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Finally, your wife has to prove her credentials in the village

My Man - By Silas Nyanchwani
Photo: Courtesy

Carol is moody. You have spoilt her holiday plans by suggesting that you go to the countryside. Where she comes from, they hate western Kenya. It is too much work. She wanted to fly to the South Coast. An idea that you dismissed and she has been aggressive ever since.

But Carol is not the first woman to hate the countryside. Many women associate the countryside with backwardness and demanding relatives. And rightly so. You are absolutely sure that Carol will have a difficult time there, but you want her to get used to your family because she will be living with them forever.

Your biggest fear is if she will manage to prepare ugali on the three-stones fireplace. Carol rarely makes ugali. It is not her fault. Where she comes from, it is not a big deal. And where you come from, ugali is everything.

Your brothers married from your tribe and their wives get along. Carol will definitely be an outsider. She has to abandon her standards, somewhere in Limuru, as you swing westwards, homebound. She has no choice.

Your brothers’ wives, who Carol has met once or twice are troublesome. They gossip too much. And Carol is not one for small talk. But she has to learn to get along with them.

Traditionally, Christmas at your home is a communal thing. Men will slaughter the goat. And perform all other manly duties. And women have to cook everything. Historically, they have shared chores without much ado. You wonder how Carol will fit, but you comfort yourself that women have a way of assimilating themselves in any situation.

“Ever prepared ugali for more than ten people?” you ask her, preparing her psychologically. “Who used to prepare before I was married to your family?” she asks rather impatiently.

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“Any newly married wife must prove her wifely credentials by preparing ugali for the family,” you tell her calmly, if only to annoy her. “Somebody else will do that, I will do what I am comfortable with...”

You sympathize with her. She doesn’t know that your village is rather backward. She was there for your grandfather’s funeral. But her stay was short and she never interacted with the reality of fetching water from a spring, using a pit latrine or dealing with the toughest mosquito in the universe.

So much for being born and raised in a city. She has lived in big cities and where she calls her countryside is what you people from western Kenya call a joke -- the outskirts of Nairobi.

“You will survive. It is just a week. You will meet everyone and that is it until next Christmas,” you tell her comfortingly.

“A whole week? You crazy! What shall we do for a whole week,” she asks, clearly infuriated, “I guess, I will leave you and go see mum with Farah and the house help. You can take all the time you want in the village.”

It is final. You may be a boss in your marriage. But you can’t boss Carol around.

Now, you wonder what your brothers will think of you if you can’t rein in Carol. You will be called a henpecked husband. You need some disaster-management strategy. Your reputation is on the line.

“We staying for a week, no arguing about that...” You say with finality. And hope your tone can scare her.

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