Last weekend, a friend told me a story that had me laughing like I haven’t in a long time.
Recently, her father visited the city to take care of some business. My friend comes from Meru, and since her father planned to return home the same day, he arrived in Nairobi early, at about 9am.
This friend, who had not seen her dad in three months, took him for breakfast before he went about his business.
She took him to a Java outlet near her office and handed the elderly man the menu to choose what he wanted to eat.
A few seconds later, he exclaimed, “Aiiyayayaya! Kikombe moja ya chai ni mia mbili hapa na Meru in ishirini!” (A cup of tea here is 200 shillings yet in Meru it costs 20 shillings!)
Looking horrified, he suggested that they walk to Tea Room, (you all know Tea Room) where the tea was cheaper.
“But dad, I am buying …” she protested, to which he replied that it didn’t matter because eating at Java would be wasting money.
There was no way my friend intended to walk to Tea Room on a Monday morning, therefore she insisted that they have their breakfast there.
Her father eventually relented, but he ate the breakfast complaining, at one point observing that “vikombe za Meru ni refu kushinda hizi” (Restaurants in Meru have bigger cups than the ones they had been served with).
This friend tells me that she long stopped giving her father money to buy himself clothes because he would always buy the cheapest items he could find, and within no time, they would come apart.
Nowadays, she personally takes her father shopping to ensure that he picks quality stuff. The last time the two went shopping, she asked her father to select four shirts, but when he learnt that they would cost his daughter Sh6,000, he said that there was no way he was wearing shirts worth all that money, commenting, “Hii pesa inaweza nunua shati kumi” (This money can buy 10 shirts).
Some time ago, she and her siblings decided to treat their father to a holiday at a glamorous hotel in Naivasha. They don’t know how, but he managed to find out how much a room cost.
He was so horrified, he immediately called his elder brother, who is close to my friend and her siblings, and asked him to “talk” sense into them because it was clear they were busy wasting money in Nairobi.
My friend tells me that their father denied himself many luxuries as he took them through school.
Thanks to their father’s selflessness, they have managed to do well for themselves, and are keen to ensure that their father enjoys the finer things in life, things that he failed to delight in because he was too busy trying to ensure that he gave them the best life he could.
Unfortunately, their father long learnt to be content with very little, and is therefore offended by what he perceives as extravagance, even if all his children are doing is appreciating him for the sacrifices he made for their sake.
I am sure many of you can relate to this friend’s predicament because your parents deprived themselves to ensure that you went to school and went to sleep with a full belly.
Maybe it is time parents realised that it is okay to sit back, relax and enjoy the fruits of the investments they put in their children.
The writer is the Editor, Society and Magazines ([email protected])