My live-in house help Mwende had an emergency that she had to attend in upcountry and so she needed two weeks off. The day she broke the news, my heart froze.
I wondered "Who will remain with Tasha and Troy?"
My daughter Tasha is seven years old and my son almost a year old and I am sure that is a handful to leave for somebody's house help to baby sit for two weeks. Because I had just taken leave, getting time off was out of the question.
But being the considerate and good-natured girl Mwende is, she offered me a short term solution.
"Mama Tasha usijali nimeongea na auntie yangu anaishi Kayole na amekubali kuja kunishikia kazi," (Mama Tasha don't worry I have spoken with my auntie who lives in Kayole and she has agreed to come stand in for me for two weeks).
I was relieved. But before I could say halleluya, she dropped the bombshell.
"Lakini ako na twins. Wako mwaka moja na amesema lazima akuje nao," (But she has one-year-old twins and she insists she must come with them).
I agreed to this deal, though I knew it was not going to be a walk in the park. For an easier transition, the auntie from Kayole arrived two days before Mwende left for 'shags.' She arrived with a bagful of clothes in a paper bag carrying Nzau behind and Nzile on the front.
"Madhe usiwe na sinda, nitakuchungia nyumba yako mbila wasiwasi.Mwende ni mtoto wandada yangu, siwezi kumharimbia kazi,"
(Mum do not be worried, I will take good care of your house. Mwende is my niece, I would not do anything to mess her job.) that was the introductory greetings from the comely middle-aged woman.
The energetic twins brought life to the house and my kids could not have enough of them. Troy was used to being the centre of attention, but here were two bundles of joy stealing his limelight. Though he was jittery at first, he flowed with the flow.
After the two-day orientation, I noticed that auntie wa Kayole was not as efficient and industrious as my girl Mwende, but she was joyful and kind-hearted and got along well with my kids. That's the only assurance I needed.
While Mwende was still around, many things were covered. Now on day three after Mwende left is when I started to understand what I had signed up for. In the evening when I came, I found the twins dressed in Troy's clothes- from head to toe. And when she noticed I was uneasy about the small intrusion, she offered a small explanation.
"Mama nilifua nguo za twins nikaona mbandala wakae uchi na mbalidi, niwavalishe nguo sa Ndroy." (Mum I had washed the twin's clothes but I reckoned instead of living them cold, I dress them in Troy's clothes). I let that pass.
Long story short, by the time Mwende was coming back; I had had enough drama and could not wait to release auntie wa Kayole. Now I respect all mamas who keep a house help with a child.