I have generally been a trouble maker, up until I graduated from high school.
At the age of five, I sought any opportunity to grab things that were way out of reach. I would climb guava and avocado trees to pick the fruits at the top of the tree, which explains my undying love for the avocado fruit to date. I would scale the wall of our house just to get to the roof top, while using the grills on the windows to support my ascent. I don’t know what it is that I was always hoping to find on the roof, but time and time again, I would derive immense Joy from pacing up and down the noisy iron sheets. At this point, we lived in a metropolitan estate not too far from Nakuru town. All these escapades left scars mostly on my legs and arms, an obvious testament to my childhood tomboy tendencies.
At ten years, we moved to a farm in Njoro and my shenanigans made a significant shift. I upgraded from picking guava fruits for my own consumption, to harvesting oranges from the farm with the sole purpose of selling them in school. The proceeds from my venture would be utilized to buy ice lollies, kashatas, simsims and mabuyu which I would treat myself to every so often after school. All the while, my parents had no clue, about my thriving empire and my indulgence in sweet treats.
One day our class teacher spotted the oranges. She had asked that we retrieve our homework and since the book was sitting at the bottom of the pile of oranges in my bag, I had to get the oranges out first.
“Those are such lovely oranges.” She said. “Are you going to eat all of them yourself?”
“Not at all, Mrs Kariuki. They are for sale.”
She was surprised and impressed in equal measure and asked if she could buy one. After trying it out, she asked that I deliver twenty oranges the following day. I had hit jackpot.
I was now selling to teachers and students alike, and as my oranges grew in popularity, hiding the oranges in my school bag was an exercise in futility. That was not even my biggest problem. Picking the fruits in the evening was, as hiding 20 plus oranges under my sweater was quite the task!
On this particular evening after school, my dad was lying on the couch watching TV. I sneaked out of the house and headed towards the orchard. Unfortunately, the gate made this loud creeping sound and my dad rose into action. He suddenly appeared behind me and I explained that I was just going to pick a few oranges. He claimed that he already did that over the weekend and I should check the pantry. I went back to the house to find only two oranges. Obviously two oranges were not going to meet my demand! I sneaked out again after about an hour when my dad was in the shower, quickly filled this green paper bag with oranges and sneaked back into the house. Unfortunately, I found him waiting at the door step with a belt in hand. He flogged me mercilessly for defying his order, not understanding why I would harvest so many oranges for a household of four. And when I finally told him the truth about selling them in school to teachers and students, he beat me up some more for coming up with what he termed as the most ridiculous lie!
“Which ten year old would solely come up with the business idea of selling oranges in school?” He asked.
“Which sane teachers would allow this?” He pressed on, striking my thighs with his belt with every question.
“Is the school a market place now?”
First forward to 23 years later, I can almost see myself in my six-year-old daughter. At the beginning of the year, I found a note in her diary. Interestingly, the football coach had requested that we settle her football practice payment. I say interestingly because we had not signed her up for football. Or so we thought!
“Xena, why is there a football fee note in your diary?” I asked.
“I don’t know.” She retorted.
“Have you been playing football?”
“No!” She exclaimed, with a straight face.
I assumed the note was sent in error and took no further action.
However, two months later, the note reappeared. This time I called the teacher and explained that there must have been a mistake as Xena never took football classes.
“Yes she does.” He said. “In fact, she’s never forgotten to carry her soccer kit for the last ten consecutive Thursdays!”
I was livid! After categorically telling her to only take part in the four extra curricular activities that we had agreed on, she went on and SECRETLY added a fifth one. Every Thursday, she would sneak her football kit to school and happily join other footballers during their practice session.
It dawned on me that at six years old, my daughter was trying to outsmart me. She lied to my face about soccer practice despite having full understanding that I would eventually find out (given that I had to pay for it at some point). She was going to do whatever it took to play soccer and deal with the consequences later.
Looking back, the wrath of my dad was not going to stop me from stealing his oranges and selling them in school, because in my small entrepreneurial head, I was making money to sustain my sweet tooth. Likewise, it is now clear to me that my wrath is not going to stop Xena from playing football, or pursuing whatever else she has her mind on. Because evidently, the apple did not fall far from the tree.
History is slowly repeating itself.