My neck of the woods
Whenever I’m visiting my parents I brace myself for two things: The first is overfeeding – I get to test the elastic limit of my stomach every time I go home. The second is dealing with that biting cold. It gets so cold there if you stay in one position for too long you risk turning to ice.
If my mom gets wind that I will be visiting, she excuses the house help and takes over the kitchen. She prepares the food herself. And she knows that I am a bit challenged when it comes to matters cooking so she makes enough for me to take home. Today I came home with so many chapatis and enough pilau to last me a couple of days. My fridge even sounds different today. It sort of grunts when I only have tomatoes in it. Today it’s humming.
My folks reside in Ngong. It gets spitefully cold in my neck of the woods. If geologists were to dig a little bit deeper, they would ascertain that Ngong is in the polar regions. You can cover yourself with three blankets and still search for a sweater. In fact, getting into bed is like stepping into a cold shower. You prep yourself mentally before getting in between those sheets. At night, the beddings are as cold as frozen chapati.
Ngong is a great place though. The air is fresh and the environment is serene. When we moved there it was not half as developed as it is today. Our nearest neighbor was like three football pitches away. I remember asking my big bro if there could be cheetahs roaming that area. I thought we’d moved to the wilderness. It would be the last time I would ever see things like roller skates again. For the first time I saw kids playing with those homemade paper balls. Some of the natives looked at us like we were E.T. But we soon got neighbors from the estates. And I could see the culture shock on the kids’ faces when they realized Ngong was no estate.
I got many neighbors that were about the same age as I was. Soon we were a clique. For the boys, as we grew older our favorite past time changed from climbing trees to chasing girls. Back then I didn’t fare too well when it came to charming the cuties. I was tiny, shy and I always seemed to say the wrong things. I didn’t know that girls like to be flattered and I would come up with all sorts of awkward lines like, “Look, you’re shoes look like mine!” or “Those matutas on your head make you look like Medusa.”
We’re all grown up now. We’re all caught up in varied livelihoods, each one of us chasing our own dreams and ambitions. We do not get to see each other as often. Some have stepped up and started families. Occupation has also proven to be a mean wedge. Our ‘base’ is no more. Base was the place the boys met up and shared stories.
At times I go for long without visiting my hood. There’s even a time I went home and the watchman refused to let me in! As I was trying to open the gate from outside an intimidating voice from the other side demanded to know who I was. I gave him my name and he was like, “Unataka nini?” I told him that I lived there and he was like how come I’ve never seen you before. I realized it was not a drill so I stepped back lest he chops my hand off as I insist on opening the gate.
At some point I gave up trying to negotiate with him and I took out my phone to call my dad and that’s when he let me in, probably fearing that I would put him in trouble. But even after opening the gate he escorted me to the door and he did not turn back until he heard my mom shouting with excitement. Luckily it was not the house help that opened the door. Any sign of hesitation would have seen the watchman drive an arrow through my temple. I wonder if it’s the same guy that was on duty when thugs attacked my folks and made away with my mom’s laptop in the middle of the night. He was probably all braggadocio because I am small and I don’t look like I can slaughter a chicken.
Anyway, I am a different person when I get into my parents’ house. I compose myself and I act like the person I was meant to be when I grew up. I do this out of reverence toward my parents. I do not leave anything to chance. I never take my calls in the living room. I excuse myself and walk to my bedroom when my phone rings. Once I picked a friend’s call while seated next to my dad and the bugger on the other side was in a noisy club shouting, “Dude hebu bring your black ass to town asap these drinks are not going to drink themselves!” Of course I acted puzzled and hung up claiming that it was a wrong number.
My dad engages me in intelligent discussions. I sure hope I come off as intelligent after all the money he spent on my fees. My mom is always marveling at her newest gadget. This weekend it was her newly acquired smartphone that runs ICS OS! Mind you she is like 55 years old. You should see how excited she was about her new acquisition. The features puzzled her and she had like a thousand questions which I patiently answered. Some I answered twice… or thrice. I wouldn’t be surprised if I go home in the future and I find her DJ-ing on the decks with Beats by Dre headphones hanging over her head.
In other matters, why is it that only two religions have celebrations that are marked internationally as holidays? Our brothers and sisters who are into Buddhism, Judaism and any other -ism out there out to campaign to have their religious festivals celebrated globally. We need more of these holidays.
Eid Mubarak to all our Muslim brothers and sisters!