I am starting to believe that the years are catching up with me going by something that has been happening more and more frequently. I have shared before about my dislike for githeri, aka murram, aka succotash (FYI that is the mzungu name for it). My dislike for this dish was born in boarding school where little effort was made towards presentation or taste.
Looking back, I realise that after high school, I subconsciously avoided githeri as much as I could and even when I started my own home, it was years before I began buying the necessary ingredients to make it. I could never understand my friends who said githeri was a staple in their homes and that they could have it for breakfast, lunch and supper without a problem. Not me.
However, very slowly, I began to accept it as part of the diet in my house, although this was rare and I would have to throw in every condiment I could lay my hands on before I could consider it palatable. Sometimes, I would even re-cook what the housekeeper had prepared because it did not have enough spices, in my opinion. More recently, out of the blue, I have started to it eat the one she prepares without bothering to add anything except a bit of salt.
But I started to consider the age factor when I woke up one morning and served myself some leftover githeri for breakfast. Not only that, I had it with black tea and thoroughly enjoyed it! When this happened a second, third and fourth time, I knew something was happening and concluded it must be the fact that the years are passing and my palate increasingly wants simpler dishes.
But here’s another indication that you are no longer considered to be within the youth bracket – when your young ones give you a list of dos and don’ts before a family event. The list could include what to wear or not, which music to play (and don’t you dare even think of dancing), even which guests to invite to your own home! The reason you would get such a list from people you have raised since they took their first breath on this planet is because suddenly, you are considered an embarrassment.
The way to deal with this and confirm that indeed you are graduating to another age bracket is to look at the list, laugh out loud and then go ahead and do the very things you weren’t supposed to do! Wear what you want, dance like no one is watching and invite all those relatives and friends who make you happy. When you can do this and still sleep soundly at night, then you know that the days of treading on eggshells because you were overly concerned about the opinions of others are truly behind you.
But the ultimate test of advancing years is when you can speak your mind without fear or favour. We were at my sister’s house recently and my mother reached for a snack from a small bowl on the coffee table. She took one bite and immediately made a face before declaring that the snack tasted terrible. Through our laughter, we attempted to ‘school’ her in more polite ways to share the same sentiment. For example, she could have asked for a serviette and somehow spat out the offending titbit without anyone noticing and without necessarily expressing her true thoughts. Or maybe she could have endured that one bite and forced it down her throat quietly.
But she was unimpressed with our efforts and insisted that there was no reason to pretend. If something is bad, it is bad. Period. No one could argue because after all, she has seen more of life than any of us have. We will just have to wait for our turn, when we too can shoot from the hip.