Tusker was his name. He was adored, still is, at heart. Not just by me but by the clansmen. A symbol of who we are, where we came from; values we are defined by. Our friendship, our sense to look out for each other. Our ability to protect and our sense to watch out for trouble. Our idea of appreciation and belonging to other communities, new families when our girls are given away, married.
I still remember how he came to be. A random Saturday afternoon; the old man’s truck pulled through the backyard. Paps alighted with his usual goodie bag; banana’s, bread, newspapers and briefcase. Unlike Tessy who sat ladylike waiting for her door to be opened, Tusker wiggled eagerly at the cabin, ready to meet his new family. He eventually did, jumping straight at my scared self…we bonded like long lost brothers.
We took a walk around the compound, much like he took a guard of honor, inspection…perhaps assessing the deal, raw or right. Mum shouted at us, disease she said. Tusker needed a shower, a spray. He also needed a good meal…and boy! Mgeni siku ya kwanza he was! I walked in the neighborhood with my head high. Who wouldn’t? With a brother like Tusker? He was there when I first took the cattle herd out for grazing. He was there when dad rolled his truck. He was there when Kenny the neighborhood bully attempted bullying me… The site of his skinny behind vanishing through the bush with Tusker on his tail is still spectacular! We received the old man each evening with him. When I almost got bitten by a cobra, Tusker gave a performance that should have featured on NatGeo… He saved my life.
Tusker was a trusted accomplice. He was absolutely loyal. We didn’t talk much, he always looked at my face for a sense of approval… A nod and it was all systems go. Trouble was fun, rare though. Tusker was the master. Cats didn’t have it easy either. We both had measured dislike for the creatures. I remember one time sneaky Trick found her way to Mum’s kitchen…milk. I wasn’t there to moderate… Tusker took charge. Trick was no more. When mum came home, it was a state of emergency… Tusker was given summonses. He coiled at my feet, he needed my protection. We had overstepped mandate, constitution perhaps? We held a small funeral for Trick, just Tusker, Grandma Meg and I. It was the most remorseful I ever saw Tusker.
Tusker and I fetched weeds and leaves for our other friends, rabbits. At his ‘house’ he watched over the four hundred little animals. He was faithful enough not to eat any of them. Time came to leave. I was leaving for lands far away, so far away Tusker couldn’t accompany me. We had a little brotherly date; chewing on warriors food. Bovine. Farewell wasn’t easy. Tusker didn’t want anything else close to me. I got onto the truck, from the window I saw Tusker’s dejection. He wanted to come along, like he wanted me to say he can visit. With our usual nod, I knew family was going to be safe.
Visiting day months later, mum told me. Tusker left. He died like a ‘man’ should die. He was shot. He was shot by Sabaot Land Defence Force…But not before he had done his deed; saving my family. I miss Tusker, my dog, our family dog.
To Tusker! Cheers! Tusker, Milele!