I got up when piny (the world, down, country, can also refer to the
dead) was still cold. As I stood in my doorway, I saw the houses of my
sons lined up below me in the dala (homestead). Some on the right, some
on the left, as our dala we do plan. I began to think about what I saw.
The piny was cool at that time; but what is piny? Piny can talk,
according to politicians, as ‘piny says’ - is the name chosen in Dholuo
to translate serikal (government). Piny (the departed) is those who
have already reached below piny (the earth). Starting with the people
of very long ago. They have died, but they are. They talk, they say,
they command, they bless, and they lead. If the piny says something,
then you must do it.
The weche (matters/words) that have us plan our dala (homestead) in
this way, are of piny. These days people wacho weche (say things) of
piny are different to those of God. If it is the piny that rules you,
you are a person of piny. You are not yet saved. You have not yet
received the new cleansing that the Whites brought. It is hard for a
person to leave the weche of piny entirely. The piny can return him.
Our laws tell us, that if the younger son is the first to marry while
his brother has not yet married, that is a bad matter/word (wach).
There are some laws of piny that should not be left.
“Oyawore”, my wife said. “Oyawore”, I responded. Indeed, it has opened.
The darkness is wanting to finish. Light has come into piny. That’s the
wach we greet with in the morning. That wach makes us think of
something that was closed but now is not closed. Piny has opened up,
meaning that light/holy/clean (ler) has entered in. We have a din
(religion/denomination) other around us that are called Legio Maria.
They can greet people “Oyawore” at any time - even at night. They see
that the piny has opened up, by to the coming of Jesus. The darkness of
the piny they do see as darkness - as they live in ler every day.
The mother of the children went into the kitchen. That’s the name I
like to call her by. Or, I can call her “daughter of such-and-such a
place”, according to where she was born. She has lit the fire. The
smoke is emerging steadily from under the iron sheets covering the
kitchen. The children have already gone into the kitchen to sit with
their mother. They have left me to sit alone. They are not very free
with me. Even if they want something - it is not easy for them to come
to me. They send their mother. A father is someone who is given much
respect (fear). Christians like to lemo “Our Father, who art in heaven”
- it seems he is also far away from us. He also is the father (owner)
of everything. Because wuon (father of) anything has power over (is the
owner of) that thing.
My shoes are there. They have me fear kneeling (at the front) in the
church. Should people see the soles of my shoes, they would realize
that poverty is troubling me. Poverty is a very strange wach. Dhier is
the wach used to translate the term “poverty” in English. But when we
hear that someone is poor, we know he is someone you are amazed at.
Maybe you can be amazed because he is wearing two different shoes, or
his buttocks are showing through his clothes. That is a person who is
dhier and you are amazed (dhiero) about him (her).
The mother of the children brought the chai to the table. These days
almost everyone drinks chai. Our forefathers would have been amazed
with the customs of people who are around today. We despise ourselves.
The Whites got us easily. First they gave us sugar for free for us to
taste. Once our forefathers had tasted, they found that the sugar was
sweet – then they desired it. Then, those people who at first had given
us for free wanted money from us! That’s how the desires of the flesh
Long ago we did not know what a ‘table’ was. A table is part of the
civilisation that came just the other day. If you are sitting at a
table drinking your chai you feel good. If you feel good, well, you are
good. When you feel good, you know that there is nothing that can harm
you. You have courage. That is one reason why people say - problems
have that which brings them. If someone is feeling good, and then wach
changes and he starts to feel sick, or a friend of his dies, or some
other disaster strikes, he knows that cannot happen alone, but there
must be someone who has brought it.
I was staying there slowly drinking my chai. Chai we drink in the
house. We can’t drink it outside because of jajuok wang’ (the person
with the evil eye). I was startled by another woman’s entering the
house (family). “Welcome mama”, I wach to her but it seemed as if she
had a lot on her mind. Her husband had died the other year. She stays
in a bad way. She came in. “Oyawore”, I greeted her. “Oyawore”, she
greeted me. I did not lemo. She did not lemo. (Many people these days
the thing that they do first on having entered an ot (house/family) is
lemo to God to bless the ot. This mama but she just came in and started
on her weche (plural of wach).) Mama had a lot to complain about. Her
eyes moved back and forth. I was startled to find her looking at the
table where I was sitting. She stared at the food on the table. Fear
took hold of me. I finished the mandazi that was in my hand. Mama
finished what she was doing her weche then she left.