pocking it with a piece of stick
It got annoyed by me and bit my finger. I dropped the stick and then
run back home crying.
When I reached home I told Grandma what had happened. She wanted
come to the river, but she was weak from the scorching sun. A neighbour
was called by my mother to go and kill the little snake, when we
left I had forgotten that I was crying when we headed back to the river.
On reaching where the gourd was I pointed where the little snake
was. It was still there next to the gourd on other side of the river
the little frog was also there. The little snake was hiding next to the
gourd as it lay on the ground. The gourd was lifted up and little snake
was laid bare. My irritated neighbour picked his stick up and crushed
the little green snake.
Frog: Far abit a cross the river I had escaped from the snake, little that
I was feared the little snake. I had seen everything from there. How
the and how the boy came, how the snake wanted to eat me. I saw it
biting the boy’s finger. Even how his neighbour killed the snake.
Peter picked the gourd and filled it with water. He then gave it to his
neighbour to it back home.
He waded across the river which was knee deep and where I was. Though
I was scared I chose not to jump into the water. I just watched him helplessly
as he picked me and put me into his pocket and carried me to
his home. Deep in his pocket he reached me and grabbed me with his
hand. I was so tiny that he could grasp me in his palm with his clenched
fingers. The light, new environment shocked me there was no
ponds, rivers, or swamps. The place was dry which I later came to know
it was Peter’s compound. As he let me down from his hand I couldn’t
leap or jump. The place was so scary and noisy. Down on the ground
I watched helplessly as a cat running came next to the boy. It was dark
in nature and a bit rough in nature. It had happen to been near me, only
a few meters. It eyed on me as it preyed how to eat me, the boy watched
in amazement. The snake wanted to eat me and so was the cat.
It didn’t pounce on me but I was looking at my shinny body. I looked
like a perfect menu for cat only that I was so small. The cat turned away
after a little stare. All in all my life was saved. The boy moved from
the hut carrying food for some women who seemed that they couldn’t
stop talking and handed some food to them. Later he came back to
me and sat next to me.
Peter: Looking at the small frog that seem the interest me so much. I
thought that I should eat some food and went back to the hut and brought
some food with me. While I was eating I heard some noise from a distance.
It was a merry kind of sound. Being too excited I left my food
next to the little frog.
It didn’t mind, only its sparkling little eyes looked at me. I raised from
the ground and run towards to the direction of the sound in the village.
The village festival had just begun. People were gathering walking
to celebrate it.
Frog: At first the boy almost knocked me down with food as he almost
squashed me with his feet as he raised up. Poor me I thought will
I die for being a small frog. Then the women stood up from under the
tree and came towards the hut.
Peter’s grandmother and his mother came and picked the half empty
plate from where I was and went with it back to the hut. By now I was
getting hungry and I couldn’t eat human food. Starving as I were, I
had no choice and hoped to the forest nearby and disappeared into it.
Cat: It was almost sunset a sound come from the granary and I decided
to check it out. I went slowly and keenly toward the grains store.
I held my breath as I came near. Looking at a sack to see where the
sound was coming from. There was a mouse which seemed to have a
nice time nibbling what was in the sack. I pounced to it with such a
precision and caught it. It become my evening meal which I ate become
my fill. Later I licked myself and went over hut once more.
Peter: I passed through the forest and across the river to the other village.
The sound became more clear and real. Women voices seemed to
dominate the air. The drums could sing for them, boom, boom it went.
On reaching the village I couldn’t wait to see the harvest festival. It
had started earlier only that the rhythm of the drums was not so intense.
I could see my mother coming as she had followed me from home.
The drums echoed from every corner. People sat at every space
available. Others couldn’t wait as they danced to the melody from rhythmic
drums and trumpets. Their bare feet seemed more accustomed to
the beat and dust. Merry was in the making. Some old men sat next to
a tree while they feasted. The older men loved to sip some beer from
a giant gourd which they drew from. More women were cooking while
others were eating. My anxiety as a boy went straight to where my
age mates were. Music and dance filled the air. People were dancing
in turns. The younger boys who are always mischievous, daring ones
tried to get some beer out of cunningness. It got more and more interestingly
funny. The harvest festival and the dancing took the centre
stage. They were charming especially when a new note of beat came
in the air. Everything was in style and elegance. The beat, jingles, dancing
and aromas filled the air as I danced more than I thought. The
beats changed our mode and mood of dancing. The slower and faster
the beats embedded our nerves. It was truly African, pure cultural and
intense. When it paused for some time my mother came to me and said
we could go home. Now I had stopped dancing and we decided to go
The festival wasn’t over, but we needed to go home look after Grandma.
Grandma: By the fireside it was warm. I sat next to Peter his Mother.
I was asking about the festival. My grandson was feeling cold and he
covered himself with a blanket. A cat that was still licking itself from
the meal it had before. Peter’s mother said it was a harvest festival in
which people were celebrating about. It had brought every body excited.
Due to my age I could not stay awake for so long. I decided to
call it a day and went to sleep. Peter and his mother were still talking.
His father was coming the next day. Peter asked whether his father would
bring him a present for him. His mother said “You know your father
always comes home with a present”. I couldn’t wait to hear their
conversation and I went out like a candle.
Next morning comes and the weather had changed, it was cold, cloudy
and windy too. From the bed I left and went outside. It was chilly
as it was early in the morning and Peter had not waken up. I called his
mother and she prepared the morning tea. After having breakfast I gained
my full spirit from a cup of tea and I went out. The weather was
terrible for an old woman. I wondered where the sun had gone. If could
be here it could replenish my withered body to feel much better. I sat
next to a stool warming by the fire. Peter’s mother picked her hoe and
went to the garden. Peter wakes up and comes for a cup of tea still yawning
from his overnight sleep. Looking at him reminds me that he is
always loved his father. After sipping from the cup he asked me where
his mother was. I told him she had left her to the garden. His mood
and spirit was always good. Time goes by while still warming ourselves
by the fire. Peter goes out for a while. I seemed to loose my concentration
when Peter says “Daddy is coming”. The words from Peter made
me aware what was going on . I sighed as he entered the hut. Peter
couldn’t wait for him to get inside. He just met him as he got into
the house. As his luggage is being put down a smile showed from his
face. His tiredness seemed not to affect his warm smile. “Hello Grandma”,
he echoed. My son how have you been? My brittle fingers met
his firm hand. I was getting old and it had affected my concentration
and sight. I stood up in my weak body. He felt sad and said “Mummy!
Don’t wake up from your seat”, as I melted back to my seat as
my hands seem to be shaking. Certainly I thought that age had caught
up with me. I felt happy as a family and we decided to have a little
chat. My mind was a little mixed up by my anxiety which seemed to
have taken my brain like a storm. I thought wisely for some time as
thought how to put the words together and talk to Peter’s father.
Peter’s father: The old woman who I was his son, watched me parental
love. I sent Peter to fetch his mother who’ left in a lightening speed.
We talked with Peter’s Grandma as I waited for my wife to come from
the garden. She seemed excited for me coming home. It had been a
few weeks, but she thought that it was ages since I left. Perhaps her
memory was fading as she seemed to forget when I had left. Her face
brightened from the time I had entered the hut. A smile radiated from
her face which assured that she was alright. I loved her for not being
just a mother to me, but also an example to my wife and Peter. Weariness
had faded away and I felt much better.
Peter’s mother: The conversation between my husband and Peter’s
Grandma was clear as I entered the hut. I couldn’t wait to see my husband.
Anxiety gripped me as soon I saw him. His usual gentleness radiated
from him. I said “hello my husband”, in which he replied with
an anticipated smile as greeted me. Peter’s Grandma watched with a
warmly heart. It seemed to remind her when she was a little girl the
day she got married, her amazement could tell it all. After a long
conversation I prepared some food for him and we continued talking.
He paused for a moment and he remembered something that he had
forgotten. “Peter”, he called, asking him to look for a blue box which
was in the bag. Peter could not make up his mind whether to look the
bag or go out. He uttered something concerning a frog as he went out.
He was searching for something outside. Then he came back again
saying that he couldn’t find his frog. Then he went to his father’s bag
and pulled out a big box which he open excitedly. “Wow”, he couldn’t
believe it. His amazement shocked everybody including his father.
Well I thought is that my son? Opening the box he had found a toy car
his father had promised to bring him. Before I could even talk he went
out holding the toy car with his hands. We all followed him out he went
out to the tree still holding without putting it down. We all watched
silently as he sat down and then he knelt. He looked up and started
Peter: I looked up and I saw where the owl had always perched and I
looked further up.
I said: “Father thank you for everything. You cared about me, my parents
Bless them for taking care of me”.
As I finished they all looked me as my eyes met theirs. Certainly I remembered
God had seen it all.