Nuru sat on her bed at home, with her legs crossed and several photo albums with her. This particular day, she would really like to look at pictures of her big brother and maybe others. But mostly of him; just a few years older than her, Kibe had just called her that morning. To ask her how she was. She just said she was fine. Although in real terms, the Calculus test she was about to do at that time was not what she would describe as being fine. She had hardly concentrated in class, sometimes staring blankly at the lecturer, sometimes thinking about something her friends told her or texting. Nuru didn’t know why she didn’t concentrate. While in actual sense, she was really bright and would really willingly take up any challenge coz she knew she had the balls.
Flipping through the pages of the old pictures, she saw ones of her father. One particularly where he was all cool with huge glasses and an neat afro. Beside him in the picture stood her and her big brother. Both on opposite sides. She saw herself and her bland clothes, maybe a little over five, maybe six because of how calmly and well behaved she stood. Nuru couldn’t remember what they were doing on that particular day. Whether it was a special occasion or just another day out, she couldn’t pin point. Her brother wasn’t focusing on the camera. Maybe on something else that had caught his attention. Kibe was never really one to be kept attentive by something he has already seen. Kibe always gazed his eyes everywhere. Looking for something new to discover and later go and research in his big encyclopedia in his room. That was the type of curiosity that made him go to America. The kind of insatiable curiosity that made him not stay here in Kenya. Because he had the whole world to map out for himself. And not even she could stop him.
Her father was a whole other cocktail in the pictures she saw. In the pictures, he is much younger and taller. Perhaps even more handsome. She admired her father in the pictures. He looked more open and careful. His father at the moment is still wise, but he is a bit burdened by age. He rarely smiles at times because his teeth are not particularly in the best shape. At least that’s the reason she thinks. Or maybe he has seen everything that there is nothing funny anymore. His father is also at times too careless. He often wears his torn socks or his unpressed shirt to work. He comes home after work and sleeps on the couch while his tea got cold. She doesn’t like him that much
Sometimes she wonders about her father. And her wonder takes her to her little universe of photos. She looks at them for answers. She looks at the old to explain the new. As if it will open a whole new other gateway to the questions she asks.
Nuru turns to one particular picture where she sees herself laughing off with Kibe. Nuru smiles to herself. It’s so beautiful the way her teeth open up to free her happiness within herself. It’s so magical how one single picture can capture that delightful moment. Sometimes Nuru feels as though the pictures have stolen something away from her. Like they have that splice in time when life is complete. That some of her happiness has escaped from her, into the pictures. It’s like the images had caught a part, a piece, a slice of her spirit; taken them away and freezing them in time. And yet somehow. Nuru felt as though it gave her some control of time, a kind of freedom; that she wasn’t just a passerby in life but an onlooker. To how life grows in and out of someone, like it was doing to her father. Maybe that’s why she always wanted to be a photographer and was saving to buy a new camera. To begin to capture time as it lapses and look back and forth; experiencing the mystery.