by Fredrick Oguttu Onyango


Tears tend to flow when we least expect them.  Some are adept at letting them go freely, while some cannot remember when last they flowed.  Tears though, do have a story behind them, be they crocodile tears, tears of joy, or just mere eyes that drool out of a sudden reaction - change in humidity, dust, smoke, and so the story goes.

The day Solborg came was the day I saw more than 1 teardrop: We had the privilege to visit a girl in the Maisha Mema program and her mother in Soweto.  Out of nowhere while giving her vote of thanks for the visit, appreciating Maisha Mema for securing her daughter's education, tears started flowing.  They just had to, especially when she related how lucky she was to be covered, seeing that she has recently been sick whilst moving from house to house for lack of rent...  Then came the daughter's tears when she saw mum's, and all she could say was, "mum was very sick!" (Tears of the unknown, bearing in mind that both know about the mother's status - that it is only a matter of time until the mother is gone).

The children in Clubhouse had just run through the song in the previous week's morning gathering.  The music group Westlife turned it into an anthem of sorts.  They sung it just as a by the way, in their line of duty, like they always see it done when visitors come - nothing special.  The song "You raise me up" lifted by the words of the innocent, underlined with grit and grind, soared and rested on hearts, leaving a lifetime impression.  A painting only the recipients will one day let go off in their death, a song that drew tears. (The kind that can never be articulated, the kind that can only be experienced by their owners' hearts, tears unexplainable).

"You raise me up,

so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up,

to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong,

when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up...

to more than I can be"


(Lyrics by Brendan Graham | Music by Rolf Lovland)

He has taught me patience, took me through the wire, argued every statement of fact I threw his way, but also knew his limits.  It was and still is difficult to let him go.  Will he be understood?  Will he be just another statistic in an already crowded educational system?  Will he receive audience for his off-the-mark outbursts?  Will he, will he, will he? ...  This boy had had a bad week.  His mum had recently gone cuckoo and was nowhere to be seen (as far as the boy was concerned).  She never did much, and has always done little to show affection (not forgetting letting her baby fly in the wind!), but all he knows, all he cares about is, "as long as she's there, as long as she's around, I have a mother!"  When the guests came, I bet it was the perfect chance to let go.  Or maybe he felt we should be "seeing" his predicament in stead of focussing on outsiders...  Of all the days, this was the day he let the tears flow! (Tears of loyalty, somewhat on the "I wish..." genre, but tears all the same).

Then came the occasional collateral damage of normal day to day life where a high speed hit and run collision sent a certain "Mama Africa" (nickname of one of the small girls in Clubhouse) flying!  She was run down by a huge "Mack of a Truck" (the description another boy in Clubhouse gave).  Of course a little first aid and a cuddle-hug wiped the tears away, plus some short term memory, and before long she was in her own cat and mouse chase game. (Tears come, tears go, tears that all tell of limits of personal space and respect).

On the way home that day, I was in a hurry to alight at my bus-stop.  No sooner had I alighted and crossed the road, then the tears welled up in my eyes.  Upon wiping them, came the realisation that this indeed had been a day full of tears! (Tears anyway!)




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