LIFE AS A PREACHER’S KID; SCHOOL LIFE

As I write this, am listening to Ed Sheeran’s new album, Divide. It’s one hell of an album! Look at the title of this again, crazy that am listening to this? No? Well good to know.

There is a lot of scrutiny, judgement, expectations, superstitions, stories and responsibilities that come with being a preacher’s kid or a pastor’s kid. Sometimes we just call ourselves the PKs. Sounds cool huh? It’s not easy to be a PK. Everything you say, everything you touch, everything you eat, how you dress, whom you talk to becomes a major topic of discussion at the church and among your peers. There is a specific way that we PKs are expected to live. Make a small diversion and you might as well tattoo your own forehead with the word “sinner”.

PKs are expected to be holy. Even holier than the preachers themselves. What people fail to understand is that we PKs are not the preachers. We are the kids. In the same way, being a thief’s child does not qualify one to be a thief. Debatable.

Some of the PKs become so later in their lives when the parents become preachers. These ones face bigger challenges as they have to adjust to a new lifestyle. Some, like me, are born into it. We do not need to adjust, pastors raise us. We know how it is. We know right from wrong right from childhood. We attend all Sunday school services, we participate in all the activities of the church, we live in the limelight of the congregation. We know all the church elders by name. We are expected to grow up like saints. But we are not; at least I know I am not.

You know that saying ‘where much is given much is expected?’ well, it doesn’t apply to us PKs. What is given to us is criticism, radicalization, talks of how much we are really bad, how much we are the defiant souls and how some are a big disappointment; and yet what is expected is an angel. How is that even possible? People really?

I have been in boarding schools most of my life. In class 7, I remember being chosen to be the Sunday School prefect. Yes, it was a thing. My main duties were to ensure that the lower classes, that is class 4 and 5 had a smooth service, were organized well during the services, and ensured that I safely kept the offertory until the main service was over. No biggie right? Well, I hated it. I was chosen purely based on the fact that my father was a big man of the cloth and was highly respected in my school. That was my only qualification. Just that. My wonderful leadership qualities were not paramount in the decision making. Aside from being exempted from manual work, I never saw any other advantage in that responsibility. I also have problems with having people look up to me. I am not a role model. I refuse to be responsible for someone when trying to live like me fails. I was super excited when I didn’t have to be a prefect anymore. My replacement was a very staunch SDA, and again, that was her only qualification. She had a hard time though, it was an Anglican school.

In primary school the teachers kept looking at me and seeing a good girl. A PK. Someone who can mentor others. I am not saying am not a good girl, am just saying classifying me in that category fully would be a lie to everyone. People rarely focused on me as a person. It was always me as the PK. I was very good in Maths. My lowest score back then was 90%. One time I was leading in a maths test, and when I was receiving my badge, our headmistress says “girls, be like Paula. Prayers help in academic excellence”. I rolled my eyes. Yes, I would pray once in a while, but you can’t pass maths without practice. Give me some credit damn it!

In high school, I remember joining the CU and being a very active member. But then somewhere along the way, I just got bored. Why you ask? Quite a charming number of the members are what the common man calls pretenders, hypocrites. These are the people who would be so prayerful on weekend challenge (a whole weekend of prayers) and become a perfect example of bad influence the next week. These are the people who would ask you in some weird accent to raise your hands as you worship God, (they always pronounced it as guard) and at the end of every week, they are the ringleaders when it comes to writing diss letters to brother schools. I couldn’t take it. It was so much pretense I left. Then came the issue of being a PK who does not attend CU. People can talk! Eventually they got over that.

Let’s get real for a while, when you are in class with a PK, what do you expect? Quick list. Long skirt, Bible genius, generous to all, kind in all manner of ways, church lover. You mention it. Basically the textbook good girl. What happens when good girl here is caught in a scandal? Any scandal actually. What happens? People talk. What do they say? “Ata mtoto wa pastor pia?” “Hao ndio hua wameharibika sana”. I have heard these words so often they are now irritating to my ears. I don’t give a *insert any curse word*

I once found myself in some crazy scandal back in high school. I still hate how the principal handled the whole situation. Good girl here was suspended and that was the beginning of my ‘rebellion’. I was punished for a mistake I did not commit. I was very bitter. And, hey, which PK gets suspended? From then, I stopped caring about what teachers and fellow students would say. I wasn’t going to be just a PK. That will not be my legacy. Oh, and I did leave a mark in the school. And it’s not as a PK.

My school life was mainly being classified as PK.  Until I changed all that. If I were to narrate the stories of my mischievous acts in school, I would get all sorts of reactions. The most common one will be “Na wewe ni mtoto wa Pastor?”

I am now in my final year of university. And guess what, until a month ago, very few people knew am a PK. I love it that way. I can live my life as I want. No posters attached to my life.

Being a PK is a good thing until it’s all that you are. It’s all that defines you. It’s all people see when they look at you. Everyone wants to establish their own mark in the world, no one wants to be remembered as so and so’s person.

I have survived school. As far as I am concerned, that was the toughest part of all this.

This is an introduction. Since we are all aware that I am a PK, we are ready to move to phase two. Life as a Preacher’s Kid: Social Life.

A DAY IN THE SPA

When you hear Nairobi you think traffic jams, Kanjos, live theft, and many more issues associated with our beloved capital city. Somehow even with all it’s bad reputation, there is still that thrill that comes with being in Nairobi. Personally, I am not a huge fan of the city. I don’t like congestion and it is a congested city. I don’t like the traffic jams. And don’t get me started with the Kanjos… (story of another day). I avoid the city by all means. There is the busy traffic which makes people like me (those who fear crossing the road) have a hard time. There is the noise. I am yet to walk to a part of the CBD that is actually quiet.

I arrived in the city on Saturday afternoon. I should have been in town by 10am but it just wasn’t my day. I had missed my appointment. And was very disappointed. All I needed was some consolation; the only place I know how to get that is a Spa. A treat for myself, from myself. There is this really wonderful nail and facial spa in town just near  Ambasadeur bus stage. They do quality work. They are just beside Lazarus’ Inn.

I walked in to the salon/spa. Casually said hi to everyone. Few minutes later this lady friend was working on my nails. They had free Wi-Fi. All was good. All I had left to do was observe and update Apps.

This Nairobi guy walks in with his group of boys. They look like they are fresh from high school. He was wearing rugged jeans (whoever thought this was a good idea for men’s wear, shame on you!), a very baggy vest that made his skinny arms look even skinnier. His gang of friends had almost similar dressing. Two of them had bags on their backs. They were so flat I was convinced they carried nothing in them. Well, may be except for their headphones. They looked like headphones people. All of them were wearing these huge Timbers. Basically, they looked like young Kanye(s). The leader, he was literally leading them in, walks up to a lady attendant working on a clients feet.

“Niaje…Mnafanya eye tweezing?”

I could not contain my laughter at this point. Its not because he sounded funny or anything, there is just no such thing as eye tweezing. Its just tweezing. The fact that he was just being specific made it very hilarious! You know that look everyone in a room gives you when you are the only one laughing? I got that. My friend joined in of course. That lady attendant was clearly suppressing her laughter. I think she was trying to be good.

“Hua ni tu tweezing. Hakuna eye tweezing”

“Ni how much?”

“one-fifty per person”

“Sawa. Ntaback”

Its a good thing he said he was coming back. I was hoping by the time he gets back, maybe with more people who needed eye tweezing, I would be gone.

I refuse to sit next to a guy in a Spa as he gets his nails done, his eyebrows trimmed (tweezing), or even his hair being worked on (for those who use hair dryer). Trim your nails at home. Go to your Barber for your hair issues. If you have to be in the salon/spa let it be because you are working there (It is not uncommon to find some men working in the salons nowadays. Its adorable how we got rid of classifying jobs), or you have just gone there to pick up your girlfriend, and maybe pay for the services. Just don’t sit down next to me, read a ladies’ fashion magazine, listen in on what we talk about, and who knows? You might just be a blogger! And a week later a link will be sent to groups ‘My day at the spa’. It will have all details pertaining to your day. Highly exaggerated of course, all in a desperate attempt to expose what goes on in there.

I always believe the Salon/Spa is the ladies’ sacred area. Just like the Barber shop is for the guys. The guys can talk about anything in the Barber shop. Politics. Women. Football. Business. Anything. The salon is the same for ladies. It may be known as a place where women ‘gossip’, but it’s also the place women can discuss their issues with each other without worry. Sometimes the topics are so fruitful and you end up getting some good friends.

Tweezing guys left and it sparked a discussion. How the fine line between being a man and being masculine is fading. How women are put off by girly men. Keep in mind these are not gays, they are just men who will do all girly things. Including wearing make up. It was one hell of a discussion.

There was this really brown woman who had brought her daughter along with her to the Spa. The daughter was nowhere close to the mother in skin colour. Mother was almost white. With some dark spots on her face and knuckles. I am not saying she removed some tint. Am just saying, maybe the daughter’s father was from Sudan. It is possible. So this woman wanted everything done on her. She wanted full pedicure and manicure (I recently learnt a friend thinks this is for men!). She wanted a facial. Oh, and because of tweezing-boy, she also wanted tweezing done on her. This lady had very few (almost none) eyebrows but still wanted them taken off so she can draw her own. Ladies, where did we go wrong? Who ruined us?

I could see her attendant really bored already. All that time, daughter was busy installing games on her phone. Give anyone free Wi-Fi and they want the whole App Store in their phone.

A woman whose name I got as ‘Dada’ came in and started marketing her products. Food products to be specific. Cooked food. She had everything. Pilau. Beef. Chapati (they didn’t look like The Chapatis). Rice. Beans. Green grams. Everything you can want at lunch time. Brown Mama ordered Pilau. It had been long since she had the meal, so she said. She ordered just one plate. But they were two (what would daughter eat?). It was none of my business though. Her attendant ordered the Chapatis. I still insist, they did not look good. I didn’t make any order. Trust issues.

At one far corner in the spa was a skinny dark lady who just got new fake nails and could not stop taking pictures of them. Instagram was not going see enough of her. I could imagine her tags. #Nails #Slaying #TheseAreReal #PreparationsForTheBash #HatersGonnaHate #KeepingItReal #SpaTings #TeamNatural. Then a series of emojis. Her phone had those pinkish-yellow silicone made phone cases that really annoy me. She kept taking selfies; one with her hand placed seductively on her face. That particular picture wasn’t going on Instagram. That was headed to Bae. She looked and acted like a light skin. Its only until recently that I knew some behaviours are associated with light skins. She was this Nairobi diva until she got a phone call. Her English was gone. Her Nairobi Swahili was gone. It was just her and her perfect Luo. And some bits of broken Swahili. Akinyi yawa!

My nails were almost done in less than an hour. I was having a time of my life relaxing in the Spa. I spent my time observing people. I wonder just how many were observing me. Well, my friend did a good job, as usual. I am definitely going back the next time I visit the big city. Who knows? Tweezing-boy might actually be there. Then I can ask him why he didn’t prefer a Barber shop.

 

Let’s talk nails

Ever been bored till you start thinking of your life as a village bull? You start imagining how a big bull with a huge hunch back you could have been. Named after a prominent leader and carrying the last york in plough. You will be receiving all the praise songs during the tilling period. After all the accolades and good fights, your owner will decide to get the best return on you before your better days are gone and decide to cash you in for slaughter. Just before your last prayers as the sharp knife is inching nearer your neck, boom! a notification gets on your phone. It is a word document.

It is one of these articles which you read and make you feel your eyes become watery, you get so engrossed you feel you are going to save it for future use. You will have a hard copy printed out and you hang it over your bed. You have known no tears before but here an article working you up. Nobody has moved you with a piece of writing this deep before.

It was an article by Paula Norah, even though it was done as a mere embarrassing trial, without having to worry about flowery words, no scented language and not even a bit of editing. It got to convey the intended message home. From that embarrassing trial, she has done other kick ass pieces, with every new piece becoming better from the last.

One of the things she is drawn to are drawn to nails, I don’t even understand how people get time to do those, well we can have that world with us.

Paula take it away…

 

The long lecturer’s strike made me one lazy brat. Lazy because that’s just me. Brat because I started viewing myself as a diva. I started questioning why I had to do chores…like cook, clean the house, and worst of all wash dishes! My defense was pretty much simple; I would have been in school meaning I wouldn’t have been around to do that particular thing at that particular time. As if that would work. Am petty like that sometimes. One thing that all these chores share in common is they involve water and sometimes soap. I do not fear that combination, hell no! Am a lady for heaven’s sake. What I don’t like is that combination in relation to my nails. Like I said, diva.

I love my nails. I love to care for them. I love it when I apply cutex on them and walk around swinging my hands. I have to care for my nails. Why? I have tiny hands and slim fingers. Anytime I shake someone’s hand most will say “uko na mkono ndogo!”. I avoid hand shaking too. Am a huger. Being a saloonist, when I do someone’s hair, I have to ask for help at the last stage because small hands can’t allow me hold everything at once. Clients laugh at me sometimes. Yet it is them who need to look good. Anyway, when I have my nails done really pretty no one notices my tiny hands and all attention goes to my nails. I guess you now see why my nails are a big deal. That and the fact that I have really beautiful nails. Yes, fact.

So on this day, I am lying casually but abnormally on the couch, phone in hand, legs high on the back of the couch, my back flat on the couch seat, my head facing up but actually a little bit suspended mid air. Basically I wasn’t sitting on the couch like a lady, at all. Or even a normal person. Picture a couch, now picture the design. It very clear on what goes where. So take all that and turn it upside down. Yes, that is how I was. And in case you are wondering, I was wearing a trouser.

Crrrrr…Crrrrr…Crrrrr… That is the sound my Grandma’s walker makes anytime she is approaching. That sound is a warning bell to me so I sit up and act like a lady. I place my feet down, cross my right leg over the left one. Haha! I even adjusted my trouser. I put my phone away and pick a newspaper (It wasn’t the day’s paper for sure). I did all that just to avoid her lectures. Back to point, nails. She is already in the sitting room now. And she is carrying a knife.

“Paula…!” *she always believes we don’t hear well so it’s a shout*

“mmmh”

“Paula, yitsa undeterekho amatere kano”

*awkward silence*

“ewe! Yitsa undeterekho amatere kano!”

“kukhu sikuelewi”

*she laughs*

“vbolangendi…yitsa undeterekho amatere kano” *she says this a bit slower*

Now am laughing my lungs out. She is not making this easy and she knows it. She might even be having fun who knows!

“aki kukhu sijakuelewa. Unasema nini?”

“katiakho mimi makucha hii”

Ooh… So that is what she meant. Cut her nails. Wow, thanks Grandma, you didn’t make that hard at all! Now I understood why she was carrying a knife. Grandma believes in razor blades and knives. Current inventions like nail cutters just don’t cut it in her list of things she trusts. I only know how to use nail cutters.

I get my lazy-self off the couch and head to Mum’s room. She always has a nail cutter, my nail cutter. Though I have a strong feeling I am not getting it back. I am hoping she was not listening to my ‘wonderful’ dialogue with Grandma. That would crack her up, and we will have yet another conversation about how we kids are not ready to learn her language. Anyway, Mum heard everything! I know this because she was laughing so hard when I walked in.

*still laughing*

“you kids have to learn kiluhya”

I pretended not to have heard that.

“ulieka nail cutter wapi?”

“chukua kwa iyo bag yangu”

I see bags. Not a bag. There are at least 6 handbags, 2 travel bags, and some that I cant categorize. There is no ‘iyo bag’ Which bag does she mean? She wont tell me of course, she is busy. So I search all of them and finally find it after a good 7minutes. Mum never helps me when I search for things. She’d rather watch.

Grandma gave up waiting for me and began sharpening her knife against the wall. Patience has never really been her strong suit. So I had to hurry. Now we are sitting outside on the verandah.

“watoto wa tawuni hapana juanga kutumia wembe da?” (don’t town kids know how to use razor blades?

*silence*

It is sometimes better not to answer Grandma’s questions. Especially those that refer to us as town kids. Those conversations never end well. They never even end because I usually walk away when she is not seeing, and she would keep talking until she finds a distraction. It’s our thing.

We maintain some small talk. Her asking if I am really cutting her nails and me showing the evidence. Grandma has trust issues!

While I am cutting her finger nails I notice she has beautiful long nails, they look old now, but they are definitely beautiful. The fingers are long, wrinkled yet still have the shade of perfection. Her hands are so frail I fear I am too rough on her. Her toe nails are also long and beautiful, though old. I am thinking I should give Grandma a mani-pedi. Ha! I can imagine her response if I am to suggest that. I know where I get my beautiful hands. Her hands are a replica of mine, except mine are small. She observes me keenly while I work and asks why I keep long nails. I can’t find the exact Swahili words that can describe to her why I keep long nails so I tell her I like them long. At this point, I am done cutting hers.

“Ah! ni mbaya…kata”

*ouch Grandma*

I laugh anyway and tell her that’s just how I like them. she says thank you but still checks her nails to confirm if I have actually cut them. Like I said, trust issues. That is my Grandma. That is just how she is. Old, rigid, prayerful, compassionate, inquisitive, traditional, and the best. And she has beautiful nails.

I need to sign off and cut/trim my nails. The nail on my right middle finger broke! Damn! As if it was siding with Grandma. But did it have to be that finger?

Paula Norah.

Blue-Ticking Justified

Blue ticks…Well I know no one wants to be a victim of those. For those wondering what blue ticks are and what blue-ticking is, let me be a lamb and educate you. When you get blue-ticked, you have been ignored. Your texts are going unanswered. And yes, they have been delivered and read. This term pretty much came to be when WhatsApp introduced the tiny blue ticks that indicate your text is delivered and read.

If you don’t see ‘typing…’ after the blue ticks, honey, you have been blue-ticked. Now, I know it sounds bad to be a victim, but let’s face it, some people really do ask for it.

I have done my fair share of blue-ticking. Have I been blue-ticked? Yes. No. Maybe. I dont know. Anyway, this is the day I finally justify blue-ticking. It’s never about snubbing. Like I said, some people really beg for it. And I am a very generous lady, when it comes to blue ticks.

These are some of the instances and character traits that would definitely guarantee blue ticks:

  • The X-Factor

Those who use the ‘X’! Who told you introducing ‘X’ in all your words makes your text look cool? That’s just really annoying. I really get pissed off when someone texts me ‘xaxa’ instead of ‘sasa’. Am pretty sure that is not even Xhosa. If you can’t let go the X-Factor, please do not complain when you see the blue ticks. You begged for them.

Some time back a friend had communication issues with his landlord. Why? The X-Factor. The landlord sent a text saying they meet on ‘Xday’. Which day is that exactly? My friend automatically assumed Saturday. I would have. Turns out that is Sunday, in the X language. If that guy gets the blue ticks, he had better suck it up. He deserves it.

  • Mr. Dia

These are the guys who just can’t quit calling you ‘dia’ in the middle of a chat. And to make matters worse, they spell it wrong. Its dear! If you can’t type that, you have a problem. And blue ticks are definitely the solution. I know some think it’s cute, but its really not. Especially if you are a stranger. Keep the dias. I don’t need to read 100 dias in just one conversation. Otherwise, Blue ticks pap!

  • Ok. Sawa. K. Lol

These words definitely kill a conversation. I never think twice when I get such a response. It is even worse when you write a paragraph and get a ‘k’. People please. That is not even a word. It is a letter that follows ‘J’ in the alphabets damn it! If there is a new communication trend that introduced letters to stand in for words and not be irritating, then K. But I will still blue-tick you. K?

And LOL. What do you even say after that? LOL to you too? Really people! Send me a LOL and I go mute.

  • Boring chats

Let no one tell me boring chats are a two-way thing. Someone initiates this. Imagine a scenario where you are really hyped up about a certain topic and the other party just doesn’t give a similar vibe. Boring. Another scenario of a boring chat is when all you do is exchange hellos. After that, nothing to talk about. Let’s just say, in this case don’t even complain when you are blue-ticked. Next scenario; someone initiates a chat but expects you to now keep it alive. I am a very good conversationalist. I can try to save a chat, but not for long. If you are boring, you are boring. If there is nothing to talk about, just say “I was checking on you”. Dont bore me to death.

  •  Delayed Responce

This relates to those people who send you a message at 7.00p.m. You will reply at 7.01p.m.  And they reply the next day at noon. Here’s the thing, you will get a reply from me immediately. But not all the time. I use the three-strike rule. Once you are at three strikes, blue ticks. There is no way I can be discussing one topic for a whole week! For the sake of peace, kindly accept the blue ticks if you fall in this category.

  • Too sensitive

Take a joke people! Loosen up a little. Buy some sense of humor if you got none. If possible, please learn how to have a comeback for the likes of me. We are the sarcastic kind. And somehow we find being mean funny. Comebacks just make the chat interesting. But it’s very annoying when someone just ‘catches feelings’. The world is brutal. If you can’t take a joke, darling don’t expect anyone to massage those feelings. Carry them and the blue ticks away. Adios!

  • The Questionnaires

The questionnaire type of chats are just a beacon for blue ticks. I mean they can be interesting occasionally, but they had better introduce a discussion point. I will not be interrogated. I refuse that. I am not a criminal…well, not yet. If that’s all I can get in a chat, I am better off watching detective movies.

  • Forwarded messages

Don’t get me started on these. They are tuned to different seasons. I love originality and creativity. If you can’t come up with your own Christmas message, then just say ‘merry Christmas!’ But do not forward a message that was forwarded to you by someone who also got it from a friend who forwarded it. You get the picture. My dad once typed and sent a message to his colleagues on New Year, only to receive his message as it was the next day. From someone who is not even a colleague. Who killed creativity?

I particularly have a problem with those messages that have threats attached to them. ‘If you don’t forward, you don’t love God…’ 

Another particularly annoying phrase is ‘send to 15 other people including me and see what happens in 5minutes…’ I know what will happen in 5 minutes. You will be waiting for a response. It won’t come. Why? Blue ticks!

  • Failing to communicate

I am not choosy on what language to chat with. I can comfortably send texts in English, Swahili and Luo. (am not 100% fluent in swahili and Luo though) But yes, I can use them. If you also want to mix them up am good with that. Just ensure you communicate. I don’t want to read a text and ask myself ‘what is this person trying to say?’ I will not try to decode that text. It’s a complete waste of time.

For example, what is this? ‘mng. Nd ur hp. U bzy? Xnd me mbanas ya mxee wa cls. Gdy’ I do not speak in codes. This kind of text will get a blue tick. How hard is it to just write a word as it is?

********************

These are just some of the scenarios where someone is really begging for blue ticks. The thing is, the blue-tickers are not really snubbing. At least not all the time. Sometimes their actions are justified.

Free advice to the constant victims, how about unmarking the read receipts box? That way you will never see blue ticks. All you will see are the black ticks. And again, they don’t rub in your face that you have been blue-ticked.

Blue ticks are not just for WhatsApp, they are all over now. Metaphorically Speaking of course. But they are. Any messaging platform has its blue ticks.

And that, is blue-ticking justified, my way.