We had brought two cats to Nairobi from Dar es Salaam, a Siamese, and a Persian. The Siamese cat’s name was Gopi, an Indian name, at the time I didn’t know that and thought they were instructions (go and pee). The other cat was called Pisa, his name had Italian origins and no reference to toilet training. Pisa had been with me since I was a toddler and lived on until I was 21, having resided in 12 homes, in four countries.
Petro our dog in Dar es Salaam had died and in Nairobi he was replaced by a puppy named Petro. She was the runt of the litter and was rather small for an Alsatian. As a guard dog, her bark was worse than her bite, as after one robbery we found her hiding under the table.
My parents had always loved horses and for my father’s birthday my mother bought him one. Marco, standing at 17 hands, an ex-racehorse (rumoured to have killed another horse) joined the menagerie.
Dad divided the garden in half and built a stable for Marco, the horse. Petro decided to move in with him at night and it wasn’t long before the dog started to trot by his side.
Marco was bad tempered and being so big, it was dangerous to have unaccompanied children around him. While our parents were out, my siblings introduced Marco to some of their friends. We all stood on the ‘safe’ side of the fence, not accounting for the long reach of his legs.
Inevitably one large hoof contacted my stomach and floored me. I was carried indoors and placed on the couch – my siblings were worried that I might die. Besides, what would they say to our parents? That may explain why they didn’t send for medical assistance. Fortunately, I did regain consciousness with a ‘lucky’ horseshoe mark embedded on my stomach. To this day I am not sure if my parents ever knew.