I killed my first tree when I was in class three.
My parents were secondary school teachers. My father taught Biology and Agriculture but his love shone more in football because the first thing he ever taught me was neither Biology nor Agriculture but the reason why a football team had eleven players.
My mother taught English Literature and Christian Religious Education, but we all knew Jesus was like that green brooch she wore to church, she called upon him when she wanted to but when it came to a beating or a tongue lashing, Jesus, just like Father took a backseat often raising the newspaper so high you’d forget there was a person hidden behind those leaves.
We were at the table. Mom had prepared my favorite dish, ugali and omena, for supper. My sister was eager to share the events of the day starting with the unnecessary fact that I had lost the pencil given to me by Mom that morning.
Lowering my head did not help for if there were two things Mom hated was one wearing your shame on your face and two, not answering a question that she asked you not to answer.
It always came in bouts of ‘don’t talk back at me,’ and in a span of three seconds she would demand ‘don’t you have anything to say for yourself?’
My sister, two years older but never wiser than me had perfected the art of silence when Mom confronted her. She would keep her lips tightly shut for days until Mom would beg her to talk by buying her patco.
I, on the other hand, would let my tears do the talking and when it got too much for her, the sniffing and the blowing of the nose would make her send me to my room without supper or a treat.
Killing Trees is a short story I submitted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. You can read the full story: Killing Trees