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*
“Paula, yitsa undeterekho amatere kano”
“ewe! Yitsa undeterekho amatere kano!”
“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.
“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?
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”
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?