It is six o’clock in the morning when my phone vibrates cutting short my otherwise beautiful sleep. It is my mum calling.
Her: Yaani hujaamka bado? (You mean you are still sleeping?)
Me: It is six o’clock mum. What is the rush?
Her: Leo ni Sunday. Huendi church? (It is a Sunday. Are you not going to church?)
Me: Actually, I had quite a rough day yesterday, and wanted to rest the whole of this day.
Her: Sawa. Wacha mimi niende. Nitakuombea. (Okay. Let me go. I will pray for you.)
Well, that was a couple of weeks ago. If we took the conversation twelve years back, it would sound like this:
Her: Mnangoja kengele ndio muamke? (Are you waiting for the bell before you wake up?)
Two minutes later, my sister and I are still sleeping.
Her: Na mjue nafunga mlango nikitoka. Mtalala huko nje chini ya miti kama hamtaki kuenda kanisa! (I am locking all doors when I leave. You will sleep under the trees if you don’t want to go to church)
If you know my mum, you would know she was very serious with the locking of her house, and that was enough threat to get us up. We did not ask questions, not that they would be answered anyway. We just hurriedly took the shower, skipped breakfast because according to my mum, we had spent our breakfast time sleeping, and hurried after her to church.
Growing up, I don’t remember disrespecting either of my parents. Not that I had a choice anyway. There were rules strewn all over the place, some even unspoken. My mum would look at you in a certain way and you would know you were not supposed to be there when the visitors were around, regardless of the number of times they kept calling you back into the room.
The few times we tried to go against our parents’ word, the world literally came crashing on our backs. Like that time we sneaked out on a Saturday morning to go build lego houses with a certain rich kid, despite several warnings against that. Or that other time my brother and I invited the whole neighbourhood to our house, in the absence of my parents, and turned the whole place upside down.
Let us just say that since then, I realised how much pain an elder person’s two fingers can inflict on a child’s thighs. And nothing is worth all that pain.
But I don’t think respect is only tied to kids. As time went by, I realised my mum in particular, went slow with the rules. She stopped telling us every now and then what to do, but would warn us in case she thought we were about to make a stupid decision.
Something about not being strong enough yet to handle the consequences that come with making wrong choices.
Instinctively, I find myself asking for her advice before I make any major decision, or when I am confused, or overwhelmed.
Sometimes she says yes. Other times she says no. Most times, she takes a deep sigh and says, ‘You are a big girl now. You should be able to handle that on your own.’
My dad hasn’t let go of the rules yet…ha-ha. I doubt he will do that any time soon. I mean, he still asks my younger sister whether she finished her assignments when she is home for holidays. He still throws about the words ‘You are still in my house. You do what I say’. And we are okay with that.
But again, I have grown to understand that there are times when you need to let your decisions and thoughts known before you take the dive. And fear of breaking rules shouldn’t make you fail to do that which pleases you. You should not compromise your peace because you are trying to be respectful. And that does not mean you pick up your phone and yell at your parents any time you want to do something that is against their wish.
It means that there will be days you will sit down with them, let them know how you really feel about a certain idea, listen to their side of the story, and come up with the best solution.
Other times, you will take the chances and do whatever pleases you. And you will not shy away from telling them when it all goes wrong. And it won’t necessarily go wrong.
Most times though, you will always hear their voices at the back of your mind every time you try doing something they wouldn’t approve of. And that is the beauty of it all.
See you tomorrow.