A read to deepen relationship with Mama
What you need to know:
- Jyune Thuna and Ciku Karobia wrote a journal in honour of their mothers.
- The journal " My Remarkable Mom" features many questions that one can ask their mothers to know them better.
The room buzzed with excitement punctuated with moments of unspoken sentiments and an undercurrent of sadness. In colourful “kitenge” dresses, Jyune Thuna and her friend Ciku Karobia narrated to the audience the making of their book, “My Remarkable Mom” an interactive journal designed to capture a mother's love, sacrifices, and life experiences.
The book was birthed out of inadequacy.
In 2017, Jyune accompanied her mother to India for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia treatment. As her primary caregiver, it meant that spent a lot of time together. They had been close; she is her mother’s firstborn, but their one-year stay there brought them even closer.
In the depths of conversation with her mother, Jyune says that it struck her that there were many layers of untold stories and unexplored corners of her life.
“I started asking many questions about her life. Like, “How was your childhood?” and “What was the value of Sh100 as a young adult?” With each response, I wanted to know more about her.
Jyune had been to India before. Two years prior, she had walked through the various hospital rooms as the guardian of her grandmother’s well-being. She was there for breast cancer treatment. She passed on in the heat of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
“Upon return home, I shelved the idea of going back into the corporate world where I was working as a management consultant but instead explore the creative sphere. I needed an outlet to help me get through my experiences in India. My mother had mentioned that she wanted a TV unit, so I decided to make one for her. I enjoyed the process so much that I decided to get more training. I enjoyed making furniture - and I made many pieces. During this time, she was doing well,” says the 36-year-old psychologist.
In 2020, Jyune started writing and publishing guided journals on Amazon in different niches. I showed my friend the kind of books that I was writing, and the conservations fostered the idea of this interactive journal.
Ciku, who is an educator, says that the idea of the journal aligned with her passion for history and storytelling. “There is a big gap in good Kenyan history. So, I had even started thinking of ways to start collecting history and telling our stories, our ways, and our voices, not observers. When I saw what Jyune was doing, I knew that we needed something that would serve as an heirloom, preserving our mother's unique stories for future generations,” says the 39-year-old and a mother of five.
The duo embarked on interviews with different people about their relationships with their mothers with Ciku being the lead while Jyune took care of the design and layout of the book.
“We wanted to help people get to know their mothers and build stronger connections. We started by creating a guideline and outlining chronologically. As such, we made the questions detailed and as specific as possible. An example I like is, “How much would Sh100 bob get you when you were a teenager?” I have received answers in all forms. Did you know that there is an individual who at one time paid just Sh7 rent?”
With time, Jyune’s mother became critically ill adding a sense of urgency to the project. “We completed the first draft, and she had the opportunity to see it. Although she was too sick to speak or move, she smiled when I showed it to her in the hospital. I felt like that was her giving me her blessing. She passed on soon after that. This put the project on hold for a while. My father, who had never been unwell to my knowledge, began ailing in November of the same year and in December was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. He died two days after the diagnosis.
Picking up the pieces
After the loss of her father, they decided to take a break for some time. “In 2022, I felt ready to continue the book as a dedication to my late mother, and I felt motivated to give people the opportunity to strengthen their relationships with their mothers. Losing my mother has pushed me to send a message to people not to take relationships for granted. We launched the book in December last year,” she offers.
The book, Jyune says, has helped her through the through my grieving process. “While I would have loved to experience it with my own mother, who I had a wonderful relationship with, I find solace in knowing that my mother would be proud of what I have accomplished,” she says.
For Ciku, it has greatly improved the relationship she has with her mother. “We talk more, over calls, dates, and visits. We no longer have those 5 minutes obligatory I-was-just-checking-up-on-you calls. I have learned so much about her, things I would otherwise not have known, because when was she going to talk about it?”