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Scoundrels who neglect parents

By - | May 13th 2012

They live in glamour while their parents languish in squalor, writes SOPHIA KHAKASA

Some of Nairobi’s top achievers walk proudly with executive iPads and drive state-of-the-art cars, yet their parents are among the poorest of the poor — uncared for, ill, lonely and dying.

Their mothers can’t even afford cheap painkillers to soothe their backaches. Yet they blow Sh10,000 worth of food and drinks on their friends and colleagues in one sitting.

The worst offenders are people in employment, followed by successful businessmen and businesswomen. Some frustrate their parents to the point of driving them to suicide. And they feel nothing about it.

One, a school principal, mistreated her mother so much that the entire community took it upon itself to adopt her. Mary, a school principal, would not even get out of her car to go into her mother’s house despite the fact that her mother had sacrificed all she could, selling oranges and lemons to raise her school fees.

After completing university and landing a lucrative job as a high school teacher at one of the best paying private schools in Nairobi, Mary suddenly found her mother and childhood home revolting.
Whenever she visited her mother upcountry, which wasn’t often, she would park her car at the shopping centre and send a villager to call her mother.

Her mother, who was elderly and had knee problems, would struggle up the hill with a neighbour’s help. Mary would talk to her mother through the car window and give her some shopping before reversing and driving back to Nairobi.

So dire was the neglect that the local church members started taking turns to support her. When she died, mourners were surprised to learn that hers was a large family of eight children who are all well to do. Mary’s husband, for instance, is a medical doctor; her sister is a hospital matron while her brother is a trade unionist.

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As friends and relatives stood to give testimonies about the deceased, next-door neighbours, in a bid to shame her children, laid it bare.

“I have forgiven her. I lent her money to buy fish but she has gone to heaven without paying me.”
“I lent her Sh100.”

“I lent her sugar but I have forgiven her for going to be with Jesus before settling my debt!”
It was both cruel and sad.

A broken hearted Mary stood before the mourners to give her farewell speech, tears rolling from her eyes:
“I didn’t know my mother lived such a miserable life. She collapsed and died before getting to hospital because there was no means of transport, yet I have two cars,” she wailed.

A senior supervisor at the port of Mombasa is another. The man has such contempt for his parents for being poor that whenever he travels home on his annual leave, he cannot sleep in his poor parents’ home, choosing to sleep in an exclusive hotel in town at Sh5,000 a night in Kisumu. He often refuses his mother’s food saying it is unhygienic and might cause him cholera.

But that is nothing compared to Naftali‘s mother’s tribulations. When Naftali’s business empire grew, his mother proposed that he marry a second wife to take care of her, as she was alone and lonely at home.

Instead, Naftali forced his wife, Grace, a secretary, to abandon her job and relocate to the village while he took the second wife with him to the city. Grace was so incensed she swore to punish her mother-in-law for causing her grief by inciting her husband to get a second wife.

When he sent her money to shop for his mother, she would instead cook nice meals for herself and give her mother-in-law nothing. She would then sit outside her house with a cup of tea and buttered bread as her mother-in-law salivated from a distance.

“Hee hee hee!” she would laugh mockingly as she spread margarine on toast. “Let those whose sons are in Nairobi with their beautiful, young wives come home and cook for their mothers!” a bitter Grace would say, munching her toast with glee.

When the old woman sent word to her son in Nairobi that his first wife was mistreating her, he ignored the emissaries. Naftali was too much in love with his new wife to bother.

After tolerating this mistreatment for a long time, Naftali’s mother decided she could not take it anymore. She travelled to her maternal home, took a rope from the cattle shed and threatened to hang herself. Fortunately, she was counselled and returned home.

Daughters-in-law have been identified as the worst offenders in the mistreatment of parents.
“They don’t want our sons to support us. They always tell them very nasty things about us and stop them from coming home. They create lies about us so that they can eat our sons’ money,” Marcela Obengi, 67, told Crazy Monday.

Recently, people were shocked after a senior banker’s father died and colleagues went for his funeral only to find a leaking roof and an old and ugly looking mud hut. His mother’s toes were full of jiggers and she walked around the homestead in a faded and a patched-up green petticoat.

Ironically, such people, like the politician who was the subject of a story in a newspaper gossip column recently, think nothing of buying their mistress a mattress worth Sh150,000. Others fly girlfriends to Zanzibar for a weekend where they blow Sh250,000 in two days. But they would never give their mother Sh3,000.

Stupidly, when their neglected parents die, they rush their remains to expensive funeral homes and store them for weeks in a cold freezer as they make frantic efforts to build them ‘decent homes’ to evade scandal and embarrassment from peers.

They also buy expensive coffins, suits and throw lavish funerals for parents who walked barefoot in real life.

Such people are easy to identify, says Wandera Ojanji, 75, from Busia.

“You can see them, these cursed lot of human beings, the people who abandon and mistreat the very parents who gave birth to them and raised them. They have a lot of money, but misery dwells in their homes.

Some are drunkards who are always borrowing money from friends and sleeping in bars.
“Yes, they take their children to good schools but the children do not pass exams. Do not look far for the cause. It is the spirit of a mistreated parent, cursing them from deep down their graves. Luck will never smile upon them,” whispers the sage.

One wishes they would listen to the words of benga musician Iddi Achieng’ when she laments, “When you are eating good food, please remember your people at home. Wherever you are, eating nyama choma and kachumbari, please remember your parents.

“Someone lives in Nairobi, he has a house in Kilimani, drives a Benz while his wife drives a Volvo. Everyone dreams of such success. But where is your pride when your own parents walk barefoot and their roof leaks? What is your pride when your parents suffer miserably at home, abandoned and neglected,” she croons.

Chicken droppings
A Nairobi Lawyer would have been spared loads of embarrassment if he had listened to the musician’s words.

When Journalists unexpectedly visited his home in his absence, they found his frail mother practically starving. She begged then to buy her some milk before she could talk to them, as she was feeling faint. Her house, meanwhile, was dirty and full of chicken droppings that a female journalist looked for a broom and began sweeping the floor with tears in her eyes.

But lest you start casting stones, dear reader, when is the last time you walked into your mother’s bedroom and checked the state of her bedding?

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