I stood in the driveway with the dry dust swirling around my boots. I stared
straight ahead of me at the wooden house with its main door and windows hanging
loosely from the hinges.
As I looked at the
dilapidated empty ruins, my mind traveled nostalgically to my years
as a toddler and a teenager. I stayed here until I was 15. Now the house was a
shadow of its grandeur when it was our family home. It was abandoned after a
heavy thunderstorm when strong winds carried off the roof one dark wet night.
Located in a spacious compound dotted with fruit trees, tall giant trees and
flowering shrubs and bushes, the "Big House" stood like a palace among the
quaint, small kampong houses. The far end of the compound was bordered by a
tributary of the main river where we fished and swam. The front faced the busy
The house had a sprawling look, with annexes added as the clan grew in size.
My fraternal grandparents stayed with us so did my bachelor uncles and spinster
aunties. My parents and the brood numbering 7 were residents too.
My eyes moved to the side of the rickety door as I spied with my third eye
the row of sandals and slippers that adorned
the entrance. We were not allowed to run barefoot in the compound so there were
hundreds of foot attire lined up for our use.
I entered the house into the spacious living room. It was lighted by the sun
through the sky roof. I spun round and saw the "coffee-shop" set-up in the right
corner. Here was where Papa and his cronies would sit in their plastic easy lazy
chairs and chat about business, football, government and families. Mother just
prepared hot tea and hot coffee, setting them down on a low square wooden coffee
table and leaving them to indulge in men talk.
At the other end, far away from the men was the TV corner where the womenfolk
would be glued to their soap operas. Sometimes the children joined in but they
were usually shooed off to complete their homework.
In the centre were the sofas and settees for guests and visitors or for us,
the children to laze on and jump up and down. This area was usually empty,
despite the cool comfort of the seats. Male visitors would seat themselves at
the "coffee-shop". Female visitors would migrate to the kitchen where Mother was
busy with her chores to chat with her.
The dining room which actually was the old kitchen was adjacent to the "new"
modern kitchen. Dinner was a family affair at the gigantic round dining table
surrounded by high backed chairs and stools. Everyone had to sit down to dinner
with grandpa presiding over the meal. Lunch was never an issue because of
Beyond the sitting and dining areas were the ten bedrooms altogether, of
various sizes. They were furnished haphazardly with antique and modern furniture
placed side by side. There were enough bathrooms although we still had to line
up and fight over the use of the facility, especially in the morning.
Above the bedrooms was the attic room, a treasure house of the old and the
new, the valueless and the priceless. Anyone who was taller than 4 feet could
not stand up straight. I remembered hitting my head many a time when I forgot to
crawl or creep. We loved playing hide-and-seek among all the chests and boxes.
Now the attic was home to some of the homing pigeons.
The kitchen was my mother's pride and joy. Papa had equipped it with all the
latest gadgets imaginable and we, the children spent almost all our time here,
doing our homework on the large work table and watching our cartoons on Mother's
color TV and listening to the music and serial stories on the portable radio.
My eyes misted as I remembered this old home, now sold to an entrepreneur who
intended to convert it into an eco-tourism centre. According to papa, he was
going to retain the pristine look of the
I was glad. The pleasures of my childhood in this country home would be
available for nature lovers.