As the world marked the International Day for Older Persons on October 1, Ms Sophy Mkakina, mother of the legendary Taita singer behind the popular hit “Stella”, Freshly Mwamburi, said she was lonely and depressed.
The 72-year-old said she felt a greater sense of isolation, claiming her only son had refused to visit her Kishushe home in Taita Taveta County.
She claimed Mr Mwamburi had not set foot in his rural home for over 20 years, and was struggling alone with old-age diseases and other health problems.
Ms Mkakina spends most of her day outside her one-room house. Her crippling loneliness and sadness have caught the attention of neighbours, who are trying to help her find hope in old age.
With no family to take care of her, neighbours help her with food and water.
"I used to live alone but I was self-sufficient, until I fell sick and could not do casual jobs to get food," she said.
Talking to us outside her house, she narrated how she struggled to bring up her only son by working as a housemaid in Mombasa.
She disclosed that Mr Mwamburi could not enroll for secondary school as she was unable to pay fees.
"After a while, I got sick and was admitted to Coast General Hospital in Mombasa. He even came to see me and he told me he had started taking music lessons," she said.
After being discharged, Ms Mkakina went back to Kishushe village, where her brother gave her a piece of land and constructed a hut for her.
She said she did not notice her son’s talent for music when he was growing up but she was grateful that he would now make his own path in life and fend for her.
She said he started drifting away from her after he moved to Nairobi, where he was singing in a band.
"At first, I even used to give him money because, it seemed, the pay was not good,” she said.
"When I came back to the village, I survived on casual jobs like herding my brother's livestock and farm work. Unfortunately, I'm too weak to do that now, so I'm forced to beg for food, so the quality of life has deteriorated in the past 10 years."
She said her only wish now is for her son to come home and be shown the two-acre farm his mother inherited from her brother when she's still alive.
"Sometimes he calls me and I tell him I want to see him. I also want him to bring his wife because I hear he's married but he has never brought the wife to me," she said.
Asked when the two last met, she said she saw him two years ago at the funeral of a relative in Wundanyi.
"He promised to come home, but he has never shown up. I don't know what happened to him to neglect me," she said.
As the saying goes, parents are living gods who do everything to make their children happy and expect nothing in return. Ms Mkakina's wish is for her son to go home and see her.
"I do not want his money. My plea to him is to come home. Please tell him I want to see him before God takes me," she pleaded.
The thought that her son may fail to show up sounds like the worst imaginable fate to her as a mother. But she said she had to accept the grim fact that he is a grown-up and can make his own decisions.
Janet Ngele, a neighbour, said she called Mr Mwamburi a few times to tell him that his mother needed care.
"So I once called him and informed him that his mother misses him and would like to see him. He said he would come, but he never showed up. I called and sent several messages but again he did not respond," Ms Ngele said.
"I stopped calling and sending him messages and told his mother not to worry and her son would come one day."
But the allegations have enraged the renowned singer, who described them as malicious and insensitive.
Mr Mwamburi dismissed claims that he had neglected his mother, saying they were meant to ruin his reputation.
He said he had plans for his mother and insisted that he has always taken care of her, discouraging further inquiries into her welfare.
"I know what plans I have for my mother. Certain people are out to tarnish my name because I failed to support them," he said in a telephone interview.
Acting Kishushe Chief Ethel Mosa said they had tried in vain to reach out to Mr Mwamburi.
She said Ms Mkakina had not been enrolled in the cash transfer programme for senior citizens.
"Villagers have tried to help her by constructing a room for her. We also ensure she gets relief food when it's available," she said.
Ms Mosa urged the government to enroll more people into the programme, especially during this period when many families are facing hunger.
"Her case is unique because her real age was not captured correctly when she was being vetted for the identity card. It was difficult to enroll her when the government announced the exercise some years ago because she did not qualify," she said.