Apparently, my neighbor (a fowl and pig farmer) has been multitasking between taking care of his farm and spying on my life. As he watches his animals walk back into their respective bedrooms at dusk; he also watches and loudly counts the number of men walking, riding or driving into my mother’s compound. “Zero!” he shouts every evening, just as the last of his cock crows.
“But there have been two men in the last two days…” I protest, laughing at the manner in which he brings up the topic of ‘Uolewe wewe!’ (Get married!). Sometimes he chooses to stand by his fence, face our compound and speak loudly about finding me a husband before it’s too late. When words are insufficient, he whistles a popular Daudi Kabaka’s Kiswahili song, “ Msichana wa elimu…” as he makes his daily patrol routine around his compound.This has become part of his ‘nyumba kumi’ initiative, he admits.
“A ah!” he refutes, shaking his head in disapproval. “I saw them; the first one was bare feet, too shaggy and carrying a hammer and nails in a plastic bag. I saw him fix that old gutter; got paid by your mother and left. You didn’t even bother to step out of the house to look at him!” He said; bending and stamping his gum boots on a tree stump to exude the dung and mud. “That one for yesterday was toothless, had a slasher and a sack! I could smell his sweat from my pig sty! I even heard you sneeze from your backyard!” he adds, finally looking up and pointing an accusing finger at me. “You intentionally choose the bad ones, so that they don’t serenade you hmm? I’ll bring you my son. I’ll bring you my son”
I try to ignore him; he keeps going, “I may be an old man and old-fashioned, but I know a good lady when I see one. In can tell you were raised right and will make a good wife. I should give you one of my sons. Your mother should start enjoying the fruits of…”
Oh, here we go again; I respect this old man and his wisdom, but a lecture on marriage… Not again! It is now becoming a daily sermon. The only way to escape this is by having a husband: A suitor, along with his kinsmen, drag some animals (domestic or wild) into my mother’s compound in exchange for me. Me! He insists he must witness the occasion to ascertain the matrimony. What a stubborn old man!
“I have a suitor from the desert that will be coming to take me away…” I interrupt him, studying his face keenly for a reaction. “Far from the North East, where the sun rises; tall with suntanned skin,” I firmly state, stifling a giggle as he stands upright, dropping his jaw in shock. I now have his full attention.
“Woololo yayee!” He exclaims, putting his dirty hands on his head in wonder; “the starved Warlords with soft hair like malnourished babies!? They’ll bring us guns, and scorpions…and grenades… and missiles… for dowry!? He muttered, and dropping his hands to gag his mouth as if surprised at his own words.
"Yes Papa, and some rounds of magazines“ I respond confidently, “ You should prepare some big space in your farm, for new tenants from the desert. I’ll be donating four camels and ten goats to you as my caring neighbor. For meat and milk! And don’t worry, you can starve them for half a year they’ll still survive.” I added, now laughing at his agony.
"What an asinine thing to do! You will bring a curse to our village! They will wrap you up in sack clothes and cover your beautiful face and locked hair! May the gods of lightning strike him and dry his seed so you never bear him a child! Is that why you have that shiny little pearl on your nose? Can I bring you my son tomorrow to rescue you? May I die before the warlords steps here on our soil…” the old man continued to curse, looking deeply concerned and troubled.
“But Papa… I thought you wanted me married and gone from my mother’s compound. I just found me a man for that purpose,” I cheekily interrupt his lamentations as I stroll back into the house with a little dance, my head held high, whistling sweet melodies (which shocked him too as it is an abomination for a woman from my community to whistle). This one was going to keep him silent for a while, I thought to myself as a sigh of relief escaped my lips.
I was so wrong. Papa, the farmer, decided to organize a ‘rescue mission’ the very next day. He brought me this “gift”of a son that I was now having a difficult time unwrapping and identifying. “Anything but a warlord!” I had overheard him whisper surreptitiously to my mother across the fence. He wanted to ensure the ‘bad’ news of a potential warlord son-in-law remained ‘contained’ between the two compounds. My mother was having a laugh of her life.
I squirm in my chair at the discomfort of his son's glaring stare and clown-like smile." My names are…” (I don’t remember the rest of his words, conversation or “names”). To me, I will still recall him as Papa’s last born piglet; he must have been feeding on a three-course meal of pork chops, sausages and bacon. I dismissed him from his first impression.
Meanwhile, he inspired me to take a moment to reflect on my idea of an ideal husband. The man I'd love to share my interesting life with.
My ideal husband must acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Creator of universe and fear Him; for it is the beginning of wisdom. He must be brave and humble enough to close his eyes and call to God for direction. Without this; nothing will work. Oh, and I am not into warlords; am a peace lover. I have never practiced the war of words so the less he says but acts; the more intelligent and attractive he’ll be. Mouthy men are empty headed, confused and predictable. I love exploring mystery.
With the above wisdom, my ideal husband shall speak sensible English (unless he is a black Russian, black Armenian, black Portuguese, black French or black Spanish). I love black because we are real people with real issues. Color is however not a determinant: He can be as black as the night or as white as snow (NOT BLEACHED!)… As long as he is black. He must know that he is himself; not himselves. Whether he goes by ten generational names, he should still introduce himself as…”My name is…” Basic English skills are mandatory. If not; just write down all the ten names so I can read them myself.
My description of “tall dark and handsome” is this: Be taller than me, with lots of Brains, adequate Brawn and some Rugged Good looks. Taller because I need to look up to him. Knowledge is the power of the mind and I am an intelligent woman with a celestial mind; in some instances,he will need to have some facts at his finger tips to avoid gullibility. I know I have a responsibility to inspire,build and challenge him to be the best he can be. Not control him. He owes me the same.
A fit physique is mandatory;I have one so don't even start negotiating around the topic. I am not conventionally pretty, I have a beauty,strength and wildness that most men find quite addictive. My body is athletic, slim (note:slim...not skinny) and sensuous. I take good care of me and love me as I am. My ideal husband should catch me when I fall (whether deliberately or accidentally). He must be strong and agile. Use both hands efficiently and effectively but one should be enough to lift me safely.
I don’t fancy a man dropping his jaw at my ability to do simple tasks like: Reading the Bible; writing a bibliography; spelling my name backwards; budgeting for the month; house keeping and nursing kids,counting stars; hiring and firing; cooking; rock climbing, flexing and rolling up like a teardrop,kickboxing and basically being your timeless reminder of your calendar events. I naturally multitask as long as you treat me like your queen. Do not be slower than me on the running track; unless you have deliberately assigned me as your pacesetter and we are both aware of this arrangement. You are the head, lead the way and let me follow!
Don’t be an egocentric jerk. It’s not all about you you, your life, your career and you. Competition is healthy but- show some other talent and real emotions. You can even cry (express your grieve but do it VERY FAR WAY from me and the kids lest we crumble). Let me later look into your eyes and tell,then touch you therapeutically...just DON'T cry in front of me damn it!
Have healthy friendships outside our house. Hang out with friends who value family,who challenge and take you back to the drawing board to reflect on your life goals. Have a good sense of humor and share some genuine hearty laughter with your family and friends when those moments present themselves. DO NOT giggle, purr like a cat,cry or brawl while watching your favorite football team. Do not take off your shoes,drown in alcohol or strip off your sweatshirt in the name of celebrating a win. There’s nothing sexy about that. You can just roar like a lion and exercise to tame excessive adrenaline. In your list of hobbies; please add me as one of your favorites...I can be your personal trainer for free and your complete sessions come with a package of some other free goodies you won't resist!
I hear the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I will prepare you a delicious meal and serve you like a king (my mama’s taught me how); again-just convert it into muscles that can catch me when I fall. Don’t pack it up into the little sac (abdomen)and distend it to look like a pregnant elephant (whose gestation period is longer than mine), or a hippo, or a piglet like the farmer’s son, then turn around and blame me for “spoiling” you with good food. This food is fuel to ignite your brain and brawn,boosting your rugged good looks; so burn it! A bloated tummy is not a sign of happiness damn it! It is the beginning of our misery!
You shall NEVER sit in the salon with me. Keep me company? No thanks! You shall NEVER have any type of makeover at a salon either. That’s why we have barber shops right? You did not train in any Hair and Beauty courses when I met you, so there are no excuses to sit in a salon. If you have dreadlocks (which I don’t mind at all), you have three options: One; have them done by the barber or barberess (for lack of a better word for a female working on men’s heads and beards), Two; let me do you a re-touch , or Three; shave and keep your short hair unkempt if you must. I won’t love you less should you decide to go bald either. Just keep off the salons damn it!
If you must gossip, let it be about scientific discoveries, books and publications, sports, stock market, electronics,profitable businesses, locomotives, politicians (if there’s any worth talking about), metals and metallic stuff or wildlife. Leave both real and professional gossip to idle, rich idle housewives and journalists. DO NOT watch soap operas. There is nothing romantic or manly about a man asking how a soap opera story is developing. It is the worst form of gossip.Just don’t gossip.
Get down and dirty over the weekends and holidays. Do something manly around the house. NO Play Station; leave that to the little ones and regulate the usage so they also get to explore and play in the real world. Fix something broken in the house; anything. Repaint, wash the cars, cut the grass, unscrew all electronics in the house and fix them the following day. Fill in cross-word puzzles and Sudoku; train in the backyard and break a sweat, or just walk around the house with some equipment from the tool box and look busy. Don’t sit in the house idly building a devil’s workshop in our spacious house. We do not need that tenant at all.
Have some rhythm in your bones. Dance to music; especially African music with a drum beat. As long as you are black...it runs in our genes so have no excuses about a little dance with me. Chances are this could turn out to be best form of work out for us;home and away. Don't be so stone-faced and damn serious about everything. Loosen up to the musical beat and let go. It is good for your soul!
Be as natural as possible. A little oil to your skin is harmless but don’t be a perfumery; walking around in some cheap spray smelling like a badly spiced meal. If you must wear some fragrance; let it be a masculine musk in moderation. Get my attention with your natural scent. It works best!
Mentor and be mentored. A wild spirit without a tamed heart will mislead you to the woods: I can only follow you there in search for firewood and wild flowers;not you. Look up to a God-fearing older male that emulates positive masculinity and purpose to mentor younger generations on the same. The “girl empowerment” thing is beginning to spin around and discriminate the boy so step in and fill the growing gap.
Admit to yourself that you are human and accept moments of failure and meltdowns.Teach me to know when I should back off and keep my mouth shut and when I should hold you close and say some sense. Those moments are important and I need to know them. I am a little stubborn; be firm and affirm me when need arises. I am not needy but I will need your strong arms around me because I'll look up to you as my earthly protector.
Have some rules outlined,not threateningly growled at me because I’ll deliberately break them, just to dare or piss you off. Also learn to read my mood; differentiate when it is my head speaking from my heart, or my eggs just running around in circles and influencing my mouth to bubble lots of nonsense. Be observant: I'm neat and don’t throw tantrums on a bad day. Instead, I pull out a pen and start doodling Luhya vocabularies in my note book; or just decide to sketch you when you won’t stop yelling at me (please never yell,unless our house on fire). Either ways; don’t walk away. Just watch,listen and learn to melt the ice. It can be annoying but fun!
Lastly, be a little crazy and dream. Live the life of your dreams and don’t try to ‘fit in’. Wake up and discover your purpose by chasing that dream created in you.We only live once and would be fun to take off your shoes and feel the sand with your bare feet. I am a dreamer too, and fusing our creativity could propel us from the safe harbor to catch some trade winds in our sail!
So,as long as this ideal man does not exist; I will hover around my mother’s compound countless times until the world revolves around and gets dizzy.