Three days after the Christmas of 1995. A big bouncing baby boy is born at term normally. The knowledge of having a brother excites me. But no sooner had I seen him than I retreated. He has a clipped cord and I don’t like it. He is not looking like me in all aspects. Or let’s say I don’t remember my cord.
“Mum, why is he not looking like me. What is this here?” I inquired pointing at the cord. “It will wear off and be like yours with time.” She responded. That quelled my incessant queries for a while.
Being a reader of the word and having lead in the Sunday School and also served as a youth leader, dad knew some Bible characters. He picks one for my bro, Laban.
Laban is growing so fast and before long, I feel like I am going to be outdone. Mum goes to the clinic on a monthly basis. This is to enable my bro receive vaccines and assess his growth. For the record, his weight was within the normal limits when he was born (between 2.5 and 4.0 kilograms.)
This is the third month and nurses at Kericho Maternal and Child Health (MCH) have every reason to worry. Not that my bro is malnourished. Far from that, he is gaining so much weight and they are wondering how comes in only three months, the graph is rising exponentially outside the normal range. Soon they would not have a place to plot the values if this goes on. And indeed they have to write outside the margins.
Quickly, nurses around summons mum in a room not to congratulate her but to scold, threaten and even rebuke.
“Woman, it is not that we don’t know how to feed our children with Cerelac.” One of the nurses begins. Mum thinks anyone in white coat is a doctor. “Why do you feed your child so much? Eh?” the impromptu interview goes on.
Mum is lost for words. She has hard time pronouncing Cerelac let alone afford it. She is wondering how these ‘doctors’ are taking her. “What do you feed your child with?” Another one prods.
With a stutter, she replies, “I feed him with Uji ya mahindi (Maize porridge) and sometimes mix with millet. There is nothing else I give to him except for breastfeeding.”
They are not satisfied but leaves her to go but with stern warning to reduce the frequency of feeding and stop Cerelac.
Looking at his graph, only two dots are within the normal range; when he was born and after the first month. He never comes back to the normal range. At twelve months, he is as heavy as a normal child in the age bracket of 2–3 years according to the WHO standards in the clinic card.
He is abnormal you can say and I agree with you. He has never been normal.
At the age of four years, he joins nursery school in a nearby primary school. He is well built. Other kids occasionally make fun of him but one thing I take pride in is that he beats them all. His size is intimidating. He simply can defend himself. If he decides to sit on you then it will take the hand of a number of accredited observers to take him off.
I wish I was that big too. I would beat all of my friends who laughed at me for bedwetting.
It will be an injustice not to mention at this point that bro eats commensurate to his body. He is an ardent observer of unorthodox adage Mwili haijengwi na mawe. He agrees with River road wahenga who said Jenga mwili haribu jina.
Paraphernalia fills his shorts’ pockets. While others carry handkerchiefs and rubber or pencil and what have you in their pockets, he is carrying nuts, heavy bolts and the like. Mum is pricked severally while washing his school uniform. As an occupational risk protection, she has learnt to check his pockets. She does complete evacuation characterised by soft fluffy pockets. No amount of warning can deter bro from carrying more of such. At some point, his pockets are torn by pins and assorted items. You wonder what he wants to do with all these. I also wonder.
Sick patients visit a doctor but Laban pays a visit to any sick appliance, be it radio, TV, watch, phone etc. I don’t know how he comforts them if he ever does but what I am certain of is that there is a 50% mortality rate. Those who survive the ordeal bears life scars out of unprecedented suturing. He takes time to learn what each device contains and how it works. Maybe he is on a mission to unearth the radio presenters he has been hearing only to be disappointed.
This has been going on for long. He has a collection of broken pieces of anything electrical. In class eight, he surprised us by resuscitating a Motorola C113. After about 10 minutes, it was working again. I guess that is the first miracle he performed.
He sits for class eight exams and doesn’t perform well. He has to repeat after which he passed enough to join a provincial school. He performs averagely like all the average students. Many are the times I encourage him to work hard but seemingly he is doing hard work.
For a long time, we didn’t have electricity at home and it took concerted efforts to push my parents to the wall that they did all they could for us to be like our neighbours. I know if they were in a position to they would have gotten it long ago.
This is the time when bro is in form two. He is taking physics as a subject but has done nothing close to electricity. At this point in time, I am in second year at the World Class University, Egerton. KPLC team has connected for us electricity and wiring is for us to do. This means digging deeper into our pockets and get an electrician.
Surprise! Laban offers to do the wiring. He is confident and claims he knows what he is doing. For safety, we switch off power from the mains. With my knowledge in medicine combined with 4 years of physics in high school, I watch as bro teach me how connections are made. He is younger than me but I want to have little faith in him. If he could resurrect a phone before, maybe he is out to do another miracle. He makes his connections and before long he is done and for sure it is working.
That begs the question. “Do you do electricity in school?” I asked. “No, I don’t do electricity. I only do Physics.” He responds with a smile. I went on, “But they don’t teach enough electricity in high school physics let alone in form two.” The next response makes me remove my hat, “This is general knowledge.” He said.
He struggles in school. At some point he is expelled not for setting up fire or leading a strike but because of his faith. He goes to form 3 in another school where he finishes his schooling. He got average marks to enable him join a college. This saw him join Rift Valley Institute of Science and Technology, Nakuru.
Just one year in school and he wakes up this morning to make an audio amplifier from scratch. I asked him several questions to which he denies being taught in school how to make one. This made me know this about him also which I didn’t know. He knows how to ride a car (He confesses having done it before and remember he has not gone to any driving school). He says it is so easy but for me, I’ll be a student of Leopard Driving School come December.
What am I saying? Everyone has a talent. You can say my talent is writing since I wrote this story. You can almost always tell what a child interest(s) is/are. Most of the time talents are killed because we don’t approve what children are doing. Probably if nurtured and supported they would come up with better ways of solving today’s problems.
Laban was abnormally big and loved carrying weird fixings but today I understand that that is where his passion has been. FYI, he has reduced weighed significantly and his BMI is within normal but looks bigger than me. While I look cachectic (blame it on medicine), he looks well fed.
What I have learnt from him is that you can make two mechanical motors of 12V that will produce DC which you can convert to AC and the step up even up to 2KV. That is his next project. Don’t ask me questions on this because I also didn’t understand. I am waiting for the final thing.
The bottom line is, parents (and aspiring ones), encourage your children and help them pursue their passions. That is how best they can use their potentials. Not all can be doctors. Not all can be lawyers, architectures…name them.