We met. Coincidentally during the rush hour as I queued for the bus. I have no stomach for queuing but when the waves of economic hard times hit you harder than a cricket ball, there are no hates and hate nots. I was bored, tired, and top on the wish list was to remove my phone from the deepest corner of the handbag and find something interesting like playing hard to get (check this game on play store at your own risk). Do I get my phone? Well, this is Nairobi CBD, the dwelling place of people with hands taller than KICC. You’ve watched THE CATCH up to the latest episode and have proved that just because he is pastorally-dressed and resembles a harmless man does not mean that he will resist being the potential illegal owner of your phone.
Having no entertainment source, I decided to please my eyes by analyzing passersby from the color of their shoe to the size of their tummy (when you see a big poster `DAKTARI UNIQUE. NAPUNGUZA TUMBO. KWA MAELEZO ZAIDI PIGA: 07…’ remember that hii Nairobi tulikuja kutafuta). Myriad conversations started flowing in my small round shaped head which were politely interrupted by this lady who almost got knocked as she crossed the road. My mouth was agape, not because of the possibility of the bus rolling over her; she met a sober driver and had something good to write home about; it was her dressing. She was in a really tight body con which left no space for a female mosquito to suck blood at the thighs (she must be a chief advocate at my dress my choice) and a pair of 6-inch heels which was overly bent on one side. She was really struggling to walk; her walking style could remind you of a gacau (new born calf). Seems she also had trouble with her sexy dress as she worked to pull it down step after step after step. This had me questioning. Did she wake up with her left leg? How bent is her life? Does her boyfriend admire her in that shoe? Does her mother pray for her walking style? Amidst these unanswered questions, I heard a pat on the back….` hey Mumbi’ and immediately, I held my bag tighter than that lady’s body con bringing it to the front near my twins.
It was Martha my childhood friend. We called her Malitha. Oooh my! Seeing her got me in seventh heaven. I pulled out of the queue and gave her a warm hug….warmer than what you got from your crush last evening. Martha. It’s been what? 20years? And that’s how we ended up at planet yoghurt taking frozen yoghurt.
The catch up took me way back to childhood. Good old times where we could not worry about what to wear, what to eat, when to wake up. We were bosses having employed our parents and house girls to take great care of us. We were begged to eat `baba, kamum, kula kidogo tu’. We would play, get ourselves dirty, get a thorough beating, cry, and life continued. What was childhood without mum using slippers on your thighs, butt, hands, everywhere.
Leta hizo mikono Ann.
[And you start crying even before the beating starts and eventually, you are beaten not for what you did but for crying and not shutting up].
Utawacha kulia wewe. [Stroke of slippers]
Utawacha. [Stroke of slippers]
And you grow up knowing that crying is bad; it will get you beaten.
Being a child was the best thing ever; it came with simplicity. You dressed to cover nakedness not to keep up with trends. You did things innocently without fear of being judged. Children could sing in front of people confidently; all they cared about is getting `makofi ya kilo’ at the end of the day. Most of us become what our parents love. If a father loves playing piano, he will want his kid to be the instrument’s best friend; it’s what a kid is exposed to that he/she becomes. Next time you ask me why I love scrabble so much, I will tell you to look at my bucket list number 812: to beat dad in scrabble.
Malitha and I loved singing; we led singing games, sang at every wedding since class 1, and recited poems. But can I sing in front of people anymore? Oooh yes. I tried that in a karaoke late last year and this is what the moderator told me: thank you for showing us your virginity (in singing of course); that sounded so perverted, like that language they use in Kamastura. Gifts/talents we had as children have gone away; they were not nurtured because well, books were more of a priority.
The system made us believe that education is the key to life. That scoring A’s translates to a better life. You worked hard day and night; afternoon after afternoon as if every A represented a million bucks. You could already see a job at Central bank, sponsoring 224kids for studies, going for holiday at Bahamas, becoming a millionaire at 25, then a CEO at 30, appearing in top 40 under 40 at 31, and so on. That education is the key to life was so ingrained in our mindset until we forgot about gifts, talents, soft skills. In fact, if you dropped in school and your mother was called to school (fathers hardly show up when the reason is wrong) the final decision would be you should drop out of games, drama and music as they were the main distractions to your studies. You forget these activities and sink in books; cram the history of Nelson Mandela from which year he was born to when he had his first child, cram the names of rocks and how they were formed, try to understand how to get values of x&y, know every bone by name, shape and location, sing St. Lukes gospel like a song; practice moles concept.
College finds you doing a course you don’t enjoy courtesy of standards of society, and pressure from parents. You score an A and your passion wants you to stoop to journalism while everyone else believes you belong to engineering. You listen to everyone else but yourself and forget journalism. You graduate finally and live to push the day, to pay bills, but deep down your life is not fulfilling. You admire people who love their jobs; people with talents, gifts. You wish you knew but for now, you have to stick to that boring job; you cannot go back to study what you wanted; what you love because sensibly, you feel you cannot compete going to school with your kids; you’re too old to go back to class.
As we emphasize on Mathematics, let us not forget the talents and gifts. Let your children be exposed enough to discover them; encourage them, develop and nurture their talents, get them mentors. We don’t want them to be stuck doing things they neither enjoy nor love. It’s a trap. No one deserves to be robbed of their gifts.