A mother’s Phone Call

It’s 9:02 AM. Miss. T and I have just dropped Miss. Z to school and we’re now back in the house. The heat here feels like the sun came to whisper something in our ears and then forgot what it was. So it’s hovering around scratching it’s head. And did I mention it’s 9:02 in the morning?

Miss. T is generating some other heat of her own with a tantrum the size of a mini tornado. I can’t believe such a tiny being has lungs this powerful! If the Malaysian plane hasn’t been found yet, I can bet you my yesterday’s Chapati that it’s in her lungs!

My phone rings. At 9:02 AM. I mean, who’s even awake at such an hour? I balance the screaming beauty on my hip and stare at the screen. I don’t know who it is. The number looks familiar though, so I know it’s someone I can’t ignore. So I pick up. I put it on loudspeaker. Formally known as hands-free.


Screaming pitch increases by 10 decibels.

The voice on the other end sounds warm, motherly, soothing. I recognize it already.

“Oh, hi!” I answer back.

Screaming tempo increases by 20 decibels.

“Hey Mercy, how are you? I’ve been meaning to call yo…..”

I lose the rest of the words. Screaming pitch is now at 100 decibels, accentuated with slaps to my face and kicks on my tummy. 20 more and I’ll be needing the services of a sign language interpreter.

“I’m sorry, I can’t talk right now. My baby has lungs exercise to finish.” OK, I don’t say that last bit but I apologize and disconnect the call, with a promise to call when the storm has passed. I feel particularly sad because this is a lady who’s usually very quiet and reserved. I have accused her of not calling me a couple of times and the only day she gathered her introvert cells together to call, I couldn’t talk!

That’s how my phone calls go on bad days.

On good days, you will not be sure who you’re talking to.

“Hello …”

“Hi Mercy, Mambo?”

Poa sana. Wacha!

“What I’m I stopping?”

“Oh, sorry, not you. It’s my baby. She was switching on the gas cooker.”


“So, I was saying…”

“Haki nitakuchapa!”


“Sorry again, not you”


“Get out of the toilet right now”

“What? How did you know I was talking to you from the toilet?”

“Sorry, not you agai… Wait, you are calling me from the toilet!”

The good callers, the ones who have a seat reserved for them in heaven very near the tree that’s leaning to the ground with apples and has all the hives that supply heaven with the honey, those ones will say,

“I understand. Kids! I’m hiding from mine!”

Then we will laugh about it and continue.

The others, the ones that I will have to talk to Simon Peter about before they get to the pearly gates, those who I will instruct Saint Paul to have them seated very far away from the mangoes and avocados, those ones will say,

Kwani ako na miaka ngapi? She shouldn’t be crying like that at this age.”

Then there are these others who I will have to negotiate for their mansion to be changed to a bedsitter. These one will say,

“Si you just give her what she wants. She’ll keep quiet.”

Little Miss 12-teeth doesn’t even know what she wants. It’s milk or water or that dress she’s been wearing for four days in a row. It could even be the pottie that she hasn’t learned to use yet but will carry it on her head like a hat. She could be crying about the blankie that she never puts down and that really needs a wash now because it’s beginning to stink like a Kenyan Politician.

But we will never know because all that is forgotten when that JTL Faiba advert that has babies cooing and dancing the gwarra comes on TV.

Faiba, I need to pay you for all the times you have saved me from a hurricane of a tantrum. That advert is her opium.

If you’re lucky, I will remember to call you back while Uhuru is still president.