Please label the custard- Thuku Muthui

One of my main fantasies of parenthood is bringing up my progeny in the village. I have a massive list of tested, logical and relatable reasons. The important ones are;

I was brought up in the village and loved it.

We were taught responsibility at a tender age. Taught is a paradox though.

Responsibilities were forced on us. Dogs, chicken, rabbits and cats in the homestead had to be fed and when you grew older the cows and sheep too. That sounds fun for the town folk, right?

This is not the simplified feeding you partake in during the Christmas Holidays. Real feeding involves sourcing the food-not dog feed or wheat bran from agro-vet shops but weeds in the maize plantation after school. The allocation of tasks was not met by consensus like it is the case in my aunts’ house.

“Mum I will scrub the bathroom and toilet floor if you will take me to the Kids park and buy me ice cream,” the son bid.

“That just buys you ice cream,” she bargained.

“What if I do the windows and sinks too,” he came up with the add-ons.

“Deal.” And they shook hands, satisfied.

I got nausea.

This is a conversation I hope to never have with my children.

The second reason is that I can have my nine-member dream family. The space in the rural areas is limitless, houses are spacious and almost free, the land is fertile and the whole family can eat of it, schools are free and end at three o’clock so the young ones can come home early and tend to their parents’ cattle, there is no need of buying a car or hiring a help. If I add an occasional trip to the city and chapati twice a week, I am a hero to my kids. I will also have time to reprimand and mentor them as I am not caught up in traffic or locked up somewhere in a Java with a laid-back Nigerian client.

“Daddy you write like a girl,” my daughter will tell me during one of those mentorship sessions with her.

“Did you say that because of the handwriting or the choice of story?” Perhaps I wrote of Snow White.

“Look at how you shape your ‘K’ in pink,” she will say and giggle.

“I never wrote the word pink.” I can’t take that reality softly.

“Yeah right. You do write like one,” her mother will shout from the other end where she is having a session with the boys.

“Is it like a small girl or a big girl?” They all turn to answer that.

That is one big happy family unlike the one I will have in an estate in the city and the conversation will proceed like.

“Dad, will you buy for us PS6. The Woods family got one too,” the boys will beg. I will try to say no but the zeal in their tone. Honestly it will not be about the zeal; I got a mortgage, car loan, school fees to pay…  I also know if I fail to buy it, the boys will be forever at my neighbors and each evening will be either a fight or a comparison.

“Dad, the Woods are going to Maldives this holiday. Their father has iPhone 9 and a Jeep Wrangler. Kimberly even showed us his gun.” I will snap at the mention of gun.

“You are not going hang out with the Woods family again. We are not like them. Appreciate what you have no matter how small it is. Do you hear? Have you done your homework? Switch off that television and quickly do your homework.” I will order and put on my stern-look. I don’t want that kind of life where my boys will grow up believing in materialistic wealth. I want them to help a cow calf down in the middle of the night, to experience the joy, purity and love of a parent. I will tell them that during their time, we were gladder than the cow.

The downside of growing up in the village is inability to cope with fast life. I was a victim of this tragedy and it turned out to be my most embarrassing moment. The location was Kitisuru, the occasion was a networking dinner, the dressing was smart casual and the theme was elegance. The ladies were fine, the music was classic, the food was great and it was turning out to be an unforgettable night. My love for food got me first on the line; I had to be meticulous with the serving not to look greedy and not fail to get full, the thin line many of us struggle with at functions. I avoided common foods to leave space for the sushi, prawns and an invitingly thick sauce steaming at the end. Satisfied that my choices were good, I poured the sauce on my sushi; my ego dressed in red heels did a somersault and struck sea food off my bucket list. I sat down at a vantage point and watched as everybody else skipped the sauce.

“Cool kids who can stand hot pepper,” I thought to myself as I dug into my sushi and quickly hurled three heaped spoons into my mouth. The sauce tasted of vanilla and oddly new to my palate. Perhaps it’s the foreign factor.

“Friend,” the PR lady from work patted my back, “You do realize that is custard sauce for dessert.”

“Please do not nickname me Custard,” I cried out my sole fear, and fears come true, they always do.

Growing up in the village explains out why it is easy to pick out guys from the village during the Fresher’s Party at the university. They are those guys with no date, have two left feet on the dance floor before they give up on dancing to have Guinness Kubwa which they drink straight from the bottle, never leave their table again until they are drunk enough to dance only to Bob Marley’s tune Buffalo Soldier and they break into a frenzied dance, something close to a seizure attack. Like the song suggests they are champion Buffalos for having made it to the verandahs of university.

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