By Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
Set within the wake of the Mau Mau uprising and at the cusp of Kenya's independence from Britain, A Grain of Wheat follows a gaggle of villagers whose lives were reworked by way of the 1952–1960 Emergency. on the heart of all of it is the reticent Mugo, the village's selected hero and a guy haunted via a poor mystery. As we examine of the villagers' tangled histories in a story interwoven with delusion and peppered with allusions to real-life leaders, together with Jomo Kenyatta, a masterly tale unfolds during which compromises are compelled, friendships are betrayed, and loves are validated.
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Not in any great detail,'' I answered. I told myself, suddenly relieved at discovering a clue to the strange situation, that the woman was obviously insane and that she was going to tell me about voices and about people who were working against her as they had against Mr. Schroeder. But, instead, she began giving me a very precise, a positively clinical, chronicle of fainting-fits, spells of nausea, and convulsive internal pains. I presently grasped that she was pregnant and, in my rather lightheaded embarrassment, I was about to ask her whether she were the mother of the girl I had seen the other day, but I '56 MEMOIRS OF HECATE COUNTY pulled myself up at the realization that such a question would be out of character with the role I was allowing myself to assume-since the physician I was supposed to be would undoubtedly know about her children and would probably not have been here when I had.
There was something about Mother that chilled people," she went on, disregarding my attempt to be helpful and forcing me to follow her vision of the unrelieved hopelessness of her parents' situation. -I know it. I chill people and put them in the wrong. That's 36 MEMOIRS OF HECATE COUNTY what I did with Sigismund. He always said I made him . feel guilty. But it's really because I always feel guilty. Mother made me feel guilty, too. I can't help thinking that I oughtn't to make claims on people, that I oughtn't to expect them to care about me.
As I looked around the room, I reflected that, though Sigismund had spent much of his time here during the early years of their marriage, though the house had been supposed to be their house, he had left little or no imprint upon it. Dr. Bristead and his daughter and Ellen-both Ellen and her mother were only children -had assembled the things in that room. The low couch on which I was sitting was comfortable but there was something rather stale about it. It had been ministering for too many years to the comfort of too much the same people; the upholstery and the cushions had become almost as personal as a bed, and the pattern of flowers was faded.