Between class 5 and 8, I amassed a total of 13 cats. It started out with just one, Capsy, that my dear grandpa gave me. I brought it with me to Nairobi in a box (with air holes!) by matatu, all the way from Nguruvati land. Mrs. Adrian wasn’t happy with her father-in-law but Njenva had just lost her favourite person in the world, her father, so she allowed Capsy to stay. Capsy loved the tomcats in the neighbourhood and they loved her back. And she started breeding. I gave out so many kittens that I had no one left to give kittens anymore. So I had to keep the next batch of kittens.
And that was how the cats grew in number to 13. Mrs. Adrian kept on insisting that I should find homes for all the cats and I kept on saying I would but never did anything about it. So one day I came back home to lots of mewing and squealing. Our benefactor had pulled the plug. Mrs. Adrian said she was no longer going to have cat food on her budget everyday. Actually, she was no longer going to feed the cats, period. The cats could only eat raw minced meat, they rejected ugali and sukumawiki (unlike others in the neighbourhood!) and so we had to purchase minced meat everyday. Mrs. Adrian had instructed the househelp not to purchase any more minced meat. And the cats were hungry. I was so upset. I took all my savings (50 bob!) and bought minced meat. I fed my cats and they slept happy.
When I came back home the next day, I realised that it was going to be an everyday thing. So I requested my mum to give me money for lunch and break time instead of me carrying food from the house. She must have known what I was doing but she agreed. So what genius method did I come up with? I’d stay hungry the whole day then use the money to buy the minced meat. And this was how I ended up being a chokora. I was one of those kids that went round the school compound during break time and lunch time with an outstretched hand towards anyone eating saying, “nimosh? give me some?”. One classmate asked me what was going on and I told her we were broke, we couldn’t afford food any more. She told her mum who started packing some food for me as well. Till she asked her cook, who was also my uncle, what was going on with our family. And he told her the truth – Njenva is a fake chokora. And that ended my run with packed food from Yusra’s mum.
Then Mrs. Adrian decided to take a stand and I stood no chance. If I couldn’t feed the cats, they had to go. I couldn’t afford to feed all 13 cats to their fill and I couldn’t find anyone else who wanted spoilt cats that only ate minced meat….. So one weekend, all the cats were bundled into her best friends car and she “dropped them off” at Ngong Forest. I was relieved because I didn’t have to feed them anymore and also very sad at the same time because I hadn’t been able to take care of them. But at least I could now have regular meals during the school day! Some time later, Mrs. Adrian and I were shopping for spices at River Road when I saw Capsy! I was so excited and I opened my mouth to call out, “CA…..” you have no idea how fast my mouth was slapped shut.