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MAN IN THE HOOD: My house help eats too much

Wednesday May 15 2019

I stormed into the help’s room and woke her up. “Auuuuwiiii…tumevamiwa,” she shouted, thinking robbers were attacking the house. ILLUSTRATION| IGAH

I stormed into the help’s room and woke her up. “Auuuuwiiii…tumevamiwa,” she shouted, thinking robbers were attacking the house. ILLUSTRATION| IGAH 

PHILIP ETEMESI
By PHILIP ETEMESI
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Aunty Agnes came to visit me the other day. She was with one of her church friends. She rarely moves around alone.

She always has an entourage. You would think she is a politician or Cardi B. I was actually surprised that this time she was only with one person.

Upon scanning my house from floor to ceiling, she and her friend made a unanimous ruling like they were members of a grand jury. 

“You need a wife. This house is a mess!”

Her friend nodded in agreement.

“I am still young aunty,” I protested.

“Hapana! Responsible men marry early,” she insisted.

Parents and relatives from the older generation strongly believe that wives are solely responsible for converting a house from ‘a mess’ to ‘amazing.’

A man can buy all the flashy items in the house but it won’t matter.

What matters is the way the wife arranges them and cleans them.

Grace, kuna kamsichana kazuri huko kwenu?You can introduce her to my nephew here,” Aunty Agnes turned to her friend and asked.

“There is a nice girl back in my village, a daughter of a distant cousin. I don’t know if she’s available but I’ll make some inquiries,” Grace responded.

“Aaah…my dear, it doesn’t matter if she’s unavailable. I am sure if she meets my humble and handsome Philip here, she’ll forget every other man she has ever seen.”

What?

Call it kuchocha!

Before I could protest again, Aunty Agnes came up with another ruling.

“Meanwhile, I’ll send you a house help. Akusaidie na kazi hapa. Don’t worry, you’ll only pay her 2000 bob per month.

I’ll pay her the rest, since you are my favorite nephew.”

I had never thought of having a house help. But 2000 bob? That was a bargain. I would never have to think about washing clothes or dishes again. And for the first time in my life, I would be an employer.

I agreed.

Aunty Agnes sent the house help the next day. She was an extremely beautiful woman….too beautiful. She had that deep Luhya accent but she was beautiful nevertheless.

She would say ‘kichiko’ instead of ‘kijiko’ and ‘frich’ instead of ‘fridge’ but did it matter? Heck no!

She was kind too. Whenever she finished doing one thing, she would come in front of me, her melanin-rich skin shining from over-application of Arimis jelly and politely ask me to give her another task. It’s like her melanocytes were of a different breed.

I couldn’t help but think that this was a trap. Aunty Agnes has always been devious.

Maybe she had a long term game plan of converting this woman from my house help to my housewife.

Maybe she was coaching her, giving her tactics and operational manuals.

I have watched enough conspiracy movies to know that things are seldom what they seem.

VANISHING FOOD

At first, the help and I coexisted well but then I noticed something disturbing. Food was vanishing at an alarming rate.

I had ignored this at first but then things got worse yesterday. Before I left the house in the morning, I had stocked the fridge with piles of foodstuffs.

They could have lasted more than a week.

In the evening, I came back and crawled lazily to bed since I had eaten a light meal with a friend at a restaurant.

At around 3 am in the night, I was woken up by an unbearable hunger that came with tremendous and overbearing pangs. The hunger was striking with the exertion of a tornado on a Pacific coastline.

I rushed to the refrigerator and to my shock, it didn’t contain any item that could be classified as food.

There were tea leaves (yes, she put those in there), four cans of energy drink, three tomatoes, a quarter packet of milk and water.

I closed and opened the refrigerator again about three more times. I was hoping I was still dreaming and that when I came back to my full senses, the contents I had left would appear.

That didn’t happen. I looked multiple times but the contents were still the same.

I could have eaten the tomatoes as fruits but there was absolutely no chance that those small red things could fill my stomach. Nyanyas are meant to be consumed with other foods. They simply cannot be used to satisfy a raging appetite.

Out of desperation, I opened a can of energy drink. It was far much better than eating tomatoes.

As I was emptying the first can, I frantically foraged the drawers like American cops with a search warrant.

Eventually, I discovered two slices of bread. They were hard from being left in the open for too long but I ate them anyway, savouring every crumb.

It didn’t help. With this hunger of mine that was as expansive and infinite as the Indochinna Peninsula, the energy drink and bread left no mark.

TOO ANGRY TO BE RATIONAL

I turned kitchen items upside down, searching for remains of food, but I found none. I thought of going to wake up the house help immediately to seek an explanation but I figured it wouldn’t be a good idea. I was too angry to act rationally.

So I decided to go back to bed and sleep the it out. Venting my anger was postponed to the morning.

Twenty minutes later, the pangs of starvation staged another attack, this time they were stouter and they brought Mr Headache with them.

I gave up on trying to force some sleep. At this point, there was no way I was going to wait till morning to rant. I stormed into the help’s room and woke her up.

“Auuuuwiiii…tumevamiwa,” she shouted, thinking robbers were attacking the house.

Sio wezi…ni mimi” I calmed her down.

Oooh…Kuna kazi unataka nifanye?”

“Hapana! Wapi chakula yote yenye nilinunua?” I inquired.

“Nilikula!” she responded innocently.

“Ati?” I asked again, not believing it.

Nilikula yote. Nilidhani utakucha na singine.”

“Kuku full ulimaliza?

“Eeeeh….nilimalisa!”

Her blunt words forcefully burrowed into every tiny pore of my ear like a throng of minuscule microbes.

Those shocking words liquefied into my blood and flowed to the farthest pockets of cells, then converged together inside my heart and threatened to cause a stroke.

All kinds of statements could have shot out of my mouth but none did. I stared at her in disbelief and horror before storming back to my room.

Perhaps it was my fault. With only a few days of her being around, I had not yet established a precise employer-employee set of laws that would govern dietary behaviours and practices.

I could have immediately pardoned her and given her a list of rules and regulations to ensure nothing like this ever happened again. But she had committed an unforgivable crime.

Consuming full chicken without even leaving a piece for Etemesi, the biggest lover of chicken?

Forgiving her and restricting her to limited portions of meals would also be making her suffer. Clearly she has a wild appetite. Keeping her would also create a huge famine in my house.

Akothee would even consider making donations and post multiple pictures about it on IG.

So what do I do? I have always been against the act of firing people.

As a good employer, I am currently googling ‘How to fire someone politely’ and ‘How to make your house help eat less.’ Whichever brings the most results is what I will go with.

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