I know right now most of us who travelled upcountry for the Christmas holidays are in a ‘booking’ spree. I mean, we are booking almost every little thing in the village to carry back to the city.
Before Christmas, it was all merry and everyone could do anything for as long as we all breathed. Chicken could be slaughtered at will and pawpaws sliced through the day. Right now though, those planning to travel back to the ‘land of hardship’ are slowing acclimatising themselves with the ‘hardship’ ahead of them. This is the time they will book the last surviving livestock and foodstuff.
As they sit under a mango tree imagining their journey back to the city, they will see you walking from the house with a tray of raw sweet potatoes, wanting to prepare them and will quickly ask you what you are planning to do with them claiming those are meant to be carried back to the city.
Before Christmas, they wouldn’t care who released the chicken from their sleeping area every morning but right after Christmas, they will even be willing to wake up earlier than everyone else just to make sure the chicken they are eyeing is alive and kicking. All of a sudden, you cannot prepare groundnuts for an afternoon snack like before -- all the groundnuts belong to those going back to the city. Even the maize in the garden is now booked for travel back to the city.
These people going back to the city after this break are the edgiest humans at this moment. Wait till the whole homestead is brought to a standstill because a child’s shoe that’s supposed to go back to the city is missing. People will not breathe in that homestead until this shoe is located. In most cases, these very children are the same ones who leave their shoes dangling on a branch of a guava tree while feeding on raw guavas up the tree.
So apart from the city dwellers booking every edible thing on site, they are equally controlling the mood of the homestead. They just wake up on the 27th and realise that the new year is around the corner and there’s nothing they can do about it other than whine all day as they book even the maize flour that they once struggled to swallow.
In fact, they would rather create space for ducks and vegetables in their vehicles than give someone else a lift back to the city. Given a chance, these people will fit a bull in their vehicles and head with it back home.
One time, I saw someone carrying a puppy back to Nairobi, claiming they needed a security dog. That puppy left the homestead barking its lungs out as it was separated from the mother. I am sure it must have barked halfway through the journey before accepting its reality. Nothing suffers more than the homestead when this lot is about to exit.
By the way, these people never say ‘no’ during this time. They came empty-handed with the only things filling their vehicles being a car seat, a hot water jug and a small gas cylinder to make cooking easier for them, cooking that they never do. Woe unto you if you are caught using this gas to prepare any meal. They will start lecturing you on how much you aren’t aware of its cost and dangers. As if it was carried home to be looked at like a beautiful portrait. Ask them if they will carry mangoes, the answer will be yes, vegetables, yes. They will even carry home things they have never tasted for the sake of sorting out Njaanuary.
This is that weekend our grandmothers’ homesteads run drier than a seasonal river during a drought. This is the time she will be left with two chicken out of 52. Whatever happens this weekend, shall we kindly not carry everything back?
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