Antony recalls a challenging but rewarding time in his life when he worked in his father’s shop under the supervision of his aunt.
My father built a store in Makeni that sold body spray, soap, shampoo and other hygiene products. It was a fine place made from dirty blocks covered with cement. To make the dirty blocks we combined rice husks, grass, and small stones with dirt and water. We used a shovel and our feet to mix everything well. The mixture went into wooden molds that made two blocks at a time. We packed the dirt well and shook the mold to make sure the blocks settled. After a few minutes we removed the mold and left the blocks to dry in the sun for two days. Before making the next set of blocks, we wiped inside the mold with a wet rag to make the next ones easy to remove.
Working in my father’s shop wasn’t easy because his sister was a strict supervisor. She monitored my work and behavior at all times. I remember asking her permission before taking soap from the shop for my bath. She also expected updates about my location at all times. I needed her permission before leaving my post for any reason.
One day I left the shop without my aunt’s knowledge to attend an extra economics class from four to seven in the evening. She was mad at me and said I should never return to the shop again because I neglected my duties. I was worried and walked across town to ask my father for help. We returned and he talked with her while I stood and waited. At first my aunt stood firm but then my father convinced her to give me my job back. Luckily she forgave me and I continued to help my family.
This all happened during the Christmas season while the rest of my family went away to our village for celebrations. My father worked for an NGO at the time so he spent many days away from home. Thankfully my aunt forgave me because I didn’t want to spend the holiday by myself.