It’s Sunday morning. It’s been a week since you had your last bath. Your legs are the real definition of mpararo – complete with whitish-greyish drawings, atlas maps on your legs.
Speaking of legs, you are showing lots of skin because your green, yellow or brown shorts reach mid-thigh like a socialite in hot pants.
Your hair looks like a lawyer’s wig. White from the kamuithia you made with ashes on Monday. And yesterday’s swimming at the stagnant pond nearby.
You also have slight bumps where your mother caned you on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Your elder brother also gave you a beating yesterday when you tried to run from your mother, properly beating you before handing you over. And now, you have to be washed together with your smaller sister in the compound so that you can attend Sunday school. The home has no fence, so your classmates going to Sunday School are watching your kaninii from the fence. You want to die.
When you come from Church, kitchen aromas flow. See, today there are visitors. And visitors are a big big deal. So it feels like Christmas. You never cook rice or chapatis or chicken or spaghetti if it’s not Christmas or visitors’ day.
But you are a boy. You are hastily told to get rid of your church clothes and get the cow grass. You throw a mighty tantrum, but look at mum’s eyes and immediately pick a sack and run. Those are eyes that beat you. Your sister remains home in her Sunday best.
When you come back, the visitors have arrived and are talking merrily in the sitting room. You want to go to them but you can’t dare. Your aunt, not mom, in the kitchen serves you just one meal out of the many… for example only rice with salad when there were 13 different dishes. You whine like boys do and she tells you, “visitors don’t finish food. You will eat the left overs.” You pick your plate and drag your feet in protest towards the house. She calls you back and harshly tells you to go to the back of the kitchen, towards the cow shed and eat from there.
Only your trusty dogs join you in your agony. You want to break something.
Meal done, you trudge off to play with other boys in the neighbourhood. Dirty and tired, and without your sister to bully, you come back home, mpararo again. Visitors are laughing. You can’t miss this. So you go and lie outside the door, longingly looking at the table with barely touched chapatis. Beyond that, your sister sits blowing a balloon with a visitor kid. She looks happy. You look at her like a dog, and try to beckon. She is either too busy or ignoring you.
To capture her attention, you go closer and closer. She now has your attention, but when you stretch your hand like a chokora pointing at the table, she changes her expression and swings her neck like they do. Undeterred, you go to the window and look in. There is too much fun in there. You hang at the ledge looking in.
Your mother sees you and you totally avoid her eyes. Because you know there is murder in there.
A dog comes and licks your leg and sends you tumbling. You go to the door and signal your sister to songea you. You walk in, no, crawl in under tables like a mouse and plant your small ass next to her. And start enjoying the stories.
Soon, a visitor notices you and muses “…na huyu ni nani?” Your mother notices you and with a plastic smile, she says you are Mwenda. Remember Mwenda? Ooh, he is so grown now. Which class is he in? Ulikuwa number? Ooone… wow! Very smart boy. Umetoka wapi? Endless visitor questions that are irritating your mother. Before long, you have a chapati in your hands. A visitor pours you some tea and you are now part of the party.
Until your mother calls you outside.
“Ngoja wageni waende utanitambua leo. Hiyo chapati umeniaibisha nayo utaitapika.”
You know you will die today. And you spend your last hours with your dogs playing in the farm, until the visitors time to go reaches and as they are escorted, you also escort them, but from far. That’s how revered visitors were. You just couldn’t resist the urge.
True to her word, your mom gives you a proper beating in the evening, after making sure you have eaten to your fill. She even bites your hand as your sister laughs away.
Boys and dogs behind the classroom
At the moment, only your dogs seem to love you licking your woods and striving to please you.
Remember last Saturday when there was a wedding? Your sister was shikaing the wedding and the MC said, “ladies, please take food to those biîjî na kurû (boys and dogs) behind the classroom.”
It’s tough being a boy. Boys were hated by everything and everybody.