Search This Blog

Monday, September 16, 2019

Your Incomplete and Shallow Guide to Cooking Food for People Who Live Alone or With Cats and Are Tired of Eating Ugali and Eggs every night


How to shallow fry a Samosa

2019 has been a year of firsts for me.
First time I got caught by the flying squad taking a selfie in a restricted area- I thought they would shoot me for real- but I don't  want to talk about it because I will appear quite stupid and then you will not even buy my incomplete recipe guide book when it comes out.

One thing I can assure you, a pink phone cover is like a phone insurance and you should invest in one because it will get you out of trouble. The three cops turned it around and around, looked at me, one shook his head and laughted at me- I think I was looking pretty shaken.
Then asked ' what type of phone is this?' Rhetorically.

My other first was the robbery. About a month ago. We were coming from meetings and as usual I could hear my keys but could not reach them so as I was shaking my bag and searching through this enormous bag I carry three muggers came and said 'cooperate or get shot.'
The one that took my bag searched for my wallet and couldn't find it. He got tired I suppose.
There was a Banana peel inside, very ripe tomatoes and I think the milk was dripping a little so he said ' just find the wallet for me and give it to me.' At one point he was holding my phone. But when I got into the house it was right there in my bag.

My friend says it looks like a brick game.

My other first was, one day recently I got very bored. I never get bored. What I get is anxious because of all the shenanigans I need to do and end up sleeping at 3a.m because I just realised my cream lace dress would look better with a silver colored lining and here I am ripping off a lining from that oversized dress I bought to stitch in to this one that I must wear tomorrow.

I got bored. It was a very strange feeling.
Then it occurred to me that I am finally finding contentment somehow. I am less restless.

If you are still with me here's the recipe.


One cup of white flour
Half teaspoonful salt

Dhania (3 bunches)
Minced meat 800gm
One big Leek onion with green leaves.
Four red hot chili peppers
One beef cube.

How to make the filling

Put the beef in a cooking pan and stir until it starts to stick to the pan
Add the leeks and stir some more
Add oil and let it cook
You can sprinkle some water- a little, like one spoon.
Add the beef cube and keep stirring
Add salt
Add the chillies
Remove from the fire then add the dhania and stir it in.

Let it aside to cool down as you make the covers. Tuziite tu covers.

Make a dough that's light and easy to spread
Cut it into tiny balls the size of a bottle cap
Roll out the first one
Spread oil on it
Roll another piece on top of it
Press the sides all around at one inch intervals with your finger to leave room for air in and out.
Cook one side on a pan,
Turn it over
As it cooks try peeling the one on top
Now flip the sides that were inside and cook them lightly as well
Cook all sides but not to a crispy state.
Remove and cut into half
It doesn't always come out perfectly.

The more you cook the more you learn to live with imperfections and the more you start to appreciate taste over appearance.

Fold the half twice to make a pocket.
Using a paste made out of flour and water, seal the edges.
Put in the meat mixture as per size of the pocket
Leave enough room to enable you to fold over.

Take a normal frying pan and pour a thin layer of oil to cover the entire surface
Roast  your samosas on this oil.
Just slightly.
Eat all of them in one sitting.

I really think Samosas are underrated.
Let's say you are sitting over there with a plateful of chips and tomato sauce
And she is having a cup of tea na Sambusa mbili
Then you both go back and sit in front of your excel sheets.
Let's guess who will get up before 3.00pm to look for coffee and ground  nuts?

I was making and selling Samosa at one point in my life. It was a lot of work and no financial profit, but we got to eat the ones that didn't sell so. Food is a good idea. I suppose a good business is not too bad compared to selling tea picking baskets. Imagine walking around with three of those things and then going home having sold none and you have to tie them to a nail beside our door because they cannot fit inside the house.



Saturday, September 14, 2019

Plot 65: A Scandal

Scandal in plot 65: When death from a teacher's beating was chosen over a suspension.

In the village where I grew up, it was normal for people to call each other names.
Think of any wild animal.
Any ugly looking animal.
It was fine.
Just don't call anyone a dog.
A dog was the mother of all insults.

If you were a student at Mitero Primary school, having a physical fight with someone and the word dog slipped out. The fight scaled to a new level. You stopped the physical fight and got into a word fight about your mothers and fathers and it got so ugly you had to call for support from boys from Kihuhīhīro Primary school, they were the baddest. They would come and beat up the side that had called the other ' dog'  and they would beat up everyone even remotely related to them.
So you could not say the word dog aloud.

A dog is called Ngui
This dog in Kikuyu is Ngui īno
These dogs are Ngui ici
Thin rowdy dogs are Magui maya.

And now it had got out that we had said that a teacher had called the standard four students 'dogs'
We had to define which dog.

"Did he say which one?" Our evening tuition teacher, my aunt asked.
'Yes, he called them thin mongrels.'
'So it was class four East?'
My cousin asked.
'Yes, but he is also our Kiswahili teacher so I'm sure he will call us too.' I proudly expressed.

I had just got into class four and had privileges. We now used ink pens and had music lessons. We ate school lunch- Supro- basic boiled githeri.
We also spoke in English.
By first term we had picked up the important phrases like.
'Please teasher can I go out.'
'Please give me a dot.'
A dot was a drop of ink your desk mate put for you when ink in your pen ran out.
So I felt important, superior and better than my cousins who were still using pencils to write. Casper was speaking Kiswahili , being in class three but Kui was still learning Kikuyu syllables in class one.
 N na G na W na A - Ngwa
Ala na E - Le
Ngware
Ngware is Guinea pig.

That's how we were educated. You first learned Kikuyu as a language, then the teacher used it to teach Kiswahili as a subject.
Then you learned Kiswahili as a language and it was used to teach English as a subject.
 Then in standard four you started to learn English as a language.
What you spoke after that was basically up to you. We mainly spoke Gīnglish, a direct translation of Kikuyu to English.

So I proudly told my cousins the teacher had called the students dogs in English.

The most reserved teacher in the school had called students- Magui.

So here were are, Casper and Me in the staff room. He is begging for mercy from his teacher.

He is a class behind me so his class teacher is dealing with him. But I am in class four and I have to speak English and this is a case for the head teacher. The headmaster might write my name on the Black Book, and my criminal record will remain for generations.

Meanwhile one teacher is saying
'Surely Shishilia, what will your grand mother say? You used to be a good girl, what happened? Umemea pembe?'
I want to tell her
'Mwalimu tafadhali niue tu.'

A death from a teacher would be better I figured and would have told her as much if I wasn't completely tongue tied.
I was angry at my cousin.
How could he have let this out?
I was thinking of the many ways to make his life miserable once we managed to get out of this without having my grandmother come to school.
That was the priority . Shushu could not come to school at any school.
I could just imagine appearing at the gate and finding my Shushu getting into the sheep's pen with a load of weeds as high as herself and me telling her 'I did something wrong you have to come to school .'
Anything but that.

'Eh, all the books that have been written you have finished! All that is remained now is to talk about teachers. Weeee, chunga sana.'
She would say
Then she would start a prologue
' you children, play with education. Play with education completely. Me my father did not take me to school. That is why I have to scratch this ground from morning to evening with this panga. You you want to play. Do you have a shamba? Me my husband got me this shamba. You where will you do if you don't read? Eh? Me if I had read I would have done better, so it is your loss if you don't want to read. Me my work I have done. Have you ever slept hungry?'
'No.'
The lecture went straight to the brain and made you feel more pain than if she actually took a rod and canned you.

Now I was in the staff room being caned. This hand, then that hand, then  some more scolding from other teachers.
Casper pleading for his life
'Mwalimu please usinichape sitarudia kusema uongo.
We had lied, we said.
The teacher we had spread the rumour about now to took us out of the staff room for proper questioning.

'Shishilia, did you hear me call anyone Mongrels.'
'No teacher, someone said you did.'
'Who is this and what class are they in?'
'Mwalimu this person is not even in this school, so I am sure it's a lie.'
I was not going to say where I had heard it from.
The upper classes had a mobile library. I had managed to wriggle my way into borrowing story books at lunch time. So, I heard things.
I shot my cousin a glance again to tell him 'dare you say this is not true.'

'My aunt from Marmernet told me. '
Said I.
'What is the name of this aunt?' The teacher quizzed
'Leah, ' said I
'  She was a student here, many years ago.' I continued, 'and when she came to visit us and I said the name of our Kiswahili teacher she said that.'

'When will this aunt come again?'
' Maybe At Christmas Mwalimu but she was pregnant so she might not come this time.'

I am sure he read through the weak story line but I had given it my all.

'You will have to go and call your Shushu to come.'
'Woooi Mwalimu please we are sorry. Beat us. Then punish us.
Please please please don't ask us to call Shushu.'

We got off, I thought we got off easily and we didn't talk about it until two days later, on coming home I heard Shushu telling her friend.

'Shiriba, these are not children. These are trials. What shall I do? I will die completely.'
And Shushu Shiriba was saying.
' Ah, children? Children are like that. They lie sometimes but they don't mean harm.'

'No no aaaai. They will make demons come out of me!'

I knew that suddenly, the peace had vanished from our home. We were finished.

Shushu is smart and she can play with your mind hadi you tell her things you didn't intend for her to know but because she is acting like she knows everything you just confess.
So for two days she didn't say anything, until Friday night when she was putting us to bed.


I was the eldest so when the two slept a flood of pinches fell upon me.
' You hypocrite of a child. You think I don't know! You think I don't know anything! You have embarrassed me this entire region. What kind of a child are you? Do you have a good head? Eh? I'm asking you? What is this I've heard?'
So the story came out
I couldn't try the story about Aunt Leah on her. So I told her the truth.
I had heard it from a boy. The boy was in standard seven. This was his name.
'Eh? What business do you have being with boys! Let me ever catch you listening to boys. Ihīī? Look at her! '
A few more pinches. A few more dirty looks. Then she added ' from today I never want you to listen to boys stories. And women stories too. Mind your own business.'


Many times, after my cousins left and I was alone again. My Shushu would be in the middle of a story with some woman, I would be sat there, one hour, two hours and I was not supposed to listen.
I learnt to day dream. I guess that is the reason why I end up zoning out when I am with my people. I could be sat in a group of people and I have no clue what they are talking about . I rather prefer it though. I can swig in and out of small talk without commitment.

Casper got his beating the following day. He was given a different  law , to keep things spoken within plot 65 in.

How the story got out was, being the newsmaker he was, he decided to find out whether the teacher called students other insults apart from dogs. And who better to ask than the teacher's daughter. Lol.
We had suddenly become the scum of the earth, but it only lasted a short while before we did something else more bigger than the one before.

Shushu Shiriba suggested my Shushu to join her church so she could attend Wednesday prayer meetings, an advice which she took as we reached adolescence and became bigger trials.



Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Tell me about yourself

I went for an interview last week and the following day my entire body ached. I didn't get the job but fair enough. When I got in and sat in with other hopefuls, I thought  why am I here? I might as well have applied for a job at the slaughter  house.

So Cecilia, please explain to us how to slaughter a cow.

Well, first you get some scissors. A shaver might work but you don't want to startle the cow too much.
Then you tie the cow to a tree or a pole. Then shave a clean line around the cow's neck, about two inches wide.
Then wash off the shaved hair.

So I turn to the man on my left and ask him what did you sign up for? He says volleyball.
The girl in my left, rugby
The one next to her is a boxer
And the two playing a quick game on the table tennis are dressed in Athletic's Kenya approaved sport wear.
I'm sitting here in my city librarian clothes, and lipstick and I'm sure I'll fail this interview
Should I just go home?
I have tights in my bag and a top I bought yesterday written Addidas on it, And a swimming costume.
In case they ask me to swim, Coz I said I'm a swimmer.

They said carry sports wear.
Ok maybe my email said carry, but everyone else's said come in sports wear.

When the interview begins my hopes begin to rise. It's a question and answer session and then a team workshop. I am in a team with the rugby girl and the boxer, the volleyball couch and some quick thinking boy that knows all the answers. There is another boy too. I think he said he is a runner.
I decide this is it, and give it a good go. The one I
At least something I can participate without having to move about.

They later ask us to change and get to the field.

I have a slight panic.
It's now sunny and I was hoping I'll be tested for swimming.

But we are going into this field
I fear balls
And cages
And many people in a cage running after one ball.
I never played crowded games.
When I have been in a swimming pool and someone decided oh let's add to this madness, and they introduce a ball. That's my cue to go out and read a book.
And here we are in a cage and rugby girl is shouting to me
'Macho kwa Mpira!'
Several times.
I can't see the ball,
And  my glasses might break.
I don't wear glasses but just imagine if I wore glasses. There would be no saving them here.
How do you see such a tiny ball when everyone is running about with such excitement.

But they give us lunch after and we begin the one on one interviews.


It's also then that they tell you you are hired or not.
I liked that.
What's the point of sending me home to wait for two weeks just to tell me I didn't qualify.
So my interviewer said I was a great team player full of ideas but I lacked vitality.
I didn't defend myself.
I didn't tell him I exercise once a month, for five minutes.
But he said they were looking for someone fully involved in swimming who could guide buyers. A Michael Phelp of sorts.


I cried in the matatu. Because I was the first person in it and the next passenger came 25 minutes later so what was I to do with a whole half hour?
 I was disappointed, but not in a - not again I'm never even gonna get a job way - just, man this is taking longer than I expected and this is September Jehovah tufanyeaje sasa?

On the positive side of things I have had two great interviews, Opera News was very professional we only disagreed on   working  hours. Decathlon was great for quick feedback, and for both I felt it was a matter of getting the right person for the job.

Not those jobs you start where everything fits in the right places and two weeks after boss turns to you and asks 'halafu?'
'Halafu what, stupid man?


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Plot 65: Put a bunch of sharp tongued introverts and watch the smoke rising.

Tata and Cūcū preparing to feed these 'thankless children of human beings'
Plot 65: Put a bunch of sharp tongued introverts together and watch the smoke begin to rise.

So when my bro saw the nigga story he said I should mention that inspite of the expletives, the adults in our family are religious. And it can be proven by how quickly our grandmother calls out to Maria whenever she is in danger.

She will be chewing her dry sweet potatoes, without tea and chokes from her own saliva.
'Maria!' She calls out.
'What is it?' Some one will ask.
'Ah, is it not this small sweet potato that wants to kill me.'
'But cucu si I said I there is tea you said you don't want?'
'Ah, cold tea, I don't want heartburns' she will explain and choke again. And dare you laugh, or not say pole.

'Ng'undeno! You are just sat there watching me die and you can't warm for me tea? Mbūri!'

Ng'unda is a donkey
Mbūri is a goat

So you quickly run behind  the house to get some tiny pieces of sticks to kindle the fire and warm her tea.
You come and warm her tea but by that time she has finished the sweet potatoes.
So you venture to say, 'Shushu let me just drink the tea.'
'Ngūrwe! Nongīmuona!' When I drink tea it is the same as if it spilled on the floor eh? You thankless child phu!'
So you pour her the tea and walk away feeling like the ass she has called you.

Ngúrūwe is a wild pig.
And rightly so. I have often felt like a wild pig. Black, Misplaced And nocturnal.

Enter Mzeiya. He is wearing a green bullet proof trench coat . He calls them bullet proof because he wears them to avoid being pricked by Napier grass.

He is also perpetually in gumboots:

Favorite names to call those around him
Thegere- a type of Columbus monkey
MbúkÚ-wild hare
Toad
Wakahare-squirrel
Nūgū-baboon
Blarryfakini

'Ah you people are just sitting here and you cannot think to warm water for milking? Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
'I'm closing my eyes And before I open them I want those cows in the shed ready to be milked! Says he.
You run to get some more fluff to light a fire and put on water to warm then run the 500m to get the cows.
' Did anybody remember to give water to the calves?'
We Kihii hiki! Njaū ciatinda ūguo itanyuite?!
Sege!

And then when the milking is done the strainers cannot be found anywhere.
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Enter shush
Nyina Mūnyeki? Have you seen my panga?
'You had it yesterday. Have you checked behind the door?
' Gūtirī handū itarorete, hiūranītie guothe. '
'Gūtakīrī mūndū ūingīrīte kūu.'
'Ah, basi imepotea. Ndūkihe ga ithe wa mūnyeki.'


Enter Irūngū
Irūngu and Irūngū wa Beth

' Ihīndu! Muuma kū?'
Then she starts to tickle them
'Ah Shushu we tiga mathako'
'Ngūmūkunyanga Kinya mugīrīrie.'

Enter Munyeki
'Iii grandmother'!
'Grandmother uūkūria kana ūikie ikūmbī?'

Kīiritu kia Nyawira. Nīwoka.
Ah Shushu me I am not A girl like that.
'Ng'unda! Wī kīirītu! I carried you on this back in plant in season. Shame on you.

And then we all sit around the fire waiting for the Mūkimo to boil as we listen to matangazo ya vifo (obituaries) on Kameme fm 

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Rabaero, the gunslinging duck that must have been a captain in the Vietnam war, or something.

We used to have  the above animal.
We called him Rabaero (lafaelo)
I'm not sure why we had him because he wasn't exactly a pet nor could he be counted among the livestock.
He was just there. Constantly chasing all of us around the compound like a mad person.
You had to watch your back.

If you came in from the back gate without a big stick ole wako because there you are happily walking in with a bunch of carrots and leeks, you bend by the tank to wash off the soil and punde si punde you get a kick on your bottom.
You look up and there is this gunslinging duck ready to kick you in the face.

So you either screamed for help or run as fast as you could to the front gate and exited the compound.
And there you would remain, locked out until uncle came in. Rabaero would be under the granary acting like nothing happened.
I was in my 20s by the way at this time.
We all got kicked. Shushu got kicked while bending  by the
Utensils rack scrubbing sufurias.
She called on to Maria! For help. But when she turned around and saw it was Rabaero disrespecting her. She called him a badly behaved ass( ngunda īno ītarī handabu!) and threw the contents of the previous night's ugali pot at him.

Tata got kicked,  coming in from the farm with a big pile of dry bean plants. She chased Rabaero into the chicken house and told him 'you will stay there until you behave.'
So he was locked up for a week but she felt sorry for him because he was always hungry and the maize she fed the chickens in the morning was not enough , or he was too big to peck at the grains as fast as the chickens. I can't remember what she said but soon Rabaero was out in the compound terrorizing all of us including the dogs.
When our small cousin would be getting out to go to school, someone had to accompany him to the gate, else he would chase him all the way out to the gate and continuously kick him as he tried to open the gate.

His brother would carry a big stick around to keep crazy Rabaero in check.

The only person safe from attack was uncle. He had said one day to his wife  in a very loud voice
'Mayangai nyina wa Mūnyeki rīrīa rūbata rūrū rwaku rūkahūūra ihaati no kūrūtema ngarūtema
(The day your gunslinging duck kicks me I shall cut it into pieces)
Rabaero heard him, loud and clear and he kept away from Uncle's path.
Then the roosters began to copy him.
Now we had a butt kicking gunslinging duck and roosters that could throw a proper knock out punch
 - great-
We thought maybe it was the datura thorn Apple plant growing in the chicken house that was causing this behaviour.
When the seeds burst the chickens would feed on them.

Then we thought maybe he was lonely - Rabaero that is-
So aunt went and found him two females.
He would match them proudly around the compound like a certified polygamist.

But that is how it was always been with our animals. They could open doors and gates and Once, after he had been away for a week, Our Dog Tom brought back a bag that had a thermos with tea in it and two Mandazi.

I am not sure what happened to Rabaero, he was not home when I last went. I miss him somehow, he was like a badly behaved family member who you miss after they leave.