Family and Friends

A Little Rain

Rain Nairobi Kenya
A rainy day in Nairobi, Kenya Photo credit: Samia Kassam, then aged 10

I do not remember the first word I said. It was not Baba, because my father was rarely around, and didn’t much like me (from what I have heard). It may have been Ma or Mama (but I only say that because of popular convention). Our childhood shapes our adulthood, and therefore if I extrapolate backwards I perhaps can make an informed guess about my first word. I have always hankered for praise, found it hard to trust anyone, and love the sound of music. Therefore, I suspect I called out my name, while crying and trying to dance to music on the TV, all at the same time. If my father was around I may have said Okoth, the Luo name he proudly gave me. The name means that I was born when it was raining.

初随林霭动,   chū suí lín ǎi dòng,

稍共夜凉分.   shāo gòng yè liáng fēn.

窗迥侵灯冷,   chuāng jiǒng qīn dēng lěng,

庭虚近水闻.   tíng xū jìn shuǐ wén.


At first a haze seems to move over the trees

With this little rain a coolness sweeps through the night

Muted lamplight intrudes into cold windows and parlors

In empty halls, the water sounds quite near

Rain Nairobi Kenya
Another rainy day in Nairobi, Kenya Photo Credit: Sonya Kassam


Musical Interlude: Bach Prelude in c sharp minor by J.S. Bach (Pianist – Mark Obama Ndesandjo)

This work is a meditation on being alone. It prepares one emotionally  for the fugue that follows, one of Bach’s greatest. In another age, it would have been a nocturne written by Chopin.

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