Where I come from, when your daughter gives birth, you round up a group of women, and bearing gifts, including new clothes for the child and money for the mother, you go to visit them. At some point, the child is passed on from one pair of arms to another while the women sing and ululate. It is supposed to be a joyful occasion.
Two Saturdays ago, I attended such a function and, after we had eaten to our fill, as usually happens, those entrusted with the responsibility of giving speeches were invited. Everything was running smoothly until an elderly woman who had been part of the visiting delegation decided to give an impromptu speech.
She turned to the couple, who were seated together with their child, facing the visitors, and told them that she hoped they were not the “kind” that planned to have just two children.
“Nowadays, you young people are giving birth to two children – what is your problem? Look at me, I bore nine, and I am still alive, aren’t I?”
“Children are wealth,” she continued, “and having many means that should one die, you still have more to console you …”
You should have heard the low murmurs and seen the disapproval on the pursed lips of most of the women, especially the younger ones. This is 2016, and while children are a blessing, they are not wealth, not by a long shot. If anything, they deplete your wealth. I mean, let’s be honest, raising a child nowadays is an expensive affair.
I also don’t think there is any couple that is motivated to get more than one child because should one die, the other will act as insurance. If I am not wrong, couples settle on a number they feel they can comfortably take care of.
Also, can one child really replace another? Won’t the pain of losing one always be there whether you have another nine?
It occurred to me then that the issue of children (or lack of them) will be with us for a long time. I cannot count the number of times busybodies have asked me when I plan to get a third one.
HARRASEMENT BY ELDERLY AUNTS
This incident also reminded me of a friend who gets harassed by her elderly aunts at least once a week. The biddies are on her case because three years after her wedding, she is yet to bear a child, and yet 40 is beckoning.
When she got married, her aunts heaved a sigh of relief, and excitedly informed her that they had been praying for her to “find a man” to marry her for years. A month or two after her wedding, she noticed that her aunts would take turns to pointedly look at her tummy. They still do.
Several years ago when I announced that I was leaving home to start life on my own (I was 24) my father protested, loudly wondering what I was lacking at home. Four years later, when I turned 27, my curious dad came to visit me together with my mother.
As they were leaving, he prayed, and part of that prayer beseeched God to give me a husband. I was so taken aback, my eyes popped open in disbelief, and I did not hear anything else that he prayed for after that.
At 27, marriage was not anywhere in my list of priorities, I was a carefree single woman who ate a mango or a banana and a glass of water for supper either because I could not be bothered to cook, or because I had forgotten, again, to buy sugar and tea leaves. Every night, I would doze off on the seat watching a movie and then drag myself to bed at 3 am. No responsibilities, no one to worry about but myself, only for my dad to rudely shake up my perfect life.
After he left, I walked to the bathroom and took a long critical look at my face, trying to see what he had seen, trying to find the signs of aging he must have seen. I didn’t see any, but the pressure was on and there was no escaping it after that.
Man, it’s a tough life for us women.
[email protected]; Twitter: @cnjerius. The writer is the Daily Nation features editor
Men fight to kill, and when a man is threatened he can do whatever is necessary to destroy that which threatens him. When in a fight it is not wise to follow any rules. Rules are for games — I mean entertainment. A real fight has few rules, one being, “don’t get the short end of the stick. Good writing there. You pick a mundane subject and turn it into such a thriller. Kamau
I enjoyed Sunday’s article, but really wished that you would have done a longer script on women fighting. You may have had no space today, but hope you do complete the story soon. Rhoda
Random fights have always been there. They also had basic rules that none could dare break. Some major ones from my Mt Kenya region were 1) never hit an opponent who fell in the course of fighting 2) never attack from the back 3) hitting reproductive organs is forbidden. In the olden days, fighting was mainly for supremacy and ranking in the village. No one could reign for long because repeat fights were always staged.
Your take on fights was so funny. I agree, women fight less viciously than men but with more drama such as insults and blood-curdling screams. Some even call for help. All the same ,it’s better to keep peace. Njeri
You always make my Sundays, thank you. You know men will always be men. They tend to reason with their muscles while women are better with insults.