I grew up reading lots of storybooks and novels with an inclination to romance and drama.
When it came to music, I was a diehard fan of R&B and pop music boy bands from Westlife, Backstreet Boys, Boyz II Men, you name it. I would sing along to most Mariah Carey and Celine Dion’s songs from the tender age of five.
I remember Sunday Nation’s magazine, Young Nation used to publish lyrics of popular songs every Sunday. My older brother and I had a 200-page exercise book which we used as a scrap book for the lyrics. We filled it up and it was our greatest treasure.
As I grew older, I realised that whoever wrote those lyrics for Nation had a serious hearing problem and had me cramming the wrong words all those years.
My all-time fauvorite jam was one by Mariah Carey titled “Thank God I Found You” whose chorus had me daydreaming of being in a perfect romance. The chorus went like this: Thank God I found you (Yeah yeah)/I was lost without you (I was lost)/My every wish and every dream/Somehow became reality/When you brought the sunlight
The consequence of my heavy indulgence in love fantasies at such an early stage was that I turned out to be a hopeless romantic.
It didn’t help much that my mother happens to be a staunch believer of love, romance and the entire hullaballoo. If you happen to be looking for my mother in a wedding crowd, she will be the women whose face is beaming, eyes lit-up and glistening with welled up tears of joy and hands cupping her chin waiting for the perfect “Aww” moment.
My siblings and I grew up with no doubt that finding love was the greatest achievement of mankind as per the example set by my parents.
MY MUM, MY VALENTINE
I don’t quite recall how old I was when I celebrated Valentine’s Day for the first time in my life. However, I remember that my mother was my date.
Well, we shared it with my father and younger sister. It started with our fauvorite breakfast: pancakes, sausages and hot chocolate with plenty of milk and sugar. Before she served breakfast, she announced; “Happy Valentine’s Day” as she swayed with plates laden with delicacies. I was elated. We had our fill and even carried some to school. In the evening, she made fried potatoes with chicken and even garnished the plates with sliced cherry tomatoes. I knew that in addition to all the lovey-dovey stuff I had read, Valentine’s Day also meant indulging in delicious food.
When I got to my teens, my mother still remained my Valentine’s Date but now, I was doing the treats. Cards and chocolates had her blushing sent her smiling from here to Timbuktu. One Valentine’s Day, my three siblings and I combined efforts and treated her to breakfast in bed, a rose, jewelry and chocolates. She was so happy at some point I was afraid she might pass out in joy.
When I got to my twenties, nothing changed much to my astonishment. I have been sent flowers to work, chocolates, and cheap gifts such as money but I have never spent time on Valentines’ Day with anyone other than my mother. I remember last year but one, my parents were going for lunch on Valentine’s Day and my mother swung by my room.
“Hey! Didn’t even know you were in here,” she said
“Oh yeah, am catching up on this series I have been-“ I started.
“Dress up, we are going for nyama choma at Berra Hotel,” She interjected.
“But mom, I am okay staying…” I protested.
“They are giving free chocolates at the entrance. Come let’s celebrate love,” she gushed as she left.
That day we had so much fun. We ate, laughed and talked at length with my mother. Being the love ambassador she is, she went ahead to tell me how I would soon find my true love. She played me these futuristic scenarios of candlelit dinners and quality time spent with a special man. One who would love me every single day of the year but still take it a notch higher and put extra effort on special days such as Valentine’s Day. I laughed while secretly saying Amen to all those prayers.
My mother has been my Valentine’s Day date for the past 25 years and she has set quite an example. Our dates haven’t been about price tags and material things. They have been about laughter, eating together, being merry, enjoying each other’s company and talking to each other. In a nutshell, they have been about doing things for each other. Because love is a verb.
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