Things were beginning to change in Kenya, and life was not as safe as it had been in the heady years after Independence in 1963. There was more crime, and Asian immigrants were beginning to feel unwanted.
In 1971, Ma and Zulie Aunty went to visit Ma’s oldest daughter in England. Ma had never been to Europe and spent months there sightseeing and enjoying time with her daughter and grandchildren.
In the meantime, Ma’s twin Kheru Maasi had become critically ill and was close to dying. The day Ma came back from London, she rushed to Kheru Maasi’s house straight from the airport. As soon as she entered the room, she said, “All of you leave. We want to be alone.”
Then Ma closed the door and sat next to her sister’s bed. No one knows what they talked about. Ma refused to tell us. They were together for the whole afternoon before Ma let the rest of the family in to pay their last respects. Kheru Maasi died that evening, holding Ma’s hand.
She had another loss a month later. One morning, Zulie left the back door to the fariyo open and Willie ran out on to the busy main road and was struck by a passing car. The servants brought in his bleeding, battered body, but he died a few minutes later in Ma’s arms. Ma was heartbroken and cried and cried. She buried Willie in the front garden under her beloved jasmine bushes. She was furious with Zulie and wouldn’t talk to her.
“Zulie killed my Willie. Zulie killed my dog by leaving the gate open,” she told Dad.
“She made a mistake, Ma, she is sorry,” Dad said. But Ma wouldn’t talk to Zulie for a week.
“She should have been more careful!”
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