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She had stood by the door for almost half an hour. Every time she tried to knock, something in her hesitated.

Her memories ran back to her childhood. She had stood at the same door trying to knock like her father so her mother would think that he had come home from Nairobi.

It was the same doorstep she had stood by when she left home. Sixteen years had since passed. So much had changed.

She was sixteen. Her sister Nyokabi had been fourteen. They had stood together by the door to pull their mother’s leg. Their brother Sivu had been nine then. He went around the homestead building caricatures of superman that he had seen at a friend’s house. They didn’t own a TV themselves but they had love to keep them grounded.

“This is it. I should go in.”
She told herself.

Going in meant opening the door to a room she had locked away somewhere in her mind. A room she had the keys to but always decided against it.

Lately though, she had found herself walking to that room. Standing by the door. In her dreams and visions, she never saw it opened. And when she did, there was no one standing by it.

She remembered always coming home to find their mother standing by the door. And those Friday evenings or Saturday early mornings when her father came from Nairobi. The girls had traced his scent such that when he was almost 100 meters away, they ran towards him and walked home with him. Usually checking if he had brought mandazis from Nairobi.

She decided against it and took a step back, turned around and left. She quickly brushed off a tear that had trickled down her cheek.

She arrived by the carpentry just before he closed up. Time had not been kind to him. He should have looked like a 25 year-old but he seemed to be in his 30’s. Maybe it had been the same for both of them.

He lifted the green sofa together with his apprentice and carried it inside the small shed that was almost collapsing. She hoped he had received all the letters she had written for the past year. He had never replied to any of them but she had a feeling that he had read every one of them. Or maybe it was her way of consoling herself. Perhaps they had never been close.

She and Nyokabi had been close. She and Nyokabi had shared a life together. It had been Nyokabi who had saved her from her mother’s rebukes when she came home drunk after that incident.


He had noticed her. No one called her Wanja anymore. He started walking her direction and she could have ran away were he not so close. She had wanted to see him and for him, her.

She smiled modestly.

There were still traces of him on his face. They were almost fading away. But still there. Those deep dark Irises that always scared her when she looked at his eyes. He had been like that even as a baby and she avoided his eyes all the time they had been together.

She had wished he would embrace her. She had also been scared that if he did, all her floodgates would open and all that she had bottled would come pouring. So she was thankful when he suggested they hit the local pub ‘karumaindu.’



By Wambui Ochieng'

Radical Feminist

7 thoughts on “Coming Home”

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