It is 4:00am in the morning. Margaret has just finished preparing breakfast and lunch and cutting up vegetables for dinner. It looks like a lot to do on such an early morning. But it is not. You see, Margaret knows that in 15 minutes, she has to get out of the house and head to the market. Margaret is your typical ‘Mama Mboga’. For this super woman, the day starts at 3am, when she has to wake up, prepare everything, including breakfast and lunch boxes for her children to take to school before she heads out to the market at 4:15am. She has to catch the freshest produce if she is to make anything from her vegetable stall.
Margaret is a single mom of 2. Her 2 children, Eunice, who is 12 years old and Jack who is 7 are already used to this routine. They know mom has to work hard and they pitch in whenever possible. 4:15am and she enters the room that Eunice and Jack share and nudges Eunice awake. Tells her everything is ready and to make sure Jack takes his cough medicine before they leave for school. She then grabs her now familiar ‘handbag’ which is a crate concealed in a large sack with a comfortable carrier, steals off into the morning air to the bus-stop to catch the next matatu to Wakulima Market.
This is the life that Margaret knows, has created a relatively stable home for her 2 children and she not even once complains about what she is lacking or what she could be doing other than this. She is good at it. She gets to the market, and there is all this shouting and morning greetings and farmers and vendors exchanging goods and haggling. Laughter all round and the occasional yelling because someone disguised rotten vegetables amongst fresh ones.
Margaret goes directly to her long time supplier and now friend Jane where after exchanging pleasantries they go on to fill in her ‘handbag’ with the produce she would need to restock her stall for the day. They have been doing business for so long that Jane ensures that Margaret gets first pick of fresh fruits and vegetables. She will even keep them aside for her if for any reason she is late.
That done, she heads back to her stall that is in an estate near where she leaves. By 6:30am, she has set up the stall that she folds out every night before she leaves. At 7:00am, her first customer arrives. A hotel owner who frequents Margaret’s store for vegetables to be used in his hotel. And business begins. This goes on with an occasional break here and there until 5:00pm, when it’s time to fold up and head on home. After all, the kids will have arrived home by then, and after their bath, which Eunice sees to and they’ll be busy tackling their homework so that she can come and review before starting dinner.
Eunice is in a bad mood today. It’s not the usual teenage mood-swing that has been plaguing her lately. She is upset because she failed a few sums on her maths speed test. Margaret is very quick to inform her that just because she got a few sums wrong it is not an indication on her overall ability as a student. You see, Eunice is a straight A student. She is determined to work hard and become a Lawyer and help her mom out.
Margaret is just happy that she has 2 wonderful children. Homework done and reviewed, dinner prepared with the help of Eunice as jack does dishes and they all sit to give grace and enjoy their meal as they exchange stories of their day. Everyone gets to participate. Uniforms laid out for the next day, everyone goes to sleep by 10:00pm.
Another successful day for Margaret and her children. Tomorrow the routine begins.
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