By Njeeri Thuo
It was approximately twelve weeks before the end of year and I was in deep thought of the 2018 roller-coasters. Let me speak on my behalf;it has been a very difficult year financially, emotionally and career wise. I thought I could go to the village and relax at least for a week, but after a lengthy call from my aunt a week ago, this might not be an ideal plan. Her talk of cows and goats are driving me nuts. All the same, I am grateful for everyone who took time to check on me or sent the ‘blessing and encouragement’ forwards. My spirit has been fed and nourished, again I say thank you.
On this special day, in the deep mood of thanks giving, I decided to call my aunt. She has consistently and persistently being there for me; definitely I am her major prayer item. From our many conversations, she wouldn’t mind to come for sleepover at my place for a ‘Weekend Challenge encounter’, but I am brighter than she thinks. What a constant lie to self?Please let it be known-aunties are genius beings who use a lot of metaphors. We all know that one woman in the village who doubles up as a retired teacher, a Sunday school teacher, Mothers’ Union chairperson and also the village Guidance and Counseling Chairperson. She is also the wife of a church elder who doubles up as the cattle dip chairman.She is a member of the board of the nearest primary and secondary school. Not forgetting that she is either a cake matron or the mother or an aunt of all the brides or bridegrooms… and always a ‘close friend’ if not a long term colleague of the deceased in the village. That’s my aunt.
She received my call on the first ring. This was so unlike her. Before you reach her on her mobile, you have to call her several times or call her neighbor and request her to tell her to keep her phone somewhere she will hear it ring or else you call at 8.00pm after she is done with watching her favorite Kenyan comedies. These aunties are also complicated which they call discipline. Before she even responded to my greetings she happily said:
What a coincidence? I was about to call you. I am just some few meters from where you told me you stay. I will be there in just a couple of minutes, kindly thagana (come for me)Then she disconnected the call, which I knew was intentional.
Aunties are smart. They know how to push you to the wall to get what they want. I tried calling her again but she didn’t receive my call. I hurriedly got a leso which my grandma gifted me many years ago when I was migrating into the city and a baggy hood.Knowing my aunt very well, decency is a delicacy and a leso will hide the denim skirt I was wearing and save me from her criticism. I then ran to meet her. As I arrived at the stage, she was alighting from a mini-bus. The conductor who was my primary school classmate was helping her with her with her heavy luggage. Then the bus left-leaving me to deal with my aunt’s ‘mischievous mission’.
I carried one of the heaviest kiondos and her handbag (trust me, I know her and I played with her mind too) as she carried a lighter kiondo.We walked slowly towards my place as she up-dated me on the happenings of the village. Apparently, all her stories this time are all revolving one life cycle ritual: the weddings and the ‘ruracios’ she will be attending this December. I heard to end that.
‘What happened to the man who passed on?’
I tactfully interrupted the conversation, of course confusing her with several common names since I didn’t know of any specific man to ask about. But somehow I managed to change her line of stories.
By the time I am opening the gate, she is now talking of the sick and the plans they have for elderly during Christmas season. She takes her bag and removes a card for a funds drive for wazee and she also reminds me of the church drive in aid of purchasing musical instruments.
My aunt was so mesmerized by a portable vegetable garden in the compound. ‘I see the rural – urban migration hasn’t taken the village teachings away from you’, I shyly agreed. No way would I disclose the garden is my neighbor’s least she would use it in her mission. ‘Unlike you, your neighbor has a vegetable garden; the city life undid my teachings. That is why you are still single’-she would have castigated me. After this she walked into the house and in an African way started looking on the photos on the wall,the animal carvings, the seats, and then book shelf where she took her sweet time on the books and magazines. My sixth sense clearly sensed the genesis of her mission when she lingered at the shelf.
‘A Prayerful Wife’,she read out loud. ‘Marriage Takes Work,’she continued. Before she took the next book I excused myself and went into the kitchen. Being a retired trained teacher, she is a ‘psychologist’ too and she had to apply the principle of ‘Beneficenceand Nonmaleficence’ and allow me to make her tea in peace which I served her with some arrow roots (definitely this would save me too). By now she was seated and seemingly reading ‘The 5 Language’ of Love. Huh! The worst game one can engage in is playing hide and seek with a devout spirit of an aunt. At the end she always wins. Anyway, after having a very quick silent monologue, it was time to have a dialogue with her:
‘Aunty, I am believing in God to get a life partner. The books are of so much help’, hoping she would get spiritual and we end up holding hands in prayers. She had already told me she won’t take long because she needed to go and shop for a dress for our neighbor’s daughter ‘ruracio’.Poor me-she started her lamenting how she thought someone will bring cows and goats.
‘If the man can’t afford that for now, some lesos for women and something small for your fathers is also ok,’
She started sounding desperate which irritated me but my manners kept me mute. The lecturing was lengthy but at the end we concluded this topic wouldn’t be revisited over Christmas. I promised her that cows and goats business will be closed next year. Hopefully I can now plan a tranquil Christmas at shags.
Dear parents, aunties and uncles, allow your children to enjoy Christmas in peace; it comes once in a year and the city life is very hostile. Postpone the cows and goats discussions, they should not interfere with the celebration of the birth of Christ. We can resume the discussion in February after we recover from Jaa-nuary ailments.
About the author
Njeeri Thuo spells her first name with a double ‘because she can.She is a Nairobi based accountant who loves writing, traveling and reading. Apart from writing Njeeri has interests in public development and governance.She is a firm believer in the truism that even the short people can see the sky.