Of journey to ‘shags’ for Xmas and relatives’ welcome
When I wished you merry Christmas the other day, I forgot to add ‘and a happy new year’. You can blame it on my advancing age, but I blame it on other beverages that will remain unmentioned for now. It’s Christmas season, you know…
If you are an ordinary folk, like yours truly is, you will likely head to where your aunties and uncles call “gicagi”, which means bundus in simple terms.
You are likely to cram both people and livestock into the car, whether matatu or a personal jalopy which has been serviced at your local garage, loosely known as Kamau’s garaj.
Yes, that is how he writes garage but that is beside the point. The idea is to have your car fixed; spark plugs, a little oil change and you are good to go.
Of course, Kamau will forget to check your wipers, which will fail halfway between the city and the place you call your ancestral home.
But the drama and adventures of this sort of trip is a story we must tell another day. I am aware we have been saying this for an entire year but trust me, you and I have unfinished business for the better half of next year.
As I was saying, the trip to mashambani starts at the local supermarket, where a few packets of wheat flour, sugar and cooking oil are bought and crammed into the boot, along with the children (if it’s a station wagon).
I have heard murmurs these last few months that rural folk are feeling cheated by this charade of receiving shopping worth a few thousand bob (which does not even last three days) while city folk carry back half a bag of maize, three debes of beans, six chicken and an assortment of other flours and vegetables.
The last I overheard a wag at my local talking about it, it was said that mashambani folks have wisened up and are now saying the ‘mazimatic’ does not add up, just like in the case of a controversial and loose-talking pastor whose controversy is trending like hangover does on Boxing Day.
But we digress.
I was telling you about the events of the next few days, especially back home where urban fellows arrive with lots of fun fare.
The children will have eaten boiled maize, queen cake by the dozen, juice, candy and the soda variety sold in plastic bottles.
Quietly, they will be competing with their parents to keep the odour of nasty farts well supplied in the stuffy car, whose air-conditioning cocked out last Easter holidays.
So, a carload of urbanites arrives to a rousing welcome by rural chaps who still think driving long distance requires a special type of driver’s licence, being a superior skill. Maybe it is.
In Kenya, methinks it should be listed among 100 ways to die. Haki. But Gain, that is a story for another day.
At home, finally, the amount of praise you get and the superlative descriptions you get from your mother depends on how much cash you brought for Xmas.
Naturally, if you are stingy, your mother will likely spare her looks of ill-concealed disdain for your offspring.
Slightly away from your earshot, she will notice how your kids are the least well-behaved, how they can’t wait to wash hands before touching food and so on and so forth. You get the drift.
Conversely, your better able brother, whose handshake to your mother was heftier, will be lavished with praise, along with his “so adorable” children who are noticeably polite, and appear well bred.
Of course, your ageing uncle Jeremiah will remind you of the blanket and kabuti you promised the last time you visited. You try to check your memory and can not recall making this promise but finally you will have to “fulfil” that “promise”.
Since no one buys kabutis to distribute to old folk back home, you will have to grease his hands, much to his delight and eventual praise for you.
At the local, where you will go to drown tonnes of chapati, potato and beef stew and other gastronomic delights with beer, chaps you schooled with will suddenly materialise, heaping praises at the way you were always tops of the class.
You have to be dense if you think this praise comes at no cost. You will buy alcohol my friend until they stagger away in the darkness as you fumble for a torch so that you can pick your way along the dark village path. Well, see you next year, folks! –The writer is Special Projects Editor, People Daily