Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Housekeeper diaries: A visit from my mother

Since one year and six month after my birth, my mother has been a housekeeper.
What that means is, she is very particular about neat bed corners, clean water to wash the floor and which colors are right for a bedroom and which ones aren't.

Many times I think she is British.

 It also means that she has 101 hilarious stories about guests that have passed through her hands.
My favourite is one of the Japanese expatriate who decided to make a best friend out of my mother.
My mother lived with two of her younger sisters behind railways, so no matter how many times the Japanese woman tried, she was never going to be invited home.
One Christmas season, my mother discovered a bundle of gifts the woman was planning to distribute to people.

'I saw a small basket (kondo) and prayed to God that she wasn't planning to give that to me.'

When people visit Kenya, they are quite fascinated by Ciondo. Now, to a daughter of a basket maker, giving her a kondo is like going to rich people's houses and being served Gĩtheri. Not that there is something wrong with Gĩtheri, or a small basket. It's just well, if a Japanese is giving you a gift, a fan or a nice notebook would be more appreciated, coz that's what they do best. If you go to rich people’s houses, you have your fingers crossed for lasagna.

So the day came and my mother got her kondo, and as she swung it around and enabled her to buy.  Try sell the bag and get  back the 800 bob it was valued at? Who would buy a tiny sisal basket, while yarn baskets were all the range in 1994?

Her friend Kahĩhia suggested they start a church and use the basket for collections. Kahĩhia was my aunt's friend, but when my aunt died she continued being a friend. She has the funniest point of view for things.

So, a visit from my mother feels like inspection day in high school. I need to prepare mentally, physically and emotionally. Though it doesn't mean I still don't remain in a panic one day before and one day after.

To say the least, my house most times looks like a public office where files often get lost under the pile of books, papers and dried flowers.
If my house would be lit, it would burn in minutes.


other times
My preparations started early. On Friday night I folded and hug up clothes by color scheme and put away my not high heeled shoes- my mother has something against flat shoes.
On Saturday morning I dusted and wiped and shone the windows then bleached my cups, cleaned the floor and cereal containers then left a deo container open somewhere. I then pulled out weeds and trimmed the grass outside my house.
I put away my novels and other unpleasant eyesores like my water containers that make my house like a plastic recycling plant.
Sunday morning I scrubbed the bathroom, with fragrant soap, ironed my clothes twice, clipped my nails, and then had a proper bath.

It felt like those Tuesday dormitory checks in high school. I would wake up with a panic. My mother had bought me a white towel. It had light blue flower prints but still, the borders were white and that is what the home science teachers checked.

She arrived at 6:45pm.
I stood aside as she inspected the room.
-Why don't you have a carpet?-
Then she turned did a walk around, came back and sat. Then she said why was one of my curtains hanging loose? And your bed is too close to the window she said.

‘Oh yeah?’
-Yes, and get hooks for your curtain-
I started to fry things
-I will only have tea-
‘But I was going to make food, it won't take time.’
-I have to leave by 7-
15 minutes inspection, update on the family, that is, mainly my grandmother, and the cat, then politics
-You should get a TV.  You don't get bored?-
 ‘Hardly. I read, and watch movies.’
‘And news?’
‘ I listen to radio sometimes.’
-Na Gathimũ?-
 ‘Yes, on the phone.’
-It's not a bad place, just too far from the road. Who are your neighbours?-
‘Families, we don't interact much.’
-No kids visit you?-
‘Just  three teenagers, Mũnyeki and irũngũ's age, nice kids.’

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