DEAR SON: You were the commander-in-chief of your mum's appetite

Friday November 3 2017

Problem is, you would commandeer her to force

Problem is, you would commandeer her to force her way towards some hotel to buy some food but when she took few bites of it, you would steer her craving away, and she would leave the food almost 90 per cent uneaten. ILLUSTRATION| IGAH 


Dear Jijee,

By the time you’ll be reading this, you may not have known the meaning of the word “commandeer”.

I can help you with the definition. Oxford says it is to “take control of a building, a vehicle, etc. for military purposes during a war, or by force for your own use.”

Okay, when you were still in your mother’s tummy, all you were doing was commandeer.

Particularly, you dictated what she was to eat and when. Problem is, you would commandeer her to force her way towards some hotel to buy some food but when she took few bites of it, you would steer her craving away, and she would leave the food almost 90 per cent uneaten.


There is a day you ordered her out of her workplace. You demanded that she eats stewed chicken that was being sold at a certain eating point nearby her place of work. That day she broke at least 11 rules of her workplace to sneak to that place. No sooner had the plate been placed before her than she felt she did not want it. You had won again.

Then there was a day you ordered that she had to eat pizza. And that pizza also had to be bought at a particular outlet in Nairobi. I accompanied her to town that Sunday, and on the way I was morbidly scared that I would be forced to buy three pizzas, with each pizza going for a price almost equal to a 50-kilo bag of cement.

On reaching there, she munched the first piece with zeal last seen when Eve ate some fruit.  But somewhere along the second piece, you kind of lost interest in the pizza and that’s the most she could have.

There I was, inwardly happy that I would be the one clearing the bigger chunk of the pizza and that I would not pay for a full wall worth of cement.

The same case happened when you commandeered her into another restaurant determined to eat chips masala with abandon.

Okay, she ate the first few chunks with lots of enthusiasm but she did not eat for long. Again I was the one to clear. Why do good foods happen to good people?


There was also a time she had to buy some butternut. She had not eaten it before but she felt something was commanding her to eat it. So she cooked it but when it was ready to be served, somehow she did not like the way the slices looked at her from the sufuria. She hardly ate anything.

You were a very thorough commandeer because you at some point turned her into a goat. Not “goat” like the “greatest of all time” but the animal. In few short weeks, she knew where to get the best rocks to chew and how you could tell if a certain stone was good enough to be chewed.

She would crave molasses stones, a certain brand of ice cream, chicken cooked in a certain way and other types of food that I’ve forgotten about. Never mind, you ordered her to reject onions. Throughout your stay in her tummy, she could not prepare food with onions because (I guess) your tinny mischievous arms would not like the smell of the onions and would push all her stomach contents up.

In my imagination, I usually think you were using mum’s food store as your pillow.

You would command her to eat a certain type of food so you would try out some new pillow stuffing. But as soon as she tucked in a few chunks of the food, you would consider the food to be not comfortable enough to make a pillow, you would order that she stops sending it down. Like a boss.

Okay, that is a layman’s thinking, son. I know there could be a scientific explanation for the cravings that pregnant women experience.

By the time I was writing this, scientists had not found one reason that they would single out as the cause of the cravings but there was general agreement that the hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, and the minerals needed in the development of the child, informed a mother’s feeding habits.

Then one day I overheard one woman tell another that the cravings are sometimes excuses women use to get easy access to foods they could not have otherwise obtained. I agreed with her 74 per cent.

But what remains is that during your nine-month stay in that floating house, you were one grumpy commandeer.


This series brings you writings by PETER MOGAMBI, a Nairobi residentwho became a father in January 2017. By the time his son is old enough to read and comprehend, which is at least 11 years from today, a lot of water will have passed under the bridge. So, he has decided to preserve happenings in black and white so that when the boy can finally comprehend, he will get to follow his father’s feelings.