After staying nine years without a help around the house, chores become a bit familiar. The first year was the moment of truth. 9 years of slavery has never been profound in my life and I’m not so grateful for all those days I missed to be a dumb teenager, I’m paying for it in my adulthood.
My flashbacks of buying sukuma at mama mboga are way too many to recount. But my family’s reaction to my vegan dish doesn’t really phase. See, I was never the one to cook while we lived in Buruburu, there was an existing structure of doing things that allowed me to evade all chores, and this was before IFMIS. Yes, being a lastborn is actually better than it seems. You’d have to issue tasks to the auntie if not, my uncle who is not my uncle who is the houseboy (for respect levels) then there was my sister if everyone else falls out. I would count my two brothers but they never did anything aside from switching channels to WWE and throwing paper balls under the bed. But there still was more probability for them to be given responsibilities than me.
Our in house IFMIS system had a number of errors; soon I was one with the knife. Preparing Ugali came in naturally; Pilau too was water off a duck’s back. I don’t recall the rest of the meals I tried learning to cook, I butchered the recipes countless times, and the dustbin became a bit too familiar with my cooking during that mono-phase. Yes mother, I saw what you did to my food when I went to sleep. But life is tough you know, sometimes you get kale that looks like pasta other times it’s something close to rabbit food. Both instances are to make you appreciate life and also understand that take out is not a bad option.
Fast forward to 2017……..
My mother has had enough of all these shenanigans. I don’t know why it took her that long. I stopped eating my own food by the second year, by the third year I was almost looking like Kendall Jenner but poorer. If I was my mother, I would judased way before I had gotten groceries for the last supper. But well, we are all different.
Karimi was nice. From our first encounter I knew she wouldn’t last a week. The standards of this household will need you to be of a certain caliber that not many comprehend. Most like me have resorted to rebellion and despicable levels of laziness as well as deaf ears. You can imagine my surprise when she lasted a month.
When we had our first sit-down, she came off as friendly as the pastor she was seeing and as holy as the water she was sprinkled with. But everybody knows there are two things you can’t trust in life; a man who spends too much time on social media and a house help who spends too much time quoting the pastor.
She had certain flair, this Embu vibe one can’t put a finger on. I have never met a dark Embu or an Embu who isn’t pretty. (To figure out if a light skin is pretty, picture her with the same melanin Vera had, you’ll have your answer). She often mispronounced my name but I didn’t fault her for it since she would make that breakfast of a champion; food so good you don’t even want to eat it, just gram it and be happy. After a few days she fell sick and all I remember of her now is my mother telling her; ‘huku si ward’ a little after 7am. Unfortunately, she also left three weeks of dirty laundry and the nastiness of not cleaning the toaster after use. Guess who had nearly escaped but did not quite fully make it to the greener side. Livid.
A few days passed, we are both coming in from work to cook and clean. You do not know struggle until you’ve lived in Rongai. However, the idea of having another help in our house was well advertised and I was buying all the shares. Karimi had already disrupted the existing system and instilled a level of laziness that didn’t allow me to carry on all the chores alone. But having a new one was the only thing on my menu; Karimi already broke my heart, my soul and my spirit but it was time to move on.
Less than a month passed before my mother told me of her new catch. I didn’t want to have to open my laundry room again only to be left hanging. I just wasn’t ready to for another relationship. But my house is run by a queen and we are the little worker bees so soon we had a new help. The coincidence is staggering, I was expecting an avalanche of change but clearly this story was God’s way of being sarcastic or something.
Our new help had such profound likeliness to Karimi. She has that long black thick Embu hair, with a bright face looking like Blueband or even better Prestige. She has a certain rude stare that you may take to be arrogance but that’s just how God sent her out of the factory. Wearing a beautiful ensemble matching her belt to her earrings, she is definitely one of those ones, I quietly think to myself.
‘Teise hunikumbuki’ she exclaims before any proper introduction is done.
Two things scare me in life; opening the fridge only to find emptiness lurking and this kind of introduction. Despite being one of the best public relations practitioners in my lifetime(chuckles) I have the worst memory of faces and names alike. I will pass you ten times and even add tax by looking the opposite direction and it will never cross my mind that I should say hello. It has nothing to do with being obnoxious or narcissistic, I honestly have no recollection and asking me the mentioned statement will not do anything for me. The only thing it will trigger are lies.
All I could think is how I’ll get through this mispronunciation for another week…..
‘Ahh nimekukumbuka aki’ I reply with more confidence than I should have.
‘Mimi naitwa Karimi’
I don’t have any evidence yet but I have a really good feeling that somewhere up there, people were eating popcorns and hi-fiving each other at this very scene. Or my mother has a type