Grandma’s garden was wonderful, full of sorghum, millet, and cassava.
But best of all were the bananas.
Although Grandma had many grandchildren, I secretly knew that I was her favourite. She invited me often to her house. She also told me little secrets.
But there was one secret she did not share with me: where she ripened bananas.
Bibi alikuwa na bustani nzuri iliyojaa mtama, ulezi na mihogo. Lakini kati ya mazao yote, alipenda zaidi ndizi. Japo bibi alikuwa na wajukuu wengi, nilikuja kubaini kuwa alikuwa ananipenda mimi zaidi ya wote. Mara nyingi alikuwa akinialika nyumbani kwake. Pia alikuwa ananiambia siri ndogo ndogo. Lakini kulikuwa na siri moja ambayo hakunishirikisha: alipokuwa anavundika ndizi.
One day I saw a big straw basket placed in the sun outside Grandma’s house. When I asked what it was for, the only answer I got was, “It’s my magic basket.”
Next to the basket, there were several banana leaves that Grandma turned from time to time. I was curious. “What are the leaves for, Grandma?” I asked. The only answer I got was, “They are my magic leaves.”
Siku moja niliona tenga kubwa limeanikwa juani nje ya nyumba ya bibi. Nilipouliza lilikuwa la nini, jibu pekee nililopata lilikuwa, “Hilo ni tenga langu la maajabu.” Pembeni mwa tenga lile kulikuwa na majani ya ndizi ambayo bibi alikuwa akiyageuza kila mara. Nilipatwa na shauku. “Bibi, hayo majani ni ya nini?” niliuliza. Jibu pekee nililopata lilikuwa, “Ni majani yangu ya maajabu.”
It was so interesting watching Grandma, the bananas, the banana leaves and the big straw basket. But Grandma sent me off to my mother on an errand.
“Grandma, please, let me watch as you prepare…”
“Don’t be stubborn, child, do as you are told,” she insisted. I took off running.
Nilikuwa na shauku kubwa kumwangalia bibi, ndizi, majani ya ndizi na tenga kubwa. Lakini bibi alinituma kwenda kwa mama. “Bibi, tafadhali naomba nitazame unavyoandaa…” “Usiwe msumbufu, fanya ulichoambiwa,” alisisitiza. Nikaondoka nikikimbia.
When I returned, Grandma was sitting outside but with neither the basket nor the bananas.
“Grandma, where is the basket, where are all the bananas, and where…”
But the only answer I got was, “They are in my magic place.” It was so disappointing!
Niliporudi, bibi alikuwa amekaa nje, ila hakukuwa na tenga wala ndizi. “Bibi, tenga liko wapi, zile ndizi ziko wapi, na…” Jibu pekee nililopata lilikuwa, “Zipo kwenye eneo la maajabu.” Ilikuwa inasikitisha.
Two days later, Grandma sent me to fetch her walking stick from her bedroom.
As soon as I opened the door, I was welcomed by the strong smell of ripening bananas. In the inner room was grandma’s big magic straw basket. It was well hidden by an old blanket. I lifted it and sniffed that glorious smell.
Siku mbili baadaye, bibi alinituma kwenda chumbani kwake kumletea mkongojo. Mara tu baada ya kufungua mlango, nilikaribishwa na harufu kali ya ndizi mbivu. Pembeni mwa chumba kulikuwa na tenga kubwa la maajabu la bibi. Lilikuwa limefichwa na blanketi la zamani. Nikaliinua na kunusa ile harufi nzuri.
Grandma’s voice startled me when she called, “What are you doing? Hurry up and bring me the stick.”
I hurried out with her walking stick. “What are you smiling about?” Grandma asked.
Her question made me realise that I was still smiling at the discovery of her magic place.
Sauti ya bibi ilinishtua alipoita, “Unafanya nini? Fanya haraka niletee mkongojo.” Nikaharakisha kwenda nje na mkongojo wake. “Unatabasamu nini?” bibi aliuliza. Swali lake likanifanya nigundue kuwa kumbe bado nilikuwa ninatabasamu baada ya kugundua eneo lake la maajabu.
The following day when grandma came to visit my mother, I rushed to her house to check the bananas once more.
There was a bunch of very ripe ones. I picked one and hid it in my dress. After covering the basket again, I went behind the house and quickly ate it. It was the sweetest banana I had ever tasted.
Siku iliyofuata bibi alipokuja kumtembelea mama yangu, nikakimbilia nyumbani kwake kuangalia ndizi tena. Kulikuwa na vichane vya ndizi zilizoiva. Nikachukua ndizi moja na kuificha kwenye nguo yangu. Baada ya kufunika tenga tena, nikaenda nyuma ya nyumba na harakaharaka nikaila. Ilikuwa ni ndizi tamu ambayo sijawahi kula kamwe.
The following day, when grandma was in the garden picking vegetables, I sneaked in and peered at the bananas.
Nearly all were ripe. I couldn’t help taking a bunch of four.
As I tiptoed towards the door, I heard grandma coughing outside. I just managed to hide the bananas under my dress and walked past her.
Siku iliyofuata, bibi alipokuwa bustanini akichuma mboga, nikanyemelea ndani kuchungulia ndizi. Karibu zote zilikuwa zimeiva. Nikashindwa kujizuia nikachukua kichane cha ndizi nne. Nilipokuwa nanyata kuelekea mlangoni, nikamsikia bibi akikohoa nje. Nilifanikiwa kuzificha ndizi ndani ya nguo yangu na tukapishana bila ya kugundua.
The following day was market day. Grandma woke up early. She always took ripe bananas and cassava to sell at the market.
I did not hurry to visit her that day. But I could not avoid her for long.
Siku iliyofuata ilikuwa siku ya gulio. Bibi aliamka asubuhi sana. Huwa anapeleka ndizi mbivu na mihogo kuuza gulioni. Siku hiyo sikuwa na haraka kwenda kumsalimia. Ila sikuweza kumkwepa kwa muda mrefu.
Later that evening I was called by my mother and father, and Grandma. I knew why.
That night as I lay down to sleep, I knew I could never steal again, not from grandma, not from my parents, and certainly not from anyone else.
Jioni ile niliitwa na mama, baba na bibi. Nilijua kwanini. Usiku ule nilipokwenda kulala, nilijua siwezi kuiba tena. Siwezi kumwibia bibi, wazazi wangu na mtu yeyote yule.