When the mister finally says that he’d like you to meet his relatives, it is kind of a profound moment. Kind of. A profound moment that lasts only up to and until you meet the in-laws, in person. You see, the universe never tires of playing tricks on all of us, so we can unanimously agree that there never is a guarantee that your prospective in-laws will like you. In fact, if we were to be brutally honesty, most of them can take the face of nasty.
Meeting your prospective in-laws and for the first time is one of those rituals all people get excited about. Especially ladies. I mean, he is finally ready for you to meet the people who changed his napkins tirelessly and sucked his mucus off before he was fully developed for a handkerchief. Sorry, that sounded kinda gross. This hot piece of cake wants you to meet the people from whose shambas he used to steal mapera and loquats from until the day he fell from the top of a tree and acquired that scar on his back. The scar whose genesis he constantly denies knowing about. He wants you to meet the people who used to listen to his ugly groans when his mama was giving his butt a thorough lashing in the evenings. If that does not make the whole thing profound, I wonder what would do it for you.
These prospective in-laws are the one category of people we are so afraid yet so excited to meet. The people whose bad books we never want to get into. Even the best of us never realize when we are trying too hard. But come on, aren’t we all a bunch of Africans who were born mainly in the 18th century? That can only mean one thing. Most, if not all of us, never received enough hugs as children so really, who can fault us for wanting some approval every once in a while? And especially where our future in-laws are involved?
Your one solemn hope as a man is that they will not treat you with disdain should they find the breadth and depth of your pocket wanting, in their eyes. We always speak against obesity but let me tell us today, obesity of the pocket is a good thing. It really is. It opens doors and windows and even tunnels that nothing else can. Someday I will tell you why. You hope that they will not write you off just as quick now that you happen to be stuck in a career that may not be considered prestigious before the eyes of society. Scratch that. Before the judgmental eyes of society.
Speaking of prestigious careers, it is possible that we fear being stoned by the high court of Facebook if we touch on some sticky subjects. But I will take my chances. Who began the notion that teaching is not a prestigious profession … and especially for our men? That much as is possible, a girl should skulk away into the wilderness when a guy pursuing Bachelors in Education asks them out simply because it may not look good for I-don’t-know-whose image? And girls, let’s be honest here, if you have ever dated a guy pursuing Education in campus while you are from a different school, then you are used to your girlfriends asking you questions such as, ‘are you comfortable with his career choice?’ ‘What happened to Lenny mwenye alikua school of bla bla?’ Let me ask all of us, in broad daylight, kwani profession yake ni sofa set ndio nielezee the kind of comfort it offers me? Btw, for all I care, if a guy is smart upstairs, makes me laugh, has sufficient ambition and is willing and able to take me to the Maldives someday; then, we are good to go. So very good to go. Yours faithfully, me.
Moving on, si you guys know how we siblings can be petty and pick on all mundane things about the people our brothers and sisters are dating. Like the shape of their noise, waist, their looks and many other petty things. In fact, there is this one time I told my sister that I did not like the way her then-boyfriend’s nose twitched every few minutes because I felt that was not a good sign. I went ahead and asked her to should dump him while it was still early. Ok, that was evil. I know. I realize that I used to be very evil back then but over the years, I got to repent and now I am a changed woman. Lol.
You will clench your butt cheeks tight in the hope that his siblings will not be bothered by your unusually lean shoulders, big nose or even the lack of harmony in your facial features. Because, come on, God’s original plan for men was not for them to be pretty or like snacks. No. God is a wise man. He intended for men to be strong, muscular and look-able at the maximum. And in any case, it’s not what is on the outside that matters but that which is on the inside? Especially the inside of the pockets, a cunning old lady added.
Now, no parent wants their girl to go and get starved to death in her new home. Personally, where there are signs of endless drought, I would never go close. I would politely break their heart and sprint into the sunset. Na niskie mtu akisema niko materialistic. However, a good number of African parents are so good at this tax collecting business that they will ask a guy to pay for every single cent that they incurred while raising their girl. Now I am not old or wise enough to comment on the issue of bride price and dowry but I do have a helluva speech prepared for those parents who patronize our young men by asking for ridiculous amounts of dowry.
That aside, when this son of an African tells me that, ‘Babe, I want you to meet my people,’ there is that smile that plays on my mental lips because this guy is serious with me, after all. But at the same time, there is that evil part of me that is already crafting on how I will deal with them in case they decide not to like me or treat me badly. Admit it, much as nowadays many people are joining campus, when we return to our villages, each of us is a hero. In our own small ways. At least in the adoring eyes of our village folks. Si ndio? According to them, we are the real deal. So when I go to another family and they dislike me, that is like an insult to my people. I mean, how can they afford not to like me? I am the whole damn package!
I am not talking about being disliked by our prospective in-laws because we cannot cook or wash dishes properly. No way. Our mothers stand blameless in that sector for they already played a redemptive role by teaching us how to cook ugali that is just the right thickness and stew that is not competing with the mighty River Jordan. So really, house chores may not be a matter of discussion here. In fact, whenever we cook, people lick their fingers at the table and even in their sleep later on alongside the rats.
Consequently, a girl’s prayers will be against minor disasters. And, if minor disaster has a face, then it has got to be your back neighbor at home who everyone thinks is a witch. No one wants their son marrying from a family that has any ties, even neighbor-ly ties, to a witch. You will pray that your prospective in-laws be not nasty to you just because they heard a rumor that your back neighbor at home owns only black cows, black goats and black chicken. Not to forget, a whole farm of gourds. I am warning us, do not underestimate the Kenyans. They can be very superstitious when they want. Yet, come to think of it, this is Kenya, the country where every city dweller claims to have at least one neighbor back in shags who is bewitching them and curtailing their success.
A girl will hope that they will be courteous enough not to ask what your uncles and aunties do for a living in that kind of tone that suggests that you do not come from the right family. Or the right tribe. It is even harder if the guy is moneyed but you happen to come from a family where your parents are sighing under the horrendous weight of the many loans they took to keep you in school. You may be seen as the ultimate parasite. At worst, they will act like they are selling you a fat chunk of ancient gold in the form of their son.
Speaking of moneyed guys who are generous. Let us be frank, money tones down the abrasive nature of life. It is like lotion to the rough hands. (Praise God for Nivea) We will not lie that it does not feel good to shop around without looking at the price tags. No. It feels damn therapeutic! And it goes without a say that his car seats are way more comfortable than those front seats za mat za Rongai that we scramble for, every evening. Hell, even that Chicken at Kempinski doesn’t taste kawaida. Seriously, how can chicken that has been anointed with Gold, Frankincense, Myrrh and a million other spices taste kawaida? No way. But you will just hope that they, your prospective in-laws, see you for who you are. That you also have something to offer in this life and not as a pretty face balancing on jelly-like financial legs.
Lastly, to the ladies, if and only if, your in-laws decide to make negative connotations about your body and the size of you, I advise you to descend all-Rambo on them with the bible, and any other pieces of feminist literature you can lay your hands on. Because God’s original plan was for us to have some meat on our bones. His generosity while supplying that meat is what created variations. Variations that have me, for example, at a disadvantage. But as you guys like to say, grass will grow. And that, leaves my flat behind at a position of hopefulness. Maybe that is why every other day I stare into the mirror and speak life into it. Mifupa mikavu, tuitabirie, au sio?