Once upon a time, when I was a young boy, my mother would come home from work, to find us playing outside with my siblings. We would either be playing hide and seek, or just telling jokes. Something strange used to happen then. Any time my mother found us laughing loudly and being overly excited over the jokes we were telling, she would caution us to tone down the excitement or else someone between us will be crying soon.
Most times I would ignore the warning. I figured out that we were just playing. Why then would any one of us cry latter? But, like the devil would have it, something always happened to make one of us cry! I always looked at my mother with wonder and awe when her predictions came true. How could she tell, that after the hearty laughs, one amongst us will be crying?
Now that I am fully grown and able to have a mind of my own, I have not yet outgrown that feeling that was instilled by the great lady. I have been trying to pass that message to my daughter, but of cause, like it is the habit of her age group, she will ask endless questions. "Why will I be crying"? I have not been able to give an answer to that question. My mother never told me why something would happen, but it never failed to happen.
Same with me and my daughter. It could be a bad fall as she played, it could be an insult from a friend, a twisted ankle, a broken hairclip, and the list can go on. The bottom line is, she would eventually come home crying. After she had had enough of crying, she would then ask the same question I used to ask my mother. "How did you know that I will cry?"
The jinx followed me into the bush. One day I was picking my clients for a game drive. The family consisted of a mother, two daughters, one son and the father. The first to appear from the rooms was the son. He came running to me and hugged me quite strongly. He seemed very happy that evening.
He explained to me that his father had given him the still camera to take the evening game drive shots. The father was to take care of the videos, which had been until then, the role of the mother. I didn't see that as a big thing to make a teenager overly excited, but I congratulated him anyway.
Next to appear were the two girls. They were giggling happily and running after each other as they approached the van. One of them ran past me screaming at the top of her voice while her pursuer stopped where I was standing and without notice, held my face and forcefully kissed me on the cheek! I was shaken momentarily but when I recollected myself, she was already far away, having joined her sister.
They were now laughing hysterically, pointing at me. Instead of feeling embarrassed by the childish behaviour around me, I pitied these children. Somehow, I had that gut feeling. Someone in this family will be crying very soon. Who? I had no powers to know.
The morning game drive had been extremely successful. We had seen all the big five, and many more exciting sightings. This evening game drive was going to be the last for the safari. As we neared the end of the game drive, one of the girls said," I wish I could see a kill. It is the only missing item in the game drive menu". From the tone of her voice, I knew she was serious. In my life in the bush, I can count on the fingers of one hand, the times I have seen a kill. It is not something you see anytime you visit the park.
Not to kill her morale, I told her that it was possible as long as we were still in the park or within its environs. But deep inside, I felt betrayed. I had worked myself senseless throughout the safari, looking for the most elusive animals, and instead of appreciating that, they were now demanding to see a kill! I felt like I wanted to cry! Cry? Me? Let's find out next week, who will be crying.
Steve Kinuthia is a veteran professional safari guide and the proprietor of Bushman Adventures Limited