Stop what you are doing. Just stop. Kindly pull a chair and let us have a small invaluable chat. Collect yourself, have a seat and like wise men seated around a pot of busaa, let us stopping drinking the brew and deliberate on this thing called living with relatives.
I wouldn’t go wrong if I said that many of the Nairobi’s inhabitants cohabit with relatives. By relatives I imply uncles, aunts, cousins, brothers and sisters. It is the truth of the matter. And for this reason I have come to find Nairobi so boring.
A few days ago I did an article about the middle class citizenry article titled life on a hangs man noose whereby I described the hectic life of a middle class hustler. Funny enough they are always in shoes that are in desperate conditions. That is not my point today.
I am starting a campaign. As am talking it is being launched whereby we want to encourage people to move into their own houses. Its labeled operation kaa kwako.
You and I can testify that living with a relative at times is unbearable misery. It is not an easy thing. It means that you are not stable enough to get yourself a home that you can call yours.
When you are poor, people don’t respect you, they don’t care, they will fart on you, you are a burden, and you are a subject to their command.
I have listened to a number of testimonies of friends who got denied food or whose food got rationed on a daily basis, no lunch, hitting the couch or floor for the night even when there are extra beds, being the mboch who does all the cores and specifically reduced to an impersonal commodity that is used to achieve certain functions.
There is always a feeling that you don’t belong, are a foreigner and you can’t fit in the shoes of that family. There is no way you can be special. When you live in a foreign home, even if it’s your uncle’s or brother’s you’ll never feel comfortable no matter how many times you would like to convince your ass that you at home.
You don’t have freedom to eat what you want. Your choice of meals is tied down by the preferences of that family. They may not care if you are allergic or whether that food may make you lethargic. Or if it may irritate your stomach and the next moment you may be driving without a license. You can’t talk.
If you complain of the severity and unfamiliarity of the meals the woman of the house tells you to go and cry to your mother to get you a better meal. And from that day you become enemies.
You can’t bring a girl over. Even if she wants to be shagged badly. You just can’t bring her home. If you do then something else happens.
She will call your mom or paps and this is how it goes
Hello mjomba (your aunt) (or whatever the shit they call each other)
Hello mjomba. (Your mom/dad) Mnaendeleaje
Tuko salama ni huyu kijana wako. Siku hizi amekuwa na tabia mbaya zaidi. (She will exaggerate, now with an aggravated sad tone)
Siku hizi analeta wasichana kwa nyumba (note the wasichana thing, and you only brought your girlfriend. Not a friend, your only girlfriend. Now she is being called girls).
Before she finishes your mum will have already started gaining a tough moment of anger. Much more surprised she will say
Nakwambia wasichana, na anaingia kwa nyumba usiku wa manane.
Akitoka wapi huo wakati?
Naskia siku izi ni kutembea tembea na wasichana uko nje na kushikana na vijana wa pombe. Kwanza alionekana kwa bar juzi…
And the story becomes sweeter. Your aunt actually enjoys making you look like a bullock without balls to her sister. She finds fun in killing your innocence and ruining the reputation you have back in the village.
Your mom will call you afterwards. She won’t greet you. She is seething with anger and you have no chance to explain your fidelity.
She pumps every little word as told by your aunt and squeezes it down your throat unforgivingly. You just stand there pale wondering what you did or you have done that deserves such kind of shit that holds no water.
But again you know that women are devils somehow and you swallow it down bitterly while thinking hard of moving out.
Your dad calls out later. You know he is a man. You can talk. You can explain to him. You can talk like a man. He is your dad you know. He knows the engineer behind the claims vested upon your innocence. You two can talk and he tells you to be a little patient while he plans on what to do to curb the situation. And he is a man of his word. That is why I love my dad.
The worst thing about angst is discomfort. There are things you can’t do freely kwa wemyewe. You can’t fart out loud. You can’t go into the washroom and do your stuff with freedom. You generally hold everything slowly so that they don’t make a story of how loud your shit drops or how stinky it is, or how you disturb the air around the house whenever you hit the loo.
Every day you have to endure that heavy tag that reads “you don’t belong here sucker!” and for sure you suck. You can never do anything right. Whenever something gets lost in the house you get to be the suspect. Who else would have laid sticky fingers on it! You are the foreigner. My kid’s aint thugs. And she will look you straight to the eyes with seething anger, till you get uncomfortable. Even when you were in town the whole day. They will say maybe you picked that kibeti as you left the house that very morning. The truth of the matter is that that douche bag of an aunt misplaced her porch. She is too lazy to think beyond normal circumstances that all these squabbles might be all her fault. Guess many ladies have such impulsiveness that can’t be cured at any cost.
Now, get sick at your aunts place and you’ll regret. No one cares even if you cough out all your bloody intestines on their faces. They will not be in a hurry to take you to a nursing facility to just see a doc or even a nurse for your troubles. Not unless you lose your breath and become motionless. Then they will be up and down, restless and rushing and caring. And final you land on the doc’s arms. You know you are safe there. Once you regain your breathe you place a small prayer. “Please doc, protect me from these people, and don’t hand me back to them once you are done. Can I go to your house doc! Just for a day, no I mean a week, till I get better? These people are beasts. Please don’t leave me with them.”
In a few seconds the doctor is through. She prescribes some meds for you after a needle and tells you to take those drugs religiously. You thank her and you leave. The drugs don’t get bought. Your aunt will complain of abject poverty. That morning you had seen her count like 50k, and that’s what she proudly calls poverty.
This means that you will get well through natural means; you have never been that religious. but from the moment you hear money is lacking to get you the meds, you suddenly reminisce of all the old good days when God mattered to you, all the bible verses stream to your head and you suddenly remember the story of Job. It gives the biggest motivation.
Ask me of sickness. This is supposed to be a special moment for you. Everything is supposed to be therauptic. But not in this family. when it is meal time your aunt will tell her kid ,”enda uite Justine aje kukula.” and the kid, as rude as he is will come with all rudeness and energy, shake you roughly, almost taking your blanko away and shouts “mammy amesema ukam udish!”
What the hell. You mean they can’t let you enjoy meals in bed now that you are sickly? Why can’t you enjoy that moment as a patient, at least get the special treatment. In this family sickness and wellness makes a thin difference.
Auntie hates it when I talk on phone. Being merry, relaxed and carefree on phone is an offence. It’s like owning something that you shouldn’t own. When I laugh I can feel her stare on me, as though I have taken an intangible thing that belongs to her: Freedom
She wants me to be Atieono. To wash, clean, fetch water, iron, and run up and down the house endlessly.
I can’t study when she is in the house. It doesn’t matter whether I have finished all the housework chores. Studying is like passing a message that am destined for greatness. This unsettles my hosts. She really feels offended by my study habits “Ni kusoma tu?”As though it’s an offense, yet she will be the first to gossip if I get a retake.
You and I know that watching telly is one important task. In fact it’s healthy to watch telly, especially if you are tired after a long day and you want to unwind. But stay there a bit, you don’t have the freedom of enjoying that moment in front of a telly. It’s a mating season for the birds, and you want to flip the channels and land on Nat geo and watch that insightful documentary on how birds mate. At least you want to believe the science because its science and not Zee world where some Hindi guy throws a punch that can land you a kilometer away. Unfortunately you can’t have the remote. Every time your hands settle on the remote, your aunt will be like “wekea watoto cartoon.”
Are kids of such age supposed to watch cartoon or busy doing their Aufgaben (homework)? So they watch cartoons all night. They know all the channels that are for kid. But they can’t memorize the alphabetic letters. And at the end of the sem they bring their report cards, 39/40 and 20/20. Dummies. Their mother doesn’t seem to be bothered. “Daddy najua ulifanya exam ukiwa mgonjwa.” and the kids grow to be assholes later in life.
When you watch American movies you see how people watch telly, like they throw legs on the table, snuggle on the coach with a bucketful of popcorns and have a time of their lives. Try that at your relatives. We miss such fun. So you can’t watch Churchill. You are a grown ass man but all you now are the penguins of Madagascar, or Scooby Doo, or the 12 monkeys. You can’t have a good conversation with your fellow men. You can’t share jokes. You can’t discuss football. You have never watched news. Deep inside you know you Miss Victoria Rubadiri or Lydia Ogutu’s humongous ass.
And you grow up being deprived a lot in your life. When you finally get out of that prison you realize how much was stolen from your life. You discover how much you had missed during that time you lived under your relatives’ roof. You resent it. You blame them for hiding so much from you. You blame them for corrupting your world. You hate them for denying you the chances of becoming whatever you wanted to be in life.
Now that you are 20 and behaving like you just turned 14, you wonder how to recover all those six years of imprisonment. Somehow you recall of Mandela and you decide to forgive our relas but not to forget what they did to you. That will linger. Every time you look at them you see the same carefree souls, wicked, charred and ugly. Now that you forgave them all you can’t do is revenge. But they will always be the same annihilators that used to butcher your future years ago. Even as you hug them, their pretentious smiles all over their faces, and that trying-to-smile look, at the back of your mind you know something. You think to yourself “this bastard ruined my life”. Despite the fact that you are now successful and in a sharp suit you will always think those bastards still ruined your life.
“How are you my son? Look at you; you are all grown up now!”
She will chuckle as she opens her arms wide for a hug. You get to be nice.
“I am good auntie. All thanks to you!” that is not true. What. Is true, that beast before you took from you some part of your life. there is always something about that won’t change, something she did to you that won’t heal no matter how many psychology sessions you will hit.
how she made you grow thin by locking the food away, how she hurled nasty abuses at you whenever a glass slid through your fingers and met the floor head on, how she made you a suspect for all the stealing that went on with her thug kids, the way she made you a mboch in her home while she and her kids watched telly lazily, how she mad you wash all her clothes including bras and huge lingerie, how she woke you up early to prepare kids for schools, how she made you fetch water and fill all the drums every day, how she spread rumors of how rude you are, how she made your mother regret for bringing you to the world, how she denied you the opportunity to know how to strike friendship and till today you still don’t know how to, how she made you stay behind and sleep with her, how she mistreated you, how she made your little life surrounded around her keja, how her kids belittled you. All that, you just can’t forgive and forget. You just can’t. To you she will still look dirty, like her fat cunt that she made you swim in even when you weren’t a swimmer.
As you get to the outside world one day, you promise yourself to work hard. You have to work hard not only to prove to her that you are not thick but for your kids to get a better life and be by your side. You do not wish your kids to stay with relas like you did and get messed up like you. You want them to have a better life, better care, you want to show them love you want to read them bedtime stories kiss them on the forehead before they sleep. You want them to grow up normally, knowing that they have a home and reliable parents they can always run to. You want them to have brighter faces and nicer smiles than you did when your aunt locked you out of the house for coming to her house as late as 7.00pm.
You will want them to have a better education, you will want them to getter better girlfriends than your wife, and you will want your daughters to be married to great men of honor who were raised up properly. And of course you will want them to have lot way better marriages than yours.
All these shit about living with relatives is a killjoy. It steals every happy moment from your life. It is a complete misery. My project for next year is to move to my own house. Even if it’s a kibanda. I just wanna my life back. I want to smile like Donald Trump and laugh like Chris Rock. I want a place to call my own. I want a place to make merry about. I want a place where I can wake up and walk around naked, or in my boxer without sensing a watchful eye that will say I am mad, a place I can fix a meal any time of the day, a place I can throw my dirty socks under the coach without feeling scared, a place I can throw my legs on a table and watch Churchill show or Sam and Cat or even iCarly, a place I can watch 50 shades of grey without reducing the volume, a place I can call my girl to come over, a place I can invite my buddies for a drink (whiskey), a place I can throw things around and collect them in the morning, a place I can break a glass when I get mad and no one gives me bloodshot eyes, a place I can lock and walk around with a key hanging from my waist, or dangling from one of my fingers, to let the whole world know that I live in my house.
You don’t want to be rebellious at the age of thirty, a thing you would have done at 14. Then you would have been a party maniac, drink liquor and sleep on pavements, urinate on the flowers at the city centre, shit in your pants and be a drink connoisseur. Imagine me in my thirties acting like an adolescent. It would be an antithesis of the expected character of a mature man.
you will blame my relas for that. you will wish they told you to leave early enough so that your life could have fallen on the right hands. you will feel bitter.
I don’t talk much at times, because my relas taught me to be antisocial. They taught me to have a contorted face. And convinced me that naivety was more precious that education. Thanks to my God given Intel that stays by my side.
Last time when I did a story about the middle class nightmare, I challenged my readers to team and do something to change their socio-economical status. Many took it as a joke, the few that made it a point contacted me and we had a healthy hook up where we decided to come up with IT Company, providing top-notch IT services while eying the filming industry as it’s the next Kenyan industrial hit. Isn’t that a thing to smile about? Isn’t that motivation enough to spur your ability? Don’t you feel challenged to get yourself out of the comfort zone and transform your by joining hands with others to be beacons of change in our society?
Well, if you don’t then that is your problem. You ain’t stupid or lost, you still haven’t had reason enough to stretch beyond your ability to do something better for a change. Can’t force you. One day something else will coerce you to wake up and blast that rock to realize your dreams.
So this time round I have a better proposal. You all can agree that living with relatives doesn’t prove to be a healthy snack for our lives. We want good life for ourselves. The economic curve of our young people should be richer. And for this to be a reality we need to think not outside the box, rather think inside the box. That makes a big difference.
I have decided that next year I will be living in my own house. Speaking means nothing if doing it isn’t part if the plan. I promised myself to hustle smarter to meet my goals. I have the same challenge for you, to get your own house. It doesn’t have to be something you will build. I mean a place where you live by your own means; rental house.
If you feel that you and I share dreams don’t hesitate to follow those dreams. I am ready to assist you to move out and redeem yourself from such dilapidated life.
I want to stress this: IT IS TIME YOU MOVED TO YOUR OWN HOUSE. JUST GET A DAMN HOUSE.
Share with all your friends. I want us to run this campaign successful and register result. Tell a friend to tell a friend to tell a friend.
My girl Japen Ondieki from Strathmore University, it is always a pleasure having you by my writing side. Thanks for your support. I get morale by the encouragement texts you send me.
This girl shares all my work with her roommates. She tells me that I am more famous in her room than I am in the streets.
I love you girl. Big up with all your girls. Continue sharing our work throughout Strat Varsity.